Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

United States

Travel guide to New Mexico’s beauty, Santa Fe

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Santa Fe New Mexico is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway at any age. Known for its unique architecture & art scene, Santa Fe will keep your eyes & stomach full. The city combines modern healthy lifestyle with historic spanish charm, which makes it feel like something out of this world.

Included in this post:

  • Best time to visit Santa Fe
  • How to get around the city
  • Top Things to do in Santa Fe
  • Excursions outside of the city
  • The best places to eat & more!

Travel guide for a Weekend Getaway in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Time to Go

Santa Fe is a perfect weekend destination year-round! Depending on what you want to do while visiting will help to decide when to go. In the winter months, Santa Fe is chilly and dry, with snow in the nearby mountains, so is a great time to visit for skiers. Where as in the summer, the days are hot and the nights are warm. Personally, I prefer fall & spring, as the weather will be warm without the heat.

 

 

Weather in Santa Fe

A great thing about Santa Fe is the 350+ days of sunshine each year. There is a monsoon season towards the end of summer but visitors will most likely only see rain for an hour or two in the afternoons. With temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 85 degrees in the summer, travelers are almost guaranteed to experience a wonderful mild weather setting no matter when they visit.

 

 

Transportation/Getting Around Santa Fe

Downtown Santa Fe is very walkable, however if you stay outside of town you will need a car or need to use a ride share service. Luckily there is plenty of parking in the downtown area. There is a bus system in place for public transportation but with most of the major sites being within walking distance you may not even need it.

Top things to do in Santa Fe:

There is no shortage of unique things to do in Santa Fe. Here is a list of places to see and things to do that I wouldn’t miss when visiting Santa Fe:

 

 

Stroll along The Plaza

The Plaza is the central historic district of Santa Fe. It’s the hub of the city, and on weekends there are often events in the streets. This 400 years old center is where you’ll spend most of your time, so go slow and soak it all up.

Purchase turquoise jewelry along the Palace of the Governors

The Palace of the Governors is the historic building where Spain ruled over the American Southwest in the early 17th century. While you can pay $12 to enter the building, I think it’s more fun to spend your time underneath the outdoor arches of the building. You’ll find beautiful turquoise jewelry pieces handmade by locals here. These outdoor vendors typically have better prices and you can barter with them.

 

 

Walk through the Loretto Chapel

While I can’t claim this to be the coolest church I’ve ever been into, the Loretto Chapel holds quite a bit of history for the Santa Fe area & is worth a visit.

Enjoy a tasting at Santa Fe Spirits

Known for their barrel aged whiskey’s this distillery creates delicious spirits that embrace the spirit of the Southwest region.

*Santa Fe Spirits is a short drive outside of the historic district & opens at 3pm daily

 

 

Mesmerize your senses at Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf is an immersive and interactive experience that embraces weirdness & challenges societal norms. For $30 you can spend an afternoon in this multi-sensory exhibit and be delighted for hours by the designs.

Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm

Fri & Sat 10am-10pm

Cost: $30 general admission

Noisy Water Winery; green Chile wine

New Mexico has a thing with green chiles. And by ‘thing’, I mean they’re obsessed with them. You’ll find green chiles (and red too) in almost every dish. Noisy Water Winery took it a step further by creating Green Chile Wine! Stop in to their tasting room in Santa Fe and enjoy a sample of this spicy wine, along with their other delicious options.

Kakawa Chocolate House

This specialty chocolate house just outside of The Plaza is a chocolate lovers dream come true. Kakawa Chocolate House makes chocolate elixirs dating back to Mayan & Aztec times. Stop in for a tasting and order yourself a cup of your favorite elixir. Don’t worry the staff here are extremely friendly and offer plenty of samples so you can find your favorite – mine was the Jeffersonian flavor made with nutmeg. There are more unique flavors like coconut hibiscus and french lavender. And if you like it purchase a bag to bring home with you or for your friends.

Santa fe Railyard Arts District

The Santa Fe Railyard Arts District houses many of the art galleries that travelers come to explore in the area. It’s well worth a walk through, and houses a brewery and delicious coffee shop too. The last friday of each month the area hosts an Art Walk where artists display their work, musicians play and more.

