Rick and I recently spent 10 days in Maui and we had the best time! Now, I’m not a beach person… at all. My skin is very sensitive to the sun and I’m not a fan of humidity. Why did we go to Maui then?! Well, Rick has always wanted to go to Maui and he’s having a milestone birthday this year so… Happy (early) birthday, Rick!
I’m honestly very happy that we went to Maui because there is SO much to see and do on this island! Hawaii is more than just fancy resorts and beautiful beaches. From the jungles to summit of the Haleakala crater… Maui is comprised of several different climates and there is a wide range of things to do!
In today’s post, I’m detailing all of the things that we did in our 10 days in Maui to help you plan your Hawaii vacation! It’s a long one, but I wanted to keep everything together in one post so that you can pin/save it to come back and reference at any time!
A lot of people visit multiple islands when traveling to Hawaii, but I personally think that is trying to cram too much into any trip under 10 days. We found that spending 10 days in Maui was the perfect amount of time to see the entire island, go on some adventures and actually have a chance to relax.
I find that traveling with only carry-on luggage makes just about any trip easier. We spent 10 days in Maui and Rick and I each easily fit everything we needed into our own carry-on bags (be sure to check out my Maui Packing Guide HERE).
We rented a car for our entire 10 days in Maui and I’m not sure how you could get by on the island without renting one. Even if you are planning to stay in Maui for a shorter amount of time, you’ll want to get out and explore the entire island! Rideshare options are available, but renting a car will give you the freedom to see more of Maui.
Where We Stayed
During our 10 days in Maui, we stayed at the Ho’okipa Hideaway Air BNB in Haiku-Pauwela. This Air BNB is located approximately 20 minutes from the Kahului airport, not far from the Hana Highway. We loved this location because it was away from the touristy/resort areas of the island. We felt like we experienced Maui in the best + most authentic way here. This is a great location for anyone interested in driving the Road to Hana because it is right near the beginning of the journey. Our Air BNB was also close to the town of Pa’ia which had a lot of great places to eat, drink and shop.
*If you’re new to Air BNB, you can get up to $55 off of your first booking using my link HERE!
Beaches To Visit
On our side of the island (the North Shore), we visited Ho’okipa Beach where we saw the most gorgeous sunsets on several evenings during our 10 days in Maui. This beach is a popular spot for surfers/wind surfers and it is also a haven for sea turtles to come to shore and rest. There is actually an area roped off on the beach for the turtles so that people do not disturb them.
Another beach we loved on the North Shore is Baldwin Beach. This beach spans pretty far along the coast and was not crowded any of the times we were there. About halfway down the beach is an area called Baby Beach where there is a natural rock formation right off shore that prevents the waves from breaking.
On the other side of the island, near Lahaina, we visited Napili Beach. This is a beautiful crescent-shaped beach located behind several condo complexes. Napili Beach is family-friendly and it was moderately crowded the afternoon we were there.
Things To Do
Road to Hana
The Road to Hana was one of our favorite things that we did during our 10 days in Maui. Hana is a small, quiet town with not a whole lot goin’ on. The Road to Hana is really all about the journey, not the destination. The road itself is very narrow and full of hair-pin turns and one-lane bridges… it’s not for the faint of heart. You can drive it yourself (like we did!) or book a guided tour.
If you decide to drive yourself, I highly recommend purchasing the Gypsy Guide Road to Hana app. It costs $7 and for us, it was invaluable. The app is GPS operated and it narrates the entire route and provides information on where to stop. It’s like having your own personal tour guide!
I could write an entire blog post just about the Road to Hana, but instead I’ll highlight some of our favorite stops…
– Ke’anae Park
This was our first stop thanks to the recommendation of the Gypsy Guide app. We turned off of the Hana Highway and drove down a narrow road a few minutes to find a serene + picturesque lookout. We got to this spot early as the sun just started to rise and glisten on the water. The shoreline consisted of lava rocks and palm trees. It was one of the most beautiful places we visited in Maui.
– Nahiku Landing
I am only now reading that this spot is no longer recommended for tourists, as the locals feel that this remote area has fallen victim to too much publicity. The Gypsy Guide app recommended this spot on our journey so we turned off of the Hana Highway down a long narrow road. The app then directed us to park our car near a small church and walk the rest of the way.
Honestly, I was a bit anxious about making the rest of the journey on foot because the area was extremely remote. We had to walk over a bridge that had been closed off [to vehicle traffic] and about five minutes (which is a long time when you have no idea what to expect) down a path through the actual jungle. At the end of the path, there was a clearing and a beautiful lookout over the ocean. We found a fresh coconut that Rick cracked open and we spent some time just gazing at the beauty around us.
– Waianapanapa State Park
This is where the beautiful black sand beach is located – My favorite beach in Maui! The black sand was created by hot lava being quickly cooled by the sea. The beach is small, but absolutely gorgeous. There is a small cave on the one side of the beach that you can venture into. There are also a few paths above the beach to explore + trails to hike around the park.
