“Where on Maui are you going?” was the question we were asked whenever we mentioned our trip. Such a popular destination spot from California, many people take annual trips to Maui, have time shares, and all have a favorite restaurant to recommend.
Arguably the most popular island in Hawaii, Maui offers a variety of experiences from very active scuba, kayaking, and hiking activities, to sailing and snorkel trips, theater and shopping, and the ultimate relax-on-the-beach experience.
For an island that can be crossed in a couple hours, it packs a wide variety, thus the question, “where on Maui are you going?” We stayed just outside the small town of Kihei. Which provided access to all the standard grocery and drugstores we needed, yet less noise. Centrally located, our 2-story economy hotel was squeezed onto the little strip of land between the freeway and the ocean. Bare and dated, it had all the essentials including a mini-fridge and with a little begging at check-in we managed to net an ocean view room (it helps that it was off season).
A quick trip to Kihei and we stocked the fridge with soda, water, and fresh fruit, picked up the forgotten sun screen, bought 2 cheap beach towels, rented snorkel gear with a discount coupon from our hotels front desk, and grabbed fresh fish tacos from a restaurant recommended on Yelp.
You should know that much like a cruise, the whole island is loaded with excursions. Your hotel will probably offer a free (with breakfast) presentation of the possible trips you can book with them. It’s worth sending at least 1 family member to get the lay of the land. While there, we won a free dinner cruise in a raffle (which we normally wouldn’t have taken but was fun, though cramped and with average food) and booked a sailing/snorkel trip we had already planned on taking, and loved! With much driving around you can find better prices, and you will see signs offering cheap luaus. These usually require you to sit through a time-share presentation. So think about how you want to spend your time in Maui.
The beach is always free! Public access to beaches is required by law in Maui, so even at the high-end resorts, you can visit their beaches. Ones of these beaches ended up being our favorite at the southern tip of the island, in Wailea, a beautiful white sandy beach, with excellent outdoor showers and public restrooms.
Here are a couple other excursion notes and considerations:
– Snorkeling: A great entry-level sport! However, since you can go almost anywhere and jump in the water, its best to have at least one experienced person in your group or take a guide or book a trip for your first experience, so you can get the proper water and safety tips. Then you are on your own!
– What to wear: casual, casual, casual. T-shirts and shorts over a swimsuit is common attire. Flip-flops are a must. It helps to bring a pair of walking shoes for any hiking excursions and lots of sunscreen. Our trip was in November. The air was always warm and in the evenings I was comfortable in a sundress and rarely needed a light sweater. The men wore shorts and short-sleeved button up tops.
– Rental cars: Don’t eat in your car! I’ve rented a car previously in Maui and not had a problem. However this time our car was infested with (I hate saying it) cockroaches. YUCK! Humid environment, food left in cars, it happens. The rental car company was embarrassed and offered to swap out the car. We found them when we left an open can of soda in the car at the end of our trip and didn’t want to waste time driving back to the airport, so we waited, and put our luggage in trash bags for the return trip to the airport. You have been warned.
– Road to Hana: you need to set aside a full day if you decide to take this trip. The scenic road is curvy, backed up with traffic, and has many beautiful stops along the way. Also, no matter what the map says, you must return the way you came in, as the road at the far end of the island is inaccessible.
– Luaus: As we had both been to traditional luaus before, we opted for non- buffet option. Read through the descriptions and find one that appeals to your budget and style. As non-drinkers we didn’t feel we got our money’s worth, though still enjoyed the wonderful food and show with the sun setting in the background.