If you’re thinking about going to Hawaii, go! If you’re debating opening up a credit card that pays you back in travel miles, do it! And if you’re looking for tips for your upcoming trip to Maui, read on!
Maui is said to offer the best of both worlds — adventure and wildlife, and relaxation and privacy. Unlike the larger, more touristy islands, you can experience the Hawaiian culture in a more intimate and slow-paced setting that still feels much like a small town.
Last year, we were married in Maui and we planned to come back for our honeymoon. And then we got pregnant and those plans were put on hold.
I kept coming up with excuses — everything from not being able to justify the money, to not wanting to use up my vacation at work, being afraid of Zika, etc. And I am so happy that we made the decision to go.
We found an incredible deal on an Airbnb and used leftover reward miles from our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (I highly recommend if you’re going to be spending money on something like a wedding, anyway).
Maui is truly my happy place. It’s not the type of vacation that exhausts you. I always come back feeling well-rested, relaxed and rejuvenated. And even more importantly, my husband and I leave feeling more connected than ever.
Maui Guide: Intro
Let me preface by saying that we love the south shore (Kihei/Wailea area), so this guide is focused on Southern Maui. Lahaina and Kaanapali have more to do in the way of shopping and dining, but I find them a tad more touristy.
After three trips to Maui, I still have yet to do the Road to Hana. I know, I know. I’m missing out on the Seven Sacred Pools and so much more! But when I visit Maui, I’m there to relax.
Unfortunately, I suffer from motion sickness, and being car-sick is not my idea of fun. ☹ That being said, if you’re a big adventure junkie, this particular Maui Guide probably isn’t for you.
Maui Guide: Travel Tips
I can’t recommend Hawaiian Airlines enough! They will provide a unique, island-style experience, and they are the only domestic airline that still offers complimentary in-flight meal service. Huge bonus on a 5 hour flight!
Snacks + Layover
Pack lots of snacks! It can be a long flight depending where you are traveling from, and no one wants to start their vacation with a case of HANGER. If you’re taking a red-eye flight with a layover, keep in mind that there won’t be any restaurants open when you land in Honolulu.
Extra Comfort + Temp
The planes are usually cold, and unless you upgrade to Extra Comfort Seats (which is totally worth it for $75 each on the way back), you’ll have to pay $10+ for a blanket and pillow. So bring a hoodie and lightweight wrap to drape over your legs.
Check cdc.gov for the latest on Zika updates and EPA-approved mosquito repellent. At the time we went, there were no locally transmitted cases. That being said, no one likes mosquito bites. I highly recommend Avon Skin So-Soft Bug Spray with SPF. It wards off mosquitos for 6 hours+.
Maui Guide: Eats
The one thing you know I love to do is eat. And we like to eat local! Maui food is overpriced as it is, so it helps if you narrow down your fine-dining outings to 1-2 nights and then keep it low-key the remainder of the trip.
I know what you’re thinking. Greek food in Hawaii?! Guys, this restaurant was amazing! It has a beautiful outdoor terrace with romantic seating, and the restaurant owner goes fishing every day to determine the menu specials. Prices are moderate when compared to some of the other fine-dining options. I was trying to limit my fish intake, so I had the chicken skewers and they were prepared perfectly! The hummus is a great starter, but keep in mind that the portion sizes aren’t huge (which seems to be a common theme in Maui). I also recommend the Lilikoi No-Jito if you’re an expecting mama or non-alcoholic drinker.
This restaurant came highly recommended (mainly because of the beautiful, beach view), but the prices are definitely on the higher end. The best bang for your buck is to go for breakfast. My husband got the Loco Moco and I got the Huevos Rancheros. Both were delicious and good portions. Keep in mind, everything is casual in Maui, so you can literally come to a nice restaurant in a swimsuit cover-up and no one will bat an eye.
Coconuts is a casual spot known for their tacos, and for good reason. They are amazing! My husband got the fish tacos (a combo of mahi mahi and ono) and I got chicken. With 17 unique ingredients, they are packed with flavor and definitely don’t leave you hungry. Big portions and moderate prices over here!
We haven’t eaten here yet, but this place comes highly recommended. It’s right next to Coconuts Fish Cafe and is the perfect option if Hubby wants loaded tacos and you want something on the lighter side. They have quinoa bowls and fresh salads, which is a nice change after a week of eating out!
This is hands-down our favorite “fast(er) food” spot. The poke bowls are a sampling of 4 different flavors— probably my husband’s favorite cuisine. I got the chicken teriyaki plate, which comes with traditional rice and macaroni salad. Both were amazing and reasonably priced. Warning: these portions are BIG! Come hungry.
