See It All: A Guide to Exploring Maui, Hawaii

So you’re ready to go to Hawaii, and you’ve managed to decide on an island, even- Maui. It’s nicknamed “The Gathering Place”, and it has everything from you need. You just have to know where to find it all. Now that I’ve been able to explore the island three times, I can tell you what an outsider has learned about this slice of paradise. Budgets of any kind can afford an amazing Hawaiian adventure on this gorgeous island. I’ve been there 3 times, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve been able to spend there.

WHEN TO GO: It really is pretty much perfect weather most of the time in Hawaii, although that’s never guaranteed. The rainy season occurs during winter, although I’ve gone any time between January and late March, and have only experienced a few rainy days where you couldn’t go outside because it was pouring. The last time I went it was in March and it was really hot every day, usually over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I’d never experienced that before, and it made swimming more enjoyable (the water felt good) but hiking was a sweaty mess (totally worth it, though).

Fancy resorts, vacation rental cottages, and hotel options abound in Maui. I like to be centrally located on any of the Hawaiian islands, so I aim for Kihei in Maui. It’s a growing community with access to grocery stores, gas stations, an amazing breakfast spot (see below), and a flea market for souvenirs. Kahului is the “main” town, which is where you’ll fly into and where you’l find the only Walmart on the island, but most of the hotels that I can afford in this town are pretty worn out. Also, there’s a lot of traffic and people, and no beach- just a harbor. On the other side of the West Maui Mountains, a lot of people stay in Ka’anapali resorts, and the beach access is hard to beat. The swimming is easy and there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby. The parking for those who are not resort guests is a little frustrating, so that’s another perk of staying here. My main reason for not choosing this area is that it can take up a lot of your time, because you’ll be driving across the island to get to the volcano or the jungle areas. The traffic is unpredictable and can be a time-waster, since everyone is on island time. For Type A people like myself (unfortunately), I’d rather be sitting on the beach than stuck in traffic, even in Hawaii. I use VRBO to find rentals in Kihei. If you go to Hana, there’s an amazing cottage owned by a guy named Tom who is awesome.

WHAT TO EAT: My philosophy is simple- I made it to Hawaii, which is a 10 hour journey by expensive plane, so I am going to spend some money on food. I also have a limited budget. So, some food tricks before I tell which restaurants are worth the big bucks for fresh fish. Also, pineapple and coconut are classic and delicious, but search for lilikoi (passionfruit), taro or poi  (like a purple sweet potato), and guava nectar on menus. They know how to make these tropical flavors shine on the islands!

What To Eat in Maui

1. Breakfast: Splurge at least twice at Kihei Caffe because it’s amazing. You can get 2 or 3 entrees for 4 people to save some money. Just make sure you bring cash or use their ATM. To save money on your week-long (or longer) stay, try to stay at a place where you have at least a mini-fridge, get some milk, cereal, and fresh Hawaiian fruit and eat that every morning. We stayed at a condo that had a coffee maker, so I bought a bag of coffee and saved some money by not buying a cup each day.

2. Lunch: There are some outstanding food trucks in random places. There’s usually a few great ones near Makena beach, and last time we found one in Hana. I’ve also seem some random ones in Kihei. They’re cheaper than restaurants and pile on the food so you can share if you’re not that hungry. Stopping in an ABC store or grocery store and buying a few items from the deli section is also much cheaper than going to a sit-down restaurant.

3. Dinner/Supper: This is where I prefer to splurge, although if you need to save some money then I recommend pizza since you can split that between several people. I recommend Duke’s for the fresh fish selection and Hula Grill for the fresh fruit and desserts, both in Ka’anapali. They both have a plenty of surfing style and traditional Hawaiian ingredients. Three’s Bar and Grill in Kihei has excellent drinks and healthy entrees with a California-vibe in their open air dining room. The Hana Ranch Restaurant in Hana is one of the few places to eat in the small town, and luckily the food is great. You can eat inside or outside, with full entree options that are always welcome after a long day of winding into Hana.



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