Visit the Santa Fe Opera & Tailgate beforehand

There is a local known tradition of tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera before the performance begins. It’s like a combination of class with cowboys, so don’t feel as if you need to pack your gown or tuxedo, come dressed in what you’re comfortable wearing and enjoy the performance.

The parking lot opens about three hours before the start of the shows, so you have plenty of time to enjoy your dinner and sunset from your tailgate.

Where to eat in Santa Fe

Here are the places that we tried and where locals suggested we dine in Santa Fe:

Outside of Santa Fe

New Mexico is home to so many unique & hidden gem spots. Here are the places around the area that we took time to explore during our weekend trip to Santa Fe:

 

Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument:

An hour outside of Santa Fe lies this 1.5 mile (one-way) hike. It’s best known for its tent rocks, which are unique cone shaped rock formations. The landscape here reminds me of Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatoowein in Star Wars. My advice, go when it opens so you can enjoy the hike & views without the crowds. *Check if the trail is open as it often closes during the winter months due to weather and snow.

Taos, New Mexico:

If you’re visiting Santa Fe in the winter and are a fan of skiing and snowboarding, I would suggest scheduling time to visit Taos, New Mexico. Travelers take the high road to Taos from Santa Fe and will be greeted by a town with charm similar to Santa Fe’s but on a smaller scale. This area has access to great mountain sport slopes, and a quintessential plaza area. *Be warned, the restaurants in this area are lacking in existence and in healthy food fares, so plan accordingly.

*On your way to Taos you’ll pass the El Santuario de Chimayo. This is a Catholic pilgrimage site on road to Taos, and worth a quick stop to explore.

 

Classical Gas Museum:

Probably one of the bizarrest and yet coolest places to see, the Classical Gas Museum is a great stop on your way back to Santa Fe from Taos. This ‘museum’ is free to enter and features classic gas pumps, neon signs and so much more from times throughout American history.

Fun Facts about visiting Santa Fe, Nex Mexico:

-Sopapillas should come for FREE at the end of your meal. If you see otherwise the food may not be traditionally made New Mexican food.

-Northern New Mexico is known for blue corn, southern New Mexico for white corn. So be sure to try blue corn tortillas with your meals.

Don't Forget to Pack:

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

Follow Along

Vegan Friendly Restaurants in San Diego

Vegan Friendly Restaurants in San Diego

The Best Vegetarian & Vegan friendly Restaurants in San Diego

A growing list of the best vegetarian & vegan friendly places to eat in San Diego

from a local!

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

As a traveling vegetarian, I understand how it can be difficult to find delicious vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants in the midst of being in your ‘in-the-moment’ vacation mode. Luckily, San Diego is bursting with delicious restaurants that offer vegetarian and vegan friendly menu options! More & more people are enjoying plant-based foods so I dug through my long lists of best restaurants in San Diego (yes, I keep a running list on my phone. Never will my boyfriend & I have the awkward ‘where do you want to go to eat’ conversation), and put together San Diego’s best vegetarian friendly restaurants!

*I’ll be updating this post at least once a year to add new restaurants that open. Be sure to subscribe to be notified of any new vegetarian or vegan restaurant openings in San Diego.

Best Vegan & Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in San Diego

In no particular order

Civico 1845

Located in the heart of Little Italy, Civico 1845 serves authentic italian food set in a comfortable setting of white brick & pristine bar. They offer a special vegan menu for both lunch and dinner.

My suggestion, try their Gnocchi Violetta. *Be sure to call ahead for parties of 4 or more. Civico 1845 is a hotspot in Little Italy, so becomes busy quickly.

Civico 1845
1845 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

Image credit: https://www.civico1845.com/

Muzita Abyssinian Bistro

One of my favorite hidden gems of San Diego, is Muzita Abyssinian Bistro. This Ethiopian restaurant was once a home that the owners retrofitted into a cozy dining experience. They have amazing vegetarian & vegan menu options that follow traditional Ethiopian cuisine. The owners mother was the original chef and the recipes are all hers. Which I think makes them taste even better. That and the incredibly friendly staff and mouth watering food.

My suggestion, try the fall seasonal Duba (braised pumpkin) with the Timtimo side (lentils), then thank me afterwards.

