As our family and friends know, we love Hawaii. We have been to three islands together: Oahu, Maui, and Kauai (read our Kauai blog here!) and love each one of them for different reasons. We honeymooned in Maui back in 2014 and during that trip, I (Kathryn) came down with strep throat and there was a tropical storm, so we have been itching to get back and explore more of the island.
Between the President’s Day holiday, Adam having off work for mid-winter break, and the colder and gloomier Seattle weather, we knew February would be a great chance to go back to Maui and get some sunshine, warmth, and adventure. Here’s a little (ok, it’s long) recap of our trip! Heading to Maui and want something short and sweet? Check out our 5 Days on Maui Guide!
We arrived in Maui around dinnertime on Thursday and headed straight to Paia Fish Market in Lahaina for some blackened Mahi Mahi and chicken tacos. Maybe it was the hunger from flying all day, but the food was so delicious (Adam’s Mahi Mahi was his favorite meal of the trip) and was the perfect way to kick off our trip.
After dinner, we headed to our Airbnb for the night. We stayed in Napili Bay, which is a beautiful area in West Maui. It’s a little farther from some of the main Maui attractions, but we got a pretty good deal on an awesome condo and were walking distance to Napili Bay Beach and Kapalua Bay Beach, which was a big perk!
Our first official day on Maui was mostly spent beach hopping and eating. We kicked off the day at 2 AM to head to Haleakala for the sunrise at the top of the summit (10,023 ft above sea level). We had tried to do this on our honeymoon, but it was a bit foggy and we only got to see a little bit of the sunrise. As we drove up the mountain in the dark, we noticed a lot of fog and wind. We tried to remain hopeful that it would clear, but when the time came for the sun to rise, it hadn’t gotten any better. We headed to the lookout anyways, bundled up in 3 jackets (we looked SO stylish!), and laughed as we were slammed with wind and rain and had ZERO views. We once again did not get to see the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala, but thankfully our honeymoon experience had prepared us for this to happen again, and gave us a better attitude about it.
On the way down from the summit, the clouds were clearing up and we got to see some nice views of the mountain and the island below, which helped make up for the lack of sunrise. We’re hoping third time’s a charm and our next visit will be more successful!
After the summit, we went to grab some acai bowls at Brekkie Bowls
and some coffee at Akamai Coffee
(the cutest!), both in Kihei. Both were delicious, had great service, and gave us the energy boost to conquer the beaches the rest of the day.
Our first beach of the day was Secret Cove, also known as Makena Cove and Pa’ako Cove. It’s a GORGEOUS little beach tucked away from the resort crowds. It’s super popular with weddings and for very good reason. The water at this beach was stunning and is surrounded by lots of rocks and palm trees. When we arrived, there were maybe 4 groups there and even at its busiest, it was still much less crowded than other Maui beaches. This beach was my (Kathryn) personal favorite of the whole trip, so much so that we had to go back before we left.
After Secret Cove, we headed to Big Beach right next door, which was Adam’s favorite beach of the trip. Unlike Secret Beach, which is pretty small, this beach is huge! It has tons of space to lay out and even though it was crowded, it still didn’t feel crazy busy. There’s also an overlook you can climb to with views of the beach below that was super awesome.
From Big Beach, we drove over to Wailea Beach for little bit before going back to Akamai Coffee for more caffeine. After getting an energy boost, we drove over to Keawakapu Beach to watch a gorgeous sunset. The colors were so insane and it was definitely the best sunset of the trip!
After the sunset, we ended the evening at Coconut’s Fish Café
in Kihei for my favorite meal of the trip. We got fish and steak tacos, which had 17 ingredients on them. The flavors were incredible and it was unlike any taco I had ever had before. Highly recommend checking out this spot!
We kicked off Day 2 in Maui with a two-hour whale watching tour with Ultimate Whale Watching Excursions
! It’s prime whale season in Maui, so there was no way we’d miss it. We were worried we wouldn’t see any whales, but we got lucky and saw at least 20! Not all of them were fully breached, but we got to see some waving, tail slapping, and even saw some fighting with each other. It was such a cool experience!
