Are you starting to plan your trip to Maui?
Maui is a popular destination for many obvious reasons! Because it is so popular, it is important that you do as much of the planning ahead of time as possible, so you don’t miss out. Rental car, hotel/air bnb/condo, some of your restaurant reservations, all of your activities & maui family photography services.
First Things First: Get Familiar with the General Areas of Maui
Below is a basic map of Maui
- Kahului is where the airport is
- West Side consists of Lahaina/Ka’anapali/Napili/Kapalua
- South Side is Kihei/Wailea
- North Shore is Paia/Kuau/Haiku
- Also shown below is Haleakala and the Road to Hana (RTH)
(There’s no road that goes all the way around the outside of the island but it almost does.)
Maui’s Top Activities
- Vacation Photos are an absolute must! Don’t come all the way to Maui and leave only to have photos on your iPhone. And let’s be honest, most of them won’t even have you in them! Take home the best souvenir and get your beautiful Maui family vacation documented by local Maui family photographer–Shayla Tiare Photography.
- Rent a road bike or mountain bike from- Krank Cycles and bike down the Haleakala Skyline Trail or go to the Makawao Forest.
- Whale Watch/Snorkeling/Sunset Dinner Cruise- Maui Snorkeling– Whale watching takes place from November-May. Peak season is mid-Jan-March.
- Helicopter Ride- Air Maui
- Road to Hana Tour- Hoaloha Jeep Adventures
- Aquarium/Maui Ocean Center– We are known for having a really beautiful aquarium that is actually worth going to.
- Luaus- Old Lahaina Luau: This is one of those activities that books up far in advance. If it is booked for your dates make sure to get on the waiting list. Often times people will cancel and you will get your reservation. Feast at Lele Luau: This would be the next best option if you can’t get into the Old Lahaina Luau. Feast at Lele has fire dancing!
- Butterfly Farm
- Maui Animal Farm- Lahaina Petting Zoo
- Surf Lessons- be sure to request Ina @ Maui Wave Riders
- Rent a Moped and drive around Kihei or Lahaina
- Haleakala Sunrise Tour- Skyline
- Zipline- Jungle Zipline, Kapalua Zipline, Flyin’ Hawaiian Zipline
- Mini Golf at Ma’alaea- Maui Golf and Sports Park
- Golfing- Wailea Emerald Golf Course, Kapalua Golf Course, Pukalani Country Club, The Dunes at Maui Lani
- Paragliding- Paraglide Maui
- Parasailing- UFO Parasail
- Canoe Tour- Hawaiian Paddle Sports
- Fishing Tour- Maui Fun Charters, Start Me Up Sportfishing
- Scuba Diving- Maui Diving
- Hike Maui– for a guided hike. I highly recommend this because they will keep you safe.
- Maui Wine-Ulupalakua Ranch- Wine Tasting
- Resort Pass- Andaz & Fairmont Kealani buy a cabana for the day and enjoy the amenities, without the price tag of staying the night.
- Spa- Spa Montage Kapalua Bay, Grand Wailea Resort & Spa (I think it is under construction right now)
Free or Nearly Free Maui Worthwhile Activities
- Iao Valley- Non residents are charged a small parking fee. (Goto the first parking lot to see the heritage gardens and then drive up to the main parking lot at the top) Iao Valley is closed as of August 2022.
- Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm– $3 per person. Or support the Maui Food Bank, and bring a donation of a non-perishable food item- per person- for admission to be waived.
- Haleakala- For sunrise (between 3-7am) it is required that you get reservations in advance. If you can’t manage to get one, then go to Sunset. It also very beautiful! You can also do a paid sunrise tour to get around having to get a reservation. (Linked under Maui’s Top Activities).
- Shaved Ice- Don’t forget to get shaved ice! Ululani’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice has several locations around Maui.
- Road to Hana (RTH)- Remember it is the experience and not the destination. Enjoy the ride and plan to stop all along the way. I also recommend going all the way around so you’re not coming back the way you came. The backside of Maui is very beautiful. If you’re out for the day, plan to be on the backside for sunset. Don’t forget to stop at famous Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread Stand in Keanae on the way there!
