The Perfect Weekend Getaway in Maui

The Perfect Weekend Getaway in Maui

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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.

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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

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Guide to the Road to Hana, Maui

Guide to the Road to Hana, Maui

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

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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

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