After whale watching, we headed to one of our favorite spots from our honeymoon, Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop.
We grabbed a small second breakfast, coffee, and little slices of Peanut Butter Pie (so dang good!). We ran into a famous former ESPN sportscaster here, Chris Berman (Boomer), which Adam freaked out about (you can see his reaction in photo #4—
Chris Berman is the man right behind Adam)
Our next stop was Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali. We had been to the area before, but never hung out at the beach, so we grabbed a spot and laid out for a couple hours and watched people jump from the black rock. We then went to visit our honeymoon resort, Honua Kai, and grab some nachos at Duke’s Beach House
. Every time we visit the islands we always make a stop at Duke’s, so we had to keep up the tradition. Tip: get the Hula pie!
We ended our day walking around Lahaina, grabbing shave ice from our fav spot–Ululani’s
(get the mac nut ice cream at the bottom and a snow cap on top!), watching the sunset, and getting dinner at Lahaina Luna Café
, a cool little walk up spot with Hawaiian food.
Day 3 was a huge highlight of our trip—the Road to Hana. This is a drive all along the east side of the island, which can take anywhere from 12-15 hours to complete due to slow speeds, one way roads and bridges, and stopping at the beautiful spots along the way. We got started on the drive at 5 AM and didn’t get back to our condo until 8 PM. We were exhausted! But it was totally worth it to see some incredible scenery. The weather forecast predicted storms all day, but we got very lucky and made it about halfway without any rain and then had off and on pouring rain during the second half, which made it extra fun. Tip: Download the GyPSy Guide Hana app to guide you through the road. Even when you don’t have service it knows where you are and provides commentary and history about the area, as well as alerts you when to stop.
Here are the main stops we made:
Jaws Country Store
Our first stop was to Jaws Country Store
for some coffee and snacks before we hit the main part of the road. Highly recommend getting some refreshments here!
Just up the road from Jaws is Twin Falls, a quick little stop with smaller, but still beautiful, waterfalls and a farm stand selling fresh coconuts and other snacks.
We made a couple stops in the Keanae area—first a quick trip to the Keanae Arboretum, just to see the rainbow Eucalpytus trees, and then to the actual peninsula. The peninsula has two main lookout areas, one that offers views of the mountains you’ve been driving on, and the second that has crazy waves crashing on rocks. In between the two is Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread, which we grabbed a mini loaf from for Adam. We spent quite a bit of time at the first lookout taking photos of the scenery, as well as doing one of our other Hawaiian traditions: an obnoxious photo shoot with our rental car. We had a Mustang Convertible for this trip (it was only $3 more than a regular car—SCORE!) and it was such a blast to drive around!
Upper Waikani Falls
Also known as the Three Bears Falls, Upper Waikani Falls is a quick little stop along side the road that gives you a view of three pretty waterfalls. When we drove by this on the way back to our condo, after all of the downpours, the waterfalls had gained so much water that they had become one massive, rapidly flowing waterfall.
Oh my gosh, this place is the best! We discovered it on our honeymoon and have missed it ever since. Coconut Glen’s
is a little stand with vegan ice cream made from coconut milk. Between the two of us we got salted caramel, coffee toffee, and coconut ice cream. It’s so delicious that we wanted to go for round two on the way back to the condo later that day.
Just up the road from Coconut Glens is Nahiku Roadside, which is a strip of different food vendors. We hit this spot around lunchtime and grabbed some tacos. They also had thai food, coffee, ice cream, and pizza vendors.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Another one of our top spots along the Road to Hana is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which is a black sand beach. It’s a very gorgeous and unique beach, with an awesome little coastal walk and caves to explore.
