Did you hear that the cheapest car rental in Maui, Hawaii as of March 2021 ran for $722 a day? Tourists end up renting U-Haul trucks and even buying used car to deal with the high rental price. With the travel restrictions, a lot of Americans are traveling within the US and Hawaii is one of those states. Maui is a beautiful island with beaches, volcanoes, palm trees, and tropical agriculture. Here are some must-do/eats in Maui:
Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian. This dormant volcano is Maui’s highest point measuring a little over 10,000 feet above sea level. It’s about 10 miles of zig-zag from the main entrance gates to the upper craters and viewing areas so you want to make sure you take your time when you’re there. We arrived a little less than an hour before sunrise so we decided to take a short nap in the car. We almost miss the sunset but luckily one of us woke up in time. This is probably the most beautiful sunrise I have seen where the sunrise over the horizon and through a halo of clouds.
What Have I Learned: It’s about 30 degrees colder in the upper viewing areas than at sea level. Be sure to bring pants, extra layers of clothing, blankets, and even gloves. Temperatures are often in the 40 degrees range. I didn’t realize how cold it would be and ended up wrapping the beach towel in the car to keep warm.
Cost: 30 USD per vehicle (Valid for 3 days)
Hour: Open 24 hours
The Road to Hana is 52 miles from Kahului Town takes about 2.5 hours non-stop where the road is twisting, turning, one-lane highway, and 59 narrow bridges. It’s a day-long road trip where you’ll see everything from beautiful waterfalls, beaches, scenic hikes, local vendor stands (some cash only), and much more. Here are the best stops on the Hana Highway: Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2), Painted Bark Eucalyptus trees (Mile Marker 7), Halfway to Hana Stand (Mile Marker 17, little fruit stand known for its famous banana bread, has been welcoming visitors since 1982), Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream (Mile Marker 27.5) Wainapanapa – Black Sand Beach (Mile Marker 32), Red Sand Beach (No Mile Marker, past Hana Bay), Ohe’o Gulch (Mile Marker 42), and Wailua Falls (Mile Marker 45).
What Have I Learned: You are driving through a rainforest so it may go from sunny to raining to sunny. Bring everything from sunblock, umbrella, swimsuit, and mosquito repellent. Also, download the map ahead of time because you may lose service.
Hour: Open 24 hours
Iao Valley is famous for its iconic, 1,200-foot Iao Needle rock formation that overlooks the lush valley and Iao steam. It has a historical significance as the site of the battle of Kepaniwai where King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army in his quest to unite the islands in 1790.
What Have I Learned: You can go for a swim in the Iao stream and pond on a hot summer day. Flash flooding is a regular part of life on Maui, especially in the West Maui Mountains. If you notice any change in the color or level of the water, please seek higher ground immediately.
Cost: 5 USD per vehicle
Hour: Mon to Sun: 7 AM to 6 PM
Molokini is a small crescent moon-shaped island known for one of the best snorkeling and diving spots. It has everything from colorful corals, over 200 species of fish, sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, and a whale shark (very rare). I was the first one in the water and one of the last ones out. I love my time at Molokini Crater where I saw my first humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the famous Hawaii state fish.
What Have I Learned: If your boat rents wetsuits, consider renting one. The best time to snorkel Molokini Crater is in the morning, but the temperatures tend to be a bit cooler. Wearing a wetsuit will keep you much warmer compared to wearing nothing but a bathing suit.
Cost: Molokini Crater Tours: ~ 160 USD (Molokini Crater & Turtle Town and includes lunch)
Hour: Tour starts at 7/8 AM and ends early afternoon
Maluaka Beach (Turtle Town) – It stretches between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach. Maluaka is the best place to snorkel with a high population of Hawaiian Green sea turtles, fishes, and other marine life. You can find the coral reef and the most turtles if you walk south down the beach until you get to the rocks at the end of the sand.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm – A garden oasis filled with acres of fragrant lavender, flowers, and fruit trees. You can also try the lavender-flavored scones, tea, and honey, all served on a scenic patio. Fri to Sun: 10 AM to 4 PM
Mama’s Fish House ($$$$) – This family owned business since 1973 is famous for its Mama’s Fish Curry with Ahi, Lehi, and Ono (68 USD). For dessert, try the Polynesian Black Pearl (20 USD). Wed to Mon: 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM Menu
Coconuts Fish Cafe ($$) – A must get here is… Fish Tacos (2 tacos for 13.99 USD). Their Coconut Shrimps (10.99 USD) also have a lot of reviews. Mon to Sun: 11 AM to 9 PM Menu
Star Noodle ($$) – The crowd’s top 3 favorites are Steamed Pork Buns (12 USD), Garlic Noodles (8/13 USD), and Pad Thai (15 USD). Mon to Sun: 10:30 AM to 10:00 PM Menu
The Fish Market Maui ($$) – Try Baja Fish Taco (4.99 USD), Seared Ahi Sandwich (16.49 USD), and Mahi Mahi (15.99 USD). Mon to Sun: 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM Menu
Kihei Caffe ($$) – This cafe is famous for their French Toast (8.95 USD), Pork Fried Rice (9.95 USD) and Loco Moco (13.50 USD). We went for breakfast and the Kids Teddy Bear Pancake was too cute not to get. Mon to Sun: 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM Menu
Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice ($) – The ice is shaved so finely that it’s smooth like ice cream and it has the best flavors, and toppings. Mon to Sun: 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM Menu
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop ($$) – Interested in trying their homemade Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie (8.75 USD). Mon to Sun: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM Menu
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman ($$) – Fresh Caught Fish Tacos (21.95 USD) and Organic Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi (35.95 USD). Mon to Sun: 12:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Hula Grill Kaanapali – MUST try the Crab Topped Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi (45 USD), Original Hula Pie (13 USD) & Fish Tacos (21 USD). Mon to Sun: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM Menu
808 Grindz Cafe ($) – Super affordable Hawaiian comfort food: popular 808 Grindz Moco (7.75 USD), 808 Grindz Attack (13 USD), and light and fluffy Macadamia Nut Pancake (2pc Short Stack – 5 USD). Mon to Sun: 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM Menu
How many days do you need in Maui? 3 to 4 days
What is your main transportation in Maui? Car
How long did it take to get to Maui? 45 minutes direct flight from Kauai, Hawaii
Where did you stay? Maui Coast Hotel in Kihei
Is Maui expensive? $$$$
When did you go to Oahu? December 2014
Haleakala and Molokini were the stunners in my book! Both representing the highest and lowest points of Maui, it’d be awesome to check both of them out to experience the contrast! Hawaiian food is delicious, and your photos of the fish tacos are calling my name! Gives me all the more reason to head to Hawaii someday, perhaps someday very soon!
Yes, they were my favorites! I would definitely do both of them again if I go back! I also had the most amazing Macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi in Maui!
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The views and the food look absolutely incredible. Definitely adding Maui to the ever growing bucket list 🙂
Maui had one of the best sunrise and snorkeling experience so I would definitely recommend it!