A visit to the beautiful island of Maui holds so many possible experiences. I want you, Dear Reader, to see highlights of my travels there a few years ago. Perhaps put them on your itinerary.
How To Have A Great Time There
It is sort of a joke to say “just another day in paradise” when on Maui… but it really is. Paradise!
I had a chance to visit there a couple years ago, and I would love another chance to go! I tried to do as many things as possible, but there were still so many possibilities that another trip could be filled with all new things to see and do.
Going there? Ideas for highlights you don’t want to miss. Or just visit vicariously with me..
Lots to see on this small, but richly diverse island.
Fishes! Corals! Cool Place
The Ocean Center
Pricey, but definitely worth it
This is an exciting Aquarium that showcases ocean life in a way that is rare for landlubbers like me to see. After viewing the fish, corals, and ocean life… the gift shop is the place for great souvenirs and gifts in a wide range of prices and beautiful selection. I loved that gift shop!
The List of Favorite Food Stops – top places for great food
Not always at a restaurant, sometimes from a shop, sometimes in a grocery, but good food is to be had on Maui. I like food that tastes good, and prefer a reasonable price and healthy ingredients. That is how I judge how good a place is for a meal.
Several are included in myÂ Yelp reviews.
7 Favorite Food Experiences
What tour guide is complete without a list of great food destinations?
- joys place: Small,casual place with a spirit of joy to go with the healthy cooking. I had the daily special which happened to be a fish taco- generous and delicious.
- Hawaiian Moon Natural Foods: I really enjoyed everything about this small grocery. Great tuna salad and pastas at the salad bar, with lovely wrap sandwiches in the refrigerated case at the back. My absolute favorite thing was the Tahitian limeade …. wow
- Leilani’s On the Beach: The big draw here is the fantastic view and open air dining right on the beach. For dessert shared a hula pie which is like a luxurious fudge covered Sundae.
- Eskimo Candy: Good battered and fried fish, pretty good fries on the side. I also had a serving of fried oysters. Small place that was quite crowded.
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant: Great food and fun atmosphere, we were seated in bench seats open to the breezes, air area right next to the water. Recommended.
- Cheeseburgers Island Style @ Shops At Wailea: So-so food, but great wait staff and quiet open air seating under a cool canopy. Great to get a bite to eat and have a good conversation during your shopping rounds.
- Koho’s Grill & Bar: The great food is the draw, while the eating area is crowded and a bit noisy. I liked to order and take out.
Tropical Plantation Daytrip – fun, great gifts, educational
Be sure to take the tour! We were riding in an open tram to see a plantation of sugarcane, coffee, macadamia nuts, pineapple, papaya, mango, guava, bananas, with stops for a coconut husking demo and a few minutes in a macadamia nut grove, with explanations of this important tree.
A lot of fun for a reasonable fee.
A restaurant is on location, which you might enjoy. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but heard it was good.
Maui Tropical Plantation
Special Items To Take Home
This place is a real highlight of things to see. It is a farm extraordinaire. Several little shop areas are included in a setting of gardens, with a stroll around a lagoon.
Leis made and demonstrated in one hut, Hawaiian coffees in another.
The main souvenir shop hadÂ a fine selection of some of the best Island mementoes, including:
- Hawaiian clothing,
- macadamia nut candies,
- Oils Of Aloha Kukui Skin Care,
- Giclee art prints and paintings.
Lonely Planet Look At the Island
Polynesians and Whalers
The Iao needle is a pinnacle of 1,200 feet, a famous landmark in the state park set aside because of its historical significance. In the late 15th century Hawaiian nobility made this their burial grounds, and it was here that the great battle for Hawaiian island unity was fought and won by Kamehameha the Great.
It is a beautiful site, with a small recreated village area. It is the natural beauty of the place that makes such an impression, and the walks are easy to navigate. It rains a little more here, due to the elevation, so even if dry further down on the island, you might want to be prepared for some sprinkles.
Read up on the history before you go, there aren’t many plaques or other ways of being aware of the impressive story of this significant place.
LAHAINA FISHING VILLAGE
This was the residence of the highest chiefs and the first capital of the new Kingdom of Hawai’i. A giant Banyon tree is at the center of the tourist area. Museums and many things that hark back to the old whaling days when up to 550 whaling ships harbored in the Lahaina port.
