I’ve somehow managed to justify flying 6 hrs one way for a long weekend since living in the US. Not in a million years would I have considered this back in Ireland! But I find myself putting in the mileage just for a few days – and it’s always worth it. One of the (and not to brag) many benefits of living in the PNW is the accessibility to Hawaii. Making it a perfect weekend getaway when you’ve had it up to your ears with the rain, cold and grey clouds. I’m not entirely complaining – I chose to live here knowing full well and appreciating the four season this magical part of the country gets. 🙂
A couple of weeks back (you may have experienced the flood of pictures from my Instagram LOL!), I flew to Maui for a 3.5 day trip with himself. Luckily, we were able to get a straight shot flight with Hawaiian airlines from PDX to Kahului Airport and getting a red eye back with Alaska. Leaving at 8am PST on Thursday and arriving 5.5 hrs later to lush, green mountains, gave us nearly a full day to explore. After picking up our car from Hertz, we began our 30 minute drive to Marriott Wailea Beach Resort. This place is absolutely AMAZING and overlooks the ocean where you can watch the humpbacks breach, hang by the infinity pool or just laze on their sandy beach. Just incredible. We were also super fortunate to have been upgraded to one of their suites, which made the whole thing a little bit more surreal.
So anyhoo… we managed to squeeze in a whole lot of eating, beaching and driving while there, allowing us to circle the whole island. We never really had a plan set and sort of went off the fly with things but it somehow always worked out in the end.
Who am I kidding? There’s no going wrong in Maui. 😀
Eating in Maui
Date Night Dining
KO Restaurant – This is hands down the fanciest place I’ve ever been. It’s (and I’m so afraid about sounding corny but….) just sexy. Located in the Fairmont Kea Lani a few minutes south of the Marriott, you’re immediately greeted to grandeur. I remember looking at Korey with a look clearly saying ‘Oh God. What have we gotten ourselves in to?!’ The restaurant has seating outside and although it was pretty windy, the whole set up was just lovely. For chow, I opted for the local veg curry (one of the best I’ve ever had in my whole 27 years) and sometimes still find myself drooling over it. Although a little on the pricey side, we both agreed coming here was worth every penny. And we’d do it again tomorrow if we could. I didn’t get any snaps of the place but absolutely have a look at their website and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s now on my mental bucket list of places to stay! Oh and definitely make a reservation!
Humble Market Kitchen – This restaurant is located in the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort and is another romantic spot for you and the significant other. We wandered in here starved but were lucky to have gotten a seat out on the decking. Since it was nighttime, we didn’t have much of a view but during the day it’s beautiful. The food here was incredible and the staff honestly couldn’t do enough for you. We definitely weren’t dressed for the occasion (having stumbled in after our luau!) but it didn’t seem to matter. On their website, they don’t have any proper veg options so we nearly didn’t go there. After asking though, they brought me a fairly healthy menu with an insane vegan pasta dish.
Lunch/ Casual Dinner
Fridas – We stopped by this Mexican restaurant on the way back from Honolua Bay just outside of Lahaina town. The tortilla chips are addictive. The scenery is stunning (I saw more whales breach here than anywhere else!). And their burrito was fantastic. Anyone who knows me know’s I can be fairly picky with burritos and this restaurant rivals my favorite spot here in Portland (El Nutri Taco)!
Huli Huli Chicken – Recommended by a foodie on Maui and having done extensive research, Huli Huli Chicken is coming up tops for an authentic, Hawaiian BBQ. There are stalls set up in Kihei and Hana (Koki Beach). The Hana one is located within an outdoor market place but get to either of these locations before 2 because they run out of food! (I have no idea if they have vegan options or not.)
Mulligans – This is an Irish golf course bar further south of Wailea. They do live evening music and the staff here are so lovely. If you go here, ask for Katie. She taught a yoga class I went to through the Marriott one morning and works behind the bar! Such an awesome chick!
808 Bistro – You’ll find this little gem in Kihei. It’s a little tricky to see where it is at first but once you park up, look for their deli. Beside here, you’ll find an alleyway and then you’ll see the sign for the Bistro part. I loved the setting more than anything and the veg potato hash hit the spot!
Snorkeling in Maui
Honolua Bay – Located north of Kapulua, is definitely worth the drive if you’re staying down south. It’s not that hard to miss, as there are so many cars parked outside and further down the road from the entrance. We were able to find a spot easily though and hoofed the 6 minute walk to the shore. To get there, you go through this small forest with ginormous, ancient trees with hanging vines everywhere. I’d never seen anything like it before! When you get to the rocky beach, take a right and walk further up – about 5 – 10 minutes and settle there. From here, you’ll have gorgeous views with the reef only a short swim away. This is the spot where we got to swim with a couple of turtles and saw some pretty cool fish as well!
Ulua Beach – This place was a 5 minute walk from our resort and a perfect, sandy beach offering some great snorkeling. The water down here was definitely warmer than in Honolua but way more wavy. I struggled a bit with all of the water going down my snorkeling tube but a lot of fun all the same.
When looking up snorkeling spots, I found this site to be one of the better ones. They were able to break down the location, swimming conditions and how to get to the sweet spots! 25 Best Maui Snorkeling Spots & Beach Guide.
The Road to Hana
I feel like this is something that everyone kind of should have/ has already done if visiting Maui. Although it is packed with tourists, I would definitely recommend. This was one of the adventures we sort of took off to do around 11am with no plan in place. If you’re doing the Road to Hana – have a plan in place haha! We were cutting it close on time but managed to stop in to a few of the spots.
Pa’ia Town – I love visiting towns in different places, it really gives me a feel for the country/ state. Pa’ia didn’t disappoint. Such a cute little town with a bunch of bistros and cafes to eat at to start your day off. And of course, there are little touristy shops and clothes stores where you can pick up that sun hat you forgot (cough cough) and top up your gas.
Twin Falls – We took a quick run in and hung out at the falls for a few minutes. If you skipped breakfast in Pa’ia, you can pick up some snacks at the cart here or have a lovely picnic in the gardens!
Kaumahina State Wayside Park – There’s loads of parking here, so if you’re looking to take a rest, stretch the legs, have a picnic and take in some undisturbed sights, here’s your spot.
Halfway to Hana Stand – By this stage, you must be getting hungry and their smoothie will 100% take the edge off. They also have other items like banana bread, hot dogs etc on the menu if you’re looking for something more hearty. Luckily, they have an ATM on site and if you haven’t taken out some cash by this stop, take it out now because there’s so much more to come!
Koki Beach – After the mayhem of some of the other spots, Koki Beach is a great place to decompress. When we were there, there was a little market set up selling little crafts and meals. Huli Huli Kitchen also has it’s stall here making it a busy-ish place for the hungry.
Haleakalā National Park – Here is where you can get some awesome hiking in. We did the Pipiwai trail and Waimoku Falls piece (4 miles round trip) and went through an incredible bamboo forest, saw some cool caverns and what could be intense waterfalls. Since it isn’t quite rainy season, they weren’t flowing to strong but the experience of the whole trail is worth trekking to. This is a National Park so there’s an entrance fee but they accept either card or cash. FYI – The Pools of Ohe’o are closed indefinitely and there is no swimming permitted at any of the falls.
Piilani Hwy – After we finished our hike in Haleakala, it was decision time on which way to go home. There are two options. Come back the way you came or just keep driving in to the unknown on the Piilani Hwy. Having picked the latter, we knew it could be a risky move (the roads are crazy, windy, one lane in spots and with a single wrong turn, you’re over the cliff swimming with the fishies). But this actually turned out to be the highlight of the trip. We met hardly any cars and caught the sunset from a side of the island, we wouldn’t have otherwise. It was a beautiful experience and I’m so happy we said ‘F*ck it, let’s go!’
This is the perfect beach town with art galleries, restaurants, clothes shopping and bars. It reminded me so much of Kona over on the Big Island and had such a relaxed feel, even though it was bustling with people. One of the places that we stumbled upon was Laihaina Galleries. The highlight for me here was the Dr. Seuss pieces they had on display (and for sale). I wished more than anything that my sister had been with me because we’re both such geeks for his stories!
- If doing the Road to Hana – start off early with an actual map and key stops you’d like to make. Service is really spotty and this is one of those times where it’s good to have even half a plan. Also bring a barf bag if you’ve a weak stomach 😀
- Take out cash since a lot of the stalls don’t accept card.
- It goes without saying but layer up on the Factor 50. The sun is super strong and the wind can be deceiving!
- Treat yo’ self – You’re in Maui. Just go baller.
- Look in to local excursions and activities. On our last day we checked out some and they’re really inexpensive!
- With car rentals, from my experience on Maui (and depending on what you want to do), bigger isn’t always better. The Road to Hana is quite narrow and parking spaces can be small when heading to different beach areas.
- Bring a sweater/ jeans for at night – it does get chilly and we came at a time where it was particularly windy some days.
- Get a cover for your phone that works under water – you can get some in most stores for around $20!
Well that’s about that from my trip to Maui. I hope some of the tips given (although short and sweet in some places) help. Maui was magical and although I can’t say I’ll be there again anytime soon (Kauai is next!) I already have a hit list of things to tick off next time!
Also, I went to crazy town with the pictures and there are more in the Gallery!