The second largest island in the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is called the “Valley Isle”. It’s one of the first places to note when someone decides to take a romantic honeymoon vacation. Amazing beaches, sunsets that are a sight to behold and a mixture of relation and adventure. Maui is surely at the top of people’s lists when they consider places to visit in Hawaii.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Haleakala Volcano Biking – There are very few places in the world that you can bike down a volcano! An amazing trip that takes you from the top of Haleakala crater back down to Paia. Take your time because there are a lot of amazing places to see and visit along the way!
- Road to Hana – Known as one of the top drives in the world to do and for good reason! Be careful and take your time on the small and winding roads as locals do not take their time driving this road. Split it between two days to see everything. Waterfalls, black and red sand beaches, and hiking are all just a part of the things to experience on this trail.
- Sunset at the beach – Maui has amazing beaches and it’s one of the best islands to watch the sunset.
- Pipiwai Trail – A must do hike on the island. It takes you from a lush bamboo forest and culminates with a large waterfall at the end. It’s found on the road to Hana and is well worth a side trip.
- Haleakala National Park – There is so much to do here, but this was one of my regrets on our trip to Maui. We sadly were not able to get to the top of this area because of road conditions. If you can take an evening tour to star gaze, make sure you add it to your list of must do’s while you visit Maui.
- Air Travel
- Black Rock beach
- Ululani’s shave ice
- Kohola brewery
- Maui brewing company
Air Travel: As you move through the airport in Maui you feel a sense of relief from all of your troubles. The life in Hawaii just feels much slower than anywhere else I’ve been. Can an airport feel slow? It feels much calmer than a normal airport. People all around you feeling a sense of relaxation from their everyday lives. People from all over the world, whether it’s getting married, a honeymoon or just a holiday, they come here for a sense of peace…even if it’s just for a small time lapse in their life. As we traveled from the airport to get our car, you feel the humidity surround you, not a severe amount like Florida, but just enough to make you feel warm inside.
*Black Rock beach: We got our car and the first stop like many other people on holiday, the beach! We scoped out beaches several weeks in advance and the first beach that came up that had it all (cliff jumping, snorkeling, beautiful sand) was black rock in Lahaina. We were not disappointed. Parking in one of the many resort parking lots was easy and we had just a quick walk to the beach. I slapped on my snorkel gear and quickly swam out to the rocky area that is known to have fish all around. The marine life around the area was exquisite, sharply dressed fish in their colorful outfits on the rocky underwater cliffs were fantastic to see. There were even several sea turtles joining with the large amount of snorkelers around the area. They were just flying around the sea looking for vegetation, acting like there was nobody around them. There were many kids doing cliff jumps as their parents waited in the ocean to take that all important shot of their child taking their leap of faith. I would highly recommend this beach as a stop on your Maui holiday.
Ululani’s shave ice: We quickly learned from our last trip to Kauai that Hawaiian shave ice is a must when you visit Hawaii. There is just something about how they make their shave ice here, it is like nowhere else in the world. We had some amazing shave ice at Jo Jo’s in Kauai, but hands down the Hawaiian shave ice that we ate at Ululani’s in Lahaina was amazing! Ask for what they recommend and prepare to be amazed at how they deliver it! It melts in your mouth! Get the ice cream in the bottom and a snow cap on the top and prepare yourself for something unlike anything you’ve had!
Kohola brewery: Next up was a stop for a brew. I had researched that there were two main breweries currently on the island. Kohola brewery and Maui brewery, we stopped at Kohola brewery first. The beer and service here were fantastic. For the craft beer afficianado, this stop is a must. With a very solid Mai Bock, American IPA’s and a great couple of lagers…this is a great stop to make for some quick suds.
Maui brewing company: After settling into our beautiful Maui coast hotel, we moved onto our next water hole at the Maui brewing company. The first thing you notice, this place is massive! The overall landscaping and grounds is something to see at the very least. I was a bit disappointed with the overall beer quality though. As most from the mainland know, Maui brewing company is a big distributor and I find myself dissapointed a lot of the time when going to these. The beer just feels rushed. It felt like they rushed many of their beers into production without providing a sense of love to each one. I ordered several beers while there and my waitress was quick to say that they actually didn’t have my choices available at the time. After making several orders and being turned down, I finally found some beer that they did have. The beer was so-so, the food was so-so. It was interesting to me coming from the mainland, that you can sample beer in tasters on Maui but you can’t do a flight. They only allow one or two beers in front of you at the most. Not a huge worry but you should have this in your mind when ordering.
