Hawaii (Maui)

First off, wow. I see why people visit and many eventually stay. Maui has the most beautiful shorelines, jungles, and waterfalls. The marine life is incredible. I brought my mask and snorkel with me everywhere because all of the beaches I visited had great snorkeling. I saw a sea turtle every time I went out and of course all kinds of fish and coral. There is such a variety and lots to see on the island. Maui is pretty developed in many places, but you can still find a few places to have to yourself. I split my time between Kihei (closer to Wailea) and Lahaina. Kihei/Wailea is great for beaches and a more luxurious stay while Lahaina is a bit more of a town with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It's also close to the beaches and sites in the northwest.
Last Visit: Dec 2015
Cost: $200/day
Stayed: 9 days
Suggest Staying: 1-2 weeks
English: 5/5
Safety: 5/5
Currency: USD
Transport: Taxi, car

My Favorites

1. Hana

Waikani Falls

Highlights: Scenery, sea views, waterfalls, hiking, swimming, snorkeling
Suggest Staying: 2-3 days
Stay Around: Hana
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The road to Hana is an absolutely spectacular drive along the north shore. A must do for sure. It’s kind of like driving the Pacific Coast Highway in California, but more tropical. There are beautiful views, bamboo forests, waterfalls, and swimming holes. Bring your snorkel gear for some secret pull off spots. The easiest way is to rent a car and drive yourself. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Lahaina one way, plus whatever stops you make a long the way. So plan for that. I did two day trips, but I would recommend staying over in Hana. You can theoretically drive in a loop around the island past Hana and back inland, but there is a section on the east coast that’s not paved, single lane, and only accessible by four wheel drive vehicles. I went part of the way and turned back, it’s a bit hairy and the one lane road along the cliffs is nerve racking.

See & Do

  • Pai’ia. Neat little town not far from the main part of Maui and can visit on the way to Hana. Walk around Makawao Ave and Baldwin Ave. Great place to stop for lunch. Try the fish burgers at the fish market restaurant on the corner. Take a trip to Ho’okipa Beach.
  • Waikani Falls. Multiple waterfalls and pools. Upper and lower falls.
  • Wailua Falls. Hike to the 173-foot waterfall that feeds into the river. Apparently featured on the opening credits of the TV show Fantasy Island.
  • Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools). Really cool set of pools that lead up to the ocean. Crowded, but nice spot to walk around, swim, or just chill.
  • Waimoku Falls. Hike through a bamboo forest to a huge waterfall. Hike to from Ohe’o.
  • Wai’anapanapa State Park. Black sands beach and caves. There is a cave up top you can walk to that is not far. There is also a small little cave down below where you can walk through to the beach, just keep your eye on the tide. The water is cold and rough, so no swimming. You can hike around quite a long way if you keep going past the beaches up into the lush greenery.
  • Banana Bread. Homemade and fantastic. You will see a stand along the road.


  • Car Rental. There is a local place Kihei Rental Car that has older model cars which means they are much cheaper. Good condition, great service. They even pick you up.
  • Camping. Wai’anapanapa State Park has a campground where you can pitch your own tent or rent one of theirs. Only a few minutes from the beach.

2. Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park

Highlights: Volcano, hiking
Suggest Staying: 1 day
Stay Around: N/A
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A dormant volcano with rare birds and plants, hiking, and beautiful views from the summit. It’s an amazing drive up to the summit where you will actually reach into and above the clouds reaching 10,000 feet in elevation at the summit. You can hike into and even across the crater.

See & Do

  • Summit. Top of the volcano.
  • Hiking. Go into or across the crater.
  • Birds. There are some funny looking birds that may be wandering around that make for nice photos.
  • Eucalyptus Grove. Nearby the national park.


  • Pronunciation. Ha-lee-ah-kah-la.
  • Ticket. If you have a U.S. National Parks Annual Pass, bring it. You can use it here since it’s a U.S. National Park.
  • Hiking. If you hike across the crater, it’s pretty far, so use two cars so you don’t have to walk all the way back to get your car. Stay hydrated and bring snacks.
  • Eco Conservation. Don’t step off the designated paths because there are macroscopic bacteria that grow along it which prevent the dirt from blowing all over the place. It takes hundreds of years, if not more, for this to form and it is what’s responsible for the landscape and keeping things in order.
  • Weather. At the summit, it can get pretty cold and windy so bring a jacket or sweatshirt. I started off in a tank top and eventually had to put on a jacket.

