Updated: May 12
Rolling waves, white sand beaches, a soft breeze and all the tropical fruit you could imagine. Sounds nice, right? Well, that was my life the last week and I already want to go back!
I have been to Hawaii several times in my life, but only spent a total of 2 days in Maui about ten years ago when I went on a cruise. When I first learned about this trip, I immediately had a long list of things I wanted to do, which of course, I pulled from my pins on Pinterest!
This post will provide you a short guide on what I recommend if you are spending a week on Maui:
Day trips and excursions:
There are a few different directions you can go and experience something completely different. Staying in the Kaanapali area puts you in the middle to head in several different directions. The day trips I recommend are based off staying in the Lahaina / Kaanapali area of Maui.
If you don’t mind the drive, “upcountry” (north facing slope of Haleakala) is an amazing drive. Along this route there is a mini version of Germany’s “Romantic Road” when you drive back toward the airport and turn right at Hana Highway. Drive down the coast to the little surfer town called Paia. There is good shaved ice here. Just a short drive from Paia is the town of Haliimaile. The Haliimaile General Store is a highly rated food stop. After eating at the General Store, continue on to Makawao and visit the galleries and shops. Next, head toward Kula. On the way, visit the Lavendar farm and if you have time after, make a quick stop at the Kula Lodge and the Tedeschi Vineyards. Sample some of their pineapple wine! If you aren’t too tired from all the driving, plan to watch sunset on the mountainside heading up to Haleakala Crater, you won’t be disappointed!
You should plan to spend six hours for the trip I have described. Try to time your trip to end at Haleakala Crater for a 7:00pm sunset!
Road to Hana
I am sure you have heard of this drive. This drive is not for the faint of heart.
Tips for Driving the Road to Hana:
Start early – you don’t want to be driving this road in the dark.
Let a pro drive – this road has been known to get people carsick and frustrated but a pro knows the tricks to seeing it all.
Plan for a picnic – there are more picnic spots than places to buy food. Depending on the day and the ocean swell, everything or nothing will be open.
Always start with a full tank – fuel economy will be poor with no bargains and limited resources for fuel in Hana.
Bring cash – a little bit of cash will make sampling from roadside stands along the road easier.
Top 10 stops on the Road to Hana:
Wailua Valley State Wayside
Kahanu Garden & Piilanihale Heiau
Waianapanapu State Park
Hana Bay Beach Park
Ohe o Gulch “Seven Sacred Pools”
Back side of Haleakala
I would recommend checking out Viator.com. I used them to book a kayak and snorkel trip out of Olawalu on Maui. The guide taught us the basics of kayaking and took us to a spot a mile or more off shore. There had just been a tropical depression so the water had still not fully cleared. I would say we had 50% visibility which was disappointing, but I could still see some coral and fish.
This was one of the highlights from the trip. We opted to do a cocktail cruise as the ratings for dinner cruises are not as high. There were around 30 people on the boat and we got well drinks, beer, wine or champagne. It was nice to relax on the boat and watch the sun set. Prepare yourself, it can get pretty windy.
This sunset cruise was booked through Viator.com.
1. Honolua Bay – this is the beach that I snorkeled out of. This beach has very limited parking and includes a short walk down to the” beach ” area. Don’t plan on hanging out at this beach all day as this beach mainly contains rocks. When you get to the Shoreline, you will want to swim almost to the end of the bay. You may see tour boats in the bay, swim out to where all of those people are. I swam with at least four turtles and hundreds of turtles.
I was so excited to swim with turtles!
2. Slaughterhouse Beach
3. Molokini – this one was popular when I was doing excursion research. Boats take you out to a horseshoe Bay in the middle of the ocean where you do your snorkeling.
1. Any of the hotel beaches
The beach outside of our condo, Kahana Shores was a great way to relax on the beach or get in the water to cool off. Most of the resorts on the Lahaina side have great beaches for relaxing.
This was the beach outside our condo
And the beach during the day.
2. Wailea – Kamaole Beach Park 1,2, or 3
The Wailea side of Maui had a completely different beach feel. The beach was a more gradual walk out and you could stand in the waves without the beach drop off we had at our hotel.
Kamaeole Beach Park 1
3. Kapalua – DT Fleming State Park
4. Cove Park
Whalers Village – Leilani’s
– Must try are the fish tacos. Happy Hour is also a great option here. I enjoyed the Kahlua pork egg rolls
Whalers Village – Hula Grill
– Must try is the hula pie. Happy Hour is also a great option as a lot of the options are pricey. I enjoyed the happy hour spiked lemonade!
Kaanapali – The Fish Market Maui
– This was more of a random find one night. This is a place to take food to go and eat back at your place. One side of the store you can order meals and the other side you can order raw catches of the day, hence the store name. This place was packed when we were there and for good reason. The reviews online didn’t like. The food was delicious and fresh! I enjoyed a seafood platter: fish, shrimp and scallops.
Kaanapali – Miso Phat
– This was another local find. This happened to be right across the street from our condo and had a 4.5/5 star rating online. The sushi here was delicious!
Kaanapali – Maui Brewing Company brewpub
– We were excited to see the brew pub was within walking distance to our hotel. The food here was good and the beer was delicious!
Kihei – Wow Wow Lemonade
– I discovered this place a few months before we went to Maui and was drawn to the cute glasses featured on their Instagram. I bought the souvenir Mason jar for my Guava Limeade and tried one of their Acai bowls.I am hooked!
Guava Limeade – YUM
Acai Bowl – Thick smoothie base with toppings. This one had coconut, strawberries, blueberries, and a coconut pudding
– Whalers Village
– Lahaina Cannery Mall
– Lahaina Outlet Mall
Tips for finding lodging
– Use HomeAway or Airbnb
Have you ever used these sites before!? If you haven’t you are missing out. It is a more affordable way to travel, especially for longer periods of stay where you want to have a kitchen to cook some meals and keep the cost down. This is also a great way to stay with groups of people to split the cost. I have used both home away (or vrbo.com) and airbnb multiple times, both in the States and internationally.
View of the beach from our condo balcony
And the view of the condos from our pool. The restaurant at our hotel was super delicious and convenient as well.
Tips to choosing your lodging
– how long are you staying? 5+ days – airbnb option
– want to cook at home and save some $ and lbs? – airbnb option
– want to simply relax? Maybe a hotel is the right fit for you.