Still can't believe I just spent the last 3 weeks in Hawaii. 3 weeks and 3 different islands. So why am I only doing a travel guide for Maui? Funny story...
Going into this trip, we were picturing 3 weeks of sun and lazy beach days. We got off the plane on Oahu, went to Waikiki and jumped right into the ocean at Waikiki beach. Day two, we woke up, hiked Diamond head and went back to the beach. We could get used to this. After three days in Waikiki, we drove up north to check out the surfer town of Haleiwa, which really is awesome. But that's also where we realized that it's winter in Hawaii and it does rain here. We had wind and rain here and there but at least we still got some beach time in. We started checking the forecast more for our upcoming week in Kauai and it called for rain everyday. 🤔 And for once, the apple weather app was right!
I swear everyone who has been to multiple Hawaiian islands says Kauai is their favorite. No one says it's the rainiest spot in the WORLD. Or if they mention rain, they say "Oh it's so lush and beautiful." So, we might have gone in with high expectations. Long story short, we went to lots of happy hours, didn't get any beach days, sat in lots of traffic, and left feeling disappointed with Kauai. It got to be really funny actually. Every time we stepped out of our car, it started raining. (No joke.) We would laugh about how much we were hating Kauai and anytime we were shopping, we refused to buy anything that said Kauai on it. 😂 Oh well....so I'm writing this guide because Maui kind of saved the last week of our trip. It was gorgeous weather everyday, the beaches were some of my favorite I've ever been to, and we never ran out of things to do. I know everyone has a different experience but, weather aside, I would still say Maui is my favorite of the islands and hopefully this guide will convince you to make the worthwhile trek to this beautiful place one day!
Obviously we had to check out both breweries Maui had to offer. First one, Maui Brewing Company.
Super modern brewery with a really good selection of beers. One side of this huge building is their restaurant, which we didn't try but heard good things about, the other side is the tasting room. Maui Brewing has about 5 popular beers that are sold in stores all over, but in their tasting room they offer up to 15 other beers on tap. If you're staying out of the sun one day, sunny days are the best to come here. Way less crowds and a really nice ocean view if you're sitting outside.
Kohola Brewery; definitely more of a locals brewery. You would only find this place if you were looking since it's basically hidden behind a strip mall in a warehouse. I personally liked the feel of this brewery, super chill and next to a taco shop. 🤙🏼 While I liked Maui Brewing's beers a bit more, Kohola's vibe was nice and laid-back & they also offered cocktails and wine.
Maui Wine aka Ulupalakua Vineyards
But let's just call it Maui Wine. Be ready for a bit of a trek getting to this vineyard. Long back roads until they turn into small, windy roads on the edge of a hill. You may also run into rain and wind on your way up even if you were just laying on the beach in 80 degree sunshine. The drive up provides some awesome views of the ocean and Molokini though, so you can't complain. Then, once you make it to the vineyard, it feels so peaceful! It's settled on a hill surrounded by greenery with a cute patio for sipping pineapple wine.
In addition to pineapple wine, they do have some whites and reds. I definitely recommend trying pineapple though! One of them is sweet, which I know may not be for everyone, but their semi-dry pineapple wine was SO good! Oh, but don't order a charcuterie or cheese board there...we paid $15 and got like 3 pieces of meat and 2 pieces of cheese lol 😂
In Maui, we actually kept it really low key when it came to food. We went to Whole Foods lots more than we probably should have, but in our defense we don't have one on Nantucket, so it's a treat!! We also stayed at the best Airbnb that provided breakfast so we didn't go out for every meal like we usually do...But when we did go out, we found some pretty sweet places. Pictured above is Paia Bowls in the cute, hippie town of Paia. The week before we went to Haleiwa Bowls in the north shore for an açai bowl and we actually talked to the owner for a while. Super cool guy from the east coast (woo!) so we had to go support his other Maui-based smoothie spot. Aside from amazing smoothies and bowls, they also have toasts and coffee drinks. 🤙🏼
For our first dinner in Maui, we went to the Cliff Dive Bar at the Sheraton. It was perfect! It's known for the nightly cliff dive, where they honor an old tradition of a chief's dive off of this cliff. I don't know the whole story but it was pretty cool to watch and had a beautiful sunset view. Between the fish tacos, my pina colada and this view, we were pretty content. 👌🏼
