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Maui is hands down my favorite of all the Hawaiian Islands. We have now been on Maui for seven weeks and still have two more weeks to go! Everything about it I love. And despite the fact there isn’t anything negative I can say about this beautiful place, I do have some favorites. So today I thought I would share with you my Maui top five things to do – best of the best.
Top Five Beaches
- Keawakapu – our most frequented beach in South Kihei offers a wide sandy beach, warm clear water and gentle waves
- Makena Beaches – Makena also in the south, is dotted with public access to dozens of beautiful and often secluded beach. Secret Beach is worth finding. MaKena Beach State Park is a wonderful huge expanse of a beach and rarely busy.
- Black Beach Hana – for the sheer beauty of it, Black Beach on the road to Hana is worth a visit
- Baldwin Beach – on the north shore Baldwin Beach is great for body surfing
- Napili Bay Beach – I have not swam at this beach but it is so beautiful and has easy access at the north end of the island
Top Five Snorkeling
- Black Rock Kaanapali – the beach in front of the Kaanapali Sheraton known as Black Rock is one of my favorite places to snorkel. Clear and full of fish and turtles.
- Turtle Rock – On a guided snorkel trip a few years ago we had the most amazing time at Turtle Rock – hundreds of turtles here.
- Molokini – Though sometimes crowded, a snorkel tour to Molokini is a must at least once in your life to see the abundant marine life here.
- Makena Beaches – there are several public access beaches on this long stretch of south Maui with some of the best and easily accessed snorkeling on the island.
- Keawakapu – my favorite beach, and the one closest to where we usually stay, has an easy access into the water with snorkel options at the far north of the beach around a large lava reef. Wonderful sealife, turtles and fish.
Top Five Activities
- Old Lahaina Lu’au – the creme de la creme of Lu’aus, Old Lahaina has just recently reopened after being closed for 8 months due to the pandemic. I have enjoyed this Luau several times, and although expensive, it is worth every penny. Reservations are required.
- Maui Zipline – Maui Zipline is where it all began, the first zipline in the USA. Safe and fun and now reopened with even more safety features.
- Whale Watching – from November to April Maui is home to some of the earth’s most amazing creatures, the magnificent humpback whales. A must-do activity while visiting Maui is enjoy a guided tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation.
- Ghost Tours Lahaina – more of a history lesson than a ghost encounter, this walking tour with a local will open your eyes to some of the hidden history and mystic Hawaiian lore. Very informative and entertaining.
- Chef Prepared dinner – many local chefs are available to bring dinner to you, cooking and serving a beautiful Hawaiian meal for two to ten or even more in your condo or local hale.
Top Five Hikes
- Waihee Ridge – mid island, five mile roundtrip with incline to spectacular views but weather can be unpredictable.
- Kapalua Coastal Trail – hugging the coast from Kapalua to Napili this rugged and beautiful hike has views of Molokai, Lanai and the ocean. Windy.
- Halemau’u Haleakala – hike down into the crater starting at 8000 foot level where you will find easy parking. The trail is a switch back and easy for most fit hikers. Temperatures can be very cold at times.
- Sliding Sands Haleakala – this is a work out let me tell you, but if you are fit it’s spectacular. Bring lots of water, be prepared for wind and cold or heat and sun you never know. A great place to see the rare and beautiful Silver Sword plant.
- Hoapili, La Perouse – past Makena where the road ends you will find parking and the trailhead of the Hoapili, the historic Kings Road. The rough trail takes you over a 300 year old lava field to the far south end of the island. Bring lots of water, it is a hot and dry trail.
Top Five Fine Dining
- Mama’s Fish House, Paia – one of the supreme dining experiences anywhere in the world
- Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina – Tiny but local chef has created a wonderful menu
- Sea House, Napili – One of the best pieces of fish I have ever had
- Roy’s Kaanapali – Celebrated chef Roy Yamachuchi’s restaurant never disappoints
- Ko, Wailea – we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary at Ko. It was incredible. Beautiful location and great service.
Top Five Casual Dining (six in this category!)
- Sam Sato, Wailuku – tourists don’t know about this hidden local gem. Best noodles anywhere
- Paia Fish Market (Kihei, Paia and Lahaina) – favorite among visitors and locals
- Three’s Bar & Grill Kihei – creative menu of delicious small plates
- Maui Brewing (Kihei and Kaanapali) – simple pub food with a healthy twist
- Star Noodle, Lahaina – simply incredible. Be sure to have the Vietnamese pancake
- Cafe O’Lei – Various locations. Great food, great price and prix fix menu daily.
We have also heard great things about Kula Lodge, Kimo’s and Down the Hatch.
Top Five Take Out Foods
- L & L Plate Lunch, Kihei – quintessential Hawaiian plate lunch
- Maui Taco, Kihei – fish tacos!
- Island Gourmet Market, Wailea – great selection of local cuisine as well as sandwiches, pizza and more
- Honolua Store, Kapalua – similar to above as well as a great gift shop
- Food Trucks, Everywhere and for every taste bud
Top Five Breakfast Places
There are several breakfast places we have heard are great (The Gazebo Kapalua and 808 Grindz Lahaina to name two) but these are the ones we have enjoyed so far.
- Kihei Cafe, popular, casual spot in Kihei
- Sugar Beach Bake Shop, North Kihei – you gotta try the malasada donuts
- Kula Bistro, Upcountry great Eggs Benedict
- Island Fresh Cafe, Paia worth the trip, healthy and inexpensive
- 5 Palms, Kihei, a great view of Keawakapu. Try the lox and bagel.
Top Five Places for Drinks
- Maui Brewing, Kihei
- Merriman’s for Sunset, Kapalua
- Hula Grill Kaanapali
- Waikiki Brewing Co, Lahaina
- Tommy Bahama’s Wailea (try the Mai Tai here)
Top Five Just For the Heck of It
- Ocean Vodka, tasting and tours, Kula – an innovative entreprenueal effort on Maui worth your support. I love the gin.
- Spend a day shopping in Paia and Makawao
- Nakalele Blow Hole, Napili – a wonderful site. Don’t get too close.
- Sunrise or Sunset Haleakala (sunrise reservations required. Learn more here.)
- Drive Hana Backwards (counterclockwise) – miss the crowds by doing this drive the opposite way most people go. Read what we wrote about Going to Hana Backwards here.
Top Four Inexpensive Golf
Golf can be very expensive on Maui, but if you know where to go, you can play nine or 18 holes on a budget. Here are our favorite budget friendly courses (we can’t find five, so four will do).
- Maui Nui, Kihei – well cared for grounds at a great price
- Waiehu County Golf, Wailuku – county run course with a magnificent ocean view
- Pukalani, Makawao, upcountry course with beautiful views, sometimes wet
- The Dunes at Maui Lani, Kahului, beautiful course built on natural dunes.
That’s My List
So if you are thinking about visiting Maui for the first time, or are planning to return for another visit, check out some of my top fives – you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Be a Kind & Generous Visitor
And remember, Maui took a big hit during the 7-month closure during the pandemic. The local people lost jobs, income and businesses closed permanently, on this island that depends on tourism. If you can afford to visit Maui, you can afford to make a donation while you are there. Many local agencies can use your support now. The Maui Food Bank is one that is helping some 32,000 local residents who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Help breathe life back into the local economy by shopping and dining at locally owned stores, supporting locally run activities, taking time to talk to and understand the local people and their culture, and donate to a local non-profit agency that is helping the local people.
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