Maui Hawai’i is an incredible paradise in the middle of the ocean. Think crystalline clear water, palm trees swaying in the wind, warm breezes, and turtles (Honu) resting on black and white sands. I’m not promoting moving to Maui, just visiting! Maui is a true slice of heaven, with incredible sacred sights and waterfall adventures. This Maui Itinerary will guide you to the most beautiful places to experience on this other-worldly island.
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What You Need to Know:
Hawai’i is not just a place to visit, party, and get instagram-worthy photos. The roots and culture of Hawai’i are at the forefront of the Hawaiian experience. It is a place to visit with deep reverence, and respect. Learn and study about the life and history of local Hawaiians, before you come visit this paradisiacal playground.
This Ultimate Maui itinerary includes places to stay, sights to visit, beaches to relax on, and where to eat.
In true fashion of The Light Footprint and all I stand for, I want to start by recommending to help clean up Maui when you are there. I know you know not to litter, but on a small island it helps when everyone picks up trash if they see it.
Set Up of Maui:
It will be helpful for you to understand the setup of Maui. To make it easy to understand, I will break it down into four sections.
North Shore: If you want to stay on the North shore I recommend staying in Paia. It’s a cute town with an amazing Saturday farmers market nearby in the town of Pukalani. There’s sunny beaches and cute tourist shops to explore. Always remember to try and support local families! There’s also the beautiful town of Makawao above Paia.
South Shore: Kihei is a great town to experience some of the fun, restaurants, and nightlife that Maui has to offer. It’s hot in the summer, and all year round really. The beaches are lovely and sunny, but sometimes crowded.
West Side: Lahaina is a great place in West Maui and has gorgeous mountain views, red sand, and beautiful beaches. Lahaina includes the Kaanapali and Kapalua beach resorts.
You can surf in any of these places, but please research and go to tourist surf locations and leave local spots to the locals. When flying to Maui, you use the Kahului (OGG) airport. You can rent a car right there at the airport. I recommend renting a car to be able to get around, and to drive up to the volcano summit on Haleakalā.
Maui Itinerary- Where to Stay
Want an air bnb in the jungle? Search in Haiku, or Huelo. If you want to experience an eco-friendly, local type of vibe (I highly recommend) see if there’s any airbnb’s that are rented out by local families. If you’re someone who likes to camp, you can camp out at Hosmer’s campground on Haleakalā volcano. It’s about 3,000 feet up and has bathrooms and places to cook.
If you’d like accommodations for a luxury hotel, I recommend staying in one of the more eco-friendly ones. You CAN travel to paradise and help reduce your footprint simultaneously, with the choices you make.
You can click here to explore the Eco Resort Hawaii in beautiful Kihei.
On their website they share, “Focusing on solar energy and green living, emphasizing the importance of environmental preservation, we are committed to preserving the vital natural resources of Hawaii through an array of green-friendly programs and initiatives.”
Click here to view Maui Eco Retreat, for another gorgeous and luxury eco stay on Maui.
If you want to stay in an upscale part of the island, there’s Wailea, which has luxury hotels The Four Seasons, The Andaz, The Fairmont, and Hotel Wailea. If you want to stay on the West-Lahaina side of the island, there’s The Ritz Carlton, The Sheraton, and The Montage.
To stay in a colder area that is higher up the volcano, look into the town of Kula.
Maui Itinerary- What to Eat
This wouldn’t be a true Maui Itinerary without a ton of suggestions on where to eat. When on Maui, focus on trying fresh fish, poke, and fresh fruit. Maui has delicious fruits all year round that you may never know about unless you show up and look.
Places to eat North Shore:
North Shore Eats
On the North Shore you can find fresh fruits at the Saturday market in Pukalani. It’s an amazing, family friendly market with tons to offer. You can find fully cooked food, herbs, flowers, cheese, local Maui raised meat, breakfast, vegetables, kombucha, local coffee, and tons of fruit. Here is the information and location for the market. Support local, you won’t regret it! Hint: If you find a little flower called ‘spilanthes‘ at the market, definitely try it. It’s an experience I think we all should have.
You can also stop in Mana Foods in Paia for local food, treats, and fresh tropical fruit all year round. Mana has a coffee and smoothie bar that has fresh acai bowls.
Paia is home to the freshest fish at the Paia Fish Market, click here to explore their website. It’s local, delicious, and definitely worth stopping by.
Paia also has a few good coffee shops that serve food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s a delicious pizza spot called Flatbread Company right on the main street in town, and they focus on fresh, local ingredients. If you head towards the next town over, Haiku, you’ll hit Mama’s Fish House.
Although Mama’s Fish House is known for being pricey, it’s truly delicious! The fish is fresh, their dessert is amazing, and there’s a beautiful beach in the back you can relax at before or after your meal. Click here for more info on Mama’s.
