Maui’s Gems

Hey there friends! Since I’ve been to Hawaii 20+ times, I decided to share some of our favorite spots on our favorite island- Maui! I have been so blessed to travel to these beautiful islands and now hope to tick off another bucket list item- Tahiti! Enjoy!

Napili Bay

  • This is our favorite spot on Maui! It is a great bay for paddleboarding; make sure to only rent one paddleboard from one of the shops up the street because one is plenty for two, three, or four people (you can fit up to three people on one if you really want to and can easily rotate using it out on the water!)The bay can get pretty crowded (especially since it’s summer and there are multiple hotels located on the bay). . .  I would suggest going early to grab both a parking spot (accessible only thru a two lane road) and a spot on the beach (9-10am ish)Napili is also great for swimming/snorkeling/body surfing! There is a sandy bottom until about a ¼ of the way out and then there is a little reef which you can see fish and turtles

The Gazebo Restaurant

  • This is the best breakfast on Maui…. Seriously!! It is located on the south side of Napili Bay (go past the rocks and tide pools on the south side and there is a little path that leads up to a little restaurant located in a gazebo)Since EVERYBODY loves to eat here and it is relatively small, there can be a big line so try to hit the sweet spot (10:30-11am) for brunch. I can’t guarantee there won’t be a line, but that’s a much better bet than 8am or 9am (if you do end up having to wait, I promise it’s worth it :))If you guys like pancakes, you NEED to order the mac nut and pineapple pancakes- they are HEAVENLY! The fried rice, potatoes, and basically everything else is super delicious as well

Whaler’s Village

  • Whaler’s Village is located in Kaanapali and is very close to Kapalua, Napili, and LahainaThis is a high-end shopping center, but nobody really goes there to shop (unless you want to)From this area, there is beach access to Kaanapali Beach. This beach is nice but can also get extremely crowded if you go at peak hours (11am-2pm)
    • This also has a relatively sandy bottom but there is more coral for you to look around and snorkel… I wouldn’t expect to see too many fish because a lot of catamaran cruises depart from this beach which scares them away (still pretty regardless)
    • On the very north side of the beach there is something called Black Rock. It is very popular to jump off of and snorkel around (just watch out for the people jumping!)
    • We did a parasail trip from this beach about 5 years ago… such an awesome experience and so surreal!
    • Pro Tip: Get an underwater camera!! It is super fun to play around with in the ocean/pool and you can get some cool pictures for family albums, social media, etc

What’s up with Duke’s Beach House, Leilanis, and Hula Grill???

  • Well, they are all owned by the same person!! This means that their menus are dang similar but with slight variationsOur family is weird \ and we tend to hit every one of these restaurants every time we go, but trust me when I say that is not necessaryThe food is great at all places, but Leilani’s fish tacos are amazing and their food just seems to be a tad bit better
    • Leilani’s and the Hula Grill are literally right next to each other in Whaler’s Village (on the beach!) while Duke’s is further down the boardwalk
    • You can’t go wrong with any of them, but make sure you order a Hula Pie!! It has mac-nut ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream…. a Hawaiian tourist delicacy!

Lahaina Harbor

  • Lahaina is the cutest little town just 10 min south of Kaanapali! Lahaina has a harbor which a lot of boats depart out of, but this isn’t the only perk!!There are huge banyan trees right by the harbor which are great for pictures and to just monkey around on
    • There is also lots of shopping and dining here! If you walk along the main street, there’s a Bubba Gump’s, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Captain Jack’s and Cool Cat Cafe (burgers and the best root beer floats you’ve ever had)
    • MAKE SURE YOU GO TOULULANIS!!!!!! It is located on the main street in Lahaina! This is the best shave ice place in all of Hawaii and I will be severely disappointed if you do not get some! You have the option to put mac-nut or coconut ice cream under your shave ice (freaking delish) and the portions are massive with lots of flavor options to choose from…. My parents always make my sister and me share one and we have gotten in some pretty nasty cat fights with each over hogging the shave ice hahaha
    • There is also a cute little movie theater in Lahaina which tbh is kinda crappy (idk they might have redone it) but it’s great for a rainy day activity! This is sentimental to us because we watched the premieres of all the Hunger Games movies there…. Lots of good memories (up until the 4th movie, that was TRASH and we just laughed at how bad it was)

Male Harbor

  • There are a few boat trips that depart out of here (very, very tiny). We did a whale watch out of here last trip and I must say it is a lot less crowded! Definitely enough parking across the park compared to Lahaina!

