The Perfect Maui Summer Vacation–Recommendations, Tips, and Great Pics!
It’s no secret that one of our favorite destinations here at VacationRoost is Maui, mostly because it’s a location that everyone loves to visit and then write about. Last week I spent 6 1/2 beautiful days on the ‘Valley Isle’ for family vacation. I used all my knowledge I learned here at VacationRoost, referenced every Maui blog post that has been written, and also came up with a few of my own tips and recommendations. However, among all my pre-trip research I wished there was a blog post organized by activity rather than day-by-day itinerary. So here the breakdown of restaurants to visit, places to see, and great time-saving hacks.
View from our condo at the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach
Where to go:
If you want world-class cuisine this is definitely the place to go. This meal was definitely one of my favorites on the island, but be ready to spend a little bit of money, this restaurant is classified as $$-$$$ depending on what you order, but I promise you it’s worth it. The open at 5:30 for dinner and be sure to make a reservation.
On the off-chance you are getting tired of fish and want a big, juicy cheeseburger, go to the famous Cheeseburger in Paradise on Front Street in Lahaina (the original location). You will fulfill your cheeseburger craving while enjoying a great view, as it sits on the beach with great ocean views. This is a great pit-stop during souvenir shopping. You can also get a great “souvenir tiki-cup” with your umbrella drink too!
We ended up eating here twice, partly because it was located next to our condo (The Whaler) and partly because the food was great and the views were even better. The Hula Grill is located beachside in Kaanapali with great fish dishes and “umbrella drinks”. They have live music and hula at night and you can even sit at the “barefoot bar” area to mush your toes in the sand while you eat. If you are staying in Kaanapali, this restaurant is a must.
Wow-Wee’s is located just 2 minutes down the road from the Kahului Airport, and was our first food stop of the trip. This is a very casual and laid-back place that will you your first taste of local cuisine and the food was excellent!
This was the one restaurant I wanted to visit most in Maui, and of course the one place we didn’t end up going because we couldn’t fit it in our schedule. However, multiple sources have told me this is some of the best food they have ever eaten, and well worth the $$$ price.
**If you are looking for a great pina colada or daiquiri, go to the Tiki Bar & Grill located in the lawn area of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. It’s a great pit stop if you need a break from sun bathing.
-Be wary of food trucks. We visited a few and some of them were excellent, some were not. I suggest getting all the fruit you can at the trucks because it’s usually very fresh, but the food may be over-priced and mediocre. Be sure to ask for prices before ordering, and ask exactly what types of meat/fish they cook because often times it can be deceiving.
-Most restaurants carry the same exact drinks (recipes and all) so you don’t need to waste time comparing who has the best. Instead simply try all the drinks you can!
-Try to eat dinner earlier (5-6) because the best restaurants will become very busy after that and the waits can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. This rule applies to big fancy restaurants and even small dives.
What to do:
-Snorkel, Snorkel, Snorkel! Really, one of the best (and cheapest) activities that can be done on Maui. If you don’t own your own gear, you can buy a mask, snorkel and flippers for as cheap as $35 OR most hotels/resorts offer daily rentals for as cheap as $15. Good places to check out are:
- Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali. Located outside the Sheraton, this snorkel area offers clear water, cliff jumping, and lots of reefs to check out. It’s great for first-time snorkelers or advanced. We even saw sea turtles swimming around here!
- Honolua Bay on the Northwest Shore. This location is protected by the bay, making it good for snorkeling. The reefs are teeming with exotic fish and many boat tours take their snorkelers here. However, some days are not suitable for snorkeling such as when the water is brown or the current is strong. We had a great time snorkeling here, but the water is a little murky near the shore and the beaches are all rock and populated with native roosters.
- Molokini Crater. If you want to take a snorkel trip off-shore, book a trip that goes out to the Molokini Crater to view an abundance of marine life including exotic fish and sea turtles.
-Zipline. We went on the original Maui zipline, Skyline Eco-Adventures. It was located high in the mountains near Halekala and included 5 ziplines with information about the location. This is good for first-time zipliners, but if you are experienced this may not be the best company for you. If you want more adventure or longer lines, check out Skyline’s newer location in Kaanapali or the Flyin’ Hawaiian.
-Parasailing. A great company to parasail with that we used was West Maui Parasailing, located on Kaanapali Beach. The prices were fair, the crew was entertaining and safe, and the experience was incredible. We were lucky enough to spot dolphins on our tour and we were more than satisfied.
-The Road to Hana. This is an absolute must for anyone visiting Maui. Make sure to pack snacks, water, and some car sickness medicine like Dramamine if you get car sick regularly. Enjoy your time driving and stop at all the stands and shops possible on the way because you’ll encounter some of the best fruits and homemade banana bread on the island. Hana itself is a small town, but it leads the way to the most brilliant hikes to the 7 Sacred Pools or a more intermediate 2-mile hike to Waimoku Falls, 400 feet of bliss from heaven. There are two roads to Hana: the original and the back way. If the back road is open, make sure to take it to receive incredible cliff-side views.
-Luaus. A classic Hawaiian tradition, everyone should see a luau at least once in their lives. We attended the Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton on Kaanapali Beach after we found out our first choice, the Old Lahaina Luau, was booked. The Sheraton’s Luau was a big show including plumeria leis, free drinks at the bar, a buffet style dinner, a hula show, and great views of the ocean. Never having been to a luau before I would say this one was okay, but a little too mediocre for what I was expecting. When booking a luau, make sure you book in advance. Other luau’s to consider are:
- The Old Lahaina Luau–a more traditional luau, consistently voted No. 1
- Kaanapali Beach Luau–good for families with children (under 5 are free), and the cheapest on the island
- Capricorn Luau at the Grand Wailea–good for those staying in Wailea or Kihei
Pulling the pig from the ground before dinner starts.
-Scuba Diving. Maui is home to dozens of different dive shops, catering to all skill levels. Some great places I came across were:
- The Maui Dive Shop–they have a great deal for first-time-divers
- Lahaina Divers
- B&B Scuba
- Ed Robinson
-Shopping on Front Street. Front Street is located in Lahaina, right off the beach. It’s full of great restaurants and shopping, perfect for finding souvenirs.
-When booking activities like zip lining, scuba diving, or luaus make sure to research availability and book them weeks ahead of time (sometimes even months for luaus!). Things book up quick and you must plan ahead of time to get what you want.
-However, activities like parasailing and snorkeling can be booked only a day or two ahead of time (sometimes even the day of) because they are widely available and usually shorter activities.
-Don’t be try to cram everything in at once. Take time to enjoy the island and it’s warm beaches. Spend a day or two just hanging out on the beach, or do your activities in the morning and sun bath in the afternoons. There is a lot to do on Maui, so it’s unlikely you’ll fit everything in in one trip.
-When in doubt, ask the locals! The locals know all the best places and times to see them. Don’t be afraid to ask, everyone on Maui is very welcoming and used to its heavy tourism population. Locals want to show off their island, not shelter it from you!
Maui is an incredible destination that everyone should get the opportunity to visit at least once in their life, and I lucky enough to see and do almost everything I had wanted to do.
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