– Traveled Summer 2012 –
Even though Maui is a small island, it has a lot to offer from sea to land activities to warm to cold climate. This is the first time that we visited Maui. If you are planning a trip to Maui allocate at least 6 days for the trip. Going to Maui from Los Angeles you will gain a few hours so you still have part of the day at your disposal if you take an early flight. Returning from Maui is another story; you will lose most of the day on the flight back, so this day is shot.
There are a lot of activities to do throughout the island, snorkeling, sailing, scuba diving, hiking, zip lines, site seeing, shopping, biking down from the volcano (on a paved road), etc. so plan accordingly and ahead of time so you can spend your time on the island doing activities rather than spending time planning.
A good way to get to know the island is to drive. If you look at a map, you will see roads that circumvent the island. As part of one of my day activities I wanted to drive around the island but I was not able to do so. The rental agreement doesn’t allow you to drive in some sections of the road (North West and South East) because the road is to narrow (some time as wide as one traffic lane), too windy, not paved and there is no cell coverage.
Transportation and Accommodations
There are many airlines that fly to Maui. Try to find an airline that has direct flights Maui to avoid jet-lag.
You definitely need a car to move around the island. The airport is located in the middle of the island and depending what hotel you are staying they are located at the East of West side of the island; round a 30 minute drive. Parking spaces around the island are small, you will have a difficult time finding a parking if you rent a full size car. Given that you may rent a midsize or small car, consider the amount of luggage to bring. We rented a midsize sub; it gave us enough room to pack 5 (Since there are 3 girls in my family, each one has to have its own suitcase) suitcases.
Gas Station Locations
There are many gas stations near the airport; allocate enough time on your way to the airport to fill up the tank. This is also a great place to fill up the tank if you are driving from one end of the island to the other end.
There are many, many places to stay in the island; given the good weather year round it is hard to find a decent place at a good price. The best way to stay in island is to find a vacation package; we found a great vacation package at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort and Villas in Lahaina (West side of the island). The beach across the hotel is one of the top 5 snorkeling beaches in the world. The staff is very helpful and they can help you decide what activities to choose from and can help you book activities.
In that same area of the island there are many, many hotels to choose from; so no matter what hotel you choose you will have great views and things to do.
Where to go
Across the island there are a lot of beaches to go to; Lahaina has a good stretch of open beaches. At the beach across from Wailers Village you can find a lot of water sports. The north side of the island has more waves thus this is a great place to surf. Makena beach (located at the south east if the island and before you get to the bigger beach Makena State Park) is a great place to go, this is a small stretch of beach but it is a great place to go. Public parking is located about one block before arriving to the beach – across from Keawalai Congregational Church. There are public restrooms and outdoor showers to clean the sand.
Road to Hanna
In the South East side of the island seats a small town called Hanna. The main attraction is the drive to the town of Hanna, hence the name “Road to Hanna”. You will find a lot of review across the internet indicating that this is a must see activity. I will say this is relative; most of the road is a two lane highway with a one lane road specially when crossing some bridges. The road is not dangerous but there are a lot of twists and turns that can make any people, especially passengers, carsick. If you love nature, plant diversity waterfalls and some occasional beaches this adventure is for you.
To enhance the drive rent a GyPSy Guide to Maui. This is a GPS based tour guide service Think of it as a GPS that gives you turn by turn directions (turn left in 1,000 ft) but instead of directions it will give you points of interest (in 1,000 ft you will see this waterfall). We were impressed with the accuracy of the information; we used it when we traveled the Road to Hana. At one point it told us that around this corner you will see a lot of cars parked by the side of the road and not to stop there but continue a ½ mile where there was a better waterfall. It never skipped a bit; it was on target all the time. On the way to Hana it pointed all the main attractions and returning to from Hanna it provided an account of the history of Hawaii.
Many of the hotels have a snorkeling gear for rent but it can get expensive. So you have a few options, rent the gear outside the hotel – there are a few around Lahaina, bring your own gear or purchase the gear at Costco, right outside the airport. No matter what your options are, you will have a great time snorkeling around the island.
Food is expensive in Maui since most of it has to be imported. The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort and Villas includes a small kitchen so we made a good us out if it. To engage your kids into this process let them help you designing a menu beforehand. They enjoy eating since they were part of the decision making process. To enjoy the Hawaiian Luau we went to the Feast At Lele in Lahaina. There are many places to go for a Luau but we found this place to offer the best value. This is a sit-down dinner rather than a buffet stile dinner. It makes it for a better atmosphere. The theater is not as big, making all seats in the house to have a great view. They have tables for 2 for a romantic dinner or tables of 10+ for the whole family. You get to seat at your own table and enjoy the show only with the family. The staff is great and attentive to all your needs. (Our kids really liked one dish and they bought us extra food!)
The dinner is a 4 course dinner representing the foods of the region – each course has multiple dishes for that region, Hawaii (Best dish for us: Imu Roasted Kalua Pig), New Zealand (Best dish for us: Roasted Mushroom), Tahiti (Best dish for us: Scallops on the shell-bakes Scallops) and Samoa (Best dish for us: Shrimp and Avocado with Lilikoi). Make sure to pace yourself, there is a lot, and I mean, a lot of food. Some beer and hard liquor (non-alcoholic versions for kids are also available – flavor was the same minus the alcohol) are included in the price.
Prior to the show, pictures at the beach with the sunset are also included in the package. A line usually forms for the picture; so if you want to include a great sunset in the picture be close to the end of the line; we got great family pictures.
Costco is a great stop to by in the way from the airport to the hotel. At Costco, in addition to food, you can find snorkeling gear, and some adventure packages (such as sailing with the Teralani Company at a good discount. The food in the island is a bit expensive so Costco is a great place for savings.
The Westin has a small supermarket at the premises but convenience comes at a price. About one mile North of the Westin Vacation Villas you can find Times Supermarket a local supermarket where you can find a lot of your food needs. It also has a lot of beach supplies, umbrellas, sun block, beach shoes, etc. at a great price.
Whalers Village is basically an open mall where you can find a lot of name brand stores along with some local stores. This is a great place to buy souvenirs for the whole family. In addition there are a couple of restaurants on the premises so you can make a day out of it. The Westin vacation Villas offers a shuttle bus so you have the option to take this shuttle of drive. There is a parking lot adjacent to the mall were parking is validated for a couple of hours.
This is a whole day adventure; we left our hotel around 6:30 am and returned around 6:00 pm. We made many stops along the way and we drove past Hanna to the Seven Pools national Park. There are 7 natural pools (one after another) created by the waterfalls from a river prior to reaching the ocean. Many people go swimming in this area so bring a swimming suit, a towel and hiking boots – there is a short walk from the parking lot to the pools but you need to hike through rocks to reach the pool.