After visiting Oahu many, many times, I thought it'd be nice to finally island hop Hawaii to see what else is out there. Long story short, Maui is AMAZING. I love how it's not as touristy as Oahu, way more slower paced (if that were possible), and food is pretty damn good.
As usual, here are the categories to separate the blog:
1. WHAT TO DO
1. WHAT TO DO
First things first, create the perfect playlist to drive into the tropical breeze with the rainbow sunset before you. You'll be doing a good amount of driving in Maui so make sure you get a car with a good stereo and a playlist that will be VIBES FAM.
Road to Hana
A very popular activity to do in Maui is the Road to Hana. It's a long winding road through the northern part of Maui, curving to the east/south side. I suggest hitting the road a little early since the drive will take around 3 hours especially with all the various sights along the way. Their official Road to Hana website also has these stops listed out by the mile marker since you might lose signal in the mountains. If you do start on this journey, fill your tank up before you leave, load up on snacks, bring sunscreen, external chargers if you have any, screenshot the mile markers you want to hit, and be aware that the roads are very narrow in some areas so maybe leave your Hummer back home. The bridges are only 1 lane so you need to take turns before you can cross it.
TWIN FALLS (MILE MARKER #2)
One of the first stops on this trip is Twin Falls, a scenic waterfall hike (or more like walk). When we went, the rest of the hike was closed off --I was not that bummed to hear about this since my relationship with physical activity has been rocky--, but the waterfalls are not super far from the entrance. I think it's worth stopping by just to view it and they have a cute truck where you can buy frozen mango/pineapple popsicles to reward yourself on such strenuous exercise.
HO'OKIPA BEACH/LOOKOUT (MILE MARKER #9)
You can choose to stop here along the way, but I recommend doing it on the way back since the sea turtles come here at night to rest. There were so many of them, we thought they were just rock formations in the sand! Come a little before sunset so you can actually witness them swimming up to shore, I'm sure that's a way better sight to see.
PUA'A KAA STATE WAYSIDE PARK (MILE MARKER #22)
A good rest stop to swim next to a waterfall, catch a break, and use their public restrooms! I loved that it wasn't super crowded here so we had the waterfall mostly to ourselves. Wear shoes when treading through the river because the rocks are super slippery. The poor girl in front of us ate it since the moss on the rocks gave her bare feet no traction.
NAHIKU MARKETPLACE (MILE MARKER #29)
Okay...so we didn't make it to Hana even though it was only like 5 miles away from here, but we were running pretty late and didn't want to get stuck in the mountains after dark (don't sleep in like we did). We did make this place our last stop and had some BOMB Huli Huli Chicken tho from Max Bullah BBQ. It's hard to resist rotating chicken when it's right in front of you, skin a crispy brown, softly licked by the fierce fire below it. OOH LA LAA. Also, there is a coconut stand that attracts the wild pigs in the area.
Other spots you guys should check out that we didn't have time for include:
- Wai'anapanapa State Park (Mile Marker #32)
- Hana Town (Mile Marker #34)
- Kipahulu, Haleakala National Park (Mile Marker #42)
Another pro-tip...Don't try to drive around the whole island. The south side, past the last stop is mostly uncharted, dirt road and it will be a nightmare getting stuck there in the dark. My best friend accidentally took that route instead of turning back around and heading backwards on the road, ending up in a 3 hour long bumpy car ride fearing for her life.
There are many different options for tours around Molokini Crater, but we opted for the 2 hour express because we weren't interested in spending half a day there. The nice thing about the Molokini Express is that they take you during off times so you don't run into other groups there. They take you straight there, give you snorkel gear, and take you straight back--simple, easy, straight to the point. The crater was probably my favorite snorkeling trip yet, although I don't have a ton of experience in that area. I loved the wide variety of fish and the fact that you're literally surrounded by them at certain points. 10/10 would love to do again and hopefully next time I can see a sea turtle.
A short easy hike through jagged rock formations created by Maui's last lava flows (which happens to resemble the inside of a dragon's mouth) leads you to gorgeous views of the ocean and to a unique maze drawn on the floor. Apparently it's a Hawaiian prayer maze meant for meditation purposes (according to the internet), but let's pretend it's ALIENSSSS (jk).
Maui is a very relaxing vacation spot and so it's befitting that massages are just another great thing to splurge on during your trip. We ended up booking a couples massage at Maui's Best Massage which lived up to its name. I left feeling like jello--the good kind--and ended the night by walking to the beach to view the sunset. Zen AF.
We ended up driving around until we found a peaceful beach by the road with not too many people and soft waves. Our favorite beach in Maui doesn't even have a name and we're ok with that. Sometimes the spontaneous stops along the road are the best ones.
We didn't have a chance to try this, but our friend Kerstyn got to and said she had so much fun. They take you to a very calm part of the island where most of the lessons are held and the instructor holds onto your board for most of it so it's completely safe. You can easily learn within an hour or so. If there was any place to learn how to surf, it would be there since the waves are kinder to you. I need to go back so I can try it myself!
Ono Kau Kau
We were starving and craving Hawaiian food, so we decided to head over to Ono Kau Kau, a local spot in Lahaina that was pretty close to our hotel. I will give it a 4/5 for flavor especially since their garlic shrimp and bbq chicken hit the spot after a 5 hour flight, but a 2/5 for service. Not only does it take forever for the food to come out, they don't tell you that in order to sit down inside, you have to wait for a seat to open up and have them serve you at the table vs. ordering in the line by the register. V confusing, but the food was pretty good so I couldn't really complain.
