Our trip to Maui was amazing! We went to celebrate our 3 yr. anniversary and to experience a tropical (very, very late) honeymoon. Our original honeymoon was a short 2 day trip to San Francisco after we eloped, because I had to get back to grad school on the East Coast and finish up the semester. Totally doesn’t count as a honeymoon, haha! I’ll cut this part short, because I’ll be sharing a ton of tips and recommendations below :). These are important, so PLS read if you’re wanting to get the most info out of this post.
*Tips & Recommendations*
–Bug spray: Bring and use lots! Mosquitos will get ya, even if you’re just dining by the beach.
–Sunscreen: Natural is better in Hawaii! They are working to ban certain sunscreens because they are harmful to the reefs, but most natural ones are “reef friendly”.
-Valuables: Do NOT leave anything valuable in your car, especially on the Road to Hana or when going to different beaches. Because of all the tourists, theft is more likely.
–Road to Hana: Use the GyPSy app. It’s $5.99 and way better than taking a tour bus. You’ll see a lot of people stopping at random spots that literally have NOTHING, and the GyPSy guide will keep you from doing that. It’ll give you “must stop” places, tell you what tourist traps to avoid, and share stories.
–Paia: Paia is on the way to the Road to Hana. I actually recommend doing this on a separate day than your Road to Hana trip. Mainly, because you’ll want to eat breakfast at Paia Inn Cafe and it doesn’t open until 8 am. You’ll also want to grab dinner at Mama’s Fish House and squeezing all that in on the same day is nearly impossible. There’s a lot to explore around Paia, including beaches like Ho’okipa Beach Park where you’ll see loads of sea turtles sun bathing.
–Main Areas: Kihea/Wailea or Lahaina/Kaanapali are the main areas in Hawaii. Personally, my favorite is Lahaina/Kaanapali, but Wailea was beautiful too. If you divide your stay like we did, I recommend doing Haleakalā National Park, Iao Valley, and Ali’i Kula Lavendar while in Wailea, because it’s a bit closer and there’s less to do in Wailea. Lahaina has more to do, so you may not want to be driving as far. We did do the Road to Hana one day of our Lahaina stay. No matter where you are staying, nothing in Maui is too far away.
–Grocery Stores + Airport: Everything is near the airport. CVS, Whole Foods, etc. The airport is also close to Paia and Maui Tropical Plantation. It’s the middle ground for everything and kind of inbetween Wailea and Lahaina. We ate an early dinner at the Mill House Restaurant on Maui Tropical Plantation before heading to the airport for our return flight. When you return to the airport, they will put your bag through a scanner (customs) before entering. Basically they wanna make sure no one is bringing plants or exotic bugs back to the mainland US hehe.
–Dinner Plans: Use OpenTable to make reservations and rack up your dining points! Definitely make reservations at Mama’s Fish House at least 6 weeks in advance. We got the last dinner spot and we booked 5 weeks in advance. I also used it for other restaurants, and changed as needed. It was pretty easy to change or walk in to most restaurants early, but Mama’s Fish House will turn people away if they don’t have a reservation and it’s really busy. I even recommend making reservations for dinner at the resorts because those will fill up quickly too! We had to wait well past 8 pm one night to eat and we were so jet lagged, we didn’t want to stay up haha.
–Go with the Flow: I wrote down what I wanted to do each day, but we were super flexible and did a lot of shifting around. We’d always switch days, change dinner reservations, etc. because a lot of things in Hawaii have to do with availability and opportunity. It made things a lot less stressful to NOT stick to the plan and just cover what we wanted to do as we were able to.
*Eats are ranked in order starting with my favorite!
Pacific’O (Lahaina): Second Favorite dining experience. The sunset, view, and restaurant are beautiful and the farm-to-table food is delicious. Lots of organic ingredients. Highly recommend a reservation a few days in advance.
Paia Inn Cafe (Paia): Best breakfast/brunch we had in Hawaii. Fresh, organic, and delicious green juices made with pineapple.