– Koki Beach
Just past the town of Hana, we stopped at Koki Beach for a few minutes to snap some photos and check out the beautiful red sand beach. This beach is not recommended for swimming due to rip tides and high waves, but it’s worth a short stop to walk along the beach and have a photo op. There is also an area with a covered pavilion and tables to enjoy a picnic lunch here.
– Hamoa Beach
Continuing past Hana, you’ll find the beautiful Hamoa Beach. This beach is consistently named one of Maui’s best beaches! We parked along the road and took some stairs down to the beach. I laid under some trees in the shade while Rick went swimming in the ocean for a bit. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and was not crowded when we were there in the early afternoon.
Road to Hana Tips:
- Reserve a whole day for the Road to Hana! Don’t try to cram something else into your evening like a luau – Trust me, you will be worn out after this adventure!
- Plan to leave early in the morning, especially if you are coming from the other side of the island. The road + stops will start to get more crowded later in the day. You will also want to make it back to Pa’ia before sunset, as I guarantee driving the Road to Hana in the dark would NOT be fun.
- Start your journey with a full tank of gas (you can fill up in Pa’ia)! There are no gas stations on the Road to Hana except for one small station in/around Hana. This is not a road you want to run out of gas on!
- Bring sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks and extra clothes/shoes if you plan to swim/hike.
- Be sure to bring cash! There are a lot of food vendors along the way that only accept cash… and you’ll definitely want to purchase some banana bread!
- Plan your stops out in advance! There is a lot to see/do on the Road to Hana so you’ll want to do a little research beforehand to ensure you can fit everything in.
Haleakala National Park / Crater
Located in Haleakala National Park, the Haleakala volcano is the second largest mountain in the world. It is classified as dormant and the Haleakala crater rises 10,023 feet above sea level. Haleakala means House of the Sun and the summit has a spiritual significance for Hawaiians.
Sunrise and Sunset at the Summit
Many people make the journey up to the summit to watch sunrise or sunset, as they are both spectacular to watch over top of the clouds. Admission to the park is $25/car and the ticket is good for three days. For sunrise, you need to reserve a spot for your car in advance, as only so many cars are allowed into the park each morning. You can find more info on sunrise reservations HERE.
You do not need to reserve a spot for sunset. We went up to the summit for sunset because we did not want to be held to a certain day to visit Haleakala. From the entrance to the park, it takes about 40 minutes to drive up the long and winding road to the summit. At the top of the crater, temperatures can drop pretty low. It was in the 40s when we were up there, but I heard it can be even colder for sunrise!
We reached the summit about an hour and a half before sunset so we had plenty of time to walk around and explore the crater. Near the summit there is a visitors center, as well as restrooms. There are also some hiking trails to explore within the park.
Watching the sun set from atop the clouds was absolutely beautiful. We started our drive back down before the sun had completely finished setting and it was so cool to continue to watch the sun set while driving! It got very dark on the road back down. It was hard to see + there were free-roaming cattle that were casually hanging out in the middle of the road. One even ran out in front of us!
Haleakala Crater Tips:
- Dress in layers/pack warm clothing if you plan to visit the summit for sunrise or sunset.
- Fill up your gas tank before heading to the park, as there are no gas stations in/near the park.
- Leave plenty of time to drive up to the summit. It can take an hour just to reach the entrance to the park from some parts of the island + it takes around 40 minutes to drive up to the summit once in the park.
- Bring water and snacks!
You can’t go to Hawaii and not go to a luau, right? Well… the luau was actually my least favorite thing that we did during our 10 days in Maui. Yep. The food and drinks were good (authentic Hawaiian food, buffet-style + an open bar). The performers were awesome and we got leis when we arrived which was a nice touch.
Here’s the thing… you’re not going to find a good luau on Maui for under $100/person as most of the luaus are at the big fancy resorts. We went to the Te Au Moana Luau at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. This luau costs $130/person and I’m just not sure it is worth the price.
I don’t want to recommend to totally cut a luau out of your plans because for some people, a luau IS the Hawaiian experience. However, if you’re looking to do Maui on a little more of a budget and still want a fun night out, I say skip the luau and go on a sunset dinner or cocktail cruise instead!
Sunset Cocktail Cruise
I originally booked a sunset cocktail cruise through another company, but they called us the day before our cruise to tell us they were going to have unplanned maintenance work on our cruise day. They went ahead and rescheduled us with Gemini Sailing and I’m so happy they did! We had the best time — The crew was so friendly and fun! The boat left near Whalers Village, a popular shopping area in Lahaina. We sailed around Maui for two hours on a catamaran as the sun set over the island. There was an open bar and delicious pupus (appetizers). I totally recommend doing a sunset cocktail cruise while visiting Maui — We had a blast!
