Everything you need to see and do while on vacation in Maui: Part 1

Happy Monday! It’s back to reality for me this week after what seemed like months of holiday bliss. I had 10 days off a Christmas; went back to work for a week and a bit; celebrated my 32nd birthday weekend by going out for dinner with Matt, hitting the trails with Debbie, brunching with friends and spending a day at my favourite spa; and jetting off to Maui for two glorious weeks with Matt and his parents.

This was my fourth time in Maui, and I’m glad we decided to go for two weeks instead of just one. You really can’t do everything in one week and feel relaxed (the mistake we made last time). Not that you have to do and see things every day, but with so much cool stuff do and see there, why not spend two weeks in paradise? And with four people splitting the cost of food, the rental car and accommodation, it didn’t end up being that much more expensive (though overall it was expensive — the CAD dollar sucks right now in the US).

Since I know a few people heading to Maui or are thinking about heading there this year, I thought I’d finally write a blog about everything you need to see and do while on vacation in Maui!

Getting there and accommodation

The cheapest way to find travel and lodging in Maui is to set up alerts with Google Flights to track the price of flights and to browse Airbnb and VBRO for vacation rentals. Hotels are crazy expensive there, and you can save money by getting a fully stocked condo unit and preparing a few meals at your condo. TIP: Look early and often (6 months or more out) as the good ones book up fast. We had to split our time between two vacation rentals because we couldn’t get the one unit for two weeks together.

Coffee on the lanai at Maui Kamaole

We ended up getting plane tickets on Air Canada for $450 CAD each round trip, and two weeks of accommodation for $1,025 CAD each. Not bad, considering last time we went to Maui in 2013 we spent $1,400 each on flights and condo rental for just one week! That same vacation (flight on WestJet and accommodation at the Aston Maui Banyan booked through Expedia) was $1,800 this time around. We also went in January this time instead of March, which is a less expensive time to go. January tends to be a bit rainier and windier than March, but is still beautiful, sunny and warm.

Lovely pool at the Maui Kamaole

After you book your flights and vacation rental, book your Jeep (yes, get a Jeep because they’re fun and awesome) with Kihei Rent A Car – they’re the most affordable and nicest family run car rental business on Maui. They’ll pick you up and drop you off at the airport in a shuttle from their central location in Kihei for free. We paid $1,492 for a two-week rental ($373 each), drove all around the island and only had to fill the tank a few times.

One other thing you’ll need before you go (aside from your bathing suit and flippy floppies!) is Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. We were lent a copy and found it super helpful when circumnavigating the island around the north-west tip and on the Road to Hana. The book also points out interesting sights, stops and tips along the way, such as weird food truck stops that are good (like Julie’s Banana Bread) and ones that are not-so-good (like Teddy’s Burgers – trust me, it looked sketchy), as well as historical tidbits that make your travels much more interesting.

Julie was out of banana bread 🙁

Where to stay

After visiting Maui four times now and staying in four different places, I still recommend Kihei as your home base for laid-back beach vibes that’s close enough to markets and restaurants so you don’t spend half of your vacation driving around in the car. If you’re looking for more of a quiet beach vacation and would rather lie poolside/beachside with a book for the majority of your vacation than go adventuring, stay up in Kaanapali.

Kamaole Beach 2 in Kihei – quiet at 7 am during a morning run!

Kaanapali is more of a resort town, and I think next time we go I’d like to stay here and spend a bit more time on the beach there, which is beautiful. Kihei’s beaches are also beautiful but smaller and often busy. Kaanapali is about 45 minutes from Kihei, so it’s a bit more of a drive from central activities.

Miles and miles of sand and surf at Kaanapali Beach

This time we split our time between Kihei and Lahaina. Lahaina is the royal capital of Maui, and is a fun little village/town with lots of shops and markets. I wouldn’t stay here again, as there isn’t really a beach nearby and the condo resort wasn’t as nice. Although it was cool to be within walking distance of all the shops (and a delicious gelato store on the corner), I’d rather come here for a day trip than to stay here for the duration of our time in Maui.

Pool at the Aina Nalu Lahaina by Outrigger – nice and quite but the resort condo wasn’t as nice. They didn’t even have a table for us to sit at and our “lanai” was a parking lot 🙁

Wailea is also a beautiful place to stay (it’s just east of Kihei), but can be pretty pricey. The North and East sides of Maui tend to get more rain and are more residential than resort towns, though I’m sure you could find some lovely vacation rentals out that way, too.

Makena Beach in Wailea. Beautiful but deadly – stay out of the surf! The locals don’t call it “break-neck beach” for nothing…

My recommendations for awesome condo/resorts in Kihei
These condos are in the prime part of Kihei across from the beach that look awesome. I’ve stayed in the Maui Bayan and Maui Kamaole.

  • Maui Bayan
  • Maui Kamaole
  • Hale Kamaole
  • Hale Hui Kai
  • Haleakala Shores
  • Royal Mauian
  • Kamaole Sands

My recommendations for awesome condo/resorts in Kaanapali
The condos/resort hotels in this area are all lovely but pricey, so here are a few of the cheaper/nice ones. I’ve stayed in the Aston Kaanapali Shores.

  • Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas
  • Royal Lahaina Resort
  • Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
  • Aloha Resorts Kaanapali Shores
  • Honua Kai Resort and Spa
  • Aston Kaanapali Shores

Stay tuned for next week when I recap what you must do while on Maui if you have one week or two weeks.