I can’t believe it took me 13 years to get back to Hawaii..well yes, yes I do. That flight sucks. Haha But it may have changed my mind this time as we decided to fly first class. Game changer. I am looking forward to bringing my daughter back to Maui and exploring the island activities next time with her! This time was adults only 🙌 For those who follow me over on my Instagram page, I really loved all of your suggestions and comments! So helpful! You guys are seriously the best! I heard from so many of you that have not been to Hawaii yet or you have a trip planned in the near future. I hope this blog post serves you well and I hope to hear from you this time after your trip…or vacation if you are traveling without children! Am I right or am I right moms??
Our vacation was from Saturday to Saturday and actually the time difference had us arriving back home on Sunday afternoon. It is typical to fly back on an overnight flight so bring your comfy clothes! Believe me, we did not have time to do and see everything, mainly because we also wanted a few days to relax. I will share the activities that we did and places we ate and drank, but also I will list other suggestions from my followers and the locals incase you have extra time or want to check out something new too!
We stayed at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Hotel. The property and service was exquisite. The area surrounding the hotel is really nice and perfect for walking or running. They have trails and actually ran by myself most mornings and was completely safe. Running along with the ocean on one side and golf course on the other was probably one of my favorite views ever!
I also enjoyed the small village and restaurants all within walking or shuttle service range of the resort.
First class flight TIP to Hawaii: Your bag can be up to 70 lbs checked AND you can check a 6 pack of Pineapple (in a box) for FREE!
Car Rental: It is very easy to get around the Island so do not be intimidated by getting your own car. I think it is the easiest thing and probably cheaper in the long run. Watch out for hotel parking charges too.
Luau: The most famous one is the Old Lahaina Luau. Unfortunately it was sold out because we booked it too late but in all honesty I am not sure how much more awesome ours could have been. We went to the Drums of the Pacific Luau. My husband booked it through our hotel concierge and we were upgraded to the “preferred” ticket, which is just fancy for you don’t have to wait in the line to get in, plus you are seated closer to the stage. Definitely bring your sunglasses because you are there as the sun is setting and it is still bright out! If you are one to get chilly at night, you should bring a light sweater because it was right off the water and the breeze can get cold. I was the complete opposite, sweating so much it looked like it was raining 😂 The food is ok. it is served buffet style and they had kid friendly buffet table with chicken nuggets. I may have grabbed a few. I think if you are going to be in Hawaii it is only natural that you attend one. Learning about the cultures and dance is actually very interesting.
Road to Hana van tour and helicopter ride. Simply amazing and my first helicopter ride. I would highly recommend this excursion. We used Temptation Tours and you must ask for Scott Ferguson as your guide. He knows how to use the iPhone camera like a champ, plus he has lived there a long time and knows the ins and outs of the road as well as the history of Maui. We did the morning tour and yet it was early, I was glad to do the drive first up the road to Hana and then fly back home. A lot of people choose to do the drive themselves but we wouldn't have seen all of the things and hidden spots without being on this guided tour. The van is super nice and you are a tour of 6 people or less. They do feed you a lunch and have beverages available. Don’t forget to stop off and grab some of the famous banana bread. It was definitely delicious and it was still warm! If you make a pit stop in Haiku, make sure you grab some of the Macadamia nut brittle at the little road side stand!! I loved it more than the bread. The helicopter company was Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours and our pilot was…..attractive 😬, ask for Bruno. You can thank me later ladies. It was only a 40 minute ride, but the scenery from above was to die for and totally worth not having to drive back down the road. The call it “divorce highway” driving back down for a reason 😂
Snorkel to Molokini- I did this the first time I was in Hawaii and it was a lot of fun, although the water was freezing ( I went in December)! They do have wet suits available for an extra charge, which I took full advantage of. You take a boat out to the crater where you see the most incredible marine life including sharks 😳 Ok, they are reef sharks but it’s still a shark!
If you are looking to fill up a day or half day, I think you will love this schedule! First off, if you plan on eating at the famous Mama’s Fish House, get reservations early. Like before you even go on your vacation. They serve lunch and dinner, depending on what you are up for or where your plans take you. We stayed about an hour drive from the airport so it was best to do it all in one trip.
If you are in search of a new book, like I was, there is NOTHING! I couldn't believe it. So either bring plenty of reading material or hit up the Barnes & Noble on your way back to the airport (or on this little day trip like I did). There is also an Old Navy right next door to the book store so if you need a cheap pair of flip flops or grab something you forgot. Like I forgot my sunnies! Who even does that?? Mama’s Fish house is very kid friendly, open air so it’s either hot or could be chilly at night with the ocean breeze. I brought heels with me because I planned on wearing them to dinner but kept my super casual sandals on and was dressed appropriately. One thing you will find on the Island is that you can pretty much wear casual and comfy and get by at any of the restaurants. No coat or tie necessary. Ok, so after you pit stop for a book, head to the town of Pā’ia for a little shopping. It is quaint and a great place to grab a few souvenirs. A little shop called Maui Hands is all handmade right there on the island and not in China. Pop in! We grabbed a cocktail along the shopping route for a little happy hour. Next, stop up the road at Ho’okipa Beach. It is a must. Parking is free and make sure you go late afternoon around 3-4pm. The sea turtles are all just chilling right on the beach! So neat to sit and swim right next to them. We didn’t swim because we had dinner plans, but you can! Also a great place to see all of the wind surfers. Last stop of the day was Mama’s Fish House. The soup that they serve before the meal is delicious and I am pretty sure I ate half the loaf of bread on our table! So so good! Then head home after dinner!
