There is so much to do on the island of Maui, you will never have to worry about being bored. We recently completed our second two week visit there and still found something new to do every day. There are an endless number of beaches to explore and, if you need to get out of the sun, lots of little towns and hikes waiting to be discovered. No matter what your budget, you will have a memorable time exploring the best of what Maui has to offer!
This article will be updated again in Spring 2018, so come back to find out what new things we have discovered to add to our Best of Maui list!
Best of Maui – Land
Road to Hana A beautiful drive, especially if you’re not the driver:) Waterfalls, hikes, and roadside stands can be found all along the route. Waikamoi Stream Waterfall has easy access for a dip in the pool. If you’re looking for a longer hike, consider Pipiwai Trail near the end of the highway. Remember to pull over to let locals pass!
Paia We love this little hippy town! We always come for the gluten-free pie (see below), but this is also where we do most of our shopping.
La Parouse Bay Walk through an extensive lava field along the beautiful coast. If you can manage to tear your eyes away from the ocean, you may be lucky enough to see the rare forest goat (these are actually free-ranging goats from a nearby farm:)
Hiking You know what’s great about hiking in Hawaii? There are no animals that want to kill you! That being said, there are still dangers. I never really understood the power of flash floods and how quickly they develop until I saw this video. Check out Maui Guidebook for a list of hikes to get you started. Waihou Spring Trail is a beautiful hike that can be a short and easy loop or you can take the steep switchbacks to the spring. Get there early to hear the birds in the morning and watch the sunlight filter through the trees. As the air warms, the scent from the eucalyptus trees becomes more prominent.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm I wouldn’t have expected this quaint place to have been one of my favourites, but it really is a sweet little garden. Admission is $3/$2 for new/returning visitors. They have a little shop that will instantly relax you with the scent of lavender. I’m not big on coffee, but their lavender coffee with a touch of lavender infused honey is wonderfully smooth to sip on as you stroll through the gardens. If you bring your own travel mug, your first coffee is free! They have a little scavenger hunt game you can play which, if you complete it, you will be rewarded with some lavender shortbread cookies (not gluten-free unfortunately, but they do have gluten-free lavender and coconut macaroons as well as lavender sweet potato chips). We also saw the famous Jackson Chameleon here! If you want to make a day of the drive here, continue up the steep and narrow road for hiking at Poli Poili Springs State Park.
Volunteer There are many opportunities to volunteer on Maui. As well as helping the environment, it’s a great way to meet new people and get to see new places. We just missed turtle nesting season and couldn’t participate in the turtle watch with the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, but I did go out on a turtle survey with the Hawksbill Recovery Project where we searched for the rare Hawksbill Turtle (we didn’t see one, but we did clean up a bunch of fishing line hopefully saving a turtle from becoming entangled). I also confronted my fear of jellyfish on this swim when we swam through seemingly endless clouds of white jellies.
If organised volunteering doesn’t fit with your schedule, you can still help by picking up garbage while you’re at the beach. If you’re really lucky, you may just stumble across a new pair of Ray-Bans that somebody lost…
Best of Maui – Sea
Get Naked Is there anything better than swimming naked in the ocean while watching the sun set? Nudity on public beaches is not illegal on Maui, but you aren’t going to see many people taking advantage of this. The general rule is, if there’s no one around, feel free to strip down. Even people passing by won’t say anything and, if they do, there’s nothing else they can do about it. If you prefer to be at a more designated clothing-optional beach, you have two choices.
The first is Paia’s Secret Beach. There is no vehicle access to this beach, so park at Paia Bay and walk through the small wooded area on the west side (left if you’re facing the water) or park at Baldwin Cove and follow the path along the seawall. We pretty much had this beach to ourselves, sharing it mostly with the turtles.
Popular Little Beach is a fun place to hang out with a good hippie vibe. On Sunday evenings, there is a drum circle that plays until sunset. Once it gets dark, fire dancers come out to light up the beach with their talent. The Maui police aren’t so fond of people dancing here after dark though and may come by to fine the fire dancers and send everybody home early. If you plan on staying at Little Beach past 8pm, make sure you park on the road instead of the parking lot so your car doesn’t get locked in when the gates close. Also, bring a flashlight of some kind. The trail runs over a steep cliff and is a bit treacherous at night.
Scuba Diving I have been wanting to do this my whole life and finally got my chance thanks to Maui Dive Shop! As someone who loves being in and on the water, I thought I would have no problems learning to dive. Admittedly though, I did panic on that first decent. Luckily, I breathed through it and once I consciously realised I was breathing, I was able to enjoy the magic of being underwater. Our instructor was laid-back, patient, and encouraging. During the second tank dive, I even had the instructor all to myself! I will absolutely do my open water certification with Maui Dive Shop as their prices are the most reasonable I’ve seen. Now I just have to wait for the Canadian dollar to catch up with the American dollar… This dive was provided courtesy of Maui Dive Shop.
