I had a wonderful escape from cold NYC last week to attend the Winter Clinical Dermatology conference, and I wanted to put together a short Maui travel guide for all of you planning to make a trip out there! This was my third time in Maui, and I got so many great recommendations from everyone. If you’re planning to island hop, make sure to check out my Kauai guide here as well!
- BOOK A CAR EARLY. I did not do this and we sadly had to uber everywhere, which was time consuming and expensive. It took ages for ubers to arrive (I’m used to NYC uber wait times, which are like 5 minutes or less). All cars were sold out by the time we arrived, so plan ahead!
- If you do not have a car, here’s how to uber from the airport (Kahului OGG): We arrived and had no mode of transportation to get to the hotel which was on the other side of the island. The only uber option we saw was insanely expensive (~$150) and it was uber select. Later on one of the Uber drivers told us that because Uber isn’t allowed to pick up at OGG, most customers take the rental car shuttle to the first stop and call an uber from there, since it’s technically away from the arrival zone. Apparently Uber will be allowed to pick up at the airport soon so this will be a non-issue.
- From my island friend: After getting your rental car, stop by Target or Walmart near the airport to buy any essentials like water and sunscreen, which are cheaper here. These spots are also the best places to buy gifts like local snacks and chocolates vs getting ripped off in the tourist areas. (Thanks Vic!)
Places to Eat
Some of these I got to try and some I sadly did not, because I had no car! But these were all the go-to spots suggested by my foodie friends.
- Mama’s Fish House: Recommended to me by at least 5 people! I heard this was the best restaurant on the island. Make a reservation weeks in advance because they fill up! There’s also a beach nearby to walk around and hang out with turtles. I ended up having to give up my res because we couldn’t get over there in time, but it’s first on my list when I return.
- Merman’s Kapalua: delicious splurge meal right on the beach with STUNNING views. We ate here second to the last night and had a great experience. Wonderful service, delicious cocktails, and a nice outdoor seating area to hang out as well.
- Ululant’s Shave Ice: don’t forget a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream at the bottom
- Miso Phat Sushi: featured on Diners, Dives, and Drive In’s. I went here for a casual dinner around 6 pm, no wait! Super affordable. We ordered around 5 creative rolls, which were also quite large, and the miso cod and poke. The poke bowl was some of the best I’ve had.
Stuff I didn’t eat because I mostly hung out at the conference but everything here is on my list:
- Monkeypod Kitchen: the Mai Tai here is famous!
- Koiso: omakase sushi; call early to book
- Star Noodle for Asian fusion
- Sam Sato for a yummy noodle lunch
- Tin Roof for fresh and affordable poke
- The Fish Market Maui for delicious fresh fish
- Paia Fish Market for fresh fish plates and fish tacos
- Home maid bakery for desserts
- Maui specialty chocolates: order in advance and pick up the next day when you’re heading to the airport
What to do
- Road to Hana: I did this last trip with my mom and though the waterfalls and nature sights were amazing, I just remember being incredibly carsick throughout >_< I would love to rent a car and go again at a slower pace with more stops.
- Sunrise or Sunset at Haleakala: apparently sunrises are now booked up for weeks in advance since they limit the number of cars that can go up…but sunset is wide open! My driver recommended renting a car, bringing a bottle of wine, and camping out up there. His tip: stay for spectacular stargazing
- Snorkeling: Molokini, Honolulu Bay, Makena Landing (sea turtles!), La Perouse Bay
- Friend’s recommendation: rent snorkels for a week for cheap at Snorkel Bob’s or Boss Frog
- Ali’i’ Kula Lavender farm: I went here with my mom last time and loved this experience. Very relaxing, obviously very fragrant, with cute lavender knick knacks to take home.
- Tedeschi Winery: located at ‘Ulupalakua Ranch, this is Hawaii’s first vineyard and has delicious pineapple wines that you can taste! We took a few bottles home as souvenirs the first time I visited.
Putting this guide together made me realize how badly I need to go back for a proper vacation! I hope that this was useful and please leave any of your recommendations down below.