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The Ultimate Maui Travel Guide: Where to Stay, What to do, Where to Eat and Shop!

The Ultimate Maui Travel Guide: Where to Stay, What to do, Where to Eat and Shop!

Maui is beloved for its world famous beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, views of migrating humpback whales (during winter months), farm-to-table cuisine and taking in spectacular sunrises and sunsets from Haleakala.  Maui, known as the 'Valley Isle', is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and has been voted "Best Island in the U.S." by Conde Nast Traveler readers for more than 20 years - it's not surprising to see why!

Maui has something for everyone, from amazing resorts, adventure, waterfalls, and much more!  On Maui, you'll find a variety of places to stay from luxury resorts, spacious condo rentals and everything in between.

Island Overview
Maui can be split up into 5 different regions: Central, East, South, West and Upcountry.  Each area has a different feel to it and offers something a little different for visitors.

Central Maui
Kahului is home to the island’s main airport and interesting attractions. Head to Wailuku for mom-and-pop shops and eateries along the way to the Iao Valley State Park.

East Maui
Visitors who brave the Hana Highway’s signature hairpin turns and narrow bridges are rewarded with out-of-this-world views of lush rainforests, gorgeous waterfalls and exotic beaches.  Be sure to make stops all along the way, especially in Paia, home to great restaurants, shops and one of the hippest places on the island.

West Maui
Once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and the former capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom, West Maui is home to spectacular resorts on Kaanapali Beach, shopping, restaurants, a variety of activities and some of the best sunsets in the world.

Upcountry Maui
Watch the sunrise from the peak of Haleakala, see ancient Hawaii’s desert landscapes and discover unique, locally grown food.

South Maui
Escape to the tropical beaches of Kihei, Makena and Wailea; relax and unwind at a world-class resort or tee off at one of the 13 world-renowned golf courses.

Where to Stay on Maui
There are a variety of lodging options to choose from on Maui ranging from luxury to condominiums and everything in between.  It is really hard to choose, but my favorites on Maui include these five hotels.  There are many other great hotels, but you can't go wrong choosing one of these fine resorts for your next Maui trip!

Wailea Beach Resort - Marriott, Maui
Exceptional oceanfront location on Maui's south coast, nestled between two award winning beaches featuring fifty-four holes of championship golf,  eleven tennis courts, two restaurants & lounge.

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
Situated on 40 spectacular oceanfront acres on Ka'anapali Beach, this resort offers elegant guestrooms with private lanais and panoramic views, oceanfront spa, half-acre pool, award-winning restaurants, brand new Regency Club, and Hawaiian cultural activities.

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Overlooking the shimmering Pacific, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa on Kaanapali Beach is the perfect resort for an inspiring Hawaiian vacation with its beachfront setting and aquatic playground.  The amenities, dining, and activities available here will appeal to honeymooners and families alike.

Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
The Fairmont Kea Lani is a luxury oceanfront all-suite and villa resort featuring spectacular ocean and sunset, tropical garden and mountain views located in Wailea, Maui, along sunny Polo Beach.

At the Fairmont Kea Lani, you'll be able to choose from one-bedroom suites with private lanais, or two- and three-bedroom villas with private plunge pools and gourmet kitchens.

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Maui’s first and only Forbes Five-Star resort is nestled on 15 acres of the breathtaking Wailea coast. The 380-room oceanfront property is world-renowned for its comfortable opulence, impeccable service, luxurious amenities, and for living in harmony with its environment and community.

Montage Kapalua Bay
Montage Kapalua Bay is steps away from Kapalua Bay, voted one of America's favorite beaches, and features comfortable residential-style accommodations, with spacious living rooms, large private lanais, fully equipped kitchens, elegant master suites and luxurious bathrooms.  This oceanfront accommodation is a premier Maui resort, the perfect place for family getaways.

What To Do
There is so much to do and explore when you visit Maui and whenever we visit, we love partaking in the following activities:
  • Soar above the ocean and Parasail
    • Parasailing is easy, fun, and an experience you won’t forget!  If you’re looking for one of the best things to do while visiting Maui, be sure to add a parasailing trip to your travel plans. 
    • Parasailing is exciting, family-friendly, and a top-rated activity in Hawaii.  You can fly from either 800 feet or 1,200 feet and cool off with a dip in the refreshing Pacific Ocean. 

