February 24, 2022 23 min read
My husband and I went to Maui, Hawaii in February 2022 and absolutely LOVED it! Here are all of the things we did while on the island of Maui and our top recommendations for your trip to Maui, Hawaii.
Please note that our Itinerary is not necessarily the most efficient. We did a lot of exploring and sometimes drove all around the island in one day. I probably would plan a bit differently next time, but we did enjoy the aspect of exploring things for ourselves and not being tied down to a strict itinerary on our trip, even if that meant we weren't always efficient. We were on vacation after all!
My hope with this blog post is to share what we did so you can find new and exciting things to do in Maui!
Here are our top 5 tips for visiting Maui (not including how to save money on your trip, that's below!)
Call it "budget luxury" if you will, here are a few tips to save money on your trip to Maui! These tips do not diminish the quality or luxury of your vacation. They help you save where you can and enjoy your time on the island!
We made it into Kahului Airport (OGG) at around 8pm HST. We were exhausted from our flights and the 5 hour time zone difference from our North Carolina home, but we made it.
We really wanted to rent a soft-top Jeep Wrangler to drive around the island, and looking back we are so glad we did it! But they were very expensive to rent on popular car rental sites.
Instead, we rented a car through Turo. It's like AirBNB, but for cars. We were a little weary of it at first having never done it before. After reviewing the price difference between Turo vs. national car rental companies, we opted for Turo and are glad we did. We rented a 2-door, soft-top Jeep Wrangler. Pick up was super easy. The owner/host left the car in the airport parking lot with the key in a lockbox. She texted us the code and we were on our way!
Pros and Cons of Renting a Soft-Top Jeep
We ate in for almost every breakfast and lunch to help save on costs and better accommodate some of the day trips we took around the island. So one of our first stops on the island was the grocery store.
There are a lot of grocery stores in the populated areas of the island. We went to Target the first night, but later grew to like Safeway. If you have never been to a Safeway, it's comparable to Publix or a nicer grocery store with a lot of variety. You can easily join the Safeway rewards program by entering your phone number and save a bit on groceries.
We stayed in AirBNBs during our trip because many of the hotel prices were ridiculously high while we were on the island, and we wanted to be able to cook some of our own meals.
We stayed in two separate AirBNBs. This was a great way to experience different areas of the island! The first one was right next to Maalaea Harbor, we stayed there for 5 nights. You can check out the AirBNB we stayed in here! It was a one bedroom, one bath condo with an oceanfront balcony, or lanai as they call it in Hawaii.
The location of our first stay was pretty central which was nice, but I don't know if I would stay in that area again. The views from our oceanfront balcony were great and the area was safe, but there were no good beaches within walking distance. The beach in this area is rocky. If I could do it over again, I would stay in Kilhei or Wailea for this part of our trip.
Things to Look for in an AirBNB in Maui
Our condo in Maalaea had a great sunset view from the lanai! We often ate breakfast outside and watched the sunrise. We were also able to see a few whales from our lanai!
We spent the first hour of our day just driving around and checking out South Maui. It was a great way to get a feel for the area and just explore.
The first beach we explored was Po'olenalena Beach in South Maui. It wasn't very crowded and had plenty of sandy beach to sit on, which can sometimes be hard to find! It has great sunset views and is a popular spot for sunset photos. It's a great stop on the way to the Lava Fields, and was much less crowded than Makena Beach (Big Beach), which is closer to the Lava Fields.
We kind of stumbled upon the Lava Fields. It was not part of our plan for the day, but we are so glad we found them.
To get there you drive down a long one lane road from the Makena Beach area, going the opposite direction from Wailea/town area. On either side of your car you just see black lava rocks that seem to go on forever. The pictures truly don't do justice as to how cool it looks!
When you arrive to the Lava Fields area there's a parking lot, very small and rocky beach, and a hiking trail. You can walk on the rocks and watch as the ocean clashes with them creating large splashes of water. We saw bigger splashes here than at the blowhole later on our trip!
It's a great spot to eat a packed lunch and watch the waves. As you walk further along the trail there are sandy beaches and even more black lava rocks!
