Essential Guide: Planning a Trip to Maui
Are you planning a trip to Maui?
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This Guide Will Include:
- The Basics: What to Know When Planning a Trip to Maui
- 10 Fun + Interesting Facts About Maui and Hawaii
- Getting Around in Maui
- READ THIS If You Are Renting a Vehicle in Maui
- How We Saved OVER $700 on our Jeep Rental in Maui
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- What to Do
The Basics: What to Know When Planning a Trip to Maui
Airport: Kahului Airport (OGG). Insider Tip: OGG is a . . . well, quaint older indoor/outdoor airport. So be prepared for instant climate immersion as soon as you land. You’ll know as soon as you get off of the plane if it is “hot”, “humid” or “rainy” outside. Also, random stray chickens are real. Don’t be surprised if one or two or three are there to greet you somewhere on the airport grounds.
Language: Hawaii has 2 official languages, English and Hawaiian.
Currency: $ U.S. Dollar
Credit Cards + Banks: Most major credit cards are accepted in most cities on the island of Maui and throughout the Hawaiian islands. Insider Tip: it is not uncommon for roadside stands to not take credit or debit cards so having cash on hand is definitely a good idea.
Best Time to Travel to Maui: Peak Season: Mid December to March or mid April // Shoulder Season: July to August // Off-Season: Mid April to June and September to early December
Weather: Hawaii really is paradise. On a typical summer day, Maui can experience a high of 85° with a low of about 75°. And winter high’s on the island run reach around 78° with a low around 68°. Dry season is April to October and Wet season November to March. If you are exploring the island or the driving the Road to Hana, please note that microclimates are real. My advice when planning a trip to Maui is to be prepared with an umbrella, sweater and a jacket.
10 Fun Facts About Maui and Hawaii
- The meaning of Hawaii translates to a “Place of Gods” or “Homeland”.
- Hawaii consists of a chain of 137 islands AND it’s the ONLY state in the U.S. whose landmass is continually growing due to volcanic eruptions.
- All beaches are public. Black, red, white sand (take your pick) are public and free of charge. No paid private beaches are allowed in Hawaii.
- Snakes are outlawed in Hawaii and I’m not even mad at that. And it’s a good thing because introducing snakes to Hawaii would totally wreak havoc on their eco system. To catch a glimpse of snakes in Hawaii, you’ll have to visit the zoo.
- There are no billboards in Maui because they are against the law. I mean why would you want to obstruct any of Hawaii’s endlessly amazing views?
- Mt. Haleakala, which can be found on the island of Maui, is the world’s largest dormant volcano. Its last know eruption between 1480 and 1600 with a crater is the size of Manhattan, NY. WOOOOOW!
- Hawaii has the distinction of having its very own time zone and not observing daylight savings time either.
- Hawaii is home to 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones. On Hawaii Island alone, you can find all 10 zones: from tropical and continuously wet to hot desert and periglacial ice climates, you see and experience pretty much everything Earth has to offer on one island.
- The Hawaiian alphabet only has only 13 letters consisting of 5 vowels and 8 consonants.
- There is absolutely NO gambling of any kind in Hawaii (including the lottery). Hawaii is the 2nd state in the United States, next to Utah, to adapt this policy.
BONUS: Maui is home to the Lahiana Banyan Tree, one of the LARGEST in the world. Planted in 1873, it has grown to a height of over 60 ft with 16 trucks and spreads over 0.66 acres.
Getting Around in Maui
Overall, getting around Maui is soooooo super easy. I would say as long as you have the Google Maps app, you should be GTG (translation: “Good to Go”) with your Maui trip planning. If you fly into Kahului Airport (OGG), you will arrive on the southern part of the island of Maui. There you’ll find the Road to Hana and Mt. Haleakala, the world’s largest and dormant volcano.
Maui’s Basic Geography and Lay of the Land
Maui (also known as Valley Isle) is divided into 2 sections with a valley in the middle separating the north and south volcanic regions.
Driving in Maui
As like the rest of the United States, Hawaiians drive on the right side of the road. I will say the one thing you should look out for when driving in Maui are the random stray chickens crossing the road. Yes, you heard right. Random stray chickens are a legit thing in Maui. In all of my travels, I had NEVER seen stray chickens just wandering around freely (ie in a grocery store parking lot; which is more than super brave on their part being that their cousins are sold there. In fact, it’s actually pretty thug life) just living their absolute best stray chicken life. Annnnnnnd, I’m pretty sure this is where all of the “why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes originated from.
READ THIS If You Are Renting a Vehicle in Maui
Much of Maui is comprised of traditional paved roads and as well as unpaved “unauthorized roads”. As tempting as it may be to take an off-road adventure onto unpaved roads in Maui or to drive the backside of the Road to Hana, please know that (in most cases) it is in violation of most rental car agreements. Meaning if you become stranded on one of Maui’s many unpaved, mudslide prone roads, you will be fully responsible for the cost of any rescue and the repairs incurred. YIKES!
