Monday, April 2, 2018

Travel Guide: Maui, Hawaii

Finding Paradise in Maui

One of the most beautiful places that I've ever laid eyes on has been Maui, Hawaii.

Believe all the hype. It is sheer paradise.

I've been lucky enough to have travelled quite a bit in my life, but I have to say that Maui is up there in my top three. I'd go back in a heartbeat and I think I'd enjoy it even more.


Maui is completely stunning! Hillsides, volcanoes, lush green forests and power sand beaches. Lots of sunshine and occasional rain showers (they are usually quick), there's rainbows in the sky every few days (sometimes everyday).

When the palm trees sway in the warm breeze and the sun sparkles on the water just right- you will swear Maui is heaven on earth. I'd recommend at least 5-6 days to get a good sense of the island. I visited for 6 days and 5 nights. It was the perfect amount of time to get to know the island and want to come back for more!


The weather in Maui is pretty warm year round. In December - January you can expect highs of about 21 degrees celsius and lows of about 15 degrees celsius.

You will get sunshine but it's relatively wetter at this time of year, so expect some rain too. The bright side is that all the islands have warmer and drier regions that you can head to on a rainy day. If you're visiting in the winter, stay on the south side of Maui in regions like Wailea or Kihei for more sunshine. Winter is actually Maui's high season and it's whale watching time too so there are lots of reasons to head to Maui at this time of year.

Summer months (June, July, August) are another peak time that tourists visit Maui. Highs around 30 degrees celsius and lows are around 21 degrees celsius. Expect to enjoy optimal sunshine, pay higher rates and deal with crowded beaches at this time of year.

The best times to visit are April-May or September- November as these months are considered shoulder season. The spring and fall offer the best weather, less crowds and lower hotel rates too.

Where to Stay 

Aside from the natural beauty, in my opinion, Maui has something for everyone. Maui is a great mix of high-end resorts and low-key local spots. Whatever your vacation style is, I'm pretty sure you could find it on Maui. There's hostels, campsites, small BNBs and swanky hotels.

Before you book, you should know that Maui is a bit on the pricey side. You can expect to pay about $300 per night for mid-range hotel accommodations (more if it's high season).

If you choose options like Homeaway or Air BnB, the per night rate could be around $150 but these options sell out fast (they book about 3 months in advance) and there will be additional charges like cleaning fees (about $150 on top).

That being said, these apartment style accommodations might be best for you if you are travelling with a family or if you're hoping to make some of your own meals to save a little money on the trip.

The Westin Ka'anapali

I stayed at the Westin Ka'anapali Resort and maintained the vacation budget by using some Starwood points towards our stay and then paying the difference.

Side note: We were actually able to earn more than half of our points back by attending a 90 minute information session one afternoon about time-share properties.

This hotel is stunning and I'd highly recommend it for someone looking to experience some of Hawaii's luxury. It's in a great location on a perfectly maintained beach - walkable to an amazing spot for snorkelling with sea turtles!

When we checked in, we were greeted with shell leis, cool towels and some fruit infused water. It felt like a special vacation as soon as we entered the building.

The hotel lobby opened up into an incredible outdoor atrium complete with tropical flowers, waterfalls, koi ponds, swans and flamingos.

We absolutely loved staying at the Westin and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Maui. It was in a fabulous location with spacious and updated rooms. The Westin had great amenities (huge pool with waterslides, beautiful spa), amazing beach access and was an incredible spot to catch some epic sunsets.

We also took advantage of the activities offered by the hotel- a marketplace with local vendors was set up one afternoon, a local farmer was there to teach about pineapples and vanilla beans each day and we even enjoyed a ukelele lesson too.

They also have a restaurant onsite and we enjoyed the breakfast there on our last day. Staying at the Westin was one of the best decisions we made on this trip!

Where to Eat

Grocery stores

On our first night in Maui, we went to the ABC store and Walmart to get a few things.

We knew we'd be doing a lot of day trips and beach days, so I bought things like cheese, crackers, veggies and dip, fruit, yogurt, wraps, hummus etc. so that we could enjoy lunches on the go.

 I also packed a few lightweight tupperware containers and a cooler bag in my luggage so that we could take picnic lunches on most days. Having something like ziplock bags with you will also mean you can take ice from the hotel to fill your cooler each day. This was a total life and budget saver. Plus, it ensured we ate healthy and didn't just resort to things like french fries on the beach everyday.

Farmers' Markets

The fruits on Maui are delicious. Stop at the many roadside markets to pick up what's fresh and in season- you won't regret it. Some of my favourite things were the pineapple, peaches and avocados! In fact, I'd say the fresh fruit stands on Maui were one of the biggest highlights of the trip for me.
P.S if you bring me back a Maui avocado, I'll be your friend for life!

Mama's Fish House

This restaurant gave us a truly unforgettable experience in Maui. It's located near the airport, so I booked a lunch here right after we landed. I loved visiting the restaurant during the day because it's right on it's own private beach. It's an open concept dining room, and we were seated right in front of the open floor to ceiling glass windows. The breeze was blowing and the view was spectacular.

