Maui was the first island in Hawaii I had traveled to and it was nothing short of breathtaking. Maui is the second-largest Hawaiian island and is third in population. It has diverse landscapes and an amazing climate, especially for those intending to visit... but WARNING, it is pricey. There are several things you can do to try and make the trip fit into your budget but you will not find anything in the Hawaiian islands that is All Inclusive like you see with Mexico, Cruises, etc.
We had vouchers that we received from Delta for being delayed on another flight so we were able to purchase our 4 tickets for free. I did however watch for the prices on Hopper like I do with any flights. If you don't have Hopper or something similar, get it. You can put in a destination and it tells you when the cheapest time to book is.
We stayed at the Wailea Beach Resort (Marriott) which was a perfect location. Wailea is beautiful. Some of the biggest resorts are located there in the midst of million of dollar homes. It is super close to big and little beach, which are in Kihei. The staff is super accommodating and the grounds are impeccable.
Renting a car in Maui is a must and not just for the Road to Hana alone... but you will need it for all the different places you are going to see. Things to do are pretty spread out on the island. We rented a jeep for the week which made it fun and we weren't worried about getting it dirty.
Highlights of Maui
Snorkeling at Molokini
Slightly off Maui’s shore lies a beautiful island marine sanctuary called Molokini. Here, snorkeling is an experience you will desire to re-experience only minutes after leaving. The diversity of marine life makes the experience even more mind-blowing!
The Beach Experience
Maui offers an amazing variety of beaches to choose from.
Honolua bay is a beautiful choice, with dazzling blue waters, a clean sandy beach, occasional sea turtles, and marine life that make snorkeling here a great adventure. There are also unique beaches like Wai’anapanapa Beach which has black sand. Do not take it home and if your as superstitious as me, brush it all off your clothes before leaving the beach. :)
Big & Little Beach
These are the infamous beaches of Maui. Big Beach has warnings everywhere you look about rip currents and what to do in the event you get caught up in the ocean but don't let the warnings scare you from seeing this beach. It is beautiful water, sand is amazing and you can watch surfers all day long. Little beach is something to definitely see if that is up your alley... it is a nude beach and all that it entails.
There are little hidden beaches all over Maui that you sneak through a little smashed down field path in someone's yard and have a little space with no tourists... besides you. Ask around and make friends with the staff and locals and they will tell you where all the goods are.
Road to Hana
You can google this and research it all you want and until you get there you have no idea what it is like. I describe all of Maui looking like Jurassic Park and Ireland all rolled into one but Road to Hana is BEAUTIFUL! I was scared to drive this because I get super car sick and Hana is a curvy road for about 65 miles. When I say curvy, I mean it looks like a 4 year old drew the blue prints for it on a piece of paper. Right, then left, then quick right all away around and left... you get the picture. Along the way there are hikes to waterfalls, pineapple stands, food, etc. We stopped at Paia Town, Twin Falls (mile marker #2), Garden of Eden (mile marker #10), Nahiku Marketplace (mile marker #29), Lava Tube (mile marker #31) and Wai'Anapanapa State Park (mile marker #32).
These Hawaiian parties are an unforgettable experience. With tantalizing food (roasted pig in the ground), traditional crafts, and lots of music and dance, there is enough to go around for individuals, couples or families. One of these is essential to complete the Hawaiian experience. Our hotel offered one on the grounds so it was easy for us to attend. The cost was about $115 per person.
Being a tourist destination, Maui has perfected the chefs’ game. A visit to almost any restaurant will leave you filled but hoping there was space for more! Additionally, there is a huge number of restaurants, offering a wide range of services to suit your budget, and of course, your taste! Seafood is amazing. One of our favorite breakfast places was Slappy Cakes in Lahaina. They have amazing Pecan Crusted pancakes. The Mill House is fabulous farm to table eating. It is on a pineapple plantation and the grounds are an adventure in itself.
Anything in Lahaina is good. Front Street is the main street in Lahaina... it is where the cruise ships dock and sort of reminds me of a cleaned up Bourbon Street... bars, restaurants, shopping, street vendors... all sorts of stuff.
No matter where you go, ALWAYS get the shaved ice!
Haleakala Volcano Bike Tour
If you do nothing else but sit on the beach with a drink... do this tour. It is pricey... about $725 for 4 of us but so worth it. You also have to leave your hotel at 1AM to meet at the bike shop at 3AM for the sunrise tour. They cart you up to the top of Haleakala where you get to watch the sun rise... it is chilly so dress warm with layers. They give you rain gear, helmet, map and bike rental included in the price. Once the sun rises you are on a self guided 23 mile bike ride down the crater. They give you a map at places to stop like the Lavender farms. We booked our tour through www.bikemaui.com about a month before we went because they book up fast.
Maui is a destination that to do justice in writing is close to impossible, and to enjoy the experience, one deserves only to pay a visit! It is something that I didn't experience until I was 40. It is going to be one of your more pricey vacations unless you have time shares or people you can stay with there, but it is totally worth the money. I can't wait to visit the other islands!