“Maui, demigod of the wind and sea, you will board my boat, sail across the sea, and restore the heart of Te Fiti.” – Moana
Maui was such a beautiful island, and we had a great vacation there. It was enjoyable to have a relaxing vacation that wasn’t full of sightseeing or a stacked schedule. We ate good food, spent time on the beach, and explored the island. We happened to choose a really quiet week tourist-wise to be there, but we did get unlucky with the weather. Some locals said it was an unusual amount of rain, which was unfortunate because it created a perfect storm of crummy snorkeling conditions. We booked a snorkeling boat tour that was supposed to last about six hours, but the boat captains took us back to the dock after a few hours of surveying all the snorkeling locations. The significant amount of rain, high swell, and strong wind covered the reefs in sand. The boat captains said this was the first time they hadn’t found a good location, so I’d be lying if I said we weren’t disappointed. Despite the weather, we still had an awesome trip and would love to explore other Hawaiian islands in the future.
Maui was expensive, although we didn’t go out of our way to significantly cut costs. We knew we were going to be spending a lot on the trip. Accommodations, food, car rentals, gas, groceries, activities – it’s all costly. Be prepared for rain and 100% humidity all the time.
We left for Maui on a nonstop flight to OGG airport on April 30th. At this time of year, the time change was four hours behind SLC. We landed in the evening, picked up our rental car at the airport, drove to our Airbnb rental, found food, and called it a night. We stayed the entire next week through May 7th. Our route home took us to Honolulu for a couple hours and then nonstop to SLC. Almost all of the flights coming back to the mainland from Hawaii are red-eyes, and it sucks. The flight from Honolulu to SLC was not pleasant, and we went home and slept for several hours to recoup.
The tourism during that first week of May was really insignificant. We almost never had waits at restaurants. We found parking at the beaches we drove to. We didn’t get stuck for any noteworthy time on the one road leading to Lahaina around the island. It was a great time to visit.
We stayed at an Airbnb in the city of Lahaina on the island’s west side. The rental was located in a condo building on the 8th floor. It was a basic studio condo with a small kitchenette, bathroom, and living/bedroom area. It was important to me to find a place with a patio (or “lanai”). The condominium complex had a nice pool area, but the beachfront was eroded and lined with sandbags. It was still relaxing to sit by the pool, listen to the waves, and watch the water and sunsets. I felt like Lahaina was a great location for the week. The road to Hana was a far drive, but we expected that going into it.
I recommend a few places to definitely hit while you’re on Maui. The first is a breakfast spot called 808 Grindz. It’s a small restaurant in a strip mall area, and I would highly recommend getting there right when they open or shortly after or being prepared to order to-go. They get very busy very fast. They have pancakes with a “mac-nilla” (macadamia nut vanilla) sauce that are absolutely delicious. It’s a family-owned restaurant, and we loved talking with the owner and his granddaughter.
Lahaina Grill is a fancy and very expensive restaurant if you want that dining experience while on the island. The food was divine, and the location can’t be beaten. Make reservations, though, and as far in advance as possible. I ordered the filet, and my husband ordered the special fish dish for the day. Super delicious.
If you’re in the old town area around Lahaina Grill, stop at Ululani’s Shave Ice. This shave ice shop was recommended to me by a friend, and it was my favorite on the island. Along the line of dessert, I’d also recommend a stop at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. They have delicious mini pies that don’t feel very mini when you start eating them. I loved the banana pudding pie.
Things to See/Do
Beaches – The first beach we sampled was Kaanapali. This beach was about 10-15 minutes south of Lahaina. There are several access points for Kaanapali Beach, and I think we might have chosen the worst. Maybe our experience was a result of the weather, but the ocean floor was full of sharp rocks, there wasn’t much shade, and the actual sitting area on the beach was small. We didn’t love it, but it is considered one of the best beaches from my research, so might be worth a try.
