The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii

There are so many things to do in Maui that it can be hard trying to figure what all to pack into your trip! This quick guide includes some of my most highly recommended activities, including driving the Road to Hana, taking a helicopter flight around the island, going on a whale watching tour, and watching the sunrise on Haleakala. Below you’ll find what to do in Maui, where to stay in Maui, and where to eat in Maui!

What to Do in Maui

Drive the Road to Hana

Driving the Road to Hana is a must for any visit to Maui. The windy road is only 51 miles long, but because of its twists and turns, the drive usually takes 2-4 hours. You’ll definitely want to stop a lot along the way too to take in the waterfalls and viewpoints, or maybe go for a swim. Maui waterfalls are a sight to see! Some waterfalls to stop at include: Twin Falls, Pua'a Ka'a Falls, Upper Waikani Falls, Hanawi Falls, and Wailua Falls if you decide to continue onwards past Hana. We rented a Mustang convertible for our trip, which made it a really fun drive. Lots of people also choose a Jeep for this drive too. Almost everyone on the road seemed to have either a convertible or a Jeep, so it’s definitely the standard. But if the weather is nice, it’s a great way to see the Road to Hana. Just be prepared for rain, as Maui’s rainforest is one of the wettest places on Earth! We finished up our drive at Wai‘anapanapa State Park, home of beautiful black sand beaches, before turning around to head back to our hotel before dark. If your itinerary allows, there are hotels you can stay at in Hana so that you can spend more time on the drive and make more stops along the way without having to do it all as a day trip.

Spotting waterfalls while driving the Road to Hana in a convertible // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Visit Wai‘anapanapa State Park

As you come to the end of the Road to Hana, Wai‘anapanapa State Park is a great place to stop. You can walk along the black sand beaches, go for a swim, and walk around to various viewpoints and blowholes. Just be careful on the beach here - we didn’t realize the tide came up so high and Jane’s bag went for a swim! We were lucky to recover it and that our car keys still worked, but that could have stranded us.

Wai‘anapanapa State Park // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui
Wai‘anapanapa State Park // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Take a Glassblowing Class

Want to do something truly unique during your time in Maui? Learn how to blow glass in Lahaina at Moana Glass! Some items you can learn to make include a heart, a fish sculpture, a starfish, or a floppy bowl.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Have to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii

Experience a Helicopter Tour Around the Island

The best way to see Maui is definitely from above. During our time on the island, we took Maverick Helicopter’s Hana Rainforest Experience Flight - a 75-minute roundtrip experience to Hana and back, including a landing in the rainforest. You’ll get to see massive waterfalls that can only be approached by helicopter, as well as stunning coastal views and Haleakala in the distance.

Maverick Helicopters Maui flight // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui
Maverick Helicopters Maui flight // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Eat a Feast at a Luau

If you’ve never been to a luau, it’s pretty much a requirement when visiting Hawaii. During my visit, we went to the Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency Maui. You’ll get to watch traditional dances from Hawaii and the rest of Polynesia, like the Haka from New Zealand, as you enjoy their all-you-can-eat buffet!

Drums of the Pacific Luau at Hyatt Regency Maui // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui
Drums of the Pacific Luau at Hyatt Regency Maui // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Snorkel at Molokini Crater

Snorkeling Maui is another great activity you can do on the island. Perhaps the best snorkeling option available in Molokini Crater. If you’re looking for Maui snorkeling tours, you can try this eco-friendly tour option. For this snorkeling adventure, you’ll take a journey on a catamaran out to Molokini Crater and then to Turtle Town to find sea turtles (weather depending). The whole trip takes 5 hours and departs out of Maalaea Harbor. There’s a good reason it’s the most popular Maui snorkeling adventure!

Wander the Lavender Farms

Did you know that Maui has lavender farms? At Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, you can participate in a guided tour, either walking or in a cart, or choose a gourmet picnic lunch tour. You don’t need to go all the way to the South of France to see lavender fields when you can do it right on the slopes of Haleakala!