*fun fact- Marcus brought us here on our first data & we go back on our anniversary every year

Muzita Abyssinian Bistro
4651 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA92116

Image credit: https://muzita.com/ 

Buona Forchetta

You may already know how my soul belongs in Italy, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been to quite a few Italian restaurants in San Diego. And Buona Forchetta is always on my mind. Not only will the staff chat with you in italian (which I fall right back into after two glasses of wine), but they have a handful of the most delicious vegan menu items. Including a traditional vegan pizza.

My suggestion, the Donnatella pizza with their vegan cheese

Buona Forchetta
Located in South Park, Liberty Station, and Encinitas
Tocaya Organica

With an upbeat, modern interior draped in blooming plants and comfortable couches, Tocaya Organica takes the cake for some of the best modern mexican food that is vegetarian and vegan friendly in San Diego. They have a stellar seasonal menu and focus their ideals around making healthier choices, starting with locally sourced produce.

My suggestion, their vegan horchata to go with whatever you order to eat!

Tocaya Organica
Gaslamp/Downtown San Diego & UTC Mall in La Jolla
Ike’s Sandwiches

For those times where you don’t want to follow a vegetarian bunny rabbit diet of leafy greens, Ike’s Sandwiches will hook you up with an intense vegan sandwich. Ike’s is now a West coast chain (they originated in San Francisco) with locations all across California, Arizona & Nevada. Which bears an impact on how great their sandwiches are. You’ll notice that each sandwich has a unique name, and comes with their special sauce – which you can order a vegan version of!

My suggestion, the Sally Ride on their famously known Dutch Crunch bread.

Ike’s Sandwiches
2 San Diego locations, Hillcrest & Point Loma
Tandoor

Another little gem of mine, Tandoor is a small indian restaurant near the Fashion Valley mall. My sister and I have now tried each of their vegetarian & vegan options and can happily approve of them all. I love coming here for a quick dinner to go – this family owned place features the most amazing homemade naan bread in a traditional Tandoor oven, and the family is so so friendly.

My suggestion, Chana Masala made vegan.

Tandoor
508 Mission Center Rd
San Diego, CA 92108
Kebab Shop

With almost 8 locations in San Diego, the Kebab Shop will be nearby whenever you’re in need of some fresh falafel. Seriously though, they make their falafel fresh for each order. And their serving sizes are big enough to be made into two meals!

Kebab Shop
RakiRaki Ramen

I think I’m finding a pattern here with my preferred hidden gems… Rakiraki is tucked away in a lesser known area to tourists, what I would call Convoy street. This area is known for top notch asian cuisine finds and Rakiraki is a star among many delicious eateries. They serve one of the best best vegetarian miso ramen in the city. But be warned, this is a busy spot. So, if you’re a hungry hippo eager to slurp down this top rated ramen be sure to arrive early.

RakiRaki Ramen
Convoy St, Little Italy & Liberty Station
View this post on Instagram

Convoy 💛

A post shared by RakiRaki Ramen & Tsukemen (@rakirakiramen) on

Bahn Thai

I love how the most delicious thai food is based on vegetables and tofu. Something that sounds so simple always comes out delicious, and Bahn Thai always delivers those mouth watering flavors. The restaurant is a bit small, so if you don’t want to wait, order to go, OR visit their soon to be opening location in Hillcrest that can fit larger groups.

Bahn Thai
4646 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
(University Heights)
Sipz Vegetarian Infusion

Another asian cuisine eatery is Sipz Vegetarian Infusion. With 3 locations in San Diego, customers can enjoy a variety of asian cuisines including Japanese, Thai, Chinese & Vietnamese. The entire menu is vegetarian with a majority of it being vegan. Plus, they have crazy delicious vegan desserts.

My suggestion, start with their fresh summer rolls & homemade peanut sauce.

Sipz

Don’t fret, this list will continue to grow as I enjoy each place and find more vegetarian & vegan friendly restaurants in San Diego. If you’re interested in adding more dining options to your visit, then check out the Top Vegan Restaurants in San Diego!

