We have a whole lot of love for the Aloha state, Maui in particular. And as much as we love a good tropical vacay, our good friend Erica, of 1011 Makeup, (tour her home and shop her baby must haves here and here!) may love it even more… With all of her trips to the island (she even got married there!), Erica is just the lady to tell you all the places to stay, eat, and see! Her travel guide to Maui is comprehensive, and fair warning: it may take you a few different trips to check everything off, but that’s not a problem, because once you visit once, you won’t be able to resist traveling back!
Maui feels like my home away from home! For the last 15+ years we have been enjoying the Island for vacations, as well as for work (but lets be honest, work that feels like vacation) 1-2 times a year. My hubby and I got married in Kapalua TEN years ago, and my brother just got married in Honolua Bay this year! No matter the time of year, it is always stunning and there is always something new to experience! My personal favorite time of the year to visit would be during the months between November and April, but that is mostly because I am obsessed with whales and that happens to be whale season! The weather is cooler, Humpback whales are everywhere, it seems to be a little less crowded, and it. is. magical!
Photo by Wendy Laurel
Where to Stay:
The Hyatt Maui is an incredible hotel located right along the boardwalk in Kaanaplai Beach, and an easy walk to the outdoor mall with tons of shops and dining at the Whalers Village. The hotel is also great for a girls trip with its oceanfront cabanas and waterfall pool bar, or for a romantic getaway where you can stargaze from the rooftop or enjoy oceanfront dining at their incredible sushi restaurant Japengo.
With plenty of water activities, dining and shopping options, and the beautiful beach right outside your door, there’s no reason to stay anywhere else! And if you’re considering a destination wedding, like us, The Hyatt also offers the most picturesque sites for a ceremony and reception. They even offer a “Maui’d Under the Stars” wedding package that includes a rooftop wedding under the stars followed by a private stargazing through telescopes on the roof. Sigh!!
Photos by Dmitri & Sandra
Where to Eat:
There are just so many places. You really could eat your way through the Island if you wanted to, so lets do that!!
Mama’s Fish House
The Flat Bread Company has the most incredible salads using organic ingredients & free-range meats, not to mention their wood-fired pizzas made in traditional clay ovens! They also work closely with local farms to bring the freshest ingredients to their amazing menu! It is a great first or last stop when arriving from, and going to, the airport! Try the No Boundaries Salad or the Pa’ia Bay Ohana flatbread!
Paia Fish Market gained a viral popularity when featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, and serves up the yummiest fresh fish (locally caught) tacos and aims to use ingredients locally grown. My personal favorite is the cajun style, or blackened, fish tacos! They now have locations in Kihei and Lahaina, making it convenient no matter where you are staying on the Island!
Sansei serves up some of the best sushi you will ever have, like their Panko-crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi. However, if you are not a sushi lover, there is plenty for you as well! My must haves are the Sansei’s Shrimp Dynamite and Matsuhis Style Miso Butterfish. And make sure to save room for their Macadamia Nut Tempura-Fried Ice-cream… unlike any fried ice-cream you have ever had! They have a location on the other side of the Island in Kapalua as well. Make sure to make a reservation or arrive at least 30 minutes before opening… and plan to wait in line!
Historical Banyan Tree
Fridas Beach House is a family owned business, located right on the water on Front Street in Lahaina. Stop in for happy hour and enjoy the incredible views overlooking the Mala Wharf, the open-air vibe, and of course, the great tequila selection! The Tiger Prawn Entree and the Grilled Panela Cheese appetizer will not disappoint. Their spicy margarita is delicious, and did I mention the view? Plus, their staff is really amazing and also great with kiddos, and Geri (one of the most amazing servers) has always made us feel right at home!
Lahaina Grill located just off of Front Street, at the historic Lahaina Inn, is the perfect location for an upscale dining experience. This award winning restaurant has been recognized as one of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. with a menu that uses freshly caught fish and locally grown ingredients. You cannot go wrong with their featured Fresh Fish Entree or the Kona Coffee Crusted Lamb, and make sure to save room for dessert, because did I mention they have an in-house bakery!? They also offer a chefs table, a large round table that sits privately in the front of the restaurant and can seat 6-10 people, perfect for any celebration. Make sure to call and reserve it ahead of time!