Sail Out on a Catamaran Whale Watching Tour

If you’re in Hawaii the right months out of the year, a whale watching tour is a must. From December to April every year, around 10,000 humpback whales migrate to the warmer waters of Hawaii. In order to see the whales up close, we did a 2-hour catamaran sail with Trilogy Sailing that departed out of Ka’anapali. For $60, the sailing included drinks and snacks as we watched the whales breach, and even had a few come right up to our boat, only several feet away!

Maui whale watching on a catamaran // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui
Maui whale watching on a catamaran // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Watch the Sunrise on Haleakala

One of the most incredible experiences you can do in Maui is sunrise on Haleakala. Visiting the summit at sunrise has become very popular for tourists, so you’ll have to make a reservation in advance on the Haleakala National Park Summit Sunrise reservations page. Or, you can book a tour that will take you up for sunrise, which can be a good option if all vehicle passes are already booked out. While there is only $1.00 per ticket fee for the vehicle pass, reservations open up two months in advance and do book out. You’ll need the pass if you plan to drive up between the hours of 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.

Spend a Day on Lanai

Last but not least, Lanai is a great option for a day trip off of Maui. You can take the Expeditions Ferry from Lahaina, departing 5 time each day (and the same from Lanai). Tickets are $60 roundtrip for adults and $40 roundtrip for children. Some activities you can do on Lanai including jeep rental (you can go off-roading on over the red sand!), golfing, horseback riding, snorkeling and more. You can also stay on Lanai at the wonderful Four Seasons Resort Lanai if you’d like to enjoy the island for longer than a day. If you don’t want to ferry, don’t worry, there are also daily flights there!

Off-roading in a Jeep on Lanai's red sand // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Where to Stay in Maui

If you’re looking for where to stay in Maui, there are several great options I can recommend! Some of the best places to stay in Maui include The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Ka'anapali and the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa in Lahaina.

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

For extended stays and families, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas is a fantastic choice. They offer 1-3 bedroom villas on property, complete with a large kitchen, so they’re perfect if you want to cook some of your own meals. Every villa features a living and dining room, a full kitchen, and a private veranda. And as bonus, the couch in the living room is a pullout, which is perfect for larger groups and families. One of my favorite features of our 2-bedroom villa was the large soaking tub in the master bedroom. Now that’s how you relax in Hawaii!

Soaking tub at Westin Nanea // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui
Balcony breakfast at Westin Nanea // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

For the days you don’t want to cook, there are several dining options on-site, including Mauka Makai and the Inu Pool Bar. Staying at Westin Nanea also gives you access to everything next door at The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, including their spa, kid-friendly pools, and restaurants. The properties are conveniently directly next to each other along a boardwalk, right on Ka'anapali Beach.

Sunset on Ka'anapali Beach at Westin Nanea // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Activities on-site include the Botanical Cultural Tour and the Star Compass and Navigation Talk. At the botanical walking tour, we were guided around the Westin Nanea and learned about all of the plants on property. They’re all helpfully labelled, so you can also learn about them on your own outside of the tour! Our guide took us from plant to plant and taught us if they were native, endemic, or brought to the island. Some plants we learned about include ki, otherwise known as ti leaves (and what are used to make hula skirts, not grass!), and kukui nuts. For the Star Compass and Navigation Talk, we met at night on the Polynesian star compass in the main courtyard of the resort. There, we were taught by an expert female voyager who has used wayfinding to sail to Tahiti and back, just as the ancient Hawaiian navigators did using the stars to wayfind (like in the movie Moana!). She pointed out different stars and constellations to us that ancient Polynesians would have used to navigate across the Pacific, and how their star compass works.

Botanical tour at Westin Nanea  // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Another thing I highly recommend doing is the Spa Helani next door at The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. Jane experienced the Journey to Hana Ritual treatment, where she relaxed on a bed of warm quartz sand while being massaged with heated bamboo sticks and aromatherapy oils, similar to hot stone therapy. The specialized tables (the only ones like it in Hawaii) allow you to feel like you’re floating and help with detoxification. For my treatment, I tried the Eastern Seas treatment, which included a full-body scrub, a hot hydrotherapy shower in the treatment room, and then a relaxing massage. The experience started by picking a scent for my aromatherapy journey, and then I was scrubbed down with Dead Sea salts and emerged feeling clean and refreshed!