This is a cool distillery to stop in for a casual flight of beer (I personally had the root beer, but Tysson recommends the pineapple brew). Make sure to check out Big Beach BBQ’s Facebook to see when the food truck will be there! We loved the Pineapple Sausage Dog — beer and dogs are the perfect treat after an afternoon at the beach.
You can’t come to Maui without eating here. Make sure to prep your wallet because this place is on the expensive side! And in my opinion, totally worth it. You’ll absolutely need a reservation and I recommend coming for an early dinner between 3pm and 4pm before the dinner rush. You’ll get the same amazing beach view without the crowds and the heat of the sunset (did I mention that there is no A/C?). We recommend any of the fresh catches of the day, and starting with the ahi poke appetizer. Let them know if you’re celebrating a special occasion and they’ll be sure to make your meal memorable.
Located up-country in the lush, historic town of Makawao, this hidden restaurant is incredible! It’s also a great chance to see a part of Maui that most people never do. This is where we had our rehearsal dinner when we got married, and it was recommended by a local. We had a prix fixe menu, but it included the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi, which was a group favorite!
We absolutely love having our own kitchen! First, it saves us money, and second, it’s a great way to eat healthy.
You’ll find that Maui groceries are on the pricey side, and most produce is actually imported from California, so only buy your essentials.
- Produce. Opt for fruit and veggies that stay well in high humidity — dragonfruit, local pineapple, blueberries, and papaya are good choices. I also like bananas because they are easy to grab and go.
- Sandwich Items. Perfect for lunch on the beach. Try whole grain bread, apricot jam, and crunchy PB for a savory option. Then grab some sliced deli chicken and low-fat mozzarella to stock up on lean protein!
- Poke. Because you’re in Hawaii, this is a must. You’ll want to get it at Foodland (along with rice and mac salad for a full meal). Make sure to try their California Roll Poke! They also have crab poke for those who can’t eat raw fish.
- Breakfast Items. I recommend a half carton of eggs, as well as oatmeal and yogurt. The perfect compliment to fruit for breakfast!
- Pantry Snacks. Trail mix and protein bars are the perfect on-the-go snack for a tourist.
- Water. Plane travel and eating out can lead to dehydration and water retention, but fun in the sun is a double whammy. So make sure to load up on a pack of water bottles. If it has electrolytes, even better!
- Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts. Duh, because they are delicious!
Maui Guide: Beaches
Let me start with a couple of dos and don’ts.
Do snorkel first thing in the morning when the water is crystal clear and before the wind picks up!
Do load up on sunscreen! Seriously, I have Hawaiian coloring and I still get burnt using SPF 30. That sun sneaks up on you and will burn you before you know it. The first sign of a tourist is that pretty red glow 😉
Don’t wander too far from shore. While shark attacks aren’t common, staying relatively close to the shore is strongly advised for your safety! You can usually swim next to the coral reefs and neighboring rocks to see beautiful sea life and sea turtles.
Our Favorite South Shore Beaches
This is a beautiful, secluded and lesser-known beach that isn’t crowded with tourists. It’s where we did our maternity pictures. And the sunset is incredible (check out our picture’s on Jane Johnson’s blog)!
You will likely find locals, but if you come prior to 8am, you might be the only one there. Tysson did his morning workouts here, and on the last day, he went snorkeling and ended up swimming with a family of sea turtles. Just venture by the rocks off to the left of the shoreline (pictured above). Note that there are no restroom facilities.
Mokapu is a beautiful beach with golden sand. Perfect for sun bathing and snorkeling. It’s mostly filled with families because it is in the heart of Wailea, right next to the Andaz Resort. Fortunately, that means public restroom (perfect for expecting mamas!). This is where I personally spent the most time swimming in the ocean because the waves are so calm.
Maluaka is a long, wide beach with beautiful white sand. It has public restrooms and surrounding grassy areas if you’re looking for a hangout aside from the sand. You’ll often find wedding ceremonies here each evening because the sunset view is incredible! There is a gorgeous and intimate cove to the left (pictured above) that is perfect for capturing romantic, sunset pictures.
This beach is set on a vast, open area. It’s great for a low-key hangout. We went on a Sunday (mid-day) and it wasn’t crowded at all. It is usually comprised of locals and is a good spot for beginner boogie boarders and paddle boarders to practice. The view here is awesome because you can see three land masses in the Pacific from this shore alone. Note that there are no restroom facilities.
We haven’t done a Molokini tour ourselves, but a lot of our wedding guests tried it out and they loved it! Molokini is just off the south coast of Maui and has some incredible sea life!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Maui Guide! Please make sure to comment below if there’s anything else you’re curious about, and I’d be happy to answer.
Mahalo and Enjoy Paradise,