Visit Pa’ia and Makawao
Wherever you decide to stay on Maui, I highly recommend that you get out and explore every side of the island and as many towns as possible. Each town is so unique! Pa’ia and Makawao were two of my favorite towns in Maui.
Pa’ia is a popular place to stop at the beginning of the Road to Hana, but I suggest spending an afternoon or a whole day there. There are a ton of cute shops and great places to eat and drink in Pa’ia, as well as some awesome beaches close by.
Makawao is located in upcountry and is an old cowboy town. Makawao has several great local shops and boutiques. While in Makawao, you have to grab some pastries at Komoda Store & Bakery. This bakery has been around for over 100 years and they have delicious donuts on a stick!
Craft Brewery Tour
There are two Maui Brewing Co. restaurants on Maui (+ two on Oahu). We visited the actual brewery + restaurant in Kihei. We went on a brewery tour which you can book online in advance. The brewery tour was awesome! It costs $15/person and you get to sample four beers at the end. On our tour, we learned that Maui Brewing Co. is the most sustainable brewery in Hawaii and that the brewery is run solely off of solar power! After the tour, we ate a delicious dinner in the restaurant and of course, sampled more of their craft beers.
Wine Tasting and Tour
Located in upcountry, MauiWine is worth the drive even if you’re not into wine. The drive up to the winery, which is actually a little cottage, is incredibly scenic. We sampled several different wines in their tasting room and loved them all. Their pineapple wines are unique and delicious! They also offer complimentary guided tours of the winery. This is a great place to relax and spend an afternoon away from the beaches.
Where To Eat & Drink
Baked on Maui, Haiku-Pauwela
Baked is a coffee shop that offers breakfast, lunch and a variety of pastries/deserts. We walked a short few minutes here from our Air BNB almost every morning for breakfast. They have great omelettes and the best pumpkin spice latte I’ve ever had (made with real pumpkin!).
Pa’ia Bowls, Pa’ia
One of my favorite spots, Pa’ia Bowls, is slightly hidden behind the main road running through the town of Pa’ia. They offer healthy + delicious açaí bowls and smoothies. This is the perfect place to enjoy something cool after a hot afternoon at the beach.
Pa’ia Bay Coffee Bar, Pa’ia
Another great spot right off of the main road in Pa’ia is Pa’ia Bay Coffee Bar. We ate there for breakfast one morning and I had a great açaí bowl and coffee! Rick also loved his croissant and eggs.
The Flatbread Company, Pa’ia
We loved The Flatbread Company so much that we ate dinner here twice! Their pulled pork + pineapple flatbread is incredible. They are located amongst all of the shops in Pa’ia right along the Hana Highway.
Mama’s Fish House, Pa’ia
If you Google places to eat on Maui, Mama’s Fish House is probably the most popular/recommended restaurant …and for a good reason! Mama’s is the total island experience. The restaurant is situated in its own little beach-y nook. Their menu is updated daily to include the names of the fishermen and women who catch the restaurant’s fish that day. It’s pricey, but it’s totally worth it. Mama’s was our favorite meal in Maui.
Kula Lodge & Restaurant, Kula
We stopped at the Kula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner on our way back from watching the sunset at Haleakala. A lot of people stop here for breakfast/lunch after watching the sunrise from the crater, as well. It’s a rustic lodge with a beautiful view. Their crab cakes were the best I’ve ever had!
Down the Hatch, Lahaina
We stopped at Down the Hatch for lunch after we did some shopping on Front Street in Lahaina. You order at the register and they bring your food out to your table. Their chicken tacos were delicious (and Rick liked his burger, too)!
Maui Fun Facts
- Green Sea Turtles or hono are native to Hawaii. In the United States, sea turtles are listed as endangered species and it is a federal offense to harm or even touch a sea turtle. The penalty for harassing a sea turtle can result in up to a $10k fine.
- There are chickens all over Maui. The island experienced an increase in chickens after two major hurricanes in the 80’s and 90’s destroyed domestic coops. Chickens were freed from their coops and released into the jungle. They mated and well… they are literally everywhere in Maui now.
- Maui has over 80 accessible beaches and all of them are open to the public, even those in front of the resorts. Hawaii state law requires all hotels/resorts to offer public access to the beach.
- Some famous names that call Maui home include Oprah, Woody Harrelson, Steven Tyler, Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson and Owen Wilson.
In conclusion, Maui is an incredible island with a variety of climates, as well as a ton of things to see and do! There is really something for everyone in Maui 🙂
If Maui is in your upcoming travel plans or if it’s a destination on your bucket list, be sure to pin this post using the image below to easily come back to it later. Also, if you’re looking for cities to add to your travel list, you can check out more of my travel posts HERE!
I also saved all of my Maui Instagram stories to my IG highlights so you can check them out over on my Instagram HERE!
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