Next, we went to Oneloa Beach. It was about 10 minutes north of Lahaina. There were no other people on the beach whatsoever. In fact, we actually thought it might not be a swimming beach at all because of the lack of people. Parking was also limited here. The waves were really big, and the water was so beautiful. But the wind killed us here. Sitting on the beach, I was pelted by sand, which was not pleasant. Again, we fought with some rocks on the ocean floor in the water. Oneloa Beach is highly recommended online.
Finally, we made it to Kapalua Bay Beach, our favorite of the week. Now, this beach was crowded! There is free parking, but it’s limited, and we decided to pay a small fee to park close to the beach. I think it was maybe $7 for a few hours. Worth it. The water was beautiful, shallow by the beach for kids, and great for snorkeling. Our snorkeling conditions didn’t improve until Thursday and Friday of the week, but we had a lot of fun snorkeling here. We saw sea turtles in the water, and one swam right underneath me. It was a magical moment for me, and I was in awe.
A few other beaches were recommended to me by a friend, but we didn’t make it to them: Big Beach and Slaughterhouse Beach (Honolua Bay).
Road to Hana – The Road to Hana is a full-day commitment, and it’s tiring. There are so many ways to explore this road, and you can research the benefits of each. A friend recommended an app called Shaka Maui, and they have an audio guide for purchase for the Road to Hana. We took the classic Road to Hana tour that started in Paia and ended in Haleakala National Park. However, there is an option for the reverse tour, but I read that some rental car companies have rules and regulations against taking the car in that area of the island due to the rough terrain.
The audio guide in the app was excellent, and we downloaded it for offline use (necessary because the cell signal is spotty). Make sure to bring a car phone charger! The audio guide provides history and stories along your drive and recommends places to stop, places to drive past, and how long to stay at each. We spent about 13 hours on this adventure, leaving the Airbnb at 6am and returning around 7pm. It was a very long tiring day, but the scenery was beautiful. It rained the entire day, and because of the significant rainfall the island experienced recently, most of the swimming areas along the road were closed.
I will mention some of our favorite stops along the Road to Hana. We briefly stopped at Ho’okipa Beach at the very beginning of the day and saw about seven turtles hanging out on the beach in the corner cove, protected from people. I was so excited to see them. Any chance to see turtles will get a recommendation from me. Ke’anae Peninsula was very cool to stop and look at the views and see the tidepools. We saw crabs, sea snakes, and fish. Also on the road of Ke’anae Peninsula is the famous banana bread stand of Aunty Sandy. Gotta stop here for some delicious banana bread! Before you reach Wai’anapanapa State Park, there is a small area called Hana Farms. This area looked like it was built recently, but the bathrooms were very clean, and they had a pizza restaurant. They also had a shop for coffee and souvenirs. We ate pizza under a canopy and enjoyed the lush green scenery and brightly-colored flowers. Then we picked up a few souvenirs from the shop before heading further down the road. Wai’anapanapa State Park is a beautiful black sand beach. They require reservations and must be done in advance, not the day of. Haleakala National Park is at the end of the tour, and somehow the drive between Hana town and Haleakala felt longer than everything before it (probably because we were already tired). But the ‘Ohe’o Gulch and Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o are beautiful and a short hike from the parking lots. There is a fee to enter the park.
Old Lahaina Town – This is the second most-visited spot in Maui, so it’s often bustling and crowded! The streets are lined with restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The location is beautiful, and we caught two amazing sunsets on the boardwalk. Lahaina Grill and Ululani’s Shave Ice are located in this area. There are many more restaurants as well, and you can access many harbor activities like whale watching, snorkeling, and deep sea fishing. We booked a snorkeling boat tour through Makai Adventures. Although we didn’t get in the water to do any snorkeling due to the bad conditions, the boat captains were super nice and friendly, and they tried to rebook us another day that week. Another popular sight in the area is the old banyan tree. It’s very cool and worth a peek!
Thank you for reading about our trip to Maui! I hope that you will decide to visit this beautiful scenic island. Please enjoy this gallery of Hawaiian flowers!