Summer is around the corner, and hopefully that means it’s time to make plans for your next vacation. Last year around this time, Dave and I were contemplating our very first trip to Hawaii. Although we didn’t ultimately book our vacation until a little later in the summer, we definitely started looking around before then. In order to figure out where to go and what to do, we consulted our West Coast friends who have frequented Hawaii, and we also did a lot of research ourselves online. And yes, it can be overwhelming to dig through it all when it comes to Hawaii — especially finding the right island, because they all have something special to offer depending on what you’re looking for.
And I mean, we all just want to make the right choices of what to do with our valuable vacation time and enjoy those moments away from our responsibilities. Right?
What to do and see in Maui
To make it easier for you, in case you find yourself wondering what to do in Maui on vacation, I’ve got you covered today with a manageable list of potential activities all starting along the Ka’anapali coast. Dave and my trip last year was perfection, and we did just enough, but also left time for relaxation (a must) Here are the top elements worth trying …
Go to a traditional luau
You can’t take a trip to Maui without experiencing an authentic Hawaiian luau, complete with a dinner show, a buffet and of course, fresh lei necklaces. Dave and I went to Old Lahaina Luau Traditional Hula & Feast*, and it was the best way to kick off our vacation on our first night in true island-style. There are several hotels and shows around Maui to choose from, and while we only experienced Old Lahaina Luau, it sure did the trick — spectacular dancing, music and scene. A true Hawaiian experience, including a great setting and delicious food. (More details from our experience here.)
Go on a sunset cruise
Because you have to spend as much time on the water as you can, a sunset cruise is the way to go. Dave and I were lucky enough to take off right from the beach just a little bit down the way from our hotel. We removed our shoes, joined up with a group and set sea for some breezes, island music, cocktails and pupus, which is what the Hawaiian call their appetizers. So chill! By the way, we used Sail Trilogy for our cruise, and the young crew was super fun. (More details from our experience here.)
Tour the “Road to Hana”
I had heard of the “Road to Hana” many times before actually understanding what it was. Essentially, Hana Highway is a road that goes along part of the island of Maui, going up and around mountains, near the water, inland and taking you across the island connecting villages to the town of Hana. The road is a little confusing and dangerous to navigate on your own, but it’s doable if you rent a car. Even better though is to go on a guided tour, so you can sit back and relax in a car, van or small tour bus to take in the sights. Historic structures. Waterfalls. Nature. Cliffs. Rocks. Black sand beaches. Amazing views. Dave and I chose Discover Hawaii Tours for our adventures, and the company provided a full day of sight-seeing on the Road to Hana Eco-Adventure Tour*, complete with picking us up and dropping us off from our hotel, providing meals and plenty of photo opportunities. (More details from our experience here.)
You can get pampered anywhere, yes you can. But for some reason, a massage on vacation feels all that more soothing and relaxing. Most hotels have spas, so that’s usually a good bet. Dave and I actually went to a sister property of the hotel where we were staying (The Westin Maui Resort & Spa) to get an awesome service at The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas at Spa Helani*. It was almost two full hours of bliss and will go down as one of the best massages I’ve ever had. The only thing that would have made it better was if it had happened beach-side. Maybe next time! (More details from our experience here.)
Try stand-up paddleboarding
Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is sometimes known as the way that celebrities like to work out on the water. You stand on a long surfboard-type contraption and use a paddle to move along the water. Yes, it looks easy. No, it is not easy. Dave and I had the amazing opportunity to have a private lesson with Hawaiian Paddle Sports* while we were in Maui. We met our instructor along the coast of Olowau in the morning, he taught us some tricks, took us out on the water and told us tons of interesting Hawaii facts as we floated, SUPed, and soaked in the scene. It was my favorite three hours of our entire trip and provided the most peaceful and serene way to stare back at the island of Maui from the water. (More details from our experience here.)
Eat all of the delicious food
Coming from a foodie who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, when I say the food in Maui is good — you can believe me. Dave and I had nothing but fresh and delicious fare. Acai bowls. Macadamia nut pancakes. Sushi. Seafood. Drinks. Banana bread. Purple sweet potato fries. Pure deliciousness. Some of our favorite restaurants included Japengo* at The Hyatt for dinner, Mama’s Fish House for lunch on the day we arrived, and Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop for hand-pies. Hands-down: Leoda’s is a must-do. We told some friends about Leoda’s after our trip, and when they went to Maui a few months after us, they brought back one of the hand-pies as a thank-you for the recommendation. Yes, they are that good. Another honorable mention goes to the free cookie samples at all of the Honolulu Cookie Company stops, which you can find all over. (More details from our experience here, here and here.)
Lay by the beach or pool
Don’t forget to have some downtime on your vacation. While it’s important to see the local area and experience your surroundings, to me, vacation also means having a nap in the sun by the pool or perhaps floating around in the water with a frozen drink or two. Dave and I had two afternoons of straight pool- and beach-time during our five-day vacation and that’s where we really stopped to soak up the beauty of “being away.” It was divine.
Other awesome activities if you’re into an active lifestyle? Yoga on the beach. We did that at The Hyatt, and it’s something I would like to do on all of my beach vacations moving forward, because it sure gets you centered before a day of fun. Walking around Old Town Lahaina is cool too, if you have some free time. And quick fact: It’s pretty easy to get cabs in Maui if you don’t want to rent a car, but we rented one to get from the airport, so had one handy. We used it a few times, and also relied on our hotel’s shuttle and our own two feet.
If you’ve never been to Hawaii, I’d say you should put it on your dream travel list. It’s a destination that is sure to provide a memorable vacation for you, your friends and even your whole family. Aloha!Planning a trip? Check out this #Maui #travel guide to find out what to see and do when visiting Maui,… Click To Tweet
*We received some complimentary activities during our trip to Maui, where noted, however all opinions and views are entirely my own.
Questions of the Day
Have you ever been to Hawaii?
What’s the best beach vacation you’ve ever been on?