- Olinda Forest Easy Beautiful Walking Hike
- Makawao Forest Hike or Bike Ride- There is a beginner, intermediate & advanced biking pump track.
- Ho’okipa- to see the Hawaiian Sea Turtles
- Jaws/Peahi to see the big waves during the winter months- 4×4 is a must
- Kula Country Farms– depending on time of year- strawberry picking or pumpkin patch & year round they have a farm stand.
- Nakalele Blowhole
- Snorkeling (directly off shore)- Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve (see video below) & Honolulu Bay
Resorts have the highest price tag. If you can afford them, great! If not, don’t worry! Hotels and condos are also a great option.
Resorts have stricter rules for the amount of people in each room. Most only allow 4-5 people maximum.
Meaning, if you’re a family of 6+ you will need to purchase 2 rooms! Even if your 6th is a baby! In this case, a hotel or condo might be a better choice.
Check out Tropical Bound Condo Rentals for the best prices on condos. They service areas all over South Maui, West Maui, Big Island & Kauai.
West Maui (Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Napili, Kapalua)
- Hyatt Ka’anapali Resort
- Westin Ka’anapali Resort
- Honua Kai- Great choice for a condo!
- Ka’anapali Beach Hotel- Lower priced hotel with great quality and excellent walking location!
South Maui (Kihei, Wailea)
- Grand Wailea Resort- The ultimate hotel for the kids. Their hotel pool is the BEST one on Maui. It is the largest and has the most slides.
- Andaz Resort
- Fairmont Kealani Resort
- Four Seasons Resort
- Maui Coast Hotel- Lower priced hotel with great quality and excellent walking location!
- Kamaole Sands- Great choice for a condo
Places to Eat
Not all dining takes advanced reservations but I highly recommend making reservations well in advance for Mamas Fish House, Fleetwood’s, Lahaina Grill, Merriman’s & Star Noodle at sunset. If you didn’t make reservations try showing up before or after the typical lunch or dinner rush. Most places you won’t have a problem getting a table without much of a wait. Mama’s Fish house, Merriman’s & Star Noodle most likely will be unavailable without a reservation.
- My Thai– Very possibly the best Thai Food I have EVER had! It will even convert someone who doesn’t like Thai Food.
- Las Pinatas of Maui– Close to the airport and super easy. Yummy Mexican food with a friendly atmosphere.
- 62 Market- Excellent burgers & service is great!
- Cafe O’lei @ The Mill House & Maui Tropical Plantation- Beautiful scenery while you enjoy lunch or dinner. Buy duck feed in the gift shop and feed the ducks or plan to go on their zipline BEFORE eating lol..
- Paia Fish Market- Well known and a great but busy option for lunch.
- Mamas Fish House- By far the most popular and hard to get into restaurants on Maui.
- Cafe Des Ami- Known for their crepes
- Flatbread- Pizzeria with the very best and most creative pizzas!
- Nuka- My personal favorite sushi restaurant. Very fresh fish!
- Haili’imaile General Store- Don’t be fooled by the name. This is a beautiful fine dining restaurant. Open for lunch & dinner.
- Casanovas- Delicious Italian food.
- Freshies- Ultimate breakfast spot! Traditional American breakfast with healthy options also available.
- Grandmas Coffee House- Another amazing upcountry breakfast spot.
- Kula Lodge- Beautiful views and fireplace lodge vibes
- Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop– Known for their amazing pies! This is on your way to the westside. Located in Oluwalu.
- Star Noodle- If you want a prime sunset dinner reservation with an ocean view you must pre book months in advance.
- Moku Roots– Waste-free plant-based vegan restaurant! So yummy!
- Slappy Cakes– Super fun breakfast spot for kids. Each table has a skillet to make your own pancakes. Very busy- get there before they open to assure yourself a skillet table.
