Hawaii was always on Joe and I’s bucket list growing up. This past October we finally were able to check off Maui together! It’s honestly felt like ages since we’ve had a beach vacay. We had a week on the island to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and drink the wild air as they say.
We loved being there in October – it was a great time to visit as the weather was perfect and wasn’t overly crowded.
Joe and I rented a car for a couple of days in the middle of the trip, but we definitely should have pre-planned to have a car the whole time as things on the island are spread out. You will need a car if you’re planning on venturing out and seeing the island.
Expect to pay more than you’re used to – for everything. It’s hard to try to save some change while you’re there, so just come prepared.
We planned our excursions while we there, which ended up working out but it was somewhat stressful and we had to miss out on the volcano sunrise. Plan ahead so you can squeeze everything in. If you’re wanting to do a few excursions, one per day was perfect for us.
Now that the top tips are out-of-the-way, let’s get to good stuff.
–OLD LAHAINA LUAU: It’s just something you have to do. The luau is one of the most popular things to do on the island. After our night, it’s not even a question why. Located on the beach, you’re quickly immersed into traditional Hawaiian culture. In fact, they’re the best luau because it’s the most authentic. Arrive before the show so you can walk around, enjoy Hawaiian treats, play traditional games, and listen to the band. The show begins and dancers grace the stage in beautiful grass + coconut costumes and perform with the live music. Not to mention, there’s a buffet feast (which is insanely good, BTW) and the drinks are unlimited. Here is a link that explains the night in more detail.
–SNORKELING: Joe + I did a tour that took us to Molokini Crater as well as Turtle Town. Both were EPIC. At Molokini Crater, you’ll see hundreds fish species in crystal clear water while at Turtle Town, you’ll see – you guessed it, turtles! The turtles are ginormous and literally swim feet in front of you. It’s an extremely incredible experience you have to check off the bucket list. We did our tour with Kai Kanani and truly enjoyed our experience with them. The staff was extremely nice + helpful, and they reversed the order of their tour so we would be the only boat at both locations.
–ROAD TO HANA: People come to Maui to experience the Road to Hana. It’s not actually about reaching Hana, rather than driving on the tiny, windy road and making the pit stops along the way. Some spots to hit are the multiple waterfalls, Red Sand Beach, Black Sand Beach, and Seven Sacred Pools. I honestly can’t stress Seven Sacred Pools enough! Our friend (a local) pulled over on the side of the road, walked us behind a janky gate, through tall grass with cow doo, and it opened up to our favorite stop of the journey. It’s not as popular as the 2982094 waterfalls (really, they’re all the same) which means it’s harder to find. It is a hidden gem. Whether you want to cliff jump or hang back and float, it will be a highlight of your trip.
–AIR MAUI: After our first in Banff, we’ve become obsessed helicopter tours.We headed straight for Air Maui which offers the best tours on the island – including a doors-off waterfall ride! Insane, I know. We did the West Maui + Molokai tour which showed us breathtaking cliffs, waterfalls, and where they shot parts of Jurassic Park! Our pilot kept things funny and interesting as he gave us just the right amount of history + facts with some humor.
–HALEAKALA SUNRISE: Unfortunately, we didn’t book enough in advance and weren’t able to snag a spot for the Haleakala Sunrise Tour… aaandd it’s the one thing we regret. The tour takes you up to the volcano and you get to watch the sun rise above the clouds. Book this in advance as it fills up quick.
–808 GRINDZ CAFE: My boyfriend’s favorite meal of the trip. In fact, he still talks about their pancake sauce. If you’re one for a sweet tooth breakfast, 808 is for you. Famous for their Macadamia Nut Pancakes, it’s a can’t miss on Maui. If a sugar attack isn’t for you in the morning, opt for a Pork Hash Loco.
–GROCEY STORES: Normally, a grocery store wouldn’t make my list. But Hawaii are different. Hear me out. They’re open late and dependable. Stocked with pre-made meals, fresh AF sushi, poke bowls, and spam masubis – it’s the perfect place to stop + stock up for an easy dinner after you’ve been out in the sun all day.
–MONKEYPOD KITCHEN: If you’re staying in any of the resorts, Monkeypod is only a 15-ish minute walk which makes it extremely convenient as it’s really the only restaurant you can walk to around the area. It’s also open later than the majority of restaurants. The food was pretty incred. Go for the poke tacos, bourgeois pizza (I know. Just get it), and the Mai Tai’s- a consecutive award winner on the island.
–MAMA’S FISH HOUSE: As we were staying in a resort without a car for majority of the days, sadly, we had to give Mama’s a miss. But honestly, it was a huge mistake on our end as it’s voted the best restaurant on the island. Rent a car + don’t skip out!
–SHAVED ICE: Shaved ice is basically a food group in Hawaii. You can’t really go wrong anywhere with shaved ice, but Ululani’s is the star.
–THAI FOOD BY PRANEE: If you’re traveling on the road to Hana, this place is a must. One of our friends from Maui said this joint is his favorite on the island. The food is authentic, fresh, and will hit the spot if you’ve been exploring all day.
–PAIA FISH MARKET: Recommended to us by a few locals, we gave this place a try one night and it did not disappoint. With a very low-key vibe, the south side location has community tables, serve-yourself cutlery + sauces, and you bus your own table. The fish is fresh. Like, fressshhh. The menu really does focus mainly on the fish as the star, so don’t expect an extensive or sophisticated menu.
–GESTE SHRIMP TRUCK: We didn’t get the chance to eat here, but it always came up on where to eat in Maui. This cash-only food truck is a favorite amongst tourists + locals alike.
–SANSEI SUHI: At the top of the charts, Sansei sushi really didn’t live up to the hype. At least in our eyes. The sushi was either doused in sauce or covered in melted cheese. If that’s your thing, this place is for you.