We headed back to our condo for lunch and decided we wanted to see some big waves and watch people surfing! We did a little research on the best spots to watch surfing in Maui and landed on Ho'okipa Beach. This beach is actually one of the first stops on the Road to Hana, but it's a great idea to visit it on another day so you can spend more time there.
We were pleasantly surprised to see a ton of sea turtles relaxing on the beach when we got there! You can't get close to them, but they're fun to watch from afar. After seeing the turtles from above, we took the beach chairs from our condo down to the sand and watched people surf and wind surf for a few hours. This beach is definitely not for beginner surfers, so we saw a lot of good surfing. We were very entertained with the combination of wildlife and people watching, haha!
Paia Town is right before you get to Ho'okipa Beach. As we drove back from the beach, we parked and walked around the shops for a while. Paia Town is the official starting point for the Road to Hana, but like with Ho'okipa we are glad we stopped here on a different day (besides the day we drove the Road to Hana). If you start your Road to Hana day early, you miss the shops and restaurants in Paia Town being open!
This is a great spot to walk around, grab drinks and listen to live music, and pick up some souvenirs.
We drove back to the other side of the island where our condo was to catch the sunset. To see the sunset well, we had to drive a bit past our condo to an area considered part of Lahaina, but it was only 10 minutes from our Maalaea Harbor condo. We grabbed dinner and pie from Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop and ate it as we watched the sunset on the beach!
We went on the morning Molokini Crater Snorkel Tour with Sail Triology. And it was AMAZING! We started our morning with fresh cinnamon rolls and whale watching as we cruised to Molokini Crater. What I love most about Sail Triology's food is how they served us at our seats. We had tables with cupholders in front of us making dining on sea a breeze.
The catamaran had a variety of seating available, from outdoor seating on the deck with tables to nets to sit on to indoor seating. It was much better riding on the catamaran than going with a larger yacht/boat. There were far less people on board, which was better for snorkeling and the overall experience. The bathrooms (or "heads") were also huge compared to other boats we have seen in the past!
A major perk of going to Maui during whale season is that every time you go out on a boat is basically a whale watching tour, whether that's the point of your sail or not. We didn't expect to get a full-on whale watching experience on the catamaran, but the experienced crew focused on cruising by the whales and shared facts about them as we saw them. There is no need to book a tour just for whale watching if you're going on a snorkel tour or sunset cruise already. Trust me, you will see plenty of whales!
Once we made it to the crater we put on our Reef Safe Sunscreen and got in the water. It was a bit cold at first but we quickly adjusted and got used to it. The trilogy catamaran had stairs to walk into the water or you could jump in off the side of the boat. We saw a good amount of fish and the colorful coral below us.
After an hour of snorkeling, we got back on the boat to enjoy lunch as we went to our next snorkel location. Trilogy normally takes you to a snorkel spot known for having a lot of sea turtles, but the wind and waves were too rough so we went to another spot. While we did not see any sea turtles, we saw more fish and still had a great time.
Lunch on the boat was good for what it was. Thankfully we had tables to eat at with cupholders, but the food was okay and it was windy making it hard to eat. Nevertheless, it didn't diminish our experience and we would still recommend this snorkel trip with the Trilogy crew!
After our second snorkel stop, we headed back to the marina and they put the sails up. Such a fun experience! They even played songs from Disney's Moana for extra effect. We saw even more whales on our way back as we enjoyed cocktails and ice cream for dessert.
Before dinner we stopped by The Shops at Wailea to look around. We found some good deals on t-shirts and other souvenirs at the ABC Stores while we were there. The rest of it was just window shopping for us! Many of the stores are very high end.
For dinner we ate at Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa at Grand Wailea Resort. Don't ask me how to pronounce the name. But it is nicknamed Humuhumu" to make it a bit easier! We made reservations for 5:45pm, just in time to watch the sunset. Be sure to check what time the sun sets during the time of year of your trip so you can plan your dinner reservations around it, it's definitely worth it!
The resort offers complimentary valet parking to anyone who makes a purchase of more than $40 at the resort, including drinks or dinner reservations. We simply kept our receipt from dinner for the valet to validate.