Don’t forget to pack these items:

No matter where you’re going out to eat, it’s always smart to keep these sustainable items on hand to avoid any plastic use

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

Follow Along

A Visit to Crater Lake, Oregon

A Visit to Crater Lake, Oregon

United States

Winters affect on Crater Lake

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves on Amazon. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view my disclosure page for additional details.

When I strapped on borrowed snow shoes at Crater Lake National Park, I laughed out loud at how much difficulty I’d have with this simplistic adventure.  With multiple layers of clothing on and too-large-for-me snow pants, two steps in and I was teetering over… fortunately onto 15 feet of snow.  Luckily, the winter weather doesn’t harm the forested surroundings of Crater Lake National Park as much as it hindered my ability to walk.  Inhaling a deep calming breath of crisp air, our national park guide directed through our first (successful) steps on top of the snow into the wilderness surrounding America’s most beautiful lake.

The snow crunching underneath our feet was a rhythm in itself as we snow shoed single file behind our park ranger through a mixture of tall and small pine trees.  He huddled us into a circle for the first of four stops to discuss the winters season impact on Crater Lake.  One of the snowiest places in America, it averages over 40 feet of snow annually.  A burning question of whether this wintery weather is a blessing or a burden to the area was one our guide happily explained throughout our snow shoe trek.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

1. Evolution at its finest:

One of the hikers with us was asked to grab the top of a small pine tree and pull it to the ground. Surprisingly, the tree was pliable enough to bend all the way over like a slinkie.  Throughout time trees that are more pliant have survived the mass snowfall.  The flexibility allows them to bend to the heavy snowfall without breaking.  This progression has allowed the trees to be protected by the snow instead of harmed by it.

2. The annual snow covering

The snow protects the flora from drought and in turn from fire.  So, it keeps everything safe like a big blanket.

 

3. Seasonal animals

Surprisngly animals can thrive in this environment. Shrews, voles and pikas tunnel deep beneath the ground with the snow covering adding an extra layer of warmth overtop of them.

4. Melting Snow

As the snow melts in the warmer months it flows downstream supporting local farmers, wildlife and cities.

5. Crater Lake itself

Probably the most important, the caldera that is Crater Lake exists because of this annual snowfall. No streams or rivers feed into the lake, which is what makes it so clear and blue– zero pollution!

Finishing our snow shoe hike, behind us are the tree covered slopes, in front stunning vistas of Crater Lake.  After a massive eruption almost 8,000 years ago, what used to be the Mount Mazema volcano collapsed and is now home to the cleanest body of water in the world.  The deep blue waters that fill Crater Lake are the deepest, bluest, most clean and clear in the world.

Check out more images from Crater Lake, Oregon by scrolling through the pictures below!

Top TIPS for visiting Crater Lake, Oregon-

  • Snow shoeing is a free activity offered in the winter months; dress warm!!
  • If snow shoeing, bring some extra cash to ‘tip’ the guide; it goes back into the national parks fund
  • Winter months are often dreary so be prepared for a less than stellar view (we just happened to be lucky to visit on a clear day)
  • Only one road is kept open during the winter months due to the difficulty of plowing with high levels of snowfall.  Summer months you can drive around the entire lake.
  • Hiking & skiing can be done here!  Plan ahead for the weather.

You can find some of the winter gear I use here:

Grey Beanie Pom hat: I love this hat because the inside is so soft & fluffy, plus it looks cute with almost any of my other winter gear.  The exact hat is not longer available but I found a few similar items:

Womens Winter Knit Hat

Thick Cable Knit Fuzzy Beanie

Women’s Winter Soft Knitted Beanie

North Face Backpack: I’ve had this backpack for years!  Its very comfortable to wear on your shoulders & I love how it’s cushioned so I feel comfortable traveling with delicate items in it.  It’s also durable for outdoor activities.  It doesn’t look like this color pattern is available anymore but here is the style:

North Face Classic Backpack

Follow Along

The Perfect Weekend Getaway in Maui

The Perfect Weekend Getaway in Maui

United States

What to see & do in Maui in three days

    What started as an impulsive decision to purchase flight tickets to Maui turned into an endearing love with the island and culture of Hawaii as a whole.  Laid back vibes, wholesome people, humble living, amazing food and incredible landscapes are all a part of what you’ll experience here.  Living on the west coast allows for an easy opportunity to travel to Hawaii for a weekend getaway; it is similar in flight time back to the east coast (fly back towards unpredictable weather OR fly to island heaven?  In my opinion, the choice will almost always be the islands!).

