I put this list together for a dear friend who was going to Maui last year. It turns out another family I knew up in the Bay Area also used this list. Their best “find” was snorkeling at Honolua Bay. They did not discover it until their last day on the island. Make sure you go early in your week, since it is worth several visits. Maui also tends to be a favorite of many travelers, since it offers enough night life, mixed with adventure, and family activities.
1. Road to Hana (of course)
2. Haleakala National Park (worth it, especially at sunrise)
3. Snorkeling at Maluaka Beach (better snorkeling elsewhere)
4. Iao Valley State Park (really a phallic needle)
5. Old Lahaina Luau (not worth it)
6. Whale Watching
7. Upcountry drive (must do at least once)
8. Diving Molokini Crater (much over rated)
9. Piilanihale Heiau (just missing the letter “o“)
10. Big Beach Makena State Park
Locals will tell you the best snorkeling is at Honolua Bay. This is also where the catamarans that offer snorkeling and scuba end up. Get there early, as parking along the road is the biggest issue. And bring frozen peas, the best food to attract fish in all of the islands.
Skip the Old Lahaina Luau and eat next door at Aloha Mixed Plate. They share the same kitchen, same owners, same sourcing. A good meal will never cost more than $10 each, and the view at sunset is outstanding. The menu is not quite the same but close enough for the islands. But our dinner there on Sunday was mediocre at best. Time to find another place.
On the way to your upcountry drive, stop by Kula Botanical Gardens. Even if you are not a botanist, you will enjoy seeing the diversity of plant life here. It is a unique eight acre site, with exotic plants and flowers, and huge growths of native plants. Oh, and wear mosquito repellant.
Many choices exist for breakfast or lunch on Maui, but none are better than the local hangout, Sam Sato’s in Wailuku. If you have never ventured to Wailuku, you MUST go!!! This place has the best noodles you will ever have, in this lifetime or any other. I should not be telling you about this, since it is ALL local people here. We are the only tourists in the place, ever!!!! Their fried rice is also excellent, so order one of each!!!!
Order the dry mein!!!
Just down the street, in fact, on the way to Sam Sato’s, another crazy spot for breakfast is Tasty Crust Restaurant at 1770 Mill Street in Wailuku. These are the BEST pancakes in Maui, perhaps in all of the islands. Order the banana hotcakes and bacon for a taste treat that you will savor forever. There is no atmosphere here whatsoever. You go here only for the food. And why does the sign outside say world famous pancakes, while the menu says “hotcakes?”
Are you still hungry? Then head on over to Paia, and skip Willie Nelson’s favorite place, Charley’s, and head over to the Paia Fish Market, not Mama’s Fish House. It is basically not much more than a hole in the wall, with reasonable prices and a wide variety of food on the menu. It is located at the corner of Baldwin and Hana Highway, since 1989. The fish plate lunch is their “signature” dish, if they even have a signature. But I prefer the fish tacos with corn tortillas and homemade salsa. Just remember that just about everything is deep fried!
How many times have you been hit with a chocolate craving on Maui? And where can you go to solve this craving? Hidden away in the industrial section of Kahului (which is mostly industrial) is Maui Specialty Chocolates, at 108 East Wakea Avenue. But their version of chocolate takes many forms, including their fabulous chocolate mochi, a cross between an old Japanese tradition, and the evil cocoa bean. The choices here are many, and I defy any chocolate lover to leave without 3 or 4 different products.