This is my very first adventure guide, and I’m so excited to share my experiences. The reason I wanted to start sharing my adventures through guides is because there have been many times that I wished there would be a website to find recommendations without a bunch of fluff and ads. Well folks, here it is.
Before I go on a trip, I make an itinerary. This may not be everyone’s forte, but it keeps me on track. The reason I try to plan prior to going on a trip is that way I’m not spending the time trying to figure things out on location when I’m supposed to be enjoying my time. The other reason is that if I’m doing anything that needs tickets, it’s nice to have it purchased beforehand so that you don’t miss out on something that may be fully booked once you arrive.
I wanted this trip to be more on the relaxing side however, so I only booked a couple of things prior to the trip so that I didn’t have a bunch of planned obligations. I asked some friends for recommendations and found both a luau and a snorkel excursion to book. These were on two separate days of the trip. The other days I loosely planned on my itinerary, stating what I was going to be doing on those days such as “beach day” or “hiking day.” I also planned the Road to Hana trip in the middle of the week, so in case the weather wasn’t supposed to be great on that day that I could make a schedule change.
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina. If you are going to Maui, I highly recommend staying at a resort. I am typically a big fan of Airbnb, but when I was looking for places to stay, the Airbnb rentals were all pretty outdated, or majorly overpriced. Staying at the resort gave me access to the beach, as well as pools for night swimming. I also had effortless access to those fun, fruity poolside cocktails. The resort had restaurants on site, so it was easy to grab food on those days where I wanted to head straight to the beach. Beware that there are a lot of timeshare resorts on Maui. Steer clear of anyone wearing a white polo offering you a “welcome gift,” unless you want to lose a few hours of your vacation to listening to a timeshare presentation. They typically offer you resort credit in return for your time.
Be prepared to spend a lot of money in Hawaii. Everyone always says it, so this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard it, but Hawaii is expensive. This is all for good reason, however. You will be eating some of the freshest food you’ve ever had. The prices were worth it in my opinion, to have the best poke you’ve ever had. If this is not what you want to spend your money on in Maui, there are plenty of grocery stores to stock up on food to get you by while you’re there.
I went to a luau on one of my first nights in Maui. The luau was connected to the Hyatt, so it was easy to get to since I was staying there. It was called “Drums of the Pacific Luau.” Prior to booking, I reviewed all of the options of seating. There is general seating, preferred seating, and VIP. I chose general seating, and the cost was $123 per person. This includes an all-you-can-eat authentic Hawaiian luau dinner, all you can drink, and the luau show. After reviewing all of the seating options and having gone to the show, I do not recommend buying the preferred seating or VIP, because there is no reason to spend extra money for what it gets you. The preferred seating is $138 per person, and the VIP is $158 per person. General seating gets you a Mai Tai greeting, the performance, a buffet, and shell leis. The preferred seating gets you a Mai Tai greeting, the performance, a buffet, Ti leaf leis, and second row seating. The VIP seating gets you a Mai Tai greeting, the performance, a buffet, fresh orchid leis, a kukui nut lei keepsake, first entry to the buffet, and first row seating.
There was enough food at the buffet for everyone and getting to the buffet first doesn’t seem worth the extra $35. Another aspect that I don’t think makes much of a difference is the leis offered for each price range. I actually liked the shell lei the best because I could take it home as a souvenir easily, unlike the flower leis. To each their own, but I am happy that I went with the general admission tickets and saved the money. I’m all about experiences, and this one isn’t worth the extra money.
The snorkeling excursion I went on was at the Molokini Crater. I booked it through Pride of Maui, which was a recommended excursion company, although there are a lot of different snorkeling experiences you can book in Maui.
This excursion was very easy to book online through their website. You check in at the marina at 7:30 AM, and you board the boat. A continental breakfast of fresh fruit, muffins, and POG juice is provided. You then start the journey out to the Molokini crater. They give you the option of “snuba” diving, which is an extra $68 per dive. This is different than scuba diving because you’re attached to a flotation device that holds your oxygen. I decided to try this out since I have enjoyed scuba diving in the past. If you want an activity in between scuba and snorkeling, then this is your jam. I would also recommend this to someone who may be concerned about scuba diving while hauling your own oxygen tank.
During the excursion, I rented one of their underwater cameras. I felt that if I didn’t have a camera that I would miss out on something. While I am glad that I made the purchase for myself to be able to take photos for my blog and Instagram, I would not recommend this to everyone, as I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted, the camera was pretty difficult to use, and I didn’t see a lot of photo-worthy fish. This may have just been my luck that day. There was talk of seeing sharks during that same excursion on the day prior.
After the first round of snorkeling, you sail to a different location that they call “Turtle Town.” On the way to this, you have lunch, which includes hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, and salads.
I unfortunately did not see any turtles at Turtle Town. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. After what felt like an hour of snorkeling there, we hopped back on the boat for the after snorkeling drinks. They served Mai Tai’s and other tropical drinks on the trek back to the dock.