Mama's Fish House
I usually like to try at least one fancy restaurant whenever I travel so I can experience different aspects of the local cuisine and how it's adapted. The Oahu version for me was Alan Wong's, and I guess the Maui version is Mama's Fish House. 100% make a reservation in advance because they get booked quickly. I wish we reserved during the sunset because the view would've been spectacular. Everything we ordered was incredible and the seafood (of course) was super fresh. Lilikoi cocktails, oyster with a passionfruit mignonette, trio of sashimi, Mama's crabcakes, stuffed fish, and you can't forget dessert, the Polynesian Pearl. Very romantic, very delicious.
Maika'i Lani Malasadas
Literally a small tent by the side of a church, Maika'i Lani Malasadas is this hole in the wall spot we found very promising on yelp. A man greeted us warmly and explained the different flavor options we could fill the malasadas with. I love how it's all homemade and some of the fruit fillings are made with local produce. I highly recommend stopping by if you're staying in Lahaina area especially if you're a fan of poi! They got amazing steaming hot poi mochi --which is fried on the spot-- that you can order alongside the malasadas.
Ululani's Shaved Ice
You can't go to Hawaii and not have shaved ice. Not really sure why, but after one bite, I can promise you won't regret your decision. Similar to Matsumoto in Honolulu, Ululani let's you select various flavors (ranging from tropical organics to artificial to chocolate/coffee) and fill the base with a flavor of ice cream. The syrup flavors were amazing, but I didn't like how you couldn't eat the ice cream and the shaved ice together since the ice cream was all stuck at the base of the cup. Matsumoto's ice cream is way more accessible, so you can enjoy them both. It's a small comparison though and honestly, they both take the cake on a hot day. Y'all must add on their mochi because it is a game changer. Super super fresh and soft that adds a nice texture to the shaved ice.
Geste Shrimp Truck & Kina'ole Grill Food Truck
The reason why I added these in the same paragraph is because they're the two shrimp trucks I've tried on the island. Kina'ole's Spicy Garlic shrimp was probably the best thing ever. I think it's better than Giovanni's in Oahu and that's saying something because I LOVE Giovannis too hahaha. The only thing I didn't like was the mac salad was replaced with. AN. ACTUAL. SALAD. LIKE WHY. I'M EATING GARLIC SHRIMP BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO BE REMINDED OF A HEALTHY DIET. Anyways, aside from that, it's perfect. As for Geste Shrimp Truck, it was less than the beste. Supposedly the best shrimp truck on the island according to some, I was not incredibly impressed. It's still pretty good, but I couldn't compare it to the other trucks I've tried. The one thing Giovanni's has over both of these trucks tho...is outdoor seating, so be prepared to eat it outside or inside your car. We decided to enjoy it in the car since Maui is known for its pretty aggressive winds and I'm not about to chase my shrimp down the block.
Maui Brewing Co.
If you're a fan of beer and eating and sports and beer, you'll love Maui Brewing Co. There are actually 3 locations, 2 in Maui and 1 in Oahu, and luckily enough, we were able to try both locations during our stay. The one in Lahaina has more of a homey, cozy bar feel to it while the Kihei one is more upscale and hipster, with eclectic brewery decor incorporated inside. I preferred the Lahaina one (not only because we got to grab drinks with Kerstyn, a good friend of mine) because it was more relaxed, the Loco Moco was DELICIOUS, and our beer flights kept us entertained. My two faves (which I also think you can buy in select stores) were the Pineapple Mana and the Bikini Blonde --I'm also not a huge beer drinker though and I tend to favor lagers and lighter beers.
Coconuts Fish Cafe
I found out later that this place just opened in LA not too long ago, so it's not a huge novelty as I originally thought, but I think the Maui location is the original, so there's that. If you're in Maui, why not? They have amazing coconut shrimp and one of the best fish tacos (and one of the largest) I've ever had. There is so much flavor bursting with each bite, it's impossible not to love.
This place enticed us , not only because it's a tourist trap, but also because they had fried spam musubi that everyone raved about. I think it was overhyped, but Oliver loves anything fried so of course he gobbled it down. I actually liked their regular spam musubi a lot more, but in general, the dishes are way too big and not as tasty as I expected.
ASTON MAHANA AT KA'ANAPALI SHORES PLACE
The only thing I wanted when looking for a hotel in Maui was proximity to the ocean. I wanted to open up balcony windows every morning to a gorgeous sunrise (because I'd probably be jetlagged) and the endless glistening ocean before me. Our hotel graciously upgraded us to a premium suite on the top floor that overlooked the ocean unobstructed and I woke up beaming with happiness everyday. You also fall asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing into the shore every night and cmon, what is better than that?? I usually need to ask my Google Home to play me fake ocean sounds and y'all know that ain't the same. Some of the other hotels around us had really nice pool amenities, but why swim in a chlorine pool when you have soft waves, shallow waters, and soft sand before you. I will admit, the hotel next to us was pretty lit though. Maybe we'll stay there next time... (pictured below)
Thought it might be a nice treat to include some footage from my trip! Hope you guys enjoy!