Grand Wailea Resort is one of the most beautiful resorts we saw during our time in Maui. We arrived a bit early so we could walk around and see everything. There are beautiful gardens, a stained glass chapel overlooking the ocean, and an oceanfront beach perfect for watching sunsets. There is a public beach access near the resort if you would like to visit the beach for free!
At dinner we enjoyed cocktails and delicious steaks as we overlooked the lagoon, the sea, and the sunset. It was breathtaking. Later in the evening the had live music. The Lava Flow mixed drink here was $20 but it was the best Lava Flow I have ever had. 10000% worth it. Note the $20 price tag here, if you and your travel buddy go get lava flows your total bill is $40. Aka free valet parking without paying for an expensive dinner, while still enjoying the beautiful resort. Just food for thought!!
We wanted a relaxing beach day before our long Road to Hana trip the following day, so we checked out beaches in West Maui. We drove up to Honolua Bay Beach and loved the views. This is a great snorkel spot early in the morning, and you may even catch some people surfing if the waves are right. However, it is not a sandy beach for sitting. We stopped here to check things out, but then turned back and stopped by Slaughterhouse Beach.
Slaughterhouse Beach was Nick's favorite. There is a large staircase to get down to the beach from the road, but this secluded beach is worth it. This beach has it all: sand, shade, rocks, and waves. It's surrounded by trees, making some parts of the beach shady. This was perfect for fair-skinned folks like myself! We relaxed here most of the day before heading to Dragon's Teeth.
These beautiful rock formations in West Maui are known as Dragon's Teeth. We stopped by on our way back from Honolua Bay and Slaughterhouse Beach. To park, you turn in like you're going to The Ritz Carlton and drive all the way down until you find public parking. The Dragon's Teeth are to the right at the end of the road. There is also a public beach access here: Ironwood Beach. We took our photos here later in the trip!
Once you park, you'll make a short hike down to the rocks. It's a beautiful sight, definitely worth the stop.
After hiking around Dragon's Teeth, we headed back to the condo to get freshened up. We drove back up to Lahaina and walked around Front Street as we waited for our reservations at Fleetwood's.
The most iconic stop on Front Street is the giant Banyan Tree. It takes up an entire block and is the perfect spot to enjoy some Dole Whip from the ice cream shop across the street.
Front Street is a great area to walk around and window shop, or to pick up some souvenirs. There are a ton of art galleries here as well. Walking around is a great way to kill time before you eat dinner. We also found some great souvenirs and enjoyed the scenery.
We enjoyed dinner at Fleetwood's on Front Streetin Maui on the rooftop. Eating on the rooftop is a must if you ask us. It made our experience even better. Nick enjoyed a fresh-caught fish and I opted for a filet mignon. The live music was great. We do wish we were able to get reservations during sunset, but even after dark the rooftop dinner was excellent.
The Road to Hana begins in Paia Town. We started at about 7:30am. We already went to Paia Town and Ho'okipa Beach earlier in our trip so we didn't feel the need to stop there. Plus, we felt stopping at these spots mid-day or in the afternoon was the best.
I think we beat a lot of the crowds by skipping these initial popular stops. To see any of the stops we have outlined below, download the Shaka Guide App for directions and more information.
We first stopped at Twin Falls. Despite its name, there are actually 3 waterfalls here to check out. We hiked to all of them, and the one that was the furthest away was our favorite. And it wasn't even that far! Totally worth it to see all 3. Great swimming spot too.
This was a great stop. You get to see giant waves smash against a rocky coastline. We walked out on the rocks a bit to check it out. There is also a restroom and a banana bread stop for a snack!
These falls don't have a parking spot, you just drive right by! There are many beautiful sights on the Road to Hana you don't have to leave your vehicle to see.
This was a cool stop that many people seem to miss. You can walk inside of a Lava Tube. It's like a cave! There is parking across the street. There are no bats inside either according to our tour! But go at your own risk of course. We didn't take any photos, but worth the quick stop just to check it out.
Glamorous, I know. We packed a lunch in the cooler from our Airbnb and ate it by the beach at a picnic table. Hawaiian rolls with ham are a delicious packed lunch!