Spa Helani Journey to Hana treatment  // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

The Hyatt Regency Maui

Up in Lahaina, the Hyatt Regency Maui has 806 guest rooms, 8 restaurant and Bar options, and 6 swimming pool areas. We were lucky enough to get to experience the Presidential Suite during our stay, which was amazing! You can read more about our stay at the Presidential Suite inside the Hyatt Regency Maui over at A Taste of Koko.

Presidential Suite breakfast in bed at Hyatt Regency Maui  // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

The Hyatt Regency has some unique features, like its wildlife tours that show you around all of the birds they have around the property, including the African black-footed penguins, and its Tour of the Stars rooftop stargazing you can book nightly. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience the Tour of the Stars due to stormy weather, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it! For on-site dining, options include Japengo, Umalu, and Son’z Steakhouse. Umalu was perfect for poolside dining, and you also can’t miss the Ululani’s Shave Ice they have on property (way better than waiting in line at one of their other locations around Maui!). Japengo was one of my favorite meals we had on the island, so definitely don’t miss out on making a reservation there. It’s a great choice for sushi, though I personally loved the miso glazed salmon!

Ohana cabana by the pool at Hyatt Regency Maui  // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui
Poolside lunch at Hyatt Regency Maui  // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

And to finish, make sure to check out their Drums of the Pacific Luau one night you’re on property. You can’t go to Hawaii and not experience a luau! My favorite parts of the night were probably when the men did a New Zealand Haka dance and the finale when the fire dancers came out. It’s definitely a fun night out!

Drums of the Pacific Luau at Hyatt Regency Maui // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Where to Eat in Maui

Mama’s Fish House

This is the ultimate place to get fresh seafood. It’s so fresh, they print a new menu every day saying who caught the fish and where. You’ll want a reservation in advance for here, as they are very popular. I had the macadamia crusted kanpachi stuffed with lobster and crab, and it was glorious.

Mama's Fish House - kanpachi stuffed with lobster and crab  // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Japengo

Japengo is the sushi and seafood restaurant on-site at the Hyatt Regency Miami. The miso glazed salmon was delicious! They also brought out a whole sushi boat for us to try, though it’s not really on the menu. But don’t worry, every piece of sushi on that boat is something you can order.

Ramen and sushi boat at Japengo, Hyatt Regency Maui // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Mauka Makai

Mauka Makai was another delicious dinner we had at the Westin Nanea. Jane really loved the crispy whole catch fish (I had a bite, and it was muy bueno), while I thoroughly enjoyed the macadamia crusted mahi mahi. And for dessert, try the hibiscus haupia.

Mauka Makai dinner at Westin Nanea // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Inu Pool Par

For being a poolside restaurant, I was very impressed with Inu Pool Bar at Westin Nanea! Some great things to order here include the beer can chicken and the grilled mahi sandwich. And definitely don’t miss out on the crispy buffalo tako (octopus) appetizer!

Inu Pool Bar lunch at Westin Nanea // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

Down the Hatch

This little dive bar is a great spot when you’re in the town of Lahaina. I had the lava lava shrimp and the lobster and crab stuffed grilled cheese. While I can’t say I was a huge fan of the lobster and crab stuffing, I did really like the lava lava sauce, so perhaps try something like the lava lava shrimp tacos or the lava lava spicy chicken sandwich instead!

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

I’ve been told Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice is the best on Maui, and I can see why. I personally am a fan of the coconut-based flavors, but whatever you do, make sure to try it with a snow cap and mochi on top!

Ululani's Shave Ice at Hyatt Regency Maui // The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui

If those aren’t enough for you, some other food places we were recommended by locals and didn’t make it to included Da Kitchen and The Millhouse. Have another spot I should I have included in my guide? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Visit Maui, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, and Hyatt Regency Maui. As always, all opinions are my own!

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Blog Post: The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii // #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui #travel
Blog Post: The Quick Guide to Visiting Maui, Hawaii // #readysetjetset #hawaii #maui #travel