One of our favorite spots, to no surprise, was a local Mexican restaurant. Amigo's was tucked behind a gas station and we went to have a margarita and split something to tie us over before dinner. We randomly ordered a chimichanga which I never would have normally ordered and omg...it was SOO good. We both were like oh ok Amigo's. 😂 It was so simple, but you could just tell it was really traditional Mexican food. They also give you chips when you get there and no salsa, so we asked like total tourists and turns out there's a salsa bar where you can go get whatever salsa you want!! Loved that lol. The salsa was also so good, like everything else. They have happy hour too, so if you go between 3-5pm you can have a $5 margarita. 🍹
Another one of our favorite spots was 808 Deli. A casual sandwich spot, perfect for after or on your way to the beach. We had been on the beach in the morning and when we got hungry we stopped by this place and had some of the best sandwiches. My mouth was watering just reading their menu. I ended up going with a Chicken Mango chutney panini. No photos of it, so must have eaten it before I had the chance to take any...😬
The one night we decided to not be lazy and go out for some food, we found the Mill House. Their menu is all local, farm to table style food and the location is gorgeous. It's part of the Maui Tropical Plantation, so it's just surrounded by greenery and mountains. I kind of wish we didn't go at night so we were able to see more of the scenery. They do open for lunch and happy hour before dinner, so I would even recommend going for that. The food was really good and the overall vibe was super cool. I didn't get any great photos while we were there but I think this photo below can show ya just what I'm talking about. 😍
Like I said earlier, our Airbnb provided breakfast for us as well as sunrise ocean views, so we didn't go out much for breakfast until we found an artisanal donut shop like 5 minutes away from us. I love scoping out cool donut spots on our travels so I was pretty pumped about this. We had to go check it out and the donuts were so good!
After all the rain in Kauai, ALL I WANTED WAS TO LAY ON THE BEACH!! I was going crazy in Kauai because I just wanted to swim and have a lazy beach day. On our first full day, we drove to Lahaina and realized how many gorgeous beaches Maui has. Kaanapali and Black Rock are nice and good for snorkeling, but seem to get pretty crowded. We went down to Kihei to spend a day at Makena beach and fell in love. The beach is huge so never feels crowded and the water was paradise. A turtle might even swim right past you in the crystal clear water!
This beach is a quick drive to 808 Deli, but it also has some food trucks in the parking lot. 🙌🏼 You could easily stay here all day.
If you want even better snorkeling, we went on a super fun snorkeling trip with Calypso. The boat leaves at 7am and you're back by 1pm, so then you still have so much of your day afterwards...but you'll be tired. We got to the dock before sunrise and it was gray and rainy. We found our seats on the top deck of the boat, grabbed some breakfast & coffee and started sailing out. Never been so thankful for rain because we turned our heads to look back at shore and saw the most ridiculous rainbow I've ever seen. 🌈
This snorkel trip is meant to go to Molokini crater, but I guess the winds were causing the waters at Molokini to be unsafe for snorkeling, so instead we were taken to La Perouse bay. We saw an octopus, the state fish (Humuhumunukunukuapua'a), tons of other pretty fish and some dolphins on our way out! Oh, and whales also.
On the way back you stop again at Turtle town to see turtles and more fish, then the boat ride back is when the bar opens for $2 mai tais and more! Not a bad morning. Oh, and it did end up being beautiful weather after the rain so don't let weather discourage you!
road to hana
You can't really go to Maui and not do some of the road to Hana. Get ready for a long day though! We were out the door at 8am, drove to the town of Hana and back and got back around 4:30. And we didn't even make that many stops! So it's definitely a trek but every mile is so crazy beautiful. We stopped at Jaws Country Store on our way out, then Twin Falls, Keanae, many random pull offs, some BBQ food stands, Waianapanapa black sand beach, and finally Hana. We were going to continue past Hana and loop around (even though rental companies don't really allow you going past Hana) but we honestly were too tired and it was another 2.5 hours to go that way. (Every local and anyone who's continued past Hana says the complete route is not an issue. It's basically a gravel road for about 30 minutes.) It was still about 1:45 hours back but we just wanted the quicker route by that point, and to pass through the town of Paia for a drink. 🍻 The great part about the road to Hana is you can do it however you want. So, I'll just leave some of the many photos I took here and encourage you to make as short or long a day out of it as you're in for!
last few things && some more photos
We normally love scoping out coffee shops, but we enjoyed it at home this trip most mornings. We stayed in Wailuku and spent one morning at Wailuku Coffee Company which I loved. Really extensive coffee menu and good vibes with outdoor tables to chill at also. If you're staying on the other side of the island, Lahaina has a really cool coffee shop called Belle Surf Cafe.