When Austin and I first started dating, we always said we wanted to visit Maui together. At the time, it was around January or February of 2018 and we had been together for maybe 3-4 months. Personally, I thought it was a little too soon to start making any sort of plans, but we always talked about what we'd like to see and do. Fast forward to June 2019, Hawaiian Air was sending me a ton of emails about cheap flights to other islands. Austin's Summer leave was coming up and we figured it might be a perfect time to take advantage of the cheap flights! So we did it! We spontaneous booked our tickets as a last-minute honeymoon in Maui.
We bought the tickets and immediately started planning. Our insurance provided us with cheap rental cars that waived the underage rental fees. We found someone to watch our puppy Koa super last minute, the hardest part was finding a place to stay. In the middle of Summer, and so last minute, everything was completely booked or charging over $200 a night! I was about to book a hostel or beach campsite just so we had a place to sleep. About 2 days before our trip, my Dad's cousin, Carol and her Husband Mark were generous enough to open up their beautiful home to us. Although we had never met them, they completely welcomed us with open arms. They were an absolute blessing and I couldn't be more thankful for their aloha spirit.
Day 1: You know what they say, Westside, best side!
It was 4:30 am and we were jumping into an Uber to get to the airport. Our flight was about 45 minutes, we landed, and immediately fell in love with Maui. We got our rental car, and set out to Krispy Kreme for some breakfast! (I know it's not the healthiest, but when you've been without good donuts, you'll indulge a little like us when you can.) We immediately headed to my auntie's house who lived about 10-15 minutes away. I never expected Maui to be so beautiful. She lives in Makawao(Mak-Uh-Vow), a little paniolo (Cowboy) town. It is absolutely adorable and oh so beautiful!
We then decided to make our way to Iao (ee-ow) Valley known for the famous Iao Needle. On the way up, you pass a little downtown area that is absolutely adorable! Iao Valley is a historic site and area of war in the '70s. The king, Kamehameha, fought for the land here, with the goal to unite the Hawaiian Islands. However, now, many people can swim in the same stream, there is also a paved walkway and stairs that lead you to a beautiful viewpoint of the needle and a little hale (house) to rest and get some shade. It is a very short hike to the top, maybe half a mile, beautiful scenery, and well worth the stop. My only advice would be to go early! We went around 9 am and spent about an hour and we were already dying from the heat!
We continued to drive even further West to Lahaina (luh-hi-nuh). I absolutely love this city, in fact, we spent most of our day here, walking up and down Front Street. Lahaina is another historic little harbor town. This town was previously the capital and known as the place where kings were born. There is also a lot of history with missionaries and churches, old prisons, and historic homes. Currently, most of these places have now been turned into museums or sites that you can pay to visit and look inside. Although, Front street also has many local shops filled with souvenirs, art galleries, apparel, food, famous Ululani's (oo-lew-lawn-ee's) shave ice with macadamia nut ice cream, etc. At the very end of Front street, they recently opened an outlet mall for anyone who is looking for some deals! Overall, It is still a harbor town so on clear days you can even see the island of Lanai and Kahoolawe while seeing mountains behind you!
However, the day is not done yet! We had to make sure we saw all of the Westside so we continued to make our way to Kaanapali. On our way over there, we got to stop at the old sugar mill, enjoy some local coffee, and beautiful scenery! We finally found ourselves at the beach and enjoyed a nice nap on the beach.
Day 2: Road to Hana
Where do I even begin? First of all, the infamous Road to Hana definitely lives up to its name and reputation. It is about 65 miles long, so you will want to start this drive pretty early. We left at 7 am and headed straight to North Shore, Paia (pah-ee-uh), we stopped to get some coffee and breakfast, then took off in hopes of beating some of the traffic. It was absolutely beautiful! The views were incredible. I loved seeing all the different greenery, little fruit stands along the way, the many waterfalls, the bamboo forest, Enjoying lunch by the beach and enjoying the famous banana bread, and the culture of Hawaii.
If you plan on driving the Road to Hana, (And I highly recommend that you do), please keep in mind that people do drive this road to and from work. If there is a local behind you, be courteous and pull off to the side to let them pass. They will get mad at you if you don't! The second thing to keep in mind is the different routes to take. You can drive to Hana (which is pretty disappointing) then turn around, it is definitely much faster to do it that way. In our case, we decided to continue to take the back route home, which meant we got to see the Black sand beach, Red sand Beach, the 7 Sacred Pools, the second (and better) bamboo forest, and watch the sunset over Haleakala as we drove around it. Just be careful because there are a lot of unpaved and super small two-lane roads. Definitely worth it though! You get to see a completely different side of Maui... but it does take longer! We didn't get back until 8 pm! (On the road for about 12 hours straight!) Auntie Carol and Uncle Mark welcomed us back with an amazing spaghetti dinner and a lovely night talking story and getting to know them more.