- Maui Sunriders bike company
- Ho’Okipa beach
Paia: We were so excited to wake this morning, even though we both had jet lag from the time change coming from the west coast. We made our way to the Maui Sunriders bike company. We loved this piece of the trip. You go to a small beach town called Paia, which gets severely busy in the later parts of the day. In the early morning, you won’t see a person the streets, except maybe some local street beggars or people at gas stations preparing for their trek down the road to Hana. Several eateries and neat shops, makes this town a nice place to spend half a day.
Maui Sunrider company: The people at the Maui Sunrider company were extremely friendly and quickly got you up and ready for the car trip to the top of Haleakala. The trip up took about an hour going through heavy twists and turns, but the guide fills you with useful information on what to expect and see on your bike ride down the volcano. As we adjusted our bikes and got ready to make our ride down the volcano, we saw an amazing view of all of Maui….looking down through the clouds. The bike ride down has you heavily relying on your brakes as you cruise through the turns at close to 30 mph. Take time to enjoy the ride and the views on the way down. The top stops we took were the Kuna hotel and cafe, where Steven Tyler himself frequents. An amazing view of foliage and the ocean surely don’t disappoint. The old ranching town of Molakao is very interesting. Stop and have a bite to eat or least stop and go through a couple of the shops. Finally take some time on the last leg of the bike trip to view some of the beautiful churches that have been there since the beginning.
Ho’Okipa beach: We got back around 3pm and had enough time to cross Ho’Okipa beach off the list. Even though, it was hectic with people, I would definetly recommend stopping here to watch the surfers off the shore and see sleeping green sea turtles. It was very neat to catch a glimpse of these amazing sea creatures as they lay on the beach sleeping and catching rays. This beach is also known for it’s bigger waves during the winter season. This side of the island can get waves up to 60 feet tall at times and can host some fantastic surfing competitions.
- Road to Hana
Road to Hana: This is the day that I was excited for going into our Maui holiday. The road to hana! WOW, this drive is known as one of the top drives to do before you die. Going through the 620 turns and over 50 one car bridges makes this road at times some risky business (had to throw a Tom Cruise pun in). We started by getting up extremely early as this road gets very busy with people later in the day. We woke at 4:30 am and got to the town of Paia to gas up at 5:30. Very important to get your gas here because there are no gas stations along the road until you get into Hana. With starting so early, what was great, was that besides our car, there were only locals on the road and they were going the opposite direction. Be careful with the hairpin turns and one car bridges as locals love to go fast and they will let you know who owns the roads. It was a little scary at first, being that you have no idea what’s coming ahead of you, but drive safely and allow faster drivers to move ahead of you and you’ll be fine. We actually started at the end of the trip and worked our way back. We stopped at a couple of waterfalls along the front stretch of road as there was nobody around and it was the best time to get some good shots before people would be all over the area. We got great views of a couple of waterfalls and the canyon just as the sun was breaking. When you get to the back side of Haleakala park, make sure you stop and get some fruit at the local stand as they had some very interesting fruit that you might never have again.
Pipiwai Trail: Our first stop was a bit confusing to find, but after going too far on the road (and determining that it was actually the large parking area we passed) we found the trail head. Pipiwai trail was easily our favorite hike of the trip. It brings you on a short trek between bamboo forests, ravines and ends with a striking waterfall at the end. The trail itself is very well maintained so no experience in hiking is really necessary to take this trail. You will get amazing views of the bamboo forest for roughly 800 yards which is very cool. When you get to the end and see the clearing, you see an amazing 400 foot waterfall which is well worth the hike alone. Get close and breath in the mist from this beheamoth. You can get a sense of what it might have been like for natives to take the trek and see this waterfall up close and personal.
Venus Pools: As we left our hike and got back on the road, we worked our way towards Hana. The next stop we took was at the Venus pools. Known by locals and maybe not the easiest to find. You park at the side of a bridge and work your way through a cattle field. All locals were there when we got to the location. It had wonderful cliff diving opportunities and the water was quite warm. After a couple of jumps and a bit of swimming, we headed back to the road.
