If you’ve followed me on Instagram over the years you probably have noticed that I love Maui. I have been going there for years and consider it to be one of my 2 happiest places (the other one being Idaho but that is an entirely separate post).
There is truly nothing not to like about Maui; It has gorgeous scenery, nice people, beautiful/clean beaches and stunning weather. Visiting Maui is truly a special treat and I love nothing more than sharing what makes me happy with my friends. Yes, sometimes I want to be stingy and keep things for myself but then I remember this; When people are happy they’re less likely to be assholes and I don’t like assholes. So, welcome to my Maui guide; my contribution to saving the world from one asshole at a time.
Travel to, from & within the island
The first thing to remember when booking your travel to and from Maui or any Hawaiian island is that there is a time change. The Hawaiian islands are on HST (Hawaiian Standard Time). From Los Angeles, that means that depending on the time of the year Maui will be 2-3 hours BEHIND LA. I always like to take this into consideration when booking my travel because so many hotels and resorts generally cannot accommodate you until 4pm on check in day. I don’t like landing too early and having to hang out in my airplane clothes in a hotel lobby but maybe that’s just me.
Maui recently started to allow Uber and Lyft to pick up at the airport which is a big deal. Until recently you either had to have your hotel coordinate transportation for you, get a cab or rent a car…It should be noted that renting a car from the airport in Maui is one of the biggest cluster fucks I have ever dealt with in my life. You have to wait for an undetermined amount of time to take a packed shuttle (my nightmare) to a separate location to wait in more long lines to eventually get your car- Obviously the worst possible way to start a relaxing trip to paradise. The ONLY company I can recommend is National, there is never a wait and the cars are much better quality than the other options available which are generally dirty, stinky and not functioning at 100%. National is more expensive than the other options but there is a reason and that reason is they’re not a piece of garbage.
Its worth checking to see what your hotel charges for overnight parking and if its included in the daily resort fee. We stopped renting a car and opted for Uber because our hotel charged so much per night for parking. Uber/Lyft has been great for us on our recent trips because we don’t leave the area of the resort much. If you plan on going on hikes, adventuring through Hana or wanting to explore the whole island you might just have to bite the bullet and pay the price for the convenience.
Where We Stay
I highly recommend staying in the Wailea area of Maui over Kaanapali. I have stayed multiple times in each area and definitely prefer Wailea for the more mellow, less touristy vibe – I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that Wailea isn’t touristy because it definitely IS but it’s less than Kaanapali.
We LOVE The Andaz https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/hawaii/andaz-maui-at-wailea-resort/oggaw and have stayed there multiple times. It’s the newest hotel on the strip of beach that is home to the Four Seasons, Grand Wailea, Fairmont, etc. The staff at the Andaz are great and the hotel is very nice without being pretentious. Another big draw for me in terms of this hotel is that it’s not a “kids” hotel. There are no waterslides and gimmicky pool attractions which drastically cuts down on the amount of pre pubescent screaming my ears have to endure.
A few things to note about The Andaz –
- The daily resort fee is steep at $45 but includes a lot of extras like Go-Pro rentals, mixology class, yoga, snorkel equipment, etc. Make sure to take advantage of this because you’re paying for it.
- Parking is NOT included in the resort fee & it’s expensive AF. I believe they charge $30 a night for parking (it may even be $35 at this point).
- Take advantage of the courtesy shuttle. They will drive you to dinner, pick you up, take you to the market. Whatever you need.
- People are crazy about getting their favorite chairs at the pool! We have gone up to the pool at 7AM and seen people already up there saving their desired chair. If you can’t beat em join em. Get your ass up and save your chair too – you can leave it unattended for 2 hrs before they become fair game again.
What I do In Maui
I am NOT a vacation activity person. I do not wake up at sunrise to hike dormant volcanos or zip line through forests or any crazy shit like that. You can totally do all of that and more in Maui but if you’re looking for recommendations on those kind of activities I am not your resource. My idea of a dream vacation consists of walking up and down the beach, eating, napping, drinking and more eating – I have been known to dip in the ocean or wade in the pool but that’s about it.