     Travelers could spend much more time than a long weekend in Maui, however if you are prepared for a quick retreat to the island here are the

Top things to see & do in Maui in a weekend

Snorkel with the ‘fishies’

        Experience snorkeling areas on a weekend getaway in Maui without having to jump on a boat and drive out to sea.  Rent equipment locally and swim with coronet fish, yellow tang and various pufferfish (among many other species!).  Here are some of the top snorkeling beaches in Maui:

  • Ka’anapali Beach, West Maui: go to the north end near Black Rock
  • Honolua Bay, West Maui: called the ‘crown jewel’ of Maui
  • Wailea, South Maui: we loved Ulua Beach for snorkeling
  • Makena Landing, South Maui: not for beginners as the area is rocky but great wildlife

Treat yourself to a fancy dinner and great food

       There are many restaurant options in Maui, so allow yourself to be picky when it comes to eating out.  Most places source their ingredients locally (which may also have to do with the fact that importing can be very expensive) and many support a sustainable farming lifestyle.

  • Lahaina neighborhood has many choices, with Kimos Restaurant having a delicious vegetarian plate and a wonderful ocean view
  • Paia Fish Market: there are multiple locations on the island, and are known for fast service (order at the counter, hunt down a seat at a shared table and listen for your number to be called).  Their menu changes depending on what fisherman catch that day, so fresh is an expectation here.
  • Enjoy vegan coconut ice cream from a handmade hut on the Road to Hana at Coconut Glens.  Trust me when I suggest trying the lilikoi (passionfruit) flavor.
  • Mama’s Fish House: this is the nicest restaurant on the island.    Deliciously crafted cocktails, excellent service and the most enjoyable, fresh food.  Eating here will have you quoting ‘treat yo’ self’ from the show Parks and Rec.  *Make a reservation before you arrive to Maui.
  • Other foods to make sure to enjoy:

-Maui golden pineapples: they are much less acidic so better for your mouth and stomach

-Banana Bread baked by the Four Sisters (although really any fresh baked bread on the island is delicious)

The Road to Hana

        The Road to Hana requires an entire day, if not two days.  Check out my guide to The Road to Hana here.

Visit Haleakala State Park

        Towards the end of the Road to Hana, Haleakala State Park has two stunning outdoor locations that are a must do:

  • O’heo Gulch Pools (Seven Sacred Pools)
  • Kipahulu Waterfall Hike

*both of these are discussed in my Road to Hana Guide

Enjoy a relaxing morning or afternoon on a calm beach

        Adventurous exploring is always great, but Hawaii is most well thought of as a beach getaway, so be sure to plan at least half a day lounging with your toes in the water and booty in the sand.  Don’t forget to bring your reef-safe sunscreen (a review of different reef-safe sunscreen brands is in the works!) and your beach friendly supplies to ensure a blissful few hours under the sun.  Here are Maui beaches that were recommended to us by both locals and prior visitors:

 

  • Na’apili Beach: street parking is fairly easy to find here
  • Maluaka, South Maui
  • Big Beach, South Maui
  • Makena area, South Maui
  • Kihei area, South Maui: you can see beaches from the road, so stop where you want (also a great area for surf lessons)
  • Ka’anapali, West Maui: Maui’s most popular & well-known beach

Explore Paia Town

 Many call Paia a hippie town, whereas I consider it a historic neighborhood with a casual vibe and colorful buildings.  Take a half a day here and be sure to load up on vegetarian and vegan lunch options from the Mana Grocery Store in town.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

Top TIPS for visiting Maui:

  • Getting from beach to beach isn’t as easy as driving down the road and parking.  Many beaches are on resort properties, so you have to find parking elsewhere and walk.  Make sure to incorporate that into your schedule
  • It is now required to book reservations to watch the sunrise at the Haleakalā crater.  These book fast, so plan ahead!
  • Rent a car if you’re not planning on staying at a resort
  • Mana Grocery store in Paia was a perfect place to purchase local goods to bring home; hot sauces, coffee, etc.