Also worth noting, gas is CRAZY expensive on the island. No seriously, it is CRAZY expensive. At the time of our trip, it was around $4 and something/gallon.
How We Saved OVER $700 on our Jeep Rental in Maui
In Maui, EVERYTHING is better in a Jeep. No seriously. There’s a reason why Hawaii is the land of Jeeps. There’s nothing like removing the top and exploring Maui or driving the Road to Hana (complete map and itinerary here). Besides the weather being perfect everyday in paradise, it just makes the adventure that much more special. Buuuuuuut be prepared . . . Jeep rentals aren’t cheap. We saved over 70% on our Jeep rental and hopefully you can too. Here’s what we lucked up on: To rent a Jeep can easily be $1000/week for 7 days. WOW! But to rent a luxury car was around $300. Big Difference!
Why???? Because no one rents luxury cars in Hawaii. Everyone rents either convertibles or Jeeps. The car rental lot only had 2 luxury cars available for us to choose from and both of them were dirty. Since we paid for a luxury vehicle, putting us into an economy or lower class wasn’t a viable option. So the remedy to the situation was to put us into a Jeep for the same price as our luxury car rental. BOOM! 7 day Jeep rental for 70% of the price. And that’s what I’m talking about.
Where to Stay
With an island so beautiful, Maui (aka paradise) offers an endless supply of beautiful resorts, hotels and privately owned properties to stay at while visiting. Our stay was a total of 7 days and we found that a privately owned property (ex. Airbnb) was perfect for our needs and budget. FYI: Our condo was 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 story with a patio and lanai.
Here’s Exactly Why We Opted to Stay at a Privately Owned Property vs a Hotel or Resort
***These are photos of the exact Airbnb we stayed in. Photos from the Airbnb website***
It’s no secret, I like nice things. Buuuuuuuut, Hawaii can get a little pricey. So when planning our trip to Maui and analyzing how to get the most bang for my buck, an Airbnb was easily the right fit for this particular trip.
I took this trip with my bestie (we’ve been friends since pre-school, yea we go waaaaaaaaay back). So in order for our friendship to continue to stand the test of time, having our separate spaces to reside and recharge was very important.
No Daily Parking Fees:
Because Maui is more of a drive-around-the-island-to-explore-kind-of-place, having a car was a must. As with many hotels and resorts, having access to a car comes with a price . . . a price in the form of a steep daily parking charge added to your final bill at check out. With 7 days in paradise, daily parking fees (plus valet tips) can add up quickly. No thanks.
Washer & Dryer Access:
I’m typically a carry-on luggage kind of girl and because of this, I’ve really come to love having access to a washer and dryer while on vacation. If you aren’t a carry-on kind of person, I completely understand because carrying-on ain’t for everyone. But consider this, the weather in Maui was a little unpredictable at times due its location in a tropical climate. Quite simply, it would rain at the drop of a hat for brief periods of time. So getting wet by the weather or from swimming in the ocean was what seemed to be a daily occurrence for us. Because of this, it was so nice to be able to wash and dry our clothes and swimming suits as we pleased. BONUS: no washing clothes when we returned home #WINNING
In keeping with the spirit of cost effectiveness, I’ve also began to love having access to a kitchen too when on vacation. Doesn’t mean that I intend on spending my trip cooking, but it is nice to enjoy a simple meal or snacks and a bottle of wine (outside of a restaurant) with friends on vacation. Plus, having a refrigerator is nice too for all of those leftovers from meals I never can quite finish when dinning out.
New to Airbnb?
***Get $40 off of your first booking***
If Staying at a Privately-owned Property Isn’t Your Thing, Check Out These Great Hotels & Resorts:
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort:
A little pricey but hey, it’s the Waldorf Astoria. So it’s definitely worth it. How do I know? Keep reading . . . Insider Tip: If staying at the Grand Wailea is a little out of your price range, consider purchasing day passes to the pool and resort. Our Airbnb host was the absolute BOMB and provided us with complimentary pool, beach and parking day passes. I about died when I got the news. And when we got there, I totally tried to act like I “had been there before” (buuuuut I hadn’t).
For more information: Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa
Kapalua Villas Maui:
For more information: Kapalua Villas
Looking for more hotel & resort recommendations?
***Search by price/night, stars, reviews and more***
Where to Eat
So nice, we ate there twice! With a menu dedicated to locally sourced fresh ingredients, Monkeypod was a super yummy delicious top pick.
What to Order
Cocktails: Monkeypod Mai Tai (skip if you are allergic to macadamias) and the Pablano Escobar
Starters: Coco Corn Chowder
Mains: Bulgogi Pork Tacos and the Saimin Noodles
Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie
Address: 10 Wailea Gateway Place, Kihei, HI 96753
Just a short and beautiful scenic drive from Lahaina is Star Noodle. They say that, “good things come to those who wait” so don’t be surprised if there’s a small wait to be seated at this quaint noodle house.