Hiking!

  • Lol our family cannot hike to save our lives so I have nothing to tell you here other than hiking is a waste of time unless you REALLY want to do it

Kapalua

  • This is generally overpriced and not very much fun (not a lot of beaches and what not)There is one beach called Fleming Beach in Kapalua that we used to go to a lot (not so much anymore)… it has MASSIVE waves and is generally not too crowded! Attempt to boogie board or body surf if you dare (when I was 7 I got pummeled by a wave and have been too afraid to go back haha)

Boat Trip to Lanai

  • Personally, I think this is definitely worth doing! I suggest taking a little raft boat because it’s much more fun when you have a smaller group (if you get seasick easily though, just keep in mind it may be pretty rough coming back in the afternoon)The major draw about Lanai is the dolphins- you hear all about swimming with the dolphins and the baby dolphins and the cutest dolphins… I mean dolphins are super cool to swim with and there is a good chance you’ll see them while snorkeling, but don’t forget to pay attention to the other awesome stuff below you in the water! One bay we snorkeled in on Lanai was just gorgeous! Crystal clear blue water and oceanic life and reefs as far as the eye could see!In addition to just snorkel trips, there are trips where they drop you off on Lanai for about 3-4 hours so you can have a picnic on the beach, swim in the bay, and hike up to a famous lookout
    • The bay on Lanai is so pretty with beautiful water and lots of coral! Lanai is also nice because it is A LOT less crowded!
    • Fun fact #2: My uncle swam Au’au channel (the channel between maui and lanai) and got tailed by a tiger shark while he was swimming… he’s a brave one and has some pretty neat stories!

Farmer’s Market Maui

  • This is the best healthy breakfast (and lunch) food you will eat on the island!They have acai bowls (so, so good) and off the chain smoothies/healthy “shots” This is where I got my “Evict Monsanto” t-shirt! They are very good at promoting vegetarian/vegan food and a healthy lifestyle
    • It is located in Kaanapali (Lower Honoapiilani Road) and is a tad bit expensive but worth it! It is actually a little grocery store but they have an actual farmer’s market outside a few days during the week

Fish Market Maui

  • This is also on Lower Honoapiilani Road just south of the Farmer’s Market! Best fish on the island… super fresh and to die for! The mac salad and fries are extremely good too! They have tons of shrimp, fish, and burrito plates to choose from and you can’t go wrong with any of them!

Road to Hana

  • Everybody hypes up this trip and it is worth the hype if you know where to go!!There is the black sand beach, cute little local shops, and Lindbergh’s grave to go visit (which is cool but also meh because ya know, dead guy)There is also a thing called the seven pools…. We’ve tried to go a zillion times but its always been closed because they get so much rain up in the highlands (aka I wouldn’t bank on going there but if it is open and looks cool, go for it!)
    • I LOVE the black sand beach! It’s kinda hard to walk on because it’s rocky, but it’s fun to swim and/or take a brief hike up to the point overlooking the bay 
    • As much as I love the black sand beach, I love the Red Sand Beach even more!! This beach is actually in Hana and you have to park on a dead-end road… from there you walk across a little green patch of grass through the trees onto a little path…. Turn left, follow the path up (it is a bit treacherous) and then take the narrow path down to the beach! Use google maps to get you to the street and then ask locals where the beach is if need be! By far one of my favorite beaches just because it is very secluded, quiet, and unique
    • There are two ways to do Hana→ you can either go through a tour company that has air conditioned vans and has a generally set time schedule and limited sites (my mom and sister did this and they loved it!)… or you can take your own car and go at your own pace! We did this on our last trip there and it was a blast! We went around the entire back side of the island (lots of winding and dirt roads so be careful), but you can stop anywhere you want (including the red sand beach, wineries, local shops, food trucks, etc)
    • Fun fact: Oprah has a house on the back side (east side) of the island up in the mountains… haven’t knocked on her door yet but I triple dog dare you to ding dong ditch her house (if you can find it)!