Koki Beach was a great, quick stop on our Road to Hana. It was cool to look out over the rocky coastline and see the small island with a lone coconut tree on top. We definitely recommend stopping here and walking around, it's a great place to stretch your legs.
Wailua Falls is a roadside waterfall with a great swimming spot at the base. You can see the waterfall as you drive by over the bridge. There's a parking lot right beside it and a quick trail to hike down and get a better view.
Haleakala National Park extends to this area of the Road to Hana and has two must-do hiking trails. You get to see gorgeous waterfalls, the sacred seven pools, and a bamboo forest that makes you feel like you're in another world.
Be sure to save time to stop here for a few hours. The Pīpīwai Trail takes 2-3 hours to hike but leads you to the highest (and in our opinion, the most beautiful) waterfall you will see on the Road to Hana. You cannot swim here, but the view is great.
After the Pipiwai Trail, we did a quick hike to see the Sacred Seven Pools. It's a great view of the coastline and a wonderful way to end your day trip on the Road to Hana.
We stayed in two different Airbnbs on our trip to Maui and on the 6th day of our trip, it was time to switch condos! We loved getting to stay in two different areas of the island, but the cost was this awkward 4 hour period in between our reservations where we had all of our stuff with us. We didn't want to park somewhere and risk our items being stolen. So what did we do?
While Airbnbs save money, most of them don't give you the luxury resort feel that comes with a lot of resorts in Maui. We were craving a day lounging by the pool after a long day on the Road to Hana the day prior, so we reserved a cabana at the Andaz Maui Resort using Resort Pass. The rental included 4 day passes to the resort, a shaded cabana with 4 lounge chairs, and complimentary champagne.
A resort pass is a great break from the adventure side of Maui. We relaxed by the pool until it was time to get ready for our sunset beach photoshoot!
On the drive from the resort to Lahaina, we stopped at the McGregor Point Lighthouse for some whale watching mid-afternoon. This was a great time and place to do some whale watching, we definitely recommend stopping by here one day!
Sunset beach photos are always a good idea, especially in Maui! Maui Photographer Angie was phenomenal. We met her at Ironwood Beach for a sunset photoshoot on the beach and in the water. This was one of the highlights of our trip! We hadn't taken photos like this since our engagement and wedding photos. Every other photoshoot since then had included family or pets, not leaving much room for photos that were just for us. Plus, we didn't want to miss an opportunity to have some professional photos of us with the beautiful landscapes in Maui. I knew all of our other photos would be selfies or photos taken on our phones by strangers at highlights since it was just us. These professional photos would be the ones we cherished from our trip. And they were everything we wanted and more!
My dress is from Petal and Pup, and my swimsuit is from Shein. Nick wore Patagonia board shorts and a button down from Marshall's. For the first half of the photoshoot we took sunset photos on the sand and rocks, hardly getting in the water. We already had our swimsuits on, so it was super easy to hop in the water toward the end of the shoot to get our photos in the water!
We loved the Shaka Guide's Road to Hana Tour so much, we also purchased their tour to Haleakala and West Maui. This trip around West Maui was not part of our original itinerary, but it ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip.
Our first stop on our West Maui Tour was to the famous blowhole! The Maui Blowhole is a rock formation that was created from volcanic rock. There is a cave-like chamber where water rushes in then it spits out of the top like water from a whale. It wasn't very active when we visited, but still a cool stop.
The Olivine Pools were fun to stop by and look down at from the edges of the cliff. We did not swim here. There are many warnings about rogue waves and dangerous swimming here. But they were cool to look at from afar!
After a nerve-wracking drive toward West Maui from the Olivine Pools on a one-lane road, you'll see this lunch spot overlooking the Iao Needle. Nick and I got smoothies and sat at the picnic tables just taking in the view. They also had frozen pineapples to serve the smoothies in, it was delicious!
They also serve hot lunch, a great spot to stop for lunch if you didn't pack food!
A short drive from the lunch spot is a wonderful gift shop and art gallery. We looked around in here for a good 30 minutes, then ate our packed lunch on the picnic tables. This view was so beautiful we had to sit and take it in twice!
