Picture lush green grass and leaves all around you. The birds are singing, waves are crashing, and warmth snuggles you like a heated blanket on a chilly night. That imaginary haven is the Island of Maui.
After a weeklong trip with 3 of my girlfriends, I made a little list of tips for Maui that I wish I knew before visiting the island. This would’ve made our trip WAY easier, hah! But life is a journey, right? So we learn as we go! Enjoy.
- Rent a car: I’m hoping this goes without saying because driving in Maui is like driving in Houston – everything is just a tad “far”. (Lahaina was about 40 minutes away without traffic from the airport.) I used quotations because I realized that “far” is subjective. As Houstonians, we’re used to driving 30+ minutes, but we met a couple of people who weren’t really keen on have to drive 10+ minutes out of their resort. As for the type of car you rent, even though it would be fun to ride around in a Jeep or convertible, it really isn’t necessary. If you have the money to shell out, go for it! Otherwise, any car with windows that roll down will do.
- Visit Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop if you’re driving towards East Maui: Leoda’s is such a cute spot! The Banana Cream Pie and Coconut Cream Pie are dang delicious. These pies aren’t too sweet, so don’t worry about getting diabetes unless you’re planning on eating 2 pies a day. The flavors of their savory foods are great, too, but I like toasted bread for my sandwiches, which is something I don’t think they do. I’d only recommend stopping here if you’re driving towards Lahaina because it’s extremely tough to make a left out of this area especially during rush hour and at night since there are barely any street lamps.
- Visit Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread stand: $6 for a loaf of banana heaven. My friends and I got 2 loaves each, and got looks from the aunty like we couldn’t finish them and then some. She doesn’t know us, but we were trying really hard not to finish it since we wanted to bring some back to our family…just FYI. But even if you can’t visit Aunty Sandy’s, try any fresh banana bread you can get your hands on!
- Have a Foodland card: This will save you money on groceries from Foodland. Be sure to ask your Airbnb host if they already have one for guests or just open your own at the register – it’s free! Groceries are pretty expensive (and so is everything else), so every single penny you get to save counts.
- Have a waterproof beach bag: We weren’t expecting the waves to come all the way up to shore, but that’s exactly what happened at Napili Beach the second time around. Thank me later when people are crying over their wet phones and you aren’t!
- Bring reef-safe sunscreen: Hawaii’s sun is relentless. Bring sunscreen and douse yourself in it every hour you’re in the sun! I forgot to apply it on my forearms the first day and felt a sunburn setting in. I generously applied it the next day focusing on those spots, and fought off the sunburn (thank goodness!). I was left with a nice Island Girl tan after that.
- Book a Road to Hana tour: Even if you’re just a little bit hesitant on driving the winding mountainous Road to Hana, book a tour. We booked it with Skyline Hawaii, which I’d def recommend. Not only will you get to visit the beautiful sights Hana has to offer, but you’ll also get to experience how the locals drive the road. This is super important because you’ll get an idea of how to drive so nobody gets motion sickness! We drove the road to the Haleakala National Park before we took the tour (without knowing we had to drive it), and pretty much all got sick by the end of the day.
- If you’re adamant on driving the Road to Hana yourself: Honk your horn and don’t stop completely at the turns! Be mindful of one lane bridges. There will usually be a small section of dirt on the side for you to stop into before the bridge to wait for other cars crossing toward you from the other side. This was how our tour guide drove, and we felt fine throughout the entire day. Literally took notes on how to drive like him for our next trip to Maui!
- Learn how to parallel park: This is so important because about 80% of the parking in Maui is parallel. We had to parallel park at Old Lahaina Town, Kapalua Bay, Napili Beach, and Kahana Beach… so pretty much everywhere we went, hah! And if you visit without knowing how, you’ll learn very quickly.
- Book a luau: This is where you will learn about the very core of Hawaiian culture aka important tip!! I went to the Old Lahaina Luau and booked a traditional floor seat. The people, food, drinks, and desserts were great. The only thing I’d do differently is to book the tables & chairs option instead of traditional seats. Yes, we were up close and personal, but sitting on floor pillows when you’re taller than 5 feet is no joke, haha! The tallest person at our table was probably 6 feet, and boy, was he struggling.
- Another one of my friends booked a luau at the Sheraton, which she said was super fun, too! It’s apparently interactive as well, so guests have the opportunity to dance it out on stage with the performers when the actual show is done!