Hana Road has many scenic waterfalls to view.
the long and winding road…
It would be a crying shame if you visited Maui and never ventured along the Hana Road. Breath taking scenery and death defying hairpin turns in a tropical forest of waterfalls, lush greenery, and stops for small hikes.
Remember when driving (if you don’t take a tour bus) to use Island etiquette and allow the other driver right of way, giving the hang loose hand signal at bridges, etc. Courtesy is always appreciated, but on Hana Road it is a safety measure. The shaka sign shows “Aloha Spirit,” a gesture of friendship and understanding- like “Aloha itself. You honk before taking the turns to alert oncoming drivers.
Not very many places for eating, so eat before going or take your own snacks along. There are fruit stands at certain junctures.
The scenery is unbelievably gorgeous. People find their way along “Mile Markers”, and a map of desired sites to see and stop at is a good thing. Be sure to include Ke’anae Arboretum on your list, it is free and holds many interesting specimens of trees.
The hand signal, shaka sign, meaning “hang loose” “go ahead” etc, is the thumb and little finger extended and the other fingers folded down while a wiggle or two is given.
Botanical Garden at Kahanu Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA
I walked through here
Botanical Garden at Kahanu Garden is lovely and serene. I learned about some of the tropical trees and plants in this quiet place.
The intense sunshine means good eye protection is a must, and flip flops are probably the only footwear you need. But they are important to keep your feet comfortable walking across the sand -especially black lava sand!
Things To Pack For The Island
Sun Protection Is A Must
You will certainly need and use a good pair of sunglasses. The sun shines a lot here 🙂
Addictive stuff. Be sure to have the flavor you like topped with Maui Cream (coconut milk)
A number of places to find it, I liked a little shop in Kihei, close to a boardwalk.
The Many Beaches
They each have their own attraction
Pick any beach in Maui and it is an experience of bliss, but whether it is the black sand in the south or the sugar sand of the west, or the North Shore wild surf beaches, every view is of the deepest blue water imaginable and a day in paradise.
Visiting a beach is my idea of what is the absolute most fun for a vacation. So my bias is to implore you to get to the nearest beach and enjoy the sand, sun, and the ocean. Save the shopping and dining for in between a great day at the beach. Well, maybe not everyday of the vacation, but most days!
I don’t surf, so I spent little time on the North Shore. Beaches found there are named, “Baldwin Beach, Ho’okipa Beach, Paia Bay, Tavares Bay, Kanaha Beach Park”, and others. Those who love these beaches do so because they are far from resorts, the chance to find a 50-foot monster wave, and watch the surfers brave enough to ride these waves.
The North Shore To See Surfers
Honolua Bay, Maui
Many Beaches, Different Sides of Maui
I love the beaches of Kihei, that is where I saw native Hawaiians having their cookouts and a general good time. Kalama Beach Park is where I went to eat my luscious sandwich from nearby organic food place,joys place. Don’t miss trying out their food ( also now available at the Kahului Whole Foods, which wasn’t there yet at the time of my visit). I shopped at the Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods, which was perfect. Their Tahitian Limeade is the perfect Hawaiian refreshment.
There are a line of very nice beach parks in this area. I thought they seemed family-friendly.
Polo Beach and Makena
Further south, past Wailea and the famous shops is Polo Beach. I didn’t discover it until almost time to return home. A very lovely beach with nice facilities and parking. I would have liked to have visited it more often during my visit. Further south yet, is Makena, with Big Beach, and the black sand beach. At this point you have to turn back around since the roads beyond this area are unsafe to travel- prohibited by the rental car company.
Be sure to wear hat, shades, and coverup, since the tropical sun is intense. And turn your body to expose different sides… I got a little overcooked on one side while talking with my friend one afternoon.
- Black Rock Beach is where my daughter and her friend went snorkeling. It is a nice beach next to resorts with great eating and shopping places nearby. This beach was much more crowded than any of the web photos usually show; it is a very popular place.
