On October 11, I arrived in Maui and the two months on this beautiful island started. For the first 3 weeks, my friend Ralph joined me and we got to explore the island together. We didn’t book a rental car in advance because we wanted to rent one only for the days we really needed one. After our first day walking thru Kihei and along the beaches nearby, we realized that there was no way of getting around without a car. There is a bus which drives along the coast every hour but it wouldn’t have taken us to the beautiful places we had heard about. So, we rented a car and started to explore the island. These were my favorites:
One of the first things We did was driving up to Haleakala. Haleakala is with 3055m a.s.l. the highest mountain on Maui. The moment I got out of the car I realized that I wasn’t properly dressed for this high altitude at all. Flip flops, t-shirt, and shorts were perfect for the temperature at the beaches but not for the summit of a 3000m high mountain. I strongly recommend everyone who is going to the summit of Haleakala to bring some warm clothes (the second time I wore long jogging pants, long pants, a t-shirt, a hoodie, a down jacket, a hat, and gloves what was just ok). I went up to Haleakala to see the sunrise and the sunset. Both are really beautiful! If you want to go to Haleakala for the sunrise you have to make a reservation for 1.50$ per vehicle. Make sure you do your reservation about 3 weeks in advance because it gets sold out quickly. For the sunset, you do not need any reservation but I recommend to be up there early because the parking lots are limited. The entrance fee for the national park is 25$ per car for a 7-day pass. If you plan to visit other national parks in Hawaii, there is an annual pass for all Hawaiian national parks for 30$. This is the pass I bought.
Big and Small Beach
Besides the sunrise at Haleakala, the most beautiful sunrise on Maui was the one on Big Beach. The sunrise here was just amazing. Big Beach is also nice to hang out and great for swimming. Small Beach is located just on the right side of Big Beach. It is Maui’s nude beach, but you can also go there with your bathing suit on 🙂
Road to Hana
The road to Hana is one of the most famous things to do on Maui. I drove it several times and it is an amazing road. Just to drive down the road is an adventure itself. But there are also a lot of sites to visit. If you are going to do the road to Hana I recommend to start early in the morning and to avoid weekends if possible. It is much more enjoyable if there aren’t too many other cars. If you start in the north and drive to the south the first great site to visit is the Waialohe Point. Down here you have a beautiful view along the coast. There is also a place called Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread which has delicious Banana Bread. Also, try the Kalua Pig Burger! On the road down to Waialohe Point keep an eye open for avocados. We found two wild avocados right on the road. The next awesome place to visit is the Black Sand Beach. Take your time to stroll around. On the left side of the beach, you can walk To the end of the cove and you will have a really nice view on the beach when you look back. For lunch, I recommend Ae‘s thai kitchen (food truck). I had lunch there three times and every time it was delicious. About 15min drive after Hana there is a nice hidden place, called Waioka Pond, which is really beautiful and a cool spot to do some cliff diving or to just go swimming. The next stop I would recommend doing is at the Seven Sacred Pools. This is in the National Park and if you still have a valid pass from Haleakala you can use this. At the Seven Sacred Pools, there is a trail up to the Waimoku Falls which is super cool, especially the walk through the bamboo forest is amazing. To get up to the waterfall took us about 45 minutes.
A lot of people turn around at this point and drive back to the north, but I strongly recommend continuing the drive to the south and go back to Kahului all around the east part of the island. The sceneries on the road are just awesome! If it is already later in the evening and you don’t have any plans, watch the sunset somewhere on the road in the south and then wait until it is dark. There aren’t a lot of houses in the south, so it is pitch black and you can see so many stars, it is just fantastic! I drove down there three times just to watch the stars. In fact, I haven’t been to another place before, where I saw so that many stars.
There are a lot more places to visit on the road to Hana. The places I mentioned above, were my absolute favorites and I think a must do for everyone.
Not only the eastern part of the island has a lot to offer. West Maui is beautiful as well. I highly recommend driving all around the western part of the island. The road is absolutely scenic and also very various. If you start in the west and you are traveling during the whale season, stop at the Whale Lookout Point and look for some whales. I saw some whales several times – chances are you are lucky too! When you are driving towards Lahaina and if you are not in the mood for shopping, take the Lahaina bypass from which you have a beautiful view over Lahaina.
A place you necessarily have to get out of the car for is Honolua Bay. The forest here is absolutely incredible and if you are lucky you can find some wild Lilikoi (passion fruit). Another really cool spot to check out is Anakaluahine Gulch with the Nakalele Blowhole. The blowhole is super cool and the landscape around is amazing.
There are several other cool spots to stop and watch the astonishing landscape. Just stop at every niche you see and check out what you can find.
If you want to see some sea turtles chilling on the beaches you best go to Ho’okipa Beach Park. Normally, there are some sea turtles in the right corner of the beach in the afternoon.
If you want to go snorkeling or diving the best place to see sea turtles is Makena Landing.
My absolute favorite place for snorkeling is Ahihi-Kina’u. There are a lot of colorful fish, sea turtles, moray eels and octopus. If you are a good swimmer you can swim all the way out on the left side of the shore until you reach the corner, there are some huge Ulua (jackfish). One time I even saw a white spotted eagle ray!
Another cool spot to go snorkeling is Ulua Beach. If you are lucky you can even see a manta ray turning is rounds! I have seen mantas here several times while diving.
Before I came here I read and heard a lot about how fantastic diving at the Molokini Crater was. So, when I finally was in Maui I just had to singe up for a dive at Molokini. Our first two tries to get to Molokini failed because the waves were too big. Instead, we went around the corner and dove in front of the Whale Lookout Point. The dives here were surprisingly good. After my disappointment that we couldn’t go to Molokini we had some great dives. My personal highlight was to see three frogfish in one dive. At our third try to go to Molokini we finally made it. The visibility was great and we saw a whitetip reef shark and a manta ray on our first dive here. That was pretty amazing. The second dive was not really special and also one other dive I did at Molokini wasn’t that extraordinary.
Ulua Beach is a great dive spot. I dove here several times and often saw manta rays. But there is a lot more to see here. Nearly every time I was diving there I saw some leaf scorpion fish, moray eels, cleaner shrimps (if you are patient the come and clean your fingernails or also your teeth if you are brave enough to take out your regulator and let some water in your mouth), a lot of colorful fish, different types of nudibranchs and a lot more.
Makena Landing is an amazing dive site. It is also called turtle town. There are a lot of sea turtles around this dive spot. There are some easily accessible caves you can dive into. Their opening is about 5m wide and also inside there is a lot of space. Inside the caves, there are sometimes some sea turtles and whitetip reef sharks sleeping during the day. Don’t be afraid the sharks are harmless! The turtles I saw in those caves were the biggest I have ever seen.
I did all my dives, my rescue diