Making the Most of Maui, Hawaii

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Although we visited three islands during our much needed-Hawaiian holiday, I can easily tell you that Maui was everyone’s favorite part of the vacation. With so much to do, whether you wanted to relax or hit the scenes, Maui offered something for everyone regardless of age, mood or interest.

When it comes to travel, I take pre-planning very seriously. I plan so I don’t have to lift a finger or think critically once my plane touches down at its destination. So, for all of my fellow planners out here, here are my helpful tips and recommendations for everything Maui, Hawaii.

1) Stay Where you Want to Stay

Of course you can visit Maui on a dime, well multiple dimes, but you know what I mean. But, when you envision your Hawaiian vacation, something tells me you’re not imagining Motel 6. If you’re like me, you want ocean view luxury, peace and 18 different spa tubs with a swim up bar.

My biggest recommendation, stay at the dream resort of your choosing but at half the cost. Services like VRBO can get you the same room and amenities (yes, the same!) as a hotel but at a fraction of the cost. We stayed in a three bedroom penthouse at a leading Kaanapali resort for almost 30% less than we would have if we booked through the hotel directly or a major online booking service.

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2) Rent a Jeep

Sure, it’s a little bit more expensive but it’s so worth it. We took the top off and cruised the island in the warm ocean air. Just make sure to look up your personables. Hawaiians are super friendly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still protect yourself.

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2) Drive More Than the Road to Hana

Almost everyone will tell you to drive the Road to Hana, and you should. But, the Road to Hana only covers about a 6th of what Maui has to offer.

In one day, and it’s very doable in one day, Kevin and I drive the jeep the full way around the island. Now, everyone will tell you how unsafe this is but having done it, I will tell you it’s very doable. It is paved. It is safe. Just know that it isn’t always two lanes and you do need to be respectful of drivers opposite of you. That said, don’t be the guy making this trip in a mini van or full-size SUV—the locals will not be happy with you. Also note, you are driving these unadvised roads at your own risk—they are not covered by all rental companies.

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3) Taste Maui Wine

A nice little drive out of the resort towns and you can find yourself at Maui Winery. They offer two tours a day and tastings from open to close. You can enjoy three sample tastings, including their famous pineapple wines, and shop their gift shop. I personally found their wine much too sweet for my pallet but it was certainly worth visiting.

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4) See the Nakalele Blow Hole

It’s not everyday that you get to see a blowhole, especially one with such beautiful surroundings. The blowhole itself is very neat, but the drive to and past along with the easy hike down to the actual blowhole were one of my favorite parts of the trip. The north-eastern area of Maui is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend making it a part of your vacation.

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5) Visit a Plantation

Hawaii is home to many different types of agriculture, including bananas, coffee, coconuts, star fruit, macadamias and most importantly, pineapple! We visited a plantation that offered a bit of everything, enjoyed demonstrations and a tasting at the end. Some of Hawaii’s main resources are the fruits that it sews so make sure to stop by a plantation for a literal taste of it!

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6) Snorkel

I love snorkeling and Maui offers some very unique landscapes and wildlife for you to witness. We joined The Blank of Maui, a large boat that included equipment, breakfast and lunch, and yes, BEER & MAI TAIS, for our snorkeling outing. We saw fish of all shapes and sixes and my brother was even lucky enough to see, very close I may add, a green sea turtle. And the whales, oh my goodness did we see whales, on our trip. The whole experience was just completely worth it.

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7) Luau

Although our Luau wasn’t all it had been hopped up to be, I’m going to stay positive and tell you that you should still see a luau when in Hawaii. When in Rome, right? If you want the luau experience you’re probably imagining, you’re going to have to pay extra. I was between three different luaus and decided on the one that promoted drunks, fire dancing and an all-you-can-eat buffet. If doing it differently, I would recommend sticking to Luaus that boast authenticity and plated meals. Also, splurge on the flower lei. An extra $30 a person seems expensive, but it’s one of the big things you expect and hope for when in Hawaii.

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8) Food Trucks. Period.

Neither Kevin and I were impressed with the fair we had during our Hawaii trip. The best food we had throughout the duration was from food trucks. In fact, I cam back to California only wanting food truck food, boycotting everything else. Some of the trucks may look a little rough, but trust me, when that plate of complete fresh and amazingness comes out, you’ll be glad you stopped there over the 4 star restaurant you were considering.

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9) Eat Banana Bread and Coconut Everything

Some blogs will tell you where in Hawaii you can find the best banana bread. I am hear to tell you that is false. Everyone claims to have the best banana bread. Even our cab driver was selling his version of the best banana bread. It doesn’t matter where you get it, just do it. It’ll be amazing.

As far as the coconuts go, try a little bit of all of it. The milk, the flesh, this amazing toasted candy concoction you’ll see at farmers markets. So good!

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10) Whale Watch

If you don’t have a chance to go snorkeling or have watched Soul Surfer one too many times (enter JAWS theme song) you absolutely MUST go whale watching. I’ve been whale watching before in California, super romantic surprise from Kevin, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of humpback whale activity you’ll be able to see in Maui. the experience is almost spiritual and something you’ll never forget.

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OK. So maybe I didn’t get any amazing pictures of whales–I was too immersed with the experience to care about my camera. But what can I say, I love this photo! 🙂

Are there other items aside from my top ten you’d recommend in Maui? I’d love to hear it and make sure to tackle it on my next return…which is hopefully sooner than later!

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