The Mill House Restaurant (Wailuku): They do 20% off drinks and appetizers (pizza included) during happy hour. We went right before our flight since it’s near the airport, and everything was delicious. They get most ingredients from the farm that’s located right on the plantation.
Lahaina Fish Co. (Lahaina): Great oceanside spot on Lahaina’s Front St. The fresh seafood chowder was absolutely incredible. I regret not getting two bowls.
Monkeypod Kitchen (Kaanapali): Kind of like the Hawaiian version of True Food Kitchen, but not as good. But the desserts though…the banana cream pie is the best pie on Earth and for that, I love this place (maybe a little exaggeration, but you get it). They use organic & sustainable food as well as grass-fed meats!
Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina): Local, mouth-watering food located on the beach. Highly recommend.
Japengo at Hyatt Regency (Lahaina): Such good sushi! You can order half portions of several items, so we tried a little of everything. They source local seafood and produce. Reservations are recommended.
The Wooden Crate (near Paia): This restaurant is worth the trip whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The breakfast buffet is only $15 and it’s all organic, plus better than any resort breakfasts we had. It’s at a yoga retreat in Maui but you don’t have to be a guest to eat there. They make farm-to-table meals with greens, fruits, and vegetables sourced on property.
Nalu’s South Shore Grill (Kihei): Locally sourced food and a delicious breakfast!
Humuhumu at Grand Wailea (Wailea): Cool experience because you’re dining in a tiki hut. The food was pretty good, but the experience and atmosphere was most memorable.
Fleetwood’s on Front St. (Lahaina): Good food prepared with lots of local and organic ingredients. There’s also an awesome rooftop bar with a gorgeous view of the ocean and mountains. Perfect for happy hour.
Honolua Farms Kitchen (Lahaina): A food truck right by Honolua Bay and Honolua Park. They open at 11, but after waiting 30 minutes we gave up haha. Hmmm…Island time? They have organic food like smoothies, curry, and burgers. You’ll most likely see a chicken or two wandering around.
Coconut Caboose (Lahaina): I recommend stopping here when you head to Honolua Bay & Park. It’s literally right there! All organic shaved ice and raw coconut gelato. Delicious.
Leoda’s Pie Shop (Lahaina): FYI: The pie is just WAY better than the food here. Seriously, go and order one of each haha. The strawberry pie is like a creamier cheesecake and the apple pie tastes like Thanksgiving. Also, the key lime is soooo good. All from scratch.
Ono Gelato (Lahaina, Kihea & Wailea): From scratch gelato with yummy flavors. Tons of locations including one at Grand Wailea Resort.
Donut Dynamite (Wailuku & Wailea): FYI: They sell their donuts at Cafe Kula at the Grand Wailea Hotel. The berry, vanilla bean, and purple sweet potato are AMAZING. All from scratch using seasonal/local products.
Coffee & Acai:
Sip Me (Paia): Organic coffee and treats, plus juices and kombucha.
Mill House Roasting Co (Wailuku): Located right on Maui Tropical Plantation. Their coffee beans are sourced from Hawaiian farms that use clean and simple growing methods.
Paia Bowls (Paia): Colorful and yummy smoothies and acai!! They also have coffee.
Island Fresh (Paia): Acai, smoothies, and coffee alongside breakfast and lunch…hello banana bread french toast. YUM.
Baya Bowls (Lahaina): An acai food truck!
Things to Do:
Road to Hana: Favorites were Bamboo Forest, Black Sand Beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park, Hana Farms, and Hamoa Beach ( a few miles south of Hana- SO PRETTY). Definitely recommend driving your own car and using the GyPSy app. Just bring a phone charger for the car! If you keep driving, you’ll run into Ohe’o Gulch or “Seven Sacred Pools”. It’s a rough trip, but if you want, you can keep driving all the way around the island and end up back by the airport.
Ho’okipa Beach Park: See one of the only sets of sun bathing sea turtles in the world. So interesting, but apparently a majority (except the ones on Maui) do not sunbathe. They are fascinating little guys, so recommend stopping here! This is one of those spots near Paia.