- Prison Street Pizza
- Lahaina Grill
- Kimo’s Maui
- Hula Grill Ka’anapali
- Duke’s Beach House
- Leilani’s on the Beach
- Monkeypod– Excellent food and Happy Hour
- Choice Bar- Acai bowls, smoothies, avocado toast! Great breakfast or lunch spot.
- Fleetwood’s on Front St.- Get a rooftop reservation for sunset
- Merriman’s- Sunset dinner spot with an ocean view! Be sure to get reservations.
- Piko Cafe- Super cute and easy going breakfast spot in Kihei
- Kihei Caffe- Busy, busy, busy for a good reason. Affordable and delicious! Go early or later than the breakfast crowd.
- Nalus South Shore Grill- Crowded and popular for a good reason- another excellent breakfast spot in Kihei.
- Paia Fish Market South Side
- Kinaole Grill Food Truck– Excellent Seafood
- Sprout Vegan Cafe- My new favorite vegan cafe on Maui!
- Da Kitchen- To get “local kind grindz” this would be the place.
- Three’s Bar and Grill
- Coconut’s Fish Cafe- Best known for their fish tacos!
- Monkeypod– VERY BUSY location in Wailea but worth it- especially for Happy Hour- try their famous Mai Tai.
- Fabiani’s Bakery and Pizzeria– Fine Italian food & baked goods.
- Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar– Another excellent choice for sushi.
- Maui Brewing Company- Great food and locally made beer.
- Manoli’s Pizza Company- Upscale pizza restaurant.
- Nutcharee’s Authentic Thai Food- My favorite Thai food in Kihei. They also have a food truck in Hana.
- Lineage- World famous Chef Sheldon created a fine dining version of all our favorite local dishes.
- Cafe O’lei Kihei
- Spago @ The Four Seasons Resort
- Ferraro’s @ The Four Seasons Resort
- Morimoto Maui @ The Andaz
- Kaana Kitchen @ The Andaz
Rental Car Accommodations
This can be tricky… Renting a car on Maui can be very expensive depending on the time of year you choose to come. Besides the obvious google search to find the mainstream rental agencies, here are some other options:
- Kihei Rental Car- Is a budget friendly option. They have great weekly rate options.
- Turo- Local residents rent out their vehicles on an app called Turo.
- Facebook- You can check Facebook Marketplace for locals renting out their own cars. You can also check Maui Facebook visitor groups.
- Craigslist- Check Craigslist for rental car listings.
Wailers Village (Ka’anapali)
- High end shopping mall and restaurants.
- Easy food court.
- Kids climbing area and splash pad
Front Street (Lahaina)
- Check out all the local Maui family photographer and Artist’s galleries, the surf shops, boutiques & restaurants.
- Outlets of Maui- Lahaina
Shops at Wailea (Wailea)
- High end shopping mall and restaurants.
Saturday Swap Meet (Kahului in the University of Hawaii Parking Lot)
- Fun and affordable place to shop. They have everything from jewelry & local souvenirs/crafts to food and produce.
Saturday Farmers Market (Near Longs in Pukalani)
- Similar to the Saturday swap meet but focused more on food and produce rather than fun things to buy. It would be worth going to both.
Affordable Grocery Shopping (if that is even a thing in Maui)
- Costco (Kahului)
- Mana Foods (North Shore/Paia)
- Whole Foods (Kahului)
Don’t Forget to Pack…
- Bathing Suit & Cover Up
- A light waterproof rain jacket. Just in case! It usually isn’t “cold” but you may want a way to keep dry in case of rain.
- Warm clothes if you plan on going to Haleakala for sunrise.
- Rubber slippers that can get wet. High end supportive slippers Olukai. Less supportive but still super cute Havaianas.
- Reef Safe Sunscreen- ThinkBaby for your body and Raw Elements for your face. Both rub in surprisingly well for being reef safe.
- Lightweight Hat for Sun Protection
- Maui Jim Sunglasses
- Tennis Shoes
- Reusable YETI water bottle
- Super Long Phone Charger Cord for Hotel and Car