Huli Huli Chicken: Luckily through preparation I came to know that the Huli Huli chicken is a must to try on the road. We stopped at Hana bay and went to a very local area to get a taste. When we pulled up, it looked very local, almost like a family cookout. We ordered to plates of huli huli chicken and they serve it with two sides and a drink. The chicken fell off the bone and dissolved in your mouth as you ate it! It was fantastic to eat while you watched the ocean waves knock against the red beach shore.
*Red sand beach: We stopped at another local beach, which can be clothing optional. The red sand beach takes a small trek through a cliffy mountainside but was absolutely worth it when you come to the beach. The red “sand” beach was beautiful and secluded. There were people out snorkeling and swimming in the small bay here. It was an amazing place to just stop and people watch. Plus, how often do you get to see a red sand beach?
*Black sand beach: We worked our way next to the black sand beach hoping for the same experience. We were a bit disappointed to find that we were starting to get into the heavy crowds of people. The beach itself is beautiful with lava tubes, blowholes and black sand, but there were just too many people on the beach at the time to enjoy it. We walked down to the lava tubes and people watched a bit, but soon decided to head back to the car. As we left the park, there was a fruit stand with the honor system. We stopped and got a couple of fresh pineapples and coconuts, paid and headed back to the road.
Halfway to Hana: It was starting to get much later in the day so we decided on making only a few more stops. We stopped a couple of times to see Taro fields below us in very small farm towns and quickly got to the halfway to hana point before it closed at 4pm. We had to stop for some famous banana bread of course! We got some banana bread and a hawaiian shave ice. The banana bread was good, but not how grandma made it! The Hawaiian shave ice was average in comparison to the shave ice we had at Ululana’s the first day.
If we did the road to hana again, I probably would split this into two days as there is just too much to see in one day. Fit in what’s important if you have only one day, which we feel we did, but we still missed a couple of small hikes and waterfalls that I would have loved to take a quick dip in.
Snorkeling: We spent this day relaxing on the beaches of the south shore by Kihei and enjoying some of the local cuisine. We rented some snorkel gear from Snorkel Bob’s, which was close to the hotel. If you need prescription, they can give you this too. We went to several beaches, including: Kamaole I, II and III that day and had a great time snorkeling and catching some rays. I briefly did some surfing in Florida while I lived there and wanted to surf while I was in Hawaii, but the pure amount of people learning to surf at the cove was overwhelming. Too many people trying to catch the next 2-3 foot small wave just didn’t seem fun to me so we decided against it.
Kihei: That night we took to the town in Kihei. We visited what they called the triangle of bars in the downtown area. It was very neat to see the locals hanging out and washing cares away. Each bar had a different feel to it. The first bar we went to was what you would think of as a sports bar, the next had a great dance club at the back where we saw some people really getting down and dirty. The Tiki bar we stopped at last was a great final bar with great local bands jamming out to the sounds of Journey and Skynard. If you are in Kihei and looking to go out for the night, I would recommend the area as it had something for everyone with their bar scene.
- Iao Valley
- Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Iao Valley: As we packed up and started to get ready for our last day of holiday, we decided to spend more time around Kuhului where the airport was located. We quickly learned that the best Poke was actually served at a wine and liquor store in town with a Poke bar in back. There is just something about the Poke served on the islands that tastes so much better than on the mainland. The fish was extremely fresh and it’s just a staple in the Hawaiian lifestyle. After our Poke bowls we made a stop to the Iao valley and got a glimpse of some amazing views of the valley. Down below there is a stream that locals travel to that have some wonderful pools to swim in. You can really get some great shots of the river here. It get’s packed so we would probably come a bit earlier next time to get there before the crowds.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm: The Lavender farms are a bit of a travel up through the national park area but we did enjoy our time here. It is also close to several wineries that we did not have time to visit on our last day of stay on the island, but if you have the time, they are in close vicinity. Parking is easy and there are a decent amount of people that come to visit the farm. It is a very zen like experience when you visit. You find flora every where you look, in season, some lavender beyond belief. You also get an amazing view looking out at the ocean. Take some time and walk through the area and then sit down and try one of their delicious lavender treats.
*Top people watching spot