Overall, this was a great experience, and I recommend it if you’re looking to go on guided snorkeling. I do wish that I had bought my own snorkel gear because I heard Lahaina has some great snorkeling spots that I missed out on.
The Road to Hana
I highly recommend getting an app that will take you through the Road to Hana journey, so you don’t miss out on the fun stops. I used an app called “Shaka Maui.” The app itself is free, but the Hana guide is $9.00, which is well worth it. The guide uses your GPS, so you don’t use cellular data along the way. This is quite useful because there is next to no phone reception or data when you’re on the road, until you get to Hana. The app tells you which stops are the best to stop off on, and which to pass by or look at from your car.
I should mention we were on the road by 5:30 am. I feel that if you’re wanting to get the full experience of the Road to Hana, starting out early is an absolute must. Don’t worry, there’s a coffee shop along the way, and you’ll get to see a phenomenal sunrise on the beach. Trust me, the early morning is worth it.
I won’t go into a lot of detail of the stops, because I want to leave some parts a surprise for my readers. If you want more in depth details of our stops, message me and I will gladly provide them. This guide is for the details of what not to miss.
Definitely stop for the banana bread! There are two stops for banana bread near the halfway point, one called “Aunty Sandy’s” and another called “Halfway to Hana.” I preferred the “Aunty Sandy’s” banana bread but try them both and let me know what you think.
I also recommend stopping off at Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream truck. They serve organic, vegan ice cream made with love and coconuts from the Maui jungles. I even got to meet Glen himself!
Do not pass up the secret swimming holes and the hiking. And pack a lunch to have on the beach! These are the things that make the Road to Hana such a perfect experience. I also recommend doing as much hiking as you can.
You should also pack at least one pair of extra socks, and an extra pair of shoes. My hiking boots were extremely muddy, and I ended up taking them off between hikes and putting them in the trunk of my car. I also fell in the water during the very first hike, so my socks were drenched. Also pack towels, cash, a hiking bag, water, a swimsuit, and a change of clothes.
There are so many hikes to do in Maui that it’s hard to choose. If you do the Road to Hana adventure, you will get some hiking in, but I dedicated a day to hiking and hiked the Waihee Ridge Trail in Wailuku. This hike is best done on a clear day for the views. Unfortunately, the day that I did the hike it was very cloudy so there was low visibility. I would call this a moderate hike. There weren’t any areas that you needed to climb to ascend, but some of the walkways were steep. Despite the clouds, the views were still great, and it looked like I was walking in Jurassic Park.
Make sure that you thoroughly clean your hiking boots if you’ve traveled from another island, as there is a newly identified tree-killing fungus that Maui is trying to prevent from spreading. There are requests to clean off your shoes with 70% rubbing alcohol or a freshly mixed 10% bleach solution.
You’re going to find some of the best food you’ve ever eaten in Maui. Trip Advisor shows that the some of the best restaurants in the United States live in Maui. Mama’s Fish House is one of the top ranked. I did not go here. It’s not because I didn’t want to, it was just because of lack of time. I did, however, go to Paia Fish Market, which is where I had some great locally caught seafood.
My favorite restaurant that I went to in Maui was this tiny hole-in-the-wall café in Lahaina called the Sunrise Café. This is where we had brunch…twice. They served traditional Hawaiian breakfast foods like Spam and eggs. I also got a “pineapple boat” which was half of a pineapple filled with fresh fruit. Talk about freshness!
Make sure you make a stop at the local fruit stands! I stopped off at the Olowalu stand where vendors were selling fresh fruit and fresh juice. They had coconut juice and pineapple juice served in the fruits they came from. They would also cut up the coconut after you finished drinking the coconut milk.
If you are into breweries like I am, check out Maui Brewing Company. I went on a brewery tour, which was very informative of how the company utilizes Maui resources. One of the best parts of the brewery is the scent of toasted coconut in the air.
Things I wish I had packed
- More swimsuits- I brought four and found that I basically lived in a swimsuit the entire trip.
- My own snorkeling gear- There are places to rent gear, but it is costly. A quick Amazon search shows that it is more cost effective to buy your own set prior to going to the island. It was $45 for a few hours of snorkeling on the resort I stayed on, but around $40 to buy your own set online, then you can also snorkel anywhere you want and don’t need to worry about a time constraint.
- Flip flops- I know this seems like a given, but I brought sandals instead. I wish I had packed a cheap pair of flip flops to get around on the beach or for those hidden fresh water swimming pools we came across.
- Some might say to pack water shoes- I did just fine without them.
Things I wish I hadn’t packed
- Fancy clothes- I do not frequently wear casual dresses, although I packed a few casual dresses to wear during the day and I didn’t wear a single one. I packed two fancier dresses and ended up only wearing one. I also brought one pair of heels which I wore to the luau. I did not need either of these items. Hawaii is so laid back, there is really no need to dress up. I typically wore a pair of gym shorts and a top with a swimsuit underneath. Sometimes I just wore a pair of cotton shorts with a one-piece swimsuit. I came home with half of my clothes still clean.