Maui: Everything You Need to Know About Visiting The Valley Isle

Hawaii is the epitome of paradise.  Just thinking about this magical place makes me feel instantly happier!  Gorgeous coastlines, laid-back locals and an atmosphere that makes you breathe in a little deeper!  Pause for a minute and pretend you're there: swinging in a hammock, sipping a Mai Tai and looking out at the aqua blue waters of the Pacific.   Does this sound heavenly?  If it doesn't, please feel free to stop reading now, but if it does...keep reading. 

The island of Maui is nestled in between the Big Island (Hawai'i) and smaller islands of Lanai and Moloka'i.  All of the islands have a strikingly diverse landscape and Maui is no exception!  Lush green rainforests in the East, flat farmland in the South, and the mountainous West.  Maui is also home to the dormant volcano, Haleakala.   Hawaii, and especially Maui, will make any traveler content, whether you're an adventurous water sports lover or beach bum (or somewhere gracefully right in between)! We just spent eight nights on this wonderful island and I have to say it's in the running for my favorite Hawaiian island!

Maui offers arguably some of the best beaches in the world and there's no shortage of things to do!  In my opinion, it has the most stunning beaches of all the islands.  Soft sand, wide beaches and turquoise water.   It's one of the few places in the world that also has black and red sand beaches!  Note: I do my very best not to enhance the water color when I edit my photos, so what you see is the real deal folks!  

How Many Nights?   

5-8 nights.  If you're traveling from far away, you will want time to really soak in the island!  Go for as many as possible, you won't regret it.  

Where to Stay: 


Located on the Northwestern part of the island is a great place to stay if you're looking for that true Hawaiian feel (ok, it's all pretty awesome around the island), but this is by far one of my favorite areas on the island!  There are plenty of Air B&B options, condos, and a couple of luxury resorts!  We did not stay here, but next time we definitely will!  

Kapalua Bay 


An area that's synomous with luxury.   The pristine beaches and gorgeous views of West Maui make this place very desirable.  There are several resorts here, including the prestigious Four Seasons and Hyatt Andaz.  We stayed at the Wailea Beach Resort and the property was gorgeous!  You're really close to the water and have access to great beaches on either side.  Personally, I thought this resort's property was the prettiest of all of the nearby resorts.  With this premium location comes a premium price tag!  Even the nearby Shops at Wailea, (think Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tiffany & Co.) had me feeling a little out of place!  Luckily, we found Billabong and Mahina (one of my faves) to bring me back to that laid back feeling that I cherish!  


In West Maui that has a variety of resorts and hotels, but it was just too crowded in my opinion!  This would be a great area to stay if you are doing excursions from Lahaina during your trip.

You can also stay in Hana, but there’s not a lot around to do!  If it's the ultimate remote vacation you seek, this would be your place! 

What to Do:

Explore Paia Town

A classic surf town.  Located on the North Shore, about 15 from the airport, at the start of the Hana Highway.  Coffee shops, fun boutiques, and Paia Fish Market.   For more information about Paia, click here

Hike in Kapalua

Definitely go check it out to hike on the coastal path (it’s an easy path) or hang out on the beach! You have really great views of Moloka'i in the distance too!  Trail info.

Coastal trail in Kapalua

Drive the Road to Hana

 If your heart is set on seeing a black sand beach, this a must do!  It’s a full day of driving (4 hours one way to Hana), but when you arrive to the beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park, then you'll understand!   There are some beautiful waterfalls and gorgeous lookouts along the way!   If you don’t want to tackle the daunting drive, you could take a tour in a shuttle van.  The advantage of doing a tour was someone else navigated the crazy hairpin turns and parking every time we stopped.  We also were able to go around the whole island rather than turn around at Hana!  The cons were not having as much control over how long we stayed at each point.  And the photographer in me wanted more time at each place of course!  Make sure not to miss Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread at the halfway point! It's so good! 

Wailua Falls on the Road to Hana

When we arrived at the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park I couldn't contain excitement!  It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen!  

I couldn't not get over this place!  My expression above pretty much sums up the entire time we were here!  You must go!  You could easily spend several hours here, it's so beautiful!  

Wai'anapanapa State Park

Water Sports:  

Snorkeling, Paddleboarding,  and Surfing.  We got to see some really cool marine life, (hello sea turtles!) and there's great snorkeling all around Maui.  We mostly just snorkeled by our hotel in Wailea.  I also went paddle boarding here.  Kapalua would have been another great spot for paddle boarding.  

Wailea Beach

Day Trip to Lanai or Molokini Crater

We did a snorkel trip to Lanai and it was amazing! We went with Trilogy Excursions.  There is some great snorkeling all over Maui, but it was really cool to get to visit another island and of course, cruise on a sweet catamaran!  

Photos by Island Dream Productions 

Where to Eat: 

Acai Bowls and Smoothies: 

Paia Bowls:  I got the Surf Bowl with Papaya on top!  Yum! 

Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade - (Kihei) housemade lemonades, smoothies and of course,  acai bowls! 


Ka'ana Kitchen- (Wailea) For some swanky dining, we came to this place at the Andaz, and it did not disappoint.  I loved the octopus salad and the Kauai Shrimp with risotto!  My husband, enjoyed the fried chicken & waffles.  

Leilani's (Kaanapali)-especially recommend for happy hour!  Fun bar and great drinks.  

Kinaole Grill Food Truck in Kihei 

Just for fun:

Lappert's Hawaii -(Wailea) I especially love their fun, Hawaiian themed flavors!

Getting around: 

I definitely recommend renting a car.  The island is quite big and you will need your own vehicle if you plan to explore.  If you book well in advance the prices can be very reasonable.  

Makena Beach

Best Beaches:  

Since I loved the beaches so much, here's a list of my favorite ones!  Ranked in order of awesomeness!

5. North Shore

4. Makena Beach

3. Wailea Beach

2. Kapalua Beach

1. Black Sand Beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park

Wailea Beach

Safety First:

Always make sure to pay attention to signs at the beach for potential danger.  Use common sense.  You know the saying, "If in doubt, don't go out".  

Also, don't risk your life "for the gram".  Seriously.  Be smart and use common sense when taking pictures!    

SPF: Seriously strong sun here guys, layer up with the SPF.  My personal fave is here.

Helpful resources:  

Go Hawaii

This provides info on the different regions of Maui, activities, hotel info, calendar of events etc.!

Hawaii Magazine offers dining guides, best hotels, and unique information about each island!

This might have been my favorite trip to Hawaii yet!  The ocean is my favorite playground and we took full advantage of it on this trip! The Hawaiians are truly some of the kindest people you will ever meet and their aloha spirit is contagious.  My love affair with this magical place continues to grow with each visit!  

Have more questions about Hawaii? Leave a comment, and I'll do my best to answer.  I have been to every island but Moloka'i.  

Have you been to Maui or Hawaii? What did you love most about it?  I hope you enjoyed this guide!

Aloha and Happy Wandering!  


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