Things I want to do on our next visit to Maui:

  • Snorkel and/or scuba dive at Molokini Crater
  • Camp overnite at Wa’ainapanapa State Park
  • Go to the Ali’I Lavender Farm
  • Catch sunrise at the top of Haleakalā crater

Pin me for Later!

Follow Along

Guide to the Road to Hana, Maui

Guide to the Road to Hana, Maui

United States

The best stops and all of my tips to make the most out of your day!

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves on Amazon. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view our disclosure page for additional details.

The Road to Hana is an adventure that any traveler should be prepped for physically… and well, mentally too.  Containing so many stunningly beautiful parts of the island and hidden gems, the Road to Hana is an all-day road trip through a lush garden and vistas around every corner.  While everyone says, ‘you have to do the Road to Hana’ and how gorgeous the stop offs are, few tell you how immaculate the drive can be and how to do it to make the most out of your day.  This is a guide for the best stop offs if you only have one day for this adventure.

Preparing for the Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is just that – a road that takes you the town of Hana.  Its uniqueness is that it is a series of over 600 of curves on a single lane, 64-mile road with various stop offs.  If the beaches, waterfalls and hikes were not enough of a reason to visit, successfully driving this roller coaster road is!  Travelers can choose to rent a car and do the drive themselves or go with a tour group. Many drive through with an extensive checklist of places they want to photograph, while those more prepared will have a select few stops to have time to enjoy.  Doing the latter will require a rental car so that stops can be done when and where you please.

Be sure to dress and pack appropriately for what you want to do, whether it be hiking, swimming through waterfalls or lounging on a beach.  One of the best tools to have at the ready is an app called the Gypsy Guide. It follows through your gps to provide notice for upcoming turns into sightseeing spots, highlights each stop you can make, suggests which is best to stop at and history of Maui.

While there are over 20+ talked about stops on the Road to Hana, here are the stops that we felt encapsulated a unique day of adventure and relaxation… and of course food.  Please note that we left stops for the drive back so the order we chose may not be the same you choose/your most ideal.

The Best Stops on the Road to Hana

Wa’ainapanapa State Park

Wa’ainapanapa is the black sand beach that Maui is infamous for.  It truly is as stunning as everyone’s pictures make it look, and one of the main reasons leaving early in the morning is ideal.  Getting here early will mean less of a crowd to enjoy the calm beauty of the beach. The guide talks about the parks lava tubes which we had difficulty finding because they were at another entrance.  Be sure to make the first left turn to get to them. *Camping is an option here!

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala is great because it contains two amazing places to see- the O’heo Gulch Pools (also known as the Seven Sacred Pools) and the Kipahulu Waterfall.

  1. The O’heo Gulch Pools are a series of pools and waterfalls that you can swim in (however they were closed for swimming due to rockslides; be sure to check ahead).
  2. The Kipahulu Waterfall is a four mile round-trip hike (from the parking lot) that leads you through a bamboo forest and ends with a beautiful waterfall.  The hike took us about two hours to complete which includes eating a packed lunch and stopping for pictures.

If you want to explore Haleakala State Park be sure to think about how much time you want to allot there as you could spend half a day there in itself. *$20 entrance fee

Hamoa Beach

On our way back towards Paia I really wanted to enjoy a nice beach, as we spent the first half of the day hiking.  Hamoa beach was perfect. A pristine sand beach with calm, warm, teal blue water. The best part about this beach is that it is difficult to reach as it’s so far into the Road to Hana experience so the crowds don’t exist (these pictures are from a Saturday afternoon) and you feel as if you have earned your privilege to relax on the beach having worked so hard to get here.

Support local food stands

As reviewed on the ‘Perfect Weekend Getaway in Maui’ here are some delicious items to keep an eye out for while driving-

-Coconut Glens Vegan Ice Cream; try the lilikoi flavor

-Maui Golden Pineapple; they are much less acidic than typical pineapples

-Baked breads

Ke’anae Arboretum

A somewhat long pull off on the road, this place has a lot of history (Thanks Gypsy Guide!) and a great look out with sharp, volcanic black rocks bursting along the coastline with powerful waves crashing alongside them.