What to Order
Cocktails: Ginga Ninja and the Peach Bliss
Starters: Steamed Pork Buns
Sides: Pan Roasted Mushrooms
Dessert: None this time . . . we were too full 🙂
Address: 286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761
Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse
Texas-style BBQ in Hawaii? Say what??? Having lived in Texas for 17 years, reflexively, any establishment that boasts Texas-style BBQ instantly receives a very wary (and a lot of times well-deserved) side-eye. But I’m happy to report that Fat Daddy’s is the exception to the rule.
What to Order:
Cocktails: Tennessee Jed and Daddy’s Lemonade
Starters: Jalapeno hush puppies
Mains: Meatloaf, Brisket, Ribs and Pulled Pork
Sides: Mac ‘n cheese, Seasonal vegetable and Cornbread
Address: 1913 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
Looking for authentic Hawaiian coffee and ice cream, well look no further then Lappert’s. Since 1983, Lappert’s has been a popular staple in Maui. Lappert’s gives you all the retro vibes of an old time ice cream and coffee shop.
Worth Mentioning: Don’t be surprised if there’s a line. Good things come to those who wait.
Nut Allergy Warning: As a person with a severe nut allergy, I unfortunately was unable to eat here. However, my traveling companion (and foodie) said it was DE-LI-CIOUS!!!
Address: 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753
Halfway to Hana
When driving the Road to Hana, you have to stop by the Halfway to Hana stand. The Hawaiian shaved ice is good and all but don’t get distracted from the real MVP, the banana bread sundae. This is not a drill. DO NOT MISS the banana bread sundae. #lifechanging and you’ll thank me later.
Worth Mentioning: They only take cash; however, there is an onsite ATM if needed.
What to Order:
Dessert: Fresh Banana Bread and the Banana Bread Sundae (the REAL MVP).
Address: 13710 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
Got Snacks? Mana Foods should be your first stop before driving the Road to Hana, Grab some great local foods, snacks, smoothies or a breakfast bowl before your journey. I had a bowl of the homemade organic chicken chili and it was perfect way to start my day.
What to Order:
Fresh Chicken Chili (real chunks of rotisserie chicken), road trip snacks, smoothies and breakfast bowls.
Address: 49 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779
Other Places to Check Out:
Fabiani’s Italian Restaurant: 34 Wailea Gateway Pl Ste A101, Kihei, HI 96753
Maui Pineapple Store: 695 Front Street, Lahaina, HI 96761
Mama’s Fish House: 799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779
Maui Sweet Shoppe: 1819 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
What to Do
I think the real question here is, “what is there NOT to do in Maui?”
There are so many things to do in and around Maui besides beaches and surfing. The list of things to do is practically endless. I’ll start you out with my Top 3 favs.
I think the real question here is, 'what is there NOT to do in Maui?'Click To Tweet
Top 3 Picks:
Attend a Luau
If you don’t attend a Luau, does your trip to Maui even count? I kid. I kid. As touristy as it may seem, attending a Hawaiian Luau is definitely #1 on the list of Things to do when planning a trip to Maui (or Hawaii). And if you can’t get pass the touristy aspect of a Luau than just focus on the food. Lots and lots and lots of food glorious food. From roasted pig to poi and the (all you can drink) fresh Mai Tai’s, attending a Luau is not to be missed when in Maui.
Drums of the Pacific: 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, HI 96761 (Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa)
Old Lahaina Luau: 1251 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaiʻi 96761
Drive the Road to Hana
Are you ready to see waterfalls, forests of bamboo, black sand beach and more?? Then driving the Road to Hana is an absolute must do when in Maui. Hana a small town nestled in the tropical mountains of Maui. And “the road” (aka. Hana Highway), is a narrow winding route leading you to/from Kahului to Hana town. When you combine the 2, the result is a gorgeous and breathtaking drive to Hana town. Drive the Road to Hana. You won’t regret it.
Visit the Lahaina Banyan Tree
So I must confess, the Lahaina Banyan tree wasn’t in my original plans when visiting Maui. Honestly, it wasn’t even on my radar when I was planning my trip to Maui until my traveling companion mentioned going. According to him it was a “must see” and well, he was right because the Lahaina Banyan Tree is something to behold. The largest banyan tree in Hawaii, the Lahaina Banyan Tree was planted on April 24, 1873 and has grown to a height of 49.2 feet with 16 trunks and covers a circumference of 0.25 miles. Simply put, WOW!
Still looking for more things to do in Maui?
Check out 18 Must Do Things in Maui
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. I truly enjoyed Maui and I hope you will too. Feel free to leave comments below on your favorite recommendations for Maui, HI. Or just to say “hi”, I don’t bite (as long as I’m properly fed).
And if you found value in what I shared, share it with a friend, save it, or pin it. I greatly appreciate the love and as always, sharing is caring.
-XOXO (as always)
Disclosure: Keep in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Please know I link these companies because of their quality. I do not recommend any product or service I do not use.
Photography by: Jake Palenske (yup, that’s my bestie) & Me
Photo Editing by: Yours Truly