Maui Tropical Plantation: We didn’t take a tour, but enjoyed happy hour at the Mill House restaurant and grabbed a drink from the coffee shop on our way out. The views were stunning. We almost didn’t go here, but I’m so glad we did.
Ka’anapali Beach: My favorite beach on Maui! If you stay at the Hyatt, you’ll be right on it. It’s kind of short, but super long and perfect for walks. You’ll probably see a sea turtle swimming if you get in the water.
Whaler’s Village: If you’re down to do some shopping and walk along the beach, this is a cool spot! You have to pay for parking, but if you’re staying on Kaanapali Beach, it’s not a bad walk. Monkeypod Kitchen is located here.
Honolua Bay & Park: The water in all the Bays is SO blue. Grab Honolua Farms Kitchen and Coconut Caboose shaved ice while your here. Also, bring bug spray! You can bring your own snorkeling stuff and snorkel here too. It’s just a short walk from the park to the shore area. You’ll see a ton of people and several commercial snorkeling boats.
Nakalele Blow Hole: Take a little hike, watch the blow hole, and find Maui’s “heart shaped” rock.
Makena Beach State Park or “Big Beach: Surf, sightsee, take a walk, or snorkel. It’s a lot larger than Wailea beach.
Wailea Beach: More of a secluded resort beach area. Very pretty, but not as long as some of the other beaches.
Napali Bay Beach: Such a beautiful, bright blue beach. The beach is gorgeous, but I found that the hotels on it were not as nice.
Luau: Catch the beautiful sunset at a Luau. Taste Hawaiian food and drink unlimited pina coladas. Wow, I sound like a commercial. The luau’s are kind of pricey, but it was pretty fun and the sunset was worth the $$ we paid.
Snorkeling at Molokini: If you’re wanting to snorkel, Molokini is supposed to be the best. I had an awful experience snorkeling in the Bahamas (super sea sick), so can’t bring myself to do it again…at least not yet. Check out the pics online because it looks ahhh-mazing.
Iao State Park: A lush 4000 acre green park with gorgeous views. Parking is a $5 fee.
Lahaina Town (Front St.): Shops, food, and gorgeous views. Pacific’o, Lahaina Fish Co, Ono Gelato, and pretty much everything is located here. There’s lots of cute local shops to venture through too.
Ali’i Kula Lavender: If you get tired of seeing blue, try exchanging it for fields of purple. There’s a gift shop and $3 entrance fee. It’s $12 if you do a walking tour.
Haleakala Sunrise Tour: This is supposed to be incredible. Not gonna lie, we couldn’t justify getting out of bed at 3 am to drive 1.5 hrs to see the sunrise. The sunrise at our hotel was gorgeous and that was enough for us…call us old souls. If you’re up for it…do it! It gets crowded and the park fee is $25. The van tour guides are super expensive, and they pick you up between 2 and 3 am.
Places To Stay:
We really liked staying here! The sunsets are next level beautiful, the pina coladas are delicious, there’s lots of organic options at the breakfast buffet, and the hotel grounds are stunning. There’s so many pools and slides and me and J had fun picking out our “spot” each day. The service and hotel staff are wonderful and friendly as well. There’s little shops at the hotel along with staff that will help you book activities. If you ask Jered his favorite part, he’ll say the Grotto Bar…mine was definitely the sunset at the Luau.
This was probably my absolute favorite place we stayed. It was a little more spread out than the Grand Wailea, but Lahaina/Kaanapali has more going on in general, which I loved. It has mall-type shops like Macy’s and Sunglass Hut but there’s also a convenient-type store that has local goods. All my favorite restaurants we went to were in Lahaina and it made the experience here that much better. The beach was a lot longer (although kind of short) and perfect for long walks. Self parking is free…a big plus considering how expensive everything in Hawaii is. The restaurants at the hotel were fabulous (we went to all of them), the rooms were comfy, and we felt like the hotel was worth more than we paid. People can be a little sales-y here, because they’re trying to get you to sign up for the Hyatt Regency Club or whatever, so don’t get sucked into the whole “If you take this tour of the hotel, we’ll give you a free round of golf, etc.” thing. Not worth it haha.