For more casual dining, try the family-friendly Cool Cat Cafe for some blackened fish tacos, burgers and seasoned fries, or adult (yep, spiked) milkshakes! It’s ocated right across the street from the Historical Banyan Tree on Front Street in Lahaina.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
Looking for something sweet? Try Paia Gelato Company (the Lilikoi is amazing), or Ono Gelato with locations all over the Island! And of course, you have to try Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice also with locations all over the Island! My favorite sweet stop, however, is Leodas Kitchen and Pie Shop– need I say more?! With the majority of their ingredients sourced on the Island, it is a must stop heading into, or on your way out of, Lahaina! The Banana Cream Pie is just so so good! AND the same family is also known for their other foodie faves (and more traditional Hawaiian dishes), Aloha Mixed Plate as well as Star Noodle (also worth checking out)!
What to do:
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Makawao is a little town in upcountry Maui, on your way to visit the Haleakala Volcano (make sure to bring a sweater, it can actually be quite cold up there). It has a charming vibe with art galleries and small boutiques. It’s definitely worth a stroll through to take in the beauty.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm – Peaceful, beautiful, and a fun experience! General admission is around $3, or you can book a tour (around $12) ORRR book a gourmet picnic ($26+), which includes some lavender infused bites!
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery is worth visiting for the sights alone (I literally cried taking it all in), with panoramic views of both the North and South shores of Maui! Touring the distillery and seeing just how they produce on their sustainable and organic farm, while tasting their spirits and taking in the scenery, is a great way to learn about this Hawaiian born and made company!
Surfing Goat Dairy is so fun (and family friendly). Who doesn’t love goats… and cheese?! Make a reservation ahead of time for one of their Grand (2 hour long) tours, or stop by and take one of their casual (every 30 minute) tours to feed the goats and sample some cheese!
Captain Steve’s Rafting Adventures
If you want to experience Maui’s incredible sea-life, try snorkeling (or cliff diving/jumping) at Black Rock over by the North end of Ka’anapali Beach, or a simple jungle walk out to Honolua Bay. For a more guided tour, book a snorkel trip with Captain Steve’s Rafting Adventures, which includes snorkel gear, breakfast, and lunch out on the ocean! If you LOVE whales the way I do (admittedly awkwardly obsessed), Captain Steve’s offers 2 hour whale watching tours multiple times a day during whale season. With guaranteed whale sightings, Captain Steve and his crew make you feel right at home while offering incredible up-close encounters and cultivating an experience full of the “Spirit of Aloha”. If you are traveling with a group you can charter a private boat through their company as well- a great option for an adventure with your bridal party (we did this for my wedding) if you are traveling to Maui to get married!
If you love scuba diving, make sure to book with Lahaina Divers to swim with hammerhead sharks or to explore the back wall of the Molokini Crater. They offer diver training, experiences for beginners, and trips for the most advanced divers.
Drive around the Island! The Road to Hanna and the Kahekili Highway offer up some daring travels and excitement! If you are up for an adventure and don’t mind winding roads with lots of turns, curves, and switchbacks, or single-lane roads with with ocean cliff drop offs to one side and a mountainside to the other – then these drives are for you! Check out beautiful waterfalls along the road to Hana, or stop in at Julia’s Best Banana Bread (a little green shack along the Kahekili Highway that offers the darkest, richest and BEST banana bread of your life- promise!), and experience the beauty of the entire Island! There are also a ton of ATV, Zip-ling, and Horseback riding adventures to be had as well!
Another great way to experience the Hawaiian culture would be through one of the many Luau’s offered across the Island! My personal favorites are the Old Lahaina Luau which is great for families, or the Feast at Lele for a more romantic and intimate, five-course, dining experience!
If you are traveling with kiddos, check out Maui Baby Rentals where you can rent strollers, car seats, cribs, toddler beds, inside toys and beach toys, so you can pack light! Plus, they will deliver to your place of stay and pick up the items as well. Genius!
If you don’t want to go out for every meal, there is a Costco and Whole Foods Market conveniently located near the airport. Another great option is The Fish Market Maui to pick up the fresh catch of the day. There is also a great Organic Market (Farmers Market Maui) with locations in Kihei, as well as off Lower Honoapiilani Road, with tons of great local, organic, and vegan products! They also have a juice and smoothie menu and have the yummiest Acai Bolws! The one off Lower Honoapiilani is also conveniently located next to a Bad Ass Coffee and right across from Honokowai Beach Park, which has swings and a playground beachside, with mellow surf, tide pools, and shallow waters for a great place to swim and play with little ones! Another great beach for kids is Baby Beach in Lahaina.
Maui is a special place with so much to see, taste, and experience. It is pretty hard not to get swept off of your feet by this beautiful Island!