Red Sand Beach
We had tried to find the Red Sand Beach during our honeymoon, but couldn’t figure out where to access it and gave up. It was one of my “must sees” this trip and after doing better research, we found out how to get to the trail that takes you to it. We parked along Uakea Road and walked through the grass at the Hana Community Center to reach the short trail to the beach. The red sand is so crazy to witness in person, especially contrasted against the blue water. It started to pour on us right after we got here, so we only hung around for a tiny bit before moving on.
Wailua Falls is another quick, roadside waterfall. You pull off the road just after passing the bridge that it rushes under to park and then can walk to the bridge to snap a few photos.
Our final, and one of our favorite stops, on the Road to Hana was the Pipiwai Trail at Haleakala National Park. The weather was iffy when we got here, but we decided to hike it anyways. The trail is 4 miles and leads you through a very muddy bamboo forest (so cool!) and past some waterfalls (they were all chocolate milk colored due to the rain haha) until you cross a small stream to reach the final waterfall—Waimoku Falls. These falls are so tall and had a lot of water from recent rains, but unlike the others, were white, not chocolate milk. 🙂 We absolutely loved this hike! We haven’t hiked through a bamboo forest before, which made the experience very unique and fun for us. Combine that with the lack of crowds due to the weather and a beautiful waterfall and we’re happy hikers!
We started off day 4 with acai bowls and coconut mac nut lattes at Island Vintage Coffee
before our morning hike on the Waihee Ridge trail. This trail is between 4-5 miles long (there are conflicting numbers online) and gains 1,519 ft in elevation. You hike along the Waihee Ridge and have beautiful views of Kahului and the West Maui mountains almost the entire time. It was a great workout with awesome rewards! Tip: get there early to make it to the top before the clouds start to cover the mountains.
After our hike, we took Highway 340 from the trailhead to Kapalua. This road is crazy and way scarier than the Road to Hana. For the majority of the drive, you are on one-lane roads, sometimes with a rocky mountain wall on one side and a cliff on the other, and have to navigate oncoming traffic also trying to get through. In one very narrow spot, a truck had partially gone over the edge of the road and both directions had to take turns trying to squeeze around it without scraping the side of the mountain or hitting the car. It was very tricky, but super exhilarating!
We made a couple stops along this road—Olvine Pools, Papanalahoa Point, and the Nakalele Blowhole. We tried to visit the blowhole on our honeymoon, but had flip-flops on and it was steep and muddy. This time we came prepared with better shoes and made the rocky trek down to the bottom. The blowhole is super cool to witness in person. It can rise as high as 100 feet at times and even far away you can feel the mist. There’s also a cool heart shaped hole in a rock by the blowhole that makes for a good photo opp.
The rest of our afternoon was spent napping at Kapalua Bay Beach, one of our favorite beaches on Maui—the water is so clear! We also stopped by Napili Bay for a tiny bit and then made some dinner and returned for a sunset picnic.
We only had until around 1:30 PM on our final day, but we tried to make the most of it! We started off the day going back to Secret Cove for the sunrise and then grabbed breakfast at Kihei Caffe
—a tasty cash only, order at the counter spot in Kihei.
We quickly stopped by the Maui Tropical Plantation to see the sunflowers and then spent the rest of our time in Maui in Paia, which is our favorite town on the island. It’s a surf town with a lot of character, great shops that are less touristy than Lahaina, and good food. Our first two stops in Paia were Paia Bay Coffee
and Paia Bowls
, both of which have lush outdoor seating areas. We walked around for a little bit afterwards and then went to Ho’Okipa Beach to watch the surfers surf the big waves. Before heading to the airport, we finished our trip the same way we started it—at Paia Fish Market for some delicious tacos.
This was our first time spending much time in Paia and we loved it so much that we think we will stay in that area next time. It feels much less commercialized than other areas of Maui and has a more authentic Hawaiian feel. It reminded us a little bit of Kapaa in Kauai.
Our time in Maui was short, but we took advantage of every second we had to explore some of our favorite places from our honeymoon, as well as discover new places. It was a whirlwind of a trip, with very little sleep, but we had an absolute blast and are already plotting how we can get back there ASAP. 🙂