    • I recommend UFO Parasail or West Maui Parasail, both located in Kaanapali Beach.
  • Ziplining
    • Hawaii's most awarded zipline company is Skyline Eco Adventures and they offer a convenient location in Lahaina with ziplines that soar above Ka'anapali’s remote coastal landscape with spectacular views.  The tour guides are awesome and keep everything fun and down to Earth.

  • Go Snorkeling
    • Take a boat ride out to Molokini crater to enjoy great snorkeling in calm, clear waters to set in a marine preserve or snorkel  
    • Another great spot is Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach
  • Attend a Luau
    • Few things say Hawaii like a luau and there are many great luaus on Maui to choose from.
    • Some of my favorites include:
      • Wailele Polynesian Luau at the Westin Maui
      • Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency Maui

      • Te Au Moana at the Marriott Wailea Beach

  • Drive the Road to Hana
    • The Road to Hana is more than just a great drive through a beautiful area of Maui.  

    • While most visitors tend to zip to and from Hana with a checklist of sights to photograph, I prefer researching great stops along the way and enjoying the beautiful scenery and sights along the way.  

    • If you have small kids or the thought of driving on winding roads makes you queasy, you can still enjoy stops in Paia and Twin Falls!
  • Visit Haleakala for Sunrise (or Sunset)
    • Towering over the island of Maui and visible from just about any point, Haleakala Crater is a force of nature in every sense.  At 10,023 feet above sea level, this dormant volcano is the stage for a breathtaking range of landscapes and skyscapes. 

    • Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian, and legend goes that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last longer. 
    • If you plan on going for Sunrise, be sure to grab a reservation into the National Park here.
    • If you don't wnat to go for Sunrise, visiting later in the day and watching Sunset is just as spectacular - be sure to bring your jacket as well as it gets cold at the summit.
  • Explore the Maui Ocean Center
    • The Maui Ocean Center is home to one of world's largest collections of live Pacific corals and features marine life found only in Hawaii including sea turtles, sharks, rays, and much more.
    • The Maui Ocean Center is a great aquarium for families looking to spend an afternoon exploring Hawaiian marine life.
  • Take a day trip to Lanai
    • The ride from Lahaina to Manele Harbor on Expeditions Ferry costs $30, is an hour long and offers spectacular views of Lāna‘i’s rugged southern coastline.  
    • In winter it’s common to spot Humpback whales while seated on the outdoor deck, and pods of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins can often be spotted year round.

    • If you do go, I highly recommend booking a tour and seeing the island's highlights including Lana'i City, the Munro Trail, Maunalei Gulch, Shipwreck Beach, the Po`aiwa Petroglyphs, the Kanepu`u Forest Preserve, and the Garden of the Gods, as well as the amazing Four Seasons Lanai.
  • Book a Photo Session
    • Most resorts offer on-site portrait sessions and sometimes special offers like a free photoshoot or a printed picture
    • Another great option to consider is using Flytographer to capture priceless memories.  Flytographer works with professional photographers in over 300 cities across the globe and offers fun photo shoots that are short, fun and natural in style.
      • If you're interested in booking a Flytographer Photo Session, be sure to send me a message to receive extra perks such as 20% more photos and a free 8x10 print in SmugMug (shipping not included).  There may also be offers or discounts I can help provide as well. 
  • Just Relax
    • Relax poolside and enjoy the resort pools and water activities in Maui (or beachside if you prefer!)

Where to Eat
There are so many great places to eat in Maui that it’s best to pack your appetite and make meals a big part of your trip.  Maui offers some of the best dining choices in all of Hawaii and many different options, ranging from trendy food trucks to amazing 5-Star dining locales.

Some of our favorite places to eat include:
  • Mamas Fish House
    • Quite possibly the best restaurant on all of Maui, let alone in Hawaii, Mama's Fish House is a must do when visiting Maui!  The family-owned restaurant has been a island institution since 1973 and its relaxed and casual ambiance is perfect for a romantic dinner or a leisurely lunch.