Road To Hana
We have done this day trip once and what I can tell you is that it’s a LONG beautiful drive on a very narrow road. If you’re an adventurous spirit who wants to jump off waterfalls or hike through vegetation you might love it. I am happy I did it but I don’t think it’s something I really ever have to do again. IF you do decide to take the drive definitely wake up EARLY and go before everyone else gets on the road (I’m talking leaving your hotel by 6AM early). Bring food. If you’re prone to motion sickness definitely bring something for that because that road is a fucking nightmare if you get carsick. If you have the time in your trip I think it would be cool to break the trip into 2 days and stay the night in Hana, I only know of the Travaasa Hana https://travaasa.com as far as hotels but it looks GORGEOUS. If you do the trip in one day plan on it being an ALL day trip, like 9 hrs.
I honestly think that this might be my favorite thing about going to Maui. The Andaz is on a great stretch of beach with sands that extend a little more than a mile. At least once a day we walk up and down the beach. It’s what I do for my daily workout and if you go early enough, when the tide is low, you can catch some tide pools with a few little creatures lurking around like crabs, urchins and sea anemones. Also, lots of cute dogs run up and down the beach accompanied by owners with epic tans who look a little like this –
It’s MAJOR and for your information it’s the future I am praying for for myself, Travis and Zero.
Laying Out By The Pool
Am I really including “laying by the pool” as an activity? Hell to the yes I am. Like I said earlier, if you want to know about holding your breath for a really long time underwater or rock diving this isn’t your blog. I hate to toot my own horn but I am GREAT at vacationing. What I mean by this is that I am truly exceptional at relaxing, I have it down to a science. All you need is to pack a bag of all your relaxation equipment, like your book, external phone charger, sunscreens, hat etc. Hunker down for the day; Nap, eat, drink lots of Mai Thais and Pina Coladas and go for a couple walks. If you get hot take a dip in the pool but other than that it’s ALL about chilling the EFF OUT. Sometimes, if I’m feeling inspired I’ll get up and walk around the different pool decks, go into the bathroom and make sure I’m not getting a sunburn or play the occasional round of bingo, but mostly I’m all laying there like a slug. Give yourself a break, you probably deserve it.
Yes, drinking is also an activity and let’s just be honest with one another, we go on vacation to drink during the day and say things like “It’s fine. I know its only 11am but I’m on vacation”. Or, “Of course I should have a breakfast cocktail. It’s vacation.” Need I say more? And don’t you dare start to fucking judge me, I won’t apologize for being fun.
Where To Eat
Finally, the subject we have all been waiting for. The most important part of traveling, the best activity no matter where you are in the world; EATING GOOD FOOD.
- Monkeypod Kitchen https://www.monkeypodkitchen.com – They have 3 locations but I can only speak to the one in Wailea. This is my favorite restaurant to eat at while in Maui and it’s always the first place we go. Monkeypod is a scratch kitchen, meaning they make EVERYTHING they serve. The last time we were there the bartender told us that they don’t even have a freezer which is wild to me, especially considering the size of the restaurant and how busy it always is. They are famous for having the best Mai Tai’s on the island, they have won an award for this something like 6 times already and the Mai Thai is THAT good. Make a point to eat here multiple times. not only is the food fantastic but they have a giant menu with tons of variety and locally & sustainably source their meat and produce. Top items for me are the Fresh Island Herbs Farm Organic Kale with maui onions (delish), Ahi Poke Tacos, Kauai Shrimp & Hamakua Mushroom Potstickers, Kiawe Grilled Ahi, and the Kalua Pork & Pineapple pizza. Pro Tip: Make a reservation and DON’T FORGET THE PIE.
*photographic evidence of how delicious the Mai Tai’s are at Monkeypod.
- Paia Fish Market https://paiafishmarket.com/southside-kihei/ – This is an easy, relaxed and VERY casual spot that’s great for lunch or a laid back dinner. Its Located in Kihei which is about 10 minutes from The Andaz and an easy Uber ride. Be aware, this is an order at the counter and bus your own plates type of establishment, no one is going to wait on you hand and foot but the amazing quality and freshness of the fish makes up for that tenfold. I highly recommend one of the fresh catch plates. I love to get mine blackened or cajun style. If this isn’t your jam and you’d rather eat like a child on the day you go (quietly raises own hand) get the Fish and Chips. These are basically the freshest fish sticks you’ll ever enjoy, and you WILL enjoy them.