We found really unique souvenirs here compared to other stores we had been to. Most of our souvenirs came from this place! Definitely recommend stopping for shopping and eating your packed lunch here if you have one.
Nick and I went to a Luau at Royal Lahaina Resort! I originally wanted to go to Old Lahaina Luau, but we couldn't find tickets that worked with the rest of our itinerary so we went with Royal Lahaina.
The hula dancing, live music, oceanfront location, and fire dancing finale were the major highlights. It was so entertaining. We ate right beside the ocean and watched the performances as we ate dinner and enjoyed drinks.
The only downside was the quality of the food and service. I didn't think it was worth what we paid. The food was really basic and served buffet-style, and the service was more than lacking. We had to get up to get our own drinks when the servers were supposed to be bringing them to us. We saw our waitress maybe twice. We got the regular package (not the VIP/more expensive option). But for what we paid, I still expected more.
However, the show was great and we enjoyed it! The food and service were a damper but not enough to distract us from the great entertainment and experience.
We used the Shaka Guide App's Haleakalā National Park tour and were impressed again. We definitely recommend the self-guided tours on the app, they really enhanced our trip. We drove into the park at around 12pm.
This drive has the largest elevation change in the shortest drive in the world. Crazy right?! Be prepared for a quick altitude change. As you drive up and look out the window, you slowly pass the clouds. The landscape changes from green pastures to barren rocks and dirt with a few shrubs. There are a couple of hikes you can do before you reach the summit!
This was the first trail we hiked. We hiked to the crater viewpoint, then turned back. We planned to hike as much of sliding sands as possible, and wanted to save as much time as we could. However, if we had continued hiking we could have seen the Rainbow Bridge. It isn't much further past the crater viewpoint!
Here, you can see a unique view of the crater.
There are two overlook trails that show great views of the crater. The Shaka Guide takes you right to them! They show more great views of the crater.
This trail is beautiful, it truly looks like you are on another planet! You hike down into the crater and back for beautiful views of the cinder-cones from the volcano that erupted long ago. If you want to hike the whole thing, it's an all-day hike. We hiked about 1.7 miles in and back up.
Warning: This hike is tough considering the elevation change and how high up you are (hello altitude sickness!). You hike down into the crater and back up, so the hike back up is what gets you. As we panted back to the car, Nick said "I'm sorry for making us do this hike" LOL. And he loves to hike! We still recommend this hike, but take your time. You also don't have to go very far to see the great views.
After hiking Sliding Sands, we ate our packed dinner in the car as we waited for the sun to set. As the sun went down, it got COLD. Like, 40 degrees with wind chill. Be prepared and bring warm clothes! Some people brought beach chairs to sit in, we just stood to watch.
We opted to watch the sunset at Haleakalā National Park instead of the sunrise. The sunrise is definitely the popular choice, and that makes it much more crowded than the sunset. Plus, you have to have reservations and wake up super early to watch the sunrise. We opted for the sunset. It looks about the same anyway! It was a great way to end our day.
We wanted a relaxing day for our final day in Hawaii! We drove down to Kaanapali Beach with our beach chairs for the day. It was a great beach for relaxing and watching marine life. We saw whales, sea turtles, and other fish from the beach.
There is free public parking at Kaanapali Beach. If it's full, you can park at Whalers Villagebut it can get expensive. We visited Whalers Village and it was comparable to The Shops at Wailea I mentioned earlier. They do validate your parking for up to 3 hours if you make a purchase!
For our final evening, we squeezed in a Sunset Sail with Pacific Whale Foundation out of Lahaina. We opted for an adults only cruise with cocktails and appetizers on the catamaran.
It was a 2 hour sail and we saw so many whales. The sunset over Lanai (shown in the picture above) was breathtaking. I definitely recommend a sunset sail, but Sail Trilogy would be my first choice!
Pacific Whale Foundation vs. Sail Triology
Overall, we liked Sail Triolgy better than Pacific Whale Foundation for a few reasons. Here is a quick run down of the comparison between the two.
We went straight from our sunset sail to the airport to head home! We were tired, but it was such a great trip. We hope this post is helpful to you in planning your trip to Maui, Hawaii!
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