Molokini Crater

  • This snorkeling/diving site gets a lot of hype and to me it’s not worth itDon’t get me wrong, there used to be lots of fish and coral back in 2007/2008 or so but because so many tourists come here, it has been severely damaged and all the fish are either dead or don’t live there anymore If you really want to do it, go ahead but I think there are several other worthwhile activities to spend your money on

Wailea/Makena/Kihei

  • These towns are about 30-40 min south of Kaanapali and are definitely worth a visit if you are willing to make a trip down thereKihei is a very touristy type town (like Kaanapali but crappier) and has another Ululanis!In Kihei, we like to go to a restaurant called Cafe-O-Lei because it has really good seafood and the BEST french onion soup (weird, I know but so good)!
    • Makena is known for Makena Beach which (last time we went) was not too crowded and located at a nice spot where you can see Molokini Crater. The water and beach are both very clean and the water is clear
    • Wailea is where the Four Seasons is located along with other fancy hotels
    • Maalaea Harbor is near Kihei and is equivalent to Lahaina Harbor in terms of the amount of boats departing…. Usually trips going to Molokini Crater go out from here because it is closer. Fun fact: Two years ago we were driving back from Wailea and my parents thought to themselves “wouldn’t it be fun if we went on a sunset booze cruise?” We then proceeded to stop at this harbor at 5pm and talk the captain of the boat into letting the four of us onto this boat FOR FREE as long as we gave them a good tip!

Aloha Mixed Plate

  • This is in Lahaina and is some of the best, cheapest, and authentic Hawaiian food you will find on the island This restaurant caters for the Old Lahaina Luau next door so you KNOW the food is up to par and crowd pleasingI personally recommend the Kalibi Ribs and chicken, but you honestly can’t go wrong with anything on the menu
    • The macaroni salad makes my mouth water just thinking about it
    • Pro tip: They don’t put coconut shrimp on their appetizer menu anymore because it sells so quickly, but if you ask for it specially, they will give it to you! Even if you don’t like coconut (like me), you NEED to try these… they are to die for!
    • This restaurant also has one of the best views of the ocean out of all dining options thus far, so make sure you get a table right by the water for the best experience

Get out on the water!

  • When you are in Hawaii, this is a must!! It is truly amazing once you take a boat ride or catamaran cruise and just enjoy the sunset, snorkeling, and your family! 

Pro Tips!

  • After landing in Kahului, stop at the costco to get some breakfast items like protein bars, fruit, etc. It really takes a toll trying to eat out all the time so it’s a good idea to get some food for breakfast/lunch 
  • If there is rain in the forecast, don’t worry about it; rain in Hawaii is the equivalent to mist with an occasional shower here and there
  • Try a kayaking tour! We saw a monk seal last time we did it and it gets you a good arm/core workout
  • Do a luau! We usually don’t do them anymore, but they are super fun and a great experience! Just make sure you do your research and check the reviews on the food, entertainment, etc
  • Most importantly, HAVE FUN and enjoy time with your family, friends, and the natural beauty that is Maui 🙂

4 comments

  1. Love Alexis! Any thoughts about the big island? We are going there in two weeks! Would love to snorkel.Love your tip about underwater camera. Didn’t think about that! Also I heard about sunscreen which protects the coral. Any suggestions of a type?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! I am hoping to do a blog post on both the big island and Oahu in the next couple of days so I can let you know my suggestions then! When are you guys going to be there? I know there is a brand called Coral Safe, Honest Sunscreen, and Supergoop so I would check those out.

      Like

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