With Hawaiian tunes playing, this was such an incredible "pinch me, I'm here" moment. The food is equally spectacular. Local fish caught by the fishermen and dropped off in the morning are worked into the menu each day. The menu is reprinted daily to reflect what's fresh and the chef creates flavour combinations that are truly magical. For more on Mama's Fish House, check out my blog post here or watch the video below.

Ululani's Shaved Ice

Ululani's Shaved Ice is an iconic dessert stand all over the island. They serve the softest shaved ice I've ever eaten - it literally melts in your mouth! With so many incredible tropical flavours to choose from, you will definitely find the one for you. But make sure you share because these are one huge treat! There's always a line up here, so make sure you're on Hawaiian time.

Where to Drink

Andaz Maui

The Andaz Maui is truly an incredible place to enjoy a drink while watching the sun go down over the pool. The ambience and decor here is truly something special. The expert bartender made us an incredible jalepeno infused drink, complete with a floating "palm tree" garnish. So special.

Fairmont Kea Lani

The Fairmont in Maui is another incredible place to enjoy a spectacular cocktail with a view. Time  your visit with sunset for an incredible moment (to photograph) and cherish forever.

Things to Do


You're in Hawaii, so attending an authentic Luau is a must. I did my research and found the Old Lahaina Luau to be the oldest and most traditional Luau on Maui.

It was such an incredible evening full of music, culture, dance and great food. We had an amazing time enjoying the traditional foods (and Mai Tais) at the feast.

You even get a chance to see how the pork is roasted in an Imu - a  traditional underground oven.

Other foods to enjoy: Hawaiian fried rice, salads, chicken and fish dishes as well as poke and other traditional foods like taro. A ticket to a luau will be on average about $120 per adult and about $75 per child. Keep in mind, within that price you get access to hula lessons, an incredible Hula and fire show as well as an All you can eat/drink feast. It's definitely an experience that is worth the splurge.

Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is probably one of the most talked about experiences on Maui. It is truly a remarkable - albeit terrifying- drive and one that you won't soon forget.

The whole experience is really about the journey and not the destination. It's the hairpin turns that lead you to a breathtaking waterfall and the off-road treks that take you through a magical bamboo forest.

The Road to Hana offers some great sights and stops along the way - including the infamous black sand beach where my husband lost his wedding ring to the wild waves. (It was a quiet car ride back from Hana to say the least lol.)

Keep in mind, you don't need to do the entire Road to Hana. Reserve the afternoon for this, but make sure to head back before sunset as the road can be quiet dangerous in the dark. Get an early start on the day, pack your lunch as well as watershoes, a towel and swimwear so you can make the most of this adventure in Hawaii!


Snorkelling in the waters of Maui has to be one of my favourite travel experiences to date. We brought our own snorkel gear from home so that we'd always be ready for some under water exploring. We found our favourite place to snorkel just off of Ka'anapali beach at a place called Black Rock. Black Rock is a rock formation that juts into the water and makes for a great platform to jump off of.

I'm into calmer activities so I preferred snorkelling around the rock there. This is where I experienced swimming with two sea turtles and a countless variety of beautiful fish! The turtles were very friendly and acted like synchronized swimmers under water. It was such a magical experience!

Haleakala National Park

Visiting Haleakala for sunrise was a decision we struggled with but it was also by far the best decision we've ever made while on vacation. The sunrise here on top of the volcano is just spectacular. We woke up at about 3:00 am to get ready and start the drive to the National Park.

The drive up is very steep and pretty nerve wrecking. It's also freezing up there in the mornings! But when the sky erupted in pink, orange, purple and red hues, all was forgotten. I can promise you have never experienced anything this magical in your life!  If you only have time for one excursion while you are in Maui, I'd say it needs to be this!

Lavender Farms

On the way down from Mount Haleakala, there is a small Lavender farm. It's a nice little stop for a quick bite and to take a stroll through the gardens and small patches of lavender.

Paia and Hookipa Lookout Point

Paia is a small town in Maui. It has a main street with some boutique stores that you can stroll along. It also is a local hangout. My favourite spot here is Hookipa Lookout Point. It's a great place to hang out at the beach. You'll have a great time experiencing a taste of local life and seeing how the surfers hang and catch waves.

General Tips

  • Rent a car on Maui. You can expect to spend about $300-$400 on a car rental for 5 days in Maui. In my opinion, having a car is essential to be able to explore the island. 
  • Stock up on things like water, juice, veggies and fruits at a local market or grocery store.
  • You could spend a lot of time driving around if you don't plan your time wisely. Check out a map of the island and schedule a few stops when you land at the airport (Paia and Mama's Fish House are about 30 minutes from the airport while Ka'anapali is about 1 hour away). If you plan your time and avoid excessive driving, you'll save a lot of time
  • Make the most of the time difference and plan your sunrise viewing at the beginning of the trip. Trust me- you'll be waking up at an ungodly hour anyway!
  • If you do decide to go to Halekala National Park, make sure you pack some layers with you from home. I brought a down filled vest, a few sweaters, long-sleeved shirts and even a tuque and mittens. We also took the hotel's down filled comforter with us for our trek and believe me - we used all of our layers while we waited for the sun to warm us up. 
  • Above all, slow down and use your visit to really get a sense of that Aloha mentality. Enjoy Maui, but I'm sure you'll be back!

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