Upon meeting people for the first time some of the common questions asked are: “What’s your name?, “Where do you work?” and “Where do you live?” The jet-setter in me is more interested in travel so I have a tendency to ask, “What’s your favorite place to vacation?” More often than not I get the same response – “Hawaii.” It’s fascinating to me Hawaii is a universal hot-spot for so many people: both families and singles. Growing up in the United States I’ve always had a strong desire to visit Europe, Africa and Asia. That was until 2016. I was searching for island destinations with little rain and lots of sunshine in September/October and landed on Maui. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling it’s that vacations are best planned when timed accordingly with the seasons.
When I arrived in Maui I took a short shuttle ride to the rental car station. I’d read blogs on navigating the island and driving the road to Hana so I rented a Jeep Wrangler prepared for anything. You’d think they were giving away Jeep Wranglers for free as many as we saw on the road, but Hawaii is expensive and car rentals are just as pricey. If you don’t have a preferred car rental company I advise searching for cheap car rentals and promo codes via Hotwire and Expedia, etc. I was able to save 15%.
We rented an Airbnb in Lahania right off the beach situated between the Montage Kapalua Bay and Ritz Carlton Kapalua. I love hotels and the amenities they offer, but since we were there for 3 weeks a vacation rental property was more suitable for long-term housing. Maui is the truest definition of the surfer mantra “Go with the flow.” The warm weather woke us up at 6AM everyday ready to go for a run and swim each morning. There’s no need to overdress in Maui (or wear makeup), this al natural environment is home to hiking, biking, surfing and swimming. The island boasts feel good vibes with Bob Marley tunes and flip flops at even the most fine dining establishments and luxury resorts. With a list of water sports and dry land activities there is something to keep everyone happy.
We drove the entire island multiple times taking the scenic route across the Northern part of the island all the way South, East and West where our Airbnb in Lahaina was located. I’m a nature lover but the outdoorsy girl in me really came out during our 3 hour road trip through the road to Hana. There are several hidden waterfalls, bamboo forest nature hikes and national parks so its best to carve out an entire day for Hana. You don’t want to miss experiencing all of the hidden gems. As fun as racing down this windy street turned narrow gravel backroad can be, take your time or you’ll miss the scenery because at times you have to search for it to find it. Mile Makers will become your best friend and point of reference. Make sure to fill up your gas tanks and pack lots of snacks, food and drinks for the road because you will lose cell service halfway into the road to Hana and won’t see any local markets, gas stations, or street vendors for a good 1-2 hours. Once you get deep into the road to Hana there are attraction’s everywhere however. GET LOST! It’s the best way to find sacred places and good times. We stumbled upon East Side Pizza on a Saturday night. This low-key weekend hangout spot specially known for its delicious wood fire pizza and wine fills up fast with surfers, nomads and lots of reefer, but it’s a must see so add it to your Maui bucket list.
The car will become your best friend in Maui so always pack a day bag with everything you need for the day. Don’t forget to carry cash: Street vendors are a dime a dozen in Maui and you don’t want to miss out on the fresh coconut water, fruit and tacos.
Quick geography tip
Maui is a large island spread between the North, South, East and West. You can drive from one side of the island to the other in only a few hours. You will want to drive the entire island in order to experience the nuances and attractions of each city. Factor in additional time for stops and sightseeing when planning your day trips. Don’t get trapped by the beautiful beaches alone and miss out on all of the other scenic parts of the island. Geography is important in Maui because the topography offers a variety of different activities from town to town.
What’s the best way to get around Maui?
A car is an absolute most in Maui. Spend the money to rent an SUV although a car will suffice. The island isn’t easy to navigate via public transportation which is why there are limited options. Plus, you’ll want to make several stops along your journey to experience the hidden spots, landmarks and tourist attractions marked by mile markers on the sides of the roads.
Where to stay
I like to feel at home so I typically book accommodations via Airbnb, Home Exchange and Home Away. Popular hotels I really like: Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Travaasa Hana, Kula Lodge, Montage Kapalua Bay, Ritz Carlton Kapalua and Inn at Mama’s Fish House.
The truth is it really depends where you stay. I traveled the entire island and found great food everywhere. From pizza, fish, tacos and coffee you are guaranteed good food everywhere on the island. A few of my favorites are: Meriman’s, Prison Street Pizza, East Side Pizza, Mama’s Fish House, Grandma’s Coffee House, Lahaina Fish Co., Frida’s Mexican Beach House, Hula Grill Kaanapali, Da Kitchen Cafe, Flatbread Company, Japengo, Leilani’s, Gerard’s
Like most island destinations the list of things to see and do in Maui is long. There is something for everyone: parasailing, helicopter tours, zip-lining, kayaking, surfing, biking, paddle boarding, fishing, hiking, bamboo forests, windsurfing, rock wall climbing, infinity pools, waterfalls, Blow Hole, Olivine Pools, Big Beach and Little Beach, Black Rock Beach and Red Sand beach, skydiving and Top of Mt. Haleakala and Main Street Lahaina. Although these are a few suggestions they barely crack the lid on all of the main attractions Maui offers. With a plethora of adventure I suggest coming with a jam packed itinerary. Maui is the place to get lost touring the island.
Climate: The average weather in Maui is between the mid-high 80’s F throughout the year. The summer months are known to be warmer.
Credit Cards and Banks: All restaurants and hotels accept Visa and Mastercard, most accept American Express, but always carry cash: A lot of small coffee shops and street vendors only accept cash.
Châlons En Champagne, France for a lesson in Champagne! Cheers 🙂