- Eskimo Candy https://eskimocandy.com – Before you read further I want to give you a disclaimer…IF YOU EAT POKE IN MAUI YOU WILL NEVER EAT POKE ANYWHERE ELSE AGAIN. This is the spot if you want some legit poke or Hawaiian mixed plate lunches. The fish is so so so fresh that I would completely believe it was caught mere hours before being served up. The texture is firm yet melt in your mouth buttery and, despite being raw fish, there isn’t the slightest fishy taste or aroma (this is how you know your fish is legit btw. If it’s fishy it’s old). The only negative I can think of about Eskimo Candy is its’ location, which is in a kind of industrial section of Maui. The restaurant itself is kind of hole-in-the-wall’ish in a charming way but I definitely prefer to pick up and take it to-go and eat it by the pool…while drinking…Get the poke bowl, which will have shoyu, wasabi, furikake and spicy tuna varieties served over white rice with wasabi aioli (be warned this is fancy mayonnaise and if you’re anything like me that is a HARD PASS). Don’t forget to try the Kalbi Ribs lunch plate IT IS INSANE.
- Kihei Cafe https://www.kiheicaffe.net – This is definitely a VERY touristy spot. It’s rumored to always have long lines but the couple of times we’ve gone we never waited more than 5-10 min to order. Kihei Cafe is not the place to come if you’re looking for something light and healthy, it’s massive portions of delicious but albeit extremely unhealthy foods. Here you will find a traditional Loco Moco which is 2 eggs on top of a burger patty on top of white rice and then smothered with brown gravy OR massive pieces of French Toast made with Portuguese sweet bread topped with macadamia nuts, pineapple and coconut and then drenched in coconut syrup. Be warned, chances are you are not going to feel very “hot girl summer” after this meal but you can ride the sugar high all the way to dinner.
- Ululani’s Shave Ice https://www.ululanishawaiianshaveice.com – First thing to know is that all shave ice is not created equally. I remember being a little kid and ordering a crunchy ass snow cone from the ice cream truck that literally was the consistency of glass shards and thinking this was the standard, WRONG. Ululani’s is like eating the lightest snow on earth. The kind that you can hear it falling to the ground and it sounds like what I imagine an angel’s footsteps sound like in heaven. There are SO many flavors that it’s a relief that there will probably be a line. You’re going to need that time to make your selection. My favorite combo is the “Local Motion” which consists of mango, Li Hing Mui (this is salty dried plum and I couldn’t recommend it more to offset the sweetness of the other syrups) and pineapple. Also very important to get a “snow cap” which is essentially sweetened condensed milk poured over the top and add the hand-cut mochi pieces. Welcome to heaven.
A couple extraneous food tips to mention:
- IF you make the drive to Hana definitely pull over to one of the stands on the side of the road and get banana bread.
- If you make it to Ululani’s for shave ice stop next door to the bakery called Sugar Beach Bake Shop and get this chex mix…in fact get like 4 or 5.
- Hit the breakfast buffet at least once at the Andaz. Yes, its about $50 a person but the food is actually REALLY good. They have just about anything and everything you could ever want including the best assortment of fresh fruit ever. I’m talking endless papaya and pineapple and even passion fruit. The best thing in the entire buffet are the mochi waffles, ask the person behind the counter to make you a few freshies and drench them with coconut syrup and literally feel your frequency start to shift to full on bliss-out mode.
I truly hope that everyone who reads this gets a chance to visit this magical Island. It is truly so special to me and amazing. I also hope that you don’t read this and decide that I’m essentially just a glutinous, lazy wino but you know what, MAYBE I AM.
Oh and ps. I made a travel vlog a few years back that covers a lot of these recommendations and many more so be sure to check that out too!
***Bikinis pictured are from @triangl, @billabongwomens and @we_are_hah