Twin Falls

One of the first stop offs, we did this midday our second day and it wasn’t too crowded as most people seem to stop there as their first morning location.  Bring water shoes if you want to get into the water as it is rocky.

Garden of Eden

Another must see location, the Garden of Eden did not disappoint (especially as my expectations for a botanical garden are fairly high after visiting so many).  The land is privately owned and maintained, so your entrance fee helps preserve the grounds. There are so many beautiful flora species to see, as well as ocean and waterfall vistas, and what may have been the favorite is feeding the ducks and peacocks that live on the property (*be warned, these guys come hungry and with the tactfulness of a child digging into his Halloween candy).  Plan at least an hour here; better yet, as it’s close to the start of the Road to Hana you could visit this on a separate day.

Whether you’re a thrill seeker or a resort lover, the Road to Hana is a bucket list item that should not be missed.  Taking a day to drive through this adventure will provide a greater sense of what the Hawaiian islands have to offer beyond the beaches at the resorts.  Hopefully this guide will provide insight into planning a great day!

Top Tips for the Road to Hana, Maui:

  • The Gypsy Guide costs $5.  There are CDs and maps you can purchase as well, but when you are driving on a road with so many winds and turns, looking at a map can be dangerous.
  • Depending on where you are staying leave early.  Staying in or near Paia was great as we were basically already staying on the Road to Hana, whereas people staying in west or south Maui had to make a 30-45-minute drive just to get to Paia.
  • When renting a car, please consider the tight corners and that parts are unpaved.  It seems many tourists rent convertible mustangs which may be the least reasonable car for this adventure, yet you also do not need a full-sized sedan (don’t let the car rentals upsell you!)
  • Be a cautious, calm and polite driver; Hawaiians will tail you because they know the road better than you.  When possible, pull to the side and let them go around you
  • Do NOT stop on or along the road unless there is a proper pull off or lot
  • Pack your own food, especially if you’re leaving early in the morning as most stands won’t be open until midday
  • Paia town is considered a Road to Hana stop, however we stayed in Paia and feel it should be done separately as it’s a cute town and there is so much to experience further on the road
  • Don’t expect excellent (or any) cell service
  • The road received its name for the town Hana, there isn’t much of a reason to stop in the town, so if pressed for time, feel free to drive past
  • You can drive past Haleakala State Park but the road turns into hairpin turns and dirt paths.  In fact, many rental companies say your contract is void if you drive past this area

Pin me for Later!

Follow Along

Where to stay in Maui, Hawaii

Where to stay in Maui, Hawaii

United States

Details about each area of Maui & travel styles they match

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU! You can view our disclosure page for additional details.

One of the most difficult parts of planning a weekend getaway is making sure your lodging is the best location for your ideal type of trip.  Maui may be an island but that doesn’t mean it’s small. There is so much to experience in Maui, with each neighborhood bringing its own unique perks with it, so it’s best to know that you’ve selected THE best place for you to stay during your trip.

When you visit Maui you need to consider the kind of vacation you are looking for; whether it be total beach relaxation, hiking and exploring, seeing historic towns, or water adventures.  This post will help you decide which area to book lodging with when deciding where to stay in Maui.

Where should I stay in Maui?

 

There are four main areas to Maui, each with its own set of unique landscapes and lodgings:

  • North Shore/Upcountry
  • West Maui
  • South Maui
  • East Maui

Each area has beautiful beaches and water activities for visitors to enjoy, but what one person may describe as the perfect beach may be someone else’s not so great location or require an out of budget spend.

So questions such as

‘which beaches are better than others?’,

‘Should I rent an Airbnb or splurge on a resort hotel?’ and

‘which side of the island has the best sunrise or sunsets?’ are all questions smart travelers should ask themselves.

Maui is much larger than first time visitors expect. It would take around 12 hours to drive around the entirety of Maui, and as we’re sustainable travelers, you understand that you’ll have a better vacation by going slow and enjoying each area without feeling rushed.

I found this image from Pinterest in 2015 and have not been able to find the original owner, if you know who created this image please let me know

As I’m not a native to Maui, I don’t feel I can comfortably list out recommended places to stay, so instead I’ve linked a search tool where you can find great deals on hotels and more through Booking.com

You can also go through Airbnb to find more affordable options. If you’re new to Airbnb here is a $40 discount off of your first stay!