If you are wanting some dessert and didn’t order any at Mama’s, stop off at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop. They serve an awesome breakfast, lunch, and dinner too (kid friendly), but the personal size pies are delicious and perfect end to a yummy dinner! I had the banana cream pie and my husband ordered the apple crumb pie.
Any of you craft beer lovers? I love a good beer but mostly I love trying something new and we did just that. Our first stop was to the Kohola Brewing Company. We sampled 6 of their beers. we liked them, but none of them were our favorite. The brewery is in a warehouse and kind of tricky to find, you will think you are in the wrong area….you aren’t. My favorite brewery was the Maui Brewing Company, hands down. They had this Coconut Wireless beer that was life! I seriously have more than 4 receipts from that place 😬 We would just pop in for a fish taco (so good and only $7) and a beer. Oh and you know it’s cool when you look across the bar from you and there is another fellow Iowa couple!! Small world. If you don’t love beer they have other beverages but it is a fun place to catch a game and grab a quick non-fancy lunch or dinner.
You KNOW I have to talk about shopping. Whalers Village in Lahaina is the where the high end stores are located along with a lot of other stores including and ABC store. Also known as a “catch all” store. So if you forgot something at home, I bet you can find it there! This is where I grabbed my favorite ginger chews for the road to Hana and the helicopter ride.
If you plan on shopping, I also suggest having them ship it to your home to avoid the taxes PLUS you don’t have to pack it home! Another tip is that if you are wanting to splurge on a new Louis Vuitton, do it there!! They price according to Europe’s pricing making things about $4-500 cheaper than the United States and only 4% tax. 🙌 I mean they don’t call it Maui Christmas for nothing 😉
Shopping in Lahaina is a little bit more time consuming than Pa’ia. It is more of a causal stroll with so much more to look at like the harbor, shops and of course more historical sites. We popped into Fleetwood’s one afternoon for a cocktail before dining at the Lahaina Grill. Fleetwood’s has 3 levels, the top being an awesome roof top patio with live music. Another day on our way to the airport we stopped back on Front street in Lahaina and had a cocktail at Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill. It was definitely just bar food but with live music. Definitely not something to put on your itinerary.
Nakalele Blowhole & Heart shaped rock: HERE is a link with all of the information and directions to get there!
Breakfast in Maui:
The Gazebo. It is a must. We probably went at the busiest time, 8:30 am, but the wait was at least an hour if not longer. It is worth it. Food was delicious and it is one of those places that people talk about. If you want less of a line, go earlier! We split an omelet and banana macadamia nut pancakes…..to die for and way, way too much food! Very kid friendly, open air restaurant.
Dukes: Our concierge told us to grab breakfast here. It is a beautiful place to sit and eat, very kid friendly, and the food was great (we ordered omelettes). But for us the server was not that friendly and we felt rushed. I don’t like to ever be rushed, but especially when I am kid free with a hot cup of coffee! Haha
Honolua Store: This is actually a general store up the road from our hotel, The Ritz Carlton, and it had the best breakfast fried rice! It also had a great coffee bar in it too!
Lunch: (All kid friendly)
Honu: It is on Front street in Lahaina and has really tasty brick oven pizzas along with a variety of other foods! Also great for dinner too.
Lahaina Fish Co: Great fish tacos. If you have never had one because the thought of it sounds terrible, try it! I love just the grilled fish but they also have battered fish tacos too.
Paia Fish Market: If you are shopping in Paia and need a little bite to eat, stop here! Very quaint but yummy!
Sansei Seafood & Sushi Bar: The best sushi in my opinion on Maui! Also if you get there before 6pm for happy hour everything is 25% off! Perfect time to grab a drink and an appetizer. They also have karaoke on Thursday and Fridays 10pm-1am. Tell Jason his Iowa friend says hi!
Lahaina Grill: This was a suggestion that several of you (my Instagram followers) told me to check out! This was one of our most expensive meals. I did not see very many children in the restaurant, mostly older couples or honeymooners. It was good. My steak was not cooked how I ordered it but my hubby’s fish was very good. Maybe I shouldn’t order steak across from an ocean huh? If I went back to Maui, I probably wouldn't return.
Merriman’s Kapalua: THIS IS A MUST. I should actually have placed this first on the list so you don’t miss it. My favorite place we went to. Although it was the most expensive, it was under $200 and we had everything from appetizers, cocktails, dinner, dessert and coffee. So really not that expensive for 2 people. More importantly the view, the staff and the atmosphere are all so worth it. Make your reservation early and make it around the time of sunset. Trust me. Very kid friendly even though it doesn’t sound like it, there are places for you to even walk around with them, and the place was packed with families. Dress code is beach casual to semi-fancy if you wanted to wear that nice dress you brought. But I wore white shorts and it was perfectly appropriate. Get dessert and get the donuts or they call them malasadas. Save room for them.
**Attached to Merriman’s is the hotel Montage Kapalua Bay. It is gorgeous and one of the top spots to host a beach wedding.
The Pour House: It is an Italian Kitchen and wine bar just up the road from our hotel so really easy for us to walk to! The food was great and the service was really fast…almost too fast. I had the meatballs and wine…duh.
There are so many things to do that we did not get to do and so many more recommendations on the internet but I am going to wait until I get back to Maui to do them and then write about those! I definitely want to do the sunrise tour at the volcano, even though it would be a very early morning trip! When in Maui right?
I hope this helps those who are traveling to the island soon and I look forward to all of your suggestions when you visit! Or, if you are traveling and visit one of my recommendations and love it, tag me in your stories so I can see it!!