South Side Eats
On the South Side you can stop by Hawaiian Moons before the beach for fresh acai bowls, smoothies, Maui veggie/vegan or cattle burgers, sandwiches, organic coffee, espresso, and iced/blended coffee drinks.
On the note of coffee, I’m a connoisseur. My favorite coffee in the world comes fresh from Naples and Sicily, Italy, and Maui. Akamai Coffee Co. in Maui makes some of the best coffee in the world. They grow their coffee in Haiku, and they have a location in the Home Depot Parking Lot (100 Pakaula St.) in Kahului. They have a cute little stand to drive up to and pay, and I recommend an iced mocha latte. Akamai also has both a Wailea and Kihei location. Their shop in Kihei is adorable and spacious, and it has some really cute chairs to hang out in.
For dinner on the South Shore, check out Cuatro restaurant for some seafood.
West Side Eats
When on the West Side you can stop by the Lahaina grill for a delicious dinner. Click here to see more about the restaurant which has really good ratings.
Lahaina is buzzing all year round, and there are lots of shops to stop in. Have some ice cream, some coffee, or the famous-to-tourists Hawaiian shaved ice. It’s a refreshing treat and comes in a ton of flavors. Buy some mac nuts to bring home to your family, or maybe treat yourself to a beautiful ukulele at one of the local Lahaina shops on your after dinner stroll.
East Side Eats
On the East Side you can stop and buy Maui’s famous banana bread on the road to Hana. In Hana, I recommend stopping to try the local food you find on the side of the road. Seriously, it’s incredible. Local bbq, and tons of fresh fruit. Don’t miss out! If you want to really go for an adventure, head to Laulima in Kipahulu past Hana for a unique jungle experience and delicious fruit/coffee.
Maui Itinerary- Things to do
- Visit the Pukalani Farmer’s market on Saturday morning and try fresh fruit you’ve never had before.
- Relax on the Wailea Resort Beaches to rent a stand up paddle board and swim in the clearest, most beautiful water.
- Hike and snorkel at La Perouse and see the King Lava trails. Maybe even spot some spinner dolphins, but definitely see some Honu (Hawaiian green turtles) and some wild goats running around.
- Drive the Road to Hana! Read about preparing to drive to Hana here, and be prepared to be shocked with beauty and the cleanest air and water around. Remember to pull over and let local trucks go past you.
- When in Hana, drive to Waianapanapa State Park and check out the beautiful black sand beach. Also check out Kaihalulu, aka Red Sands. Here is info on these beautiful sacred spots: Waianapanapa and Kaihalulu.
- Go swimming at any beach in Lahaina and check out the mountains around. Then head to the center of town to see the beautiful Banyan tree. Click here for more info on this epic tree.
- On the North Shore, check out Twin Falls waterfalls.
- On the East Side, check out the bamboo forest and Seven Sacred Pool falls.
- Relax in a lavender field in upcountry Maui.
- Check out the famous Sunday drum circle for a unique Maui experience at Little Beach, the nude beach, on the South Shore. (warning- people and families of all ages nude here)
- Go on a zip line adventure with Kapalua Ziplines.
- Last but not least, there’s no point in a trip to Maui, or a Maui Itinerary without discussing a trip up Haleakalā.
Haleakalā is Maui’s dormant volcano, 10,000 ft high, which is sacred to Hawaiians. Visiting the volcano summit is hands down life changing if you go take in the sunrise or sunset above the clouds. I barely have words for the beauty this experience entails, and I highly recommend it.
If you are an avid hiker, there are many intricate and long trails you can hike on the volcano. Here is more information on the trails and paths. Along them you can see Hawaii’s rare and endangered plants and species like Nene geese and Haleakalā Silver Sword. To preserve these species, it’s incredibly important to stay on the trails.
When people talk about visiting Haleakalā summit, they most likely are not talking about a hike. To visit the volcano summit you just make a reservation here, for Sunrise, and you can simply drive up. You do not need a reservation for sunset. To experience sunrise or sunset, simply drive up from the town of Kula, and follow signs all the way up the volcano. When you get out of your car at the top (after about 1 1/2-2 hours) you will not need to hike. You simply park your car and walk a few feet over to view. This may be difficult for someone who has trouble walking, though, because there are steps. Breathe slow at that high elevation, and remember, it will be COLD! Even in the summer, Haleakalā summit is very cold. Bring blankets and jackets. I always end up sharing my extra ones with freezing tourists.
Maui is truly an extraordinary little slice of paradise on Earth. Remember to do your part to take care of Maui when you visit, and as always, comment with any questions you have. I’d love to hear about your favorite Maui spots and if you try any from my Maui Itinerary!
Wishing you well and all my love,