Booking.com

Staying in North Shore/Upcountry

The North Shore & Upcountry areas of Maui are probably the largest area and most lush on the island.  This is where authentic Hawaiian lifestyle lives. In fact, most locals on the island live in this area.

The beaches in North Shore will be windier (which is great for kite & windsurfing) and Paia Town is a great starting point if you want to do the Road to Hana (trust me, you want to do the road to Hana)

You can read my guide to the Road to Hana here!

 

If you choose to stay further upcountry will get you beautiful views from the Maui mountains.

*We stayed in the perfect bungalow of an AirBnB – this place was a studio and walking distance to the cutest grocery store.  Big plus was that it is already ten minutes onto the Road to Hana, so visitors beat a ton of the crowds leaving from here.

Use this link to get $40 off of your first stay using AirBnb!

Staying in West Maui

West Maui is the most popular area to stay in Maui and where the original resorts are located.  There is a lot of dining options as well as the old whaling village, Lahaina, that you can explore.

The beaches of West Maui are sunny and dry and it’s one of the prettiest parts of Maui as you’ll have the West Maui mountains as your backdrop. In fact, many believe West Maui to have the best beaches on the island.

With its popularity for tourists to stay in, West Maui comes with a range of lodging options. Visitors can find beachfront resorts, as well as affordable condos to rent.

West Maui is also where a lot of tourist excursions take off from. So, if you plan on going out on a catamaran, whale watching or want to ferry over to Lanai or Molokini, you would most likely leave from this area.

Something to consider is that with popularity comes tourist traps, tacky shops, and lower quality service. West Maui is also a farther drive from other parts of Maui. These are things to consider when traveling to the island and the quality of your trip that you are seeking.

30-40 minute drive from Kahului airport

Staying in South Maui

South Maui is less crowded than West Maui with the most sunshine access on the island.  There are great beaches in South Maui such as Kihei, Makena and Molokini. All of which have easier parking situations that almost all of West Maui.

While the epitome of classy accommodations would be the Four Seasons resort in South Maui, there are plenty of condos to rent in the area. Of course, the ones with beachfront access will cost a pretty penny. But it may be worth it if you’re only visiting for a weekend getaway.

South Maui is closest to the airport than the other areas of the island.

I’ve been told South Maui can feel ‘spring-breaky’ as so many younger groups of people visit here. I mention this because if you prefer a quieter island experience you may want to stay in another area of the island.

Also, please NOTE that while South Maui may look like it’s close to the end of the Road to Hana, you actually cannot access that part of the island from here. You will have to drive all the way to Paia town to start your Road to Hana adventure. Something to consider if you’re short on time here on Maui.

15-20 minute drive to Kahului airport

Staying in East Maui

East Maui is the most remote side of the island and reached by the infamous Road to Hana.  If you are looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience than this would be the place for you to stay at; there are lots of hiking trails, waterfalls and beautiful outdoor spaces to explore. The majority of tourists don’t stay in East Maui, so you’ll be avoiding those crowds if you choose to stay in this area.

Just remember that getting here will take time, so consider that when looking at flight arrival times. I found that visiting East Maui for a day trip or even for an overnight excursion would suffice for a weekend trip to Maui.

2+ hour drive from Hana to Kahului airport

While the Hawaiian Islands are similar to one another, each one has an individuality to them and Maui is a favorite among many.  Knowing ahead of time what type of trip you are seeking and matching lodging to that will help make sure you have a fantastic time.  If you have questions regarding where to stay in Maui comment below and I’ll connect with you directly.

Mahalo!

Top TIPS for where to stay in Maui

  • Once you land at Maui’s airport, Kahului, and pick up your rental car, stop at one of the major retail chains for groceries and snacks. There is a Costco and Target near the airport. This will help save you money as Hawaii is known for expensive restaurants.
  • Take into consideration driving time; there are only a handful of main roads and traffic backs up during peak times (afternoons around 2-5pm)
  • As stated at the beginning of this post, know your vacation type (especially if you are only visiting for a weekend) so that you can take advantage of all of your time here

Pin me for Later!

Follow Along