Day 3: Day of the Unexpected!
Time is flying by and we are already two days into our trip. By now, we are completely exhausted! We don't want to miss anything though, but we let ourselves sleep in a little bit later than before. Our first stop is Downtown Makawao. This is Paniolo (Cowboy) town... and it definitely gives you a southern feel. If you are craving some local sweets, I highly recommend stopping at T Komoda Store & Bakery, they have pastries galore and fresh malasadas (Hawaiian/Portuguese donuts without the hole)! This area was a perfect little stroll and a great way to start our day! (Will show more of this town in our upcoming video)
Uncle Mark's son, Max, works at Jungle Zipline and was gracious enough to reserve us a last minute spot for the day (and a little friends & family discount too!). We honestly never thought much about zip-lining, after all, the last time I was on a zipline was probably Summer camp in middle school... but who can really turn down such a fun experience and opportunity? For anyone who is looking for a little thrill, this is definitely worth the stop! I know I was pleasantly surprised. There are a couple options to do 5-6 or 10 different ziplines. This may not seem like a lot, but there is a little bit of hiking involved, beautiful views, lots of cultural plants, and a good couple of hours to complete. For a few minutes it definitely makes you feel like you're a little kid again... flying through the sky and breathing in the fresh air. Unfortunately, we couldn't get too many pictures while we were here, but if you want to zipline I would highly recommend coming here. Very fun and friendly staff, and they take great care of you!
After ziplining, we decided to head back to Paia for some fish tacos and explore the North shore a little more. Paia is definitely a little hippy/surfer town. There are so many tiny little stores to shop at, great food, and of course, coffee and shave ice! One of our favorite little coffee shops was Paia Bay Coffee. The entrance is kind of hidden, almost as if you're entering through the back. It is very cute and earthy. Their food and coffee are excellent too! It is a little pricey but they had a lot of healthy options for people as well as indoor and outdoor seating. Lots of art hanging on the walls, and succulents at every table. Definitely worth the stop and a great place to cool off.
Day 4: The Last Hurrah!
Our final day was off to a super early start. We began our day at 4 am! Aside from Road to Hana, the top thing on our Maui bucket list was to see Haleakala at sunrise. However, our biggest challenge was getting a reservation so last minute. Most reservations are always made about 3 months in advance, although, every day at specific times, they open up a handful of reservations for 2 days prior. (So set your alarms!) We tried getting reservations every day for a week prior. Luckily, Austin was super on top of it and got us a reservation and was able to pay the $1 fee while we were driving the road to Hana! It is absolutely amazing. Haleakala (hall-lay-ah-kuh-la)is a dormant volcano which means "House of the rising sun." In Hawaiian culture, this volcano was given it's name when the demigod Maui lassoed the sun across the sky to make the days longer. However, currently, it is most famous for it's sunsets, sunrises, and large craters. It One of the most remarkable things you will ever experience... however, it is also one of the coldest experiences as well. We had hot coffee, two layers on, and a blanket (thanks to a last minute trip to Walmart), and we were still cold! I always heard it was freezing, but I definitely underestimated how cold it really would be. So pack some heavy duty clothes for this one! When the sun finally starts to peak out, it makes the whole experience worth it!
After a beautiful morning on the mountain, we were starving! We made our way to a local favorite, "The Tasty Crust." An old little diner with some awesome local food and people.
We finally felt energized and ready to keep exploring! Our flight was not until 10 pm so we decided to visit the original Maui Brewing Company! We were able to join in on a last minute tour of the company and learn more about the brewing company, how the process works, and at the end of the tour, you can choose to sample some of their famous beers (or root beers if you aren't interested in alcoholic beverages.) Of course, they also have some great food if you're also hungry like we were... again!
Most people might call it quits by now, but our day did not stop here! We continued to drive and visit the south side of the island. We started at Kihei to Makena Beach (Big Beach), until the road ended and we were driving on an unpaved road with the water just 3 feet away. Unfortunately, it was a super overcast day so laying on the beach was kind of cold and out of the question. I wish we would have visited this side of the island on the first day, but the beaches and views were still stunning!
It was now about 4-5 pm and we were officially exhausted! We went home to pack, take a nice long nap, say our goodbyes and head back home!
Overall, I think it is possible to see Maui in 4 days, although, if you want to see and do everything, it can be challenging! I would highly encourage planning it all out prior to your visit. In addition, we did choose to skip a couple things like the Lavender farm and snorkeling at Molokini, but it just gives us an excuse to come back another time... and maybe next time we can even visit Lanai for a day! Mahalo Nui Loa (thank you so much) for reading! Stay tuned for our upcoming Maui video coming soon! We'd also love to hear from you, please share any of your thoughts, maybe your plans to visit, or even your experiences in Maui too!