  • Japengo at the Hyatt Regency Maui
    • Hyatt Regency's eatery & lounge offers Pacific Rim fare & sushi, plus views of waterfalls & sunsets.

  • Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman
    • Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is a place where foodies, beer lovers, and families can enjoy a great meal.
    • Two locations on Maui - one in Wailea and the other restaurant on Kaanapali Beach at Whaler's Village.

  • Down the Hatch
    • Located in Lahaina and is open for Breakfast, Lunch, Happy Hour, Dinner, & Late Night - 'Down the Hatch - A Place to Eat Fish' has the best seafood around, featuring locally sourced Fresh Fish and other island favorites.

  • Ka'ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui 
    • Farm to Table style restaurant open for breakfast and dinner.  It is located on the fourth floor, one floor under the lobby level at the Andaz Maui.  
    • The cuisine features local and seasonal ingredients sourced locally from Ka'ana Farms and Maui.  You can sit inside or outside on the patio and take in pool and ocean views during your meal.
  • Morimoto Maui at Andaz Maui
    • The restaurant is named after highly acclaimed celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto, who is best known for Iron Chef and Iron Chef America.  
    • The food here is also locally sourced and features fresh ingredients with a fusion blend of Western and Japanese food.  
    • The feature of this restaurant is the sushi bar showcasing the best hand rolled sushi and sashimi sourced from fresh local fish from Maui.  This restaurant is located poolside on the lower level and is open for lunch and dinner.  
  • Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop
    • The menu here features hand crafted specialties made fresh daily using only Maui’s freshest ingredients from sandwiches, salads, specials and homemade sweet & savory pies.
  • Ululani's Shave Ice
    • Be sure to try Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice - you won't be disappointed!
  • Maui Brewing Company
    • The largest craft brewery in Hawaii, Maui Brewing Company has two restaurants on Maui, including its flagship restaurant and brewery in Kihei and naother location in Lahaina. 

  • Cafe Des Amis
    • Located in Paia, Cafe Des AMis is a small, relaxed eatery featuring a Mediterranean & Indian menu, with an ice cream shop next door.

  • The Lahaina Fish Co.
    • Features a local variety of fresh fish and seafood, along with tender certified angus beef selections, all prepared with an island influence.
  • Paia Fish Market
    • Two locations on Maui in Paia and Lahaina; serving up fresh fish with Aloha 
  • Relish Oceanside & Burger Bistro at the Westin Maui
    • Offers a relaxing, casual dining experience where you can feast on bun-less burgers and other island traditional favorites. 
  • Humble Market Kitchen at the Wailea Beach Resort
    • Humble Market Kitchin By Roy Yamaguchi features Hawaiian-inspired cuisine with fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors.  

Where to Shop 
From Lahaina to Hana, you never know what special treasures you’ll discover on Maui.  Overlooking the emerald waters of Kaanapali Beach, the Whalers Village shopping center has a range of shopping gems, from Kate Spade and Oakley to local shops with Hawaiian shirts and other aloha wear.  In Wailea, you'll find even more upscale stores at the Shops of Wailea.
  • Kahului 
    • As soon as you land at the airport and make your way to your hotel, don’t forget to stop off and grab any essentials or groceries you’ll need from stores near the aiarport in Kahului including Costco, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and other grocery stores.
  • Whaler’s Village
    • Beachside shopping center on Kaanapali Beach with boutique shops, restaurants, a whaling museum, hula lessons & other activities.
  • The Shops at Wailea
    • Upscale shopping center with seventy shops, restaurants & art galleries, featuring regular evening entertainment.
  • Lahaina Front Street
    • Pay a visit to Lahaina’s quaint Front Street to explore the eclectic array of art galleries, clothing stores and jewelry shops.  You'll find one-of-a-kind souvenirs to bring home here, as well as an outlet mall nearby

    • While you're visiting Lahaina, stop off and see the world famous Banyan Tree
      • The world-famous Banyan tree in Lahaina’s Banyan Tree Park stands seven-stories high and covers about 200 square feet of area.
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