Jaws If you happen to be lucky enough to be on Maui when Jaws is going off, it is quite something to watch people surfing 35 foot waves. Getting to viewpoint is an adventure in itself. The long, dirt road is accessible to 4WD vehicles only, but even then I wouldn’t trust my driving skills. If something is happening at Jaws though, you can hitch a ride from anyone else driving the road. I was worried about meeting my maker when I went scuba diving, but when our truck carrying ten people in the back almost flipped on a pot-hole, I learned a new kind of fear.
Whale Songs This is the only sound in the ocean that gets loud enough to even drown out the crackling sounds of tiny shrimp living in the coral (if you haven’t heard this shrimp yet, they are loud). Whale season is from December to April. Put on your snorkel gear and see if you can hear these giant mammals talking to each other!
Snorkelling On the days you can’t scuba dive, you can snorkel! My favourite spot so far is at Kapalua Bay for the sheer number and variety of marine life. It’s also the only place I’ve seen unicorn fish – because I love unicorns – so it’s even more special to me. If you get tired of swimming, the Kapalua Coastal Trail starts here and is a stunning walk along the coast. No matter where you go snorkelling, you are bound to find something. Every time I go out snorkelling, I see something new. One person I talked to had even seen two octopus at Kamaole I Beach! My favourite finds have been the Spanish dancer nudibranch and watching a squid change colour.
Paddle Boarding This sport isn’t as easy as it looks. While it seems tranquil, it’s actually quite a good workout. Read our Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Maui post for details.
Surfing If feeling like your body has literally been beat up by the ocean sounds like your idea of a good time, surfing on Maui is an ideal place to realise this dream. Seriously though, you get a wicked workout doing something fun. And unlike surfing in Tofino, you don’t have to wear a wetsuit.
Best of Maui – Food and Drink
Kombucha Not for everybody, this fermented drink is one of my favourite treats – and one of my favourite ways of getting my probiotics. I don’t know why Maui has such a huge kombucha scene, but you can find this drink everywhere. There are craft kombucha breweries and tasting rooms in different towns. We even saw it on tap at a local beer brewery!
Lava Java While they do make all sorts of coffees, I’m not sure anybody orders anything besides the frozen mocha. I don’t know what’s in this drink that makes it better than any other frozen coffee drink, but it’s super addictive. Most of our budget gets blown buying these.
Mana Foods A wonderful grocery store in Paia carrying local and organic foods. We come here specifically for the gluten-free macadamia nut pie. Think pecan pie (which they also have), but substitute creamy mac nuts in place of pecans. They have never had a lot of these when we’ve gone in, so I would suggest going early to avoid disappointment. Gluten-free or not, our whole family can’t stop eating these!
S & Q Coffee Shack If you need a bit more food in your coffee, you have to try the Crazy Mac Nut Shake. This milkshake is made with espresso and real macadamia nuts. My personal favourite drink on Maui.
Farmers Markets We always stock up on fresh, tropical fruits to make delicious smoothies. The Maui onions are deliciously sweet and the purple potatoes make a great garlic mashed potato dish. There are farmers markets all over the island. Some are only open on specific days while others are open regularly.
Billie Jackson’s Fresh Fish Buy fresh fish from the white van parked alongside South Kihei Rd. Billie is super friendly and you can call ahead if you want to see what was caught that day. Alternatively, if you’re in Napili, you can choose from a selection of fresh fish at Fish Market Maui.
Maui Sugar Shop Located in Lahaina (opening a second location soon), this gluten-free bakery has all kinds of mouth-watering treats.
Maui Brick Oven A 100% gluten-free restaurant right in Kihei! As a celiac, it’s been years since I’ve been able to have onion rings and mozzarella sticks, but not any longer. We filled up on these appetizers before our fabulous pizza even made it to the table. Also, bottomless iced tea!
Hawaiian Moon Natural Foods A natural foods grocery store in Kihei with an outstanding collection of reef-safe sunscreen. Reef-safe sunscreens are not only better for the environment, they are better for you. The chemical ingredients in commercial sunscreens can be absorbed by the body and interfere with the endocrine system. Hawaii is currently working to ban all reef unfriendly sunscreens (you can read more about that here).
This grocery store also has a great hot food and salad bar with lots of vegan and gluten-free options for those days you just don’t feel like cooking.
Please share your favourite Maui tips with me!
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