Slowly but surely - travel operations are expanding, flights are increasing, and tourism is returning to the islands of Hawai‘i. Whether you’re planning for an immediate getaway, or perfecting your itinerary for a future visit, check out some tips for visiting the Valley Isle of Maui. As always, come with an aloha state of mind and take care to respect both the ʻāina (land) and the people that call Hawai‘i home.
Alluded to in the previous #WanderSeries Kaua‘i post, the history of Hawai‘i is rich, deep, and full of troubles to put it simply. While visiting the islands, some intentional background research to learn more about the culture, history, and people will only contribute to your appreciation for visiting these beautiful islands.
While visiting Maui, make sure to make time to check out these historic sites!
How to Get there
When traveling to any of the islands, there are travel processes that remain in place to ensure safety of residents and our visitors. The islands of Hawai‘i are ~2,500 miles off of the coast of California, and another ~4,000 miles to Japan, making the islands of Hawai‘i the most isolated places on the planet. Given that the majority of goods and supplies are imported, and physical space is limited, it makes sense that the state has undergone strict travel requirements over this last year. Though these processes are subject to change, especially as vaccines become more available nationally, it’s best to check out Maui County’s website and the Safe Travels Hawaii for the most up to date information related to travel.
Whenever your journey begins, you’re likely to fly either direct from the continental United States to Maui’s main airport in Kahului (OGG) or via layover from Honolulu International (HNL) - an easy 40 minute flight between the islands. This busy little town is nestled in the northern region of Maui’s landbridge between the West Maui Mountains and the slopes of Haleakalā, a massive (dormant) shield volcano that makes up the majority of the entire island.
I’m sure some of you out there loooove the thrill of checking into flight trackers to find the optimum time to pounce on tickets, but for those of you who enjoy the benefit of someone else putting together your travel package check out some resources below!
Where to Stay
Besides your ticket to the island, where to stay and how to get around will definitely be the biggest $$$ influencers for your trip. You’re likely to want a car to get around the island to check out all the great towns, food trucks, epic hikes and sites along the road. The 7 hour drive along the Road to Hana is an experience in itself!
Depending on your vibe, you’re guaranteed to find a location that fits you. Maui offers luxury resorts and tourist towns on the south shore, cute shopping and boardwalks in the west, surfer town vibes and jungle getaways in the north and some quiet upcountry getaways towards the interior portion of the island. Check out AirBNB and VRBO for a variety of short-term rental options.
Where To Surf
If you plan to surf on Maui, come prepared to battle the winds! Trade winds affect the eastern and northern portion of Maui approximately 80% of the time, creating “ ‘Maui glass,’ an affectionate (and highly sarcastic) term for the island’s infamous wind chop...” Best to do your research before paddling out by checking the local conditions and don’t be afraid to ask a local or lifeguard some tips for a new spot! We’ve included some notable surf spots, and left the secret ones… secret… There’s a mix of skill variability in the list, but as always, if in doubt, don’t paddle out!
Pe’ahi. World Famously known as “Jaws” this monster wave draws in professional big-wave surfers from across the world when conditions are firing. With upwards of 40- 60’ faces, you’ll definitely want to leave this wave to the pros. Visitors and spectators can still watch the action from the safety of the shoreline.
Honolua Bay. Advanced surfers will have fun with long peeling right hand sections and on a good swell, can even score some solid barrels. Another location that it’s best to know your limit, and respect the locals, especially as it gets crowded during the summertime.
Maui’s Lahaina Reefs may lend itself to surfers of varying skill levels. Interested in a lesson? Check out Maui Surf to be sure you’re taken to a spot within, or maybe just outside of your comfort zone. Longboard, shortboard, SUP? You’ll get your surfing fix.
More info on where to surf!
What to Eat and Shop
What’s great about Maui is you’re never too far from a small shop, cafe, pop-up stand or food truck. Plug Tamura’s into your GPS and you’re on your way to the best poke bowl or make your way to southern maui for tacos, thai, plate lunches and more. On the road to Hana check out Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream Shop for some of the finest vegan coconut ice cream you’ll ever eat! With fresh coconut and locally harvested flavors like lemongrass, you’ll be refreshed in an instant. If you’re looking for a beautiful special occasion, anniversary dinner, perhaps a little bit spendier option, check out Mama’s Fish House. From location on the water, to top tier cuisine, you’ll be fully nourished in body and soul.
Definitely recommend spending a day in Lahaina town for cute shops along the sea, galleries, restaurants and the iconic Banyan tree. Farmer’s Market Maui brings local vendors with fresh produce and handmade goods made with aloha. Beyond the shops, there are several places to check out for historic sites and museums (ReDiscovery Historic Lahaina).
Whether you’re on the road to Hana or your destination is this one-lane surf town, Paia is worth stopping and shopping. Plantation era shops are reminiscent of the town’s connection to the Sugar Mill and multi-cultural influence. Nowadays you’ll find bikini shops, clothing stores, local art galleries, and of course surf shops like Da Kine, Honolua Surf Co, and Hi Tech.
Near future or distant dreams, we hope that whenever and wherever your travels take you, you have the opportunity to connect, relax and share in aloha ʻāina.
Maria W. - Staff Writer
- James Wheeler
- Linked Shops