This advertises one of the best beaches
Maui Has More
Sights to See
‘Ohe’o Gulch on the Hana Highway. The Seven Sacred Pools are beautiful to see, flowering plants, and stone steps … at the time I was there there was no swimming allowed.
They are part of the Haleakala National Park. Many people drive up the Haleakala mountain to view the dawn rise. We attempted that, but my friend wasn’t well that day and had to turn back. Dress as for a cold fall day with a jacket for this trip if you take it. The elevation makes the temperatures much cooler than you might expect. Many beautiful lookouts on the roadway to the top.
Driving up the mountain can be a long trip, with many curving turns ( but none as sharp or difficult as the ones on the Hana road).
Be sure to visit the Seven Sacred Pools, in the Kipahulu District.
Informative Tour Of Maui Island – An overview of all the main sections of the island
A quick moving, pleasant tour of the different parts of Maui and what each is known for, I liked this video as a quick way to discover highlights to be sure and see on any person’s trip, here.
Travel Tip: Rent A Car
It is well worth it, easy to travel around the Island, and if you have an economy car the gas mileage is affordable.
- Maui Guidebook
a complete site with categories of the different parts of Maui
There is so much of interest ion this Hawaiian island that a good guide book would be really helpful. Not everyone can be toured around by a friend who lives on the island and likes to show the best of Maui to visitors (like I was privileged to experience).
Hilo Hattie: She was a singer, hula dancer, actress and comedienne of 100% Hawaiian ancestry
Aloha Prints Go Everywhere on the Island
Hawaiian print shirts look great while shopping, dining, or on the beach. They are breezy and look good in a wide variety of venues.
Maui Clothing and Souvenirs – Great Summer Wear Anywhere
Hilo Hattie is the biggest souvenir shop, but there are loads of others. My absolute favorite place for shirts, dresses, and souvenirs? The Maui Tropical Plantation Shop in Wailuku.
If you go on the Hana Road, be sure to buy some trinkets from the roadside stand up there. Mahalo!
Can’t make it to Maui this year? Order some of these for your summer wardrobe, a bit of Happy Hawaii colors and casual ease.
LITTLE BEACH DRESSES
Great cover up for the beach or fun little dress for daytime jaunts. I bought one for my daughter.
There are many styles and prints available in the souvenir shops. You will get a lot of use from your Island wear- the cotton prints are comfortable and always manage to look in style on Maui.
How To Dress
The Island look is laid back along with the lifestyle. Sandals and flipflops, loose shirts and coverups, breezy prints and natural fabrics will make you comfortable and help you fit right in.
The Souvenir styles featured here are clothes you will actually wear around the entire Island.
Queen Ka’ahumanu Center
Queen Ka’ahumanu Center
Great Mall and Good Eats
Queen Ka’ahumanu Center is a fun mall just because it is all open air -like being in a giant tent, which is perfect for Maui weather. Jamba Juice was a big plus for my teen daughter, her friend, and me. And I loved walking around looking at the shops, even though they aren’t really special. However, the lady who sells Island jewelry in a kiosk stand was very nice and had a great selection of shell items.
I really liked the food at Kona’s Grill, and recommend it.
Bad Ass Coffee shop was my favorite on the Island. Truly great coffee at reasonable prices.
It is an intimate old fashioned cafe with a personable owner and the perfect place to enjoy a cup of fine Hawaiian coffee.
Most coffee lovers know about Kona, but this island also has top quality distinctive beans that make a delicious cup ‘o joe.
Maui coffee is excellent even though it doesn’t have the widespread reputation of Kona. Most Hawaiian coffee sold on the mainland is “Kona”, which is from the Kona mountains on the big Island. Try the Maui Company coffees listed and compare!
From beach glass to Pacific pearls to shell earrings and bracelets, there are plenty of choices to buy to give your summer wardrobe the Island look. Pearls and coral are gifts of the sea. More information about Beach Glass and jewelry made from it.
I bought souvenirs of beach glass earrings for one of my daughters. Beautiful and unique and easy to pack.
More Maui Info
Map of the Island
Unique Hawaiian Culture
The islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai make up Maui County. There is a ferry to Moloka’i Island from Lahaina.
The Halawa Culture experience is located on Moloka’i Island, but the history includes Maui and all the Islands