3. Makena & Wailea

Molikini Crater

Highlights: Beach, swim, snorkel
Suggest Staying: 1-3 days
Stay Around: Kihei / Wailea
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See & Do

  • Wailea Beaches. Long stretch of beach, lots of hotels and restaurants. Grand Wailea Pools has multiple pools and a water elevator.
  • 5 Caves / 5 Graves. Cool sport for snorkel or diving. At Makena Landing, you can dive from the shore or snorkel from a kayak. Watch out for sharks.
  • Turtle Town. Great snorkeling spot in Makena and also nearby along the shore. Good chance to swim with sea turtles.
  • Big Beach. Nice sandy beach.
  • Little Beach. There is a semi-secret locals party on Little Beach every Sunday. It’s a bit hard to find, but just follow the crowd. It’s next to Makena Beach State Park. Starts around 5:30pm. You will have to climb up a trail over the rocks to get to the secluded beach. Not too hard. It’s an experience I recommend checking out. Maybe don’t bring your kids though.


  • Little Beach Party. Bring a headlamp or flashlight. Once the sun goes down, it’s really hard to see when you’re climbing back down the rocks.
  • Snorkeling. There are lots of great spots in this area from Makena Landing and also down south towards Big Beach. Keep an eye our for little flags in the water which indicate scuba divers are down under, so you know it’s a good spot.

4. Kapalua & Napili

Beautiful Ocean View

Highlights: Beach, snorkeling
Suggest Staying: 2-3 days
Stay Around: Lahaina
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Gorgeous beaches and great snorkeling. Very likely you will spot some sea turtles and lots of fish. Great place to relax on the beach or walk around on the rocks.

5. Black Rock & Kaanapali

Sea Turtle

Highlights: Beach, snorkel
Suggest Staying: 1-2 days
Stay Around: Lahaina
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One of the best snorkel spots. I saw an eel, sea turtles, and may cool fish. Kaanapali Beach is also nice.

Other Considerations


Mountain Rainbow

Nice place to stay and is where most of the nightlife is on the island. There is a beach in Lahaina and the location is a good base camp close to the northwest beaches. It’s also a bit more developed with grocery stores and small shopping centers. I stayed at an AirBnB with many pets that lived on the property which was pretty entertaining. Tortoises, cockatoos, pheasants, chickens, cats, dogs, and fish.

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See & Do

  • Front Street. Shops, really nice art galleries, live music, a park, bars, and restaurants.
  • Maui Friday Town Party. Held monthly every 2nd Friday.
  • Namu Amida Butsu. Buddhist temple with a giant bell and Buddha statue.
  • Banyan Tree. Park with ocean views and a famous banyan tree.

Nakalele Point (aka Blowhole)

Nakalele Point

A little bit out of the way up in the north, this interesting spot is down by the ocean and when the water crashes against the rocks, it explodes up in the air like the blowhole of a whale. It’s pretty neat and you also get to climb down and back up on rocks which I always find fun. Beautiful views also.

Waihee Ridge Trail

The Trail

This was definitely off the beaten path and I don’t even remember how I found it. I think I read about it somewhere as a nice trail up through the hills eventually leading to swinging bridges. After the fact, I realized the trail is technically closed, but you can still walk in and there are others (not many) on the trail. It’s really not clear and seems just like it’s not well maintained as opposed to closed. The hike is uphill, a bit muddy in spots, with great views of the island and the ocean. The hike is about 2+ miles one way. Unfortunately I didn’t make it because I ran out of time and the weather was starting to turn. The end of the trail supposedly has suspension bridges, a small waterfall, and pool for swimming. I did see people coming back wearing swimsuits.

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  • Getting There. It’s a bit tricky to find and once you find the place to park, you will walk a few minutes past the cows to find the entrance to the trail. There is really no information, but there is at least a sign.

Cost Breakdown

  • Flights: $0 (redeemed credit card points)
  • Lodging: $927 (hotel, AirBnB)
  • Transportation: $335 (taxi, rental car)
  • Activities: $0
  • Food: $540 (estimated $60/day)

Total: $1,802

General Tips

  • Mosquitoes. Bring bug spray for normal protection. While not common, there was a small outbreak of Dengue on the The Big Island while I was on Maui, so ask around, listen to the radio, or check the web to make sure all is well.

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