Updated: Jun 2
I'm lucky enough to have close family in Maui that I can visit regularly. It's truly amazing to step off the airplane into the open-air airport, drive home to momma's house, and settle in for a break on vacation. Below are my favorite bites, sips, and activities from our recent trips, which should get you started when planning your trip to the island. As my family lives in West Maui, most of my recommendations are for things in that area as that's where we spend the majority of our time though there are some adventures from other parts of the island as well.
Note that Hawaii has pre-travel COVID-19 testing requirements. Stay up-to-date on current requirements to facilitate a smooth arrival and be able to safely bypass quarantine.
Eat & Drink
This casual eatery has a beautiful outdoor seating area and serves a seafood-centric menu in a historic setting. Breakfast/brunch is served daily with a rotating selection of specials. Eater calls this restaurant one of Maui’s best.
Monkey Pod, Wailea
This kitchen is a place where beer lovers and foodies escape their day-to-day lives in a beautiful setting on the ocean. Their menu features fresh island fish, homemade pies, hand-tossed pizzas, and so much more. Don't miss the Mai Tai with lilikoi foam!
Sale Pepe, Lahaina
This Black-owned restaurant serves pasta, pizzas, and more prepared with fresh, local ingredients. I highly recommend the Rigatoni con Speck, Funghi e Zafferano.
Tin Roof, Kahului
This casual restaurant by Top Chef alumnus Sheldon Simeon serves Hawaii comfort food like mochiko chicken and more. Lunch is served daily, and they do not take reservations. This is a great stop for your first meal on Maui if you arrive between 10 am and 8 pm Tuesday through Saturday when it is open, as it's near the Kahului airport.
A'A Roots, Lahaina
This vegan cafe in Lahaina is one of our favorites. They offer a rotating menu of daily specials in addition to bowls, salads, breakfast, and more.
Paia Bowls, Paia
Paia Bowls is a plant-based outdoor cafe serving a range of acai bowls, smoothies, and coffee. Try them any day of the week as they are open daily!
Star Noodle, Lahaina
Try out their noodles, sake cocktails, and Asian-inspired share plates. Make a reservation to sample their unique flavors and family-style dining. Lunch and dinner is served daily.
This health bar offers healthy snacks, pressed juices, acai bowls, and more from three different locations open daily.
Sip Me, Makawao
This cafe services local, organic roasted coffee, juices and smoothies, and other treats. They also serve a vast selection of loose leaf teas. Their location in Makawao makes them a prime stop while on a shopping trip in the quaint town.
Paia Bay Coffee, Paia
This coffee shop is right off the busy main street in Paia and has a full menu but lacks the typical crowds you'll find at other restaurants in Paia. They serve breakfast until 1 pm and have happy hour between 3 pm and 6 pm daily.
Westside Bagel, Lahaina
Unexpected in Maui, but Westside Bagels is serving up some great bagels. Try their hand-rolled, kettle-boiled, and fresh-baked bagels daily. Named one of the best bagel shops in America, it's a great option for a quick and relatively affordable meal.
This casual lunch spot serves a simple menu of fabulous sandwiches, locally produced Kombucha, and sourdough bread.
We enjoy the Ohai Loop Trail but there are so many hiking trails to try out in Maui. This website displays over 50+ trails.
The whale watching season in Maui is between November and May and peak season runs from mid-January and March. The Pacific Whale Foundation is usually our go-to for booking a whale watch as it's a non-profit offering an educational but also often breathtaking experience. I highly recommend taking motion sickness medication beforehand.
We like going to Honolua Bay, though it can be a bit crowded and it's not really a swimming beach. It is, however, great for snorkeling. And the crowd is usually worth it though as the walk to get there takes you through an incredible forest that just feels so peaceful and stunning. No matter what beach you visit, and there are many that vary based on your preferences, be sure to follow any posted guidance on signs, pack up your trash when you leave, and wear reef-safe sunscreen to protect the local marine environment.
We tried out West Maui Parasailing and had a great time! They offer two flights, the 800 and 1200. The approximate distance above the water is about 38 stories for the 800 and 50 for the 1200. It's a gentler ride than I expected, quite peaceful at the top, and you get breathtaking views of Maui and neighboring islands like Lanai and Molokai.
Both Lahaina and Kula farmer's markets are great options for local food and gifts. It’s best to go early for Kula though as it's a popular market and vendors may sell out!
I highly recommend this tour. It was an amazing experience, the company donates all profits to local charities, and the chocolate is fun to taste and also makes a great gift! Book a reservation to secure a spot.
This famed drive along lush green hills and gorgeous coastline is one of Maui's top attractions. There are innumerable stops along the way and you can tailor your trip to meet your needs. Drive yourself, hire a tour, stay the night, come back in one day, it's really up to you. My top tips: bring motion sickness medication as the road is windy, and no matter where you stop, be sure to try Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream. Their organic, vegan ice cream is made from Maui coconuts and is such a treat.
This aerial adventure park has over 50 different height climbing elements. Each element has a difficulty level that ranges from blue (least challenging) to black (most challenging). This is a fun family activity with kids.
Visible throughout most of Maui, Haleakala Crater is a dormant volcano standing at 10,023 feet. The ascent is a popular challenge for cyclists (no reservations needed though there is an entry fee for bikes). You can also drive to the top and check out the scenic summit for gorgeous views. It is a great spot to take photos as you are above the clouds. Reservations are needed for cars to visit for sunrise. Note that reservations are for parking at the summit and don’t include the required park entry fee. Bring layers as it is much cooler at the top.
Things we haven’t tried yet but want to...
This gourmet food truck was once on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. They use local ingredients to create their dishes. Check their social media (link above) to get up-to-date information on their operations.
Mama’s Fish House, Paia
This family-owned restaurant serves fresh seafood from local fishermen and is well known for as one of the best restaurants on Maui. It’s best to make reservations well in advance since they can be hard to get.
This restaurant serves up Japanese cuisine while also milling their own rice for their dishes. Their menu is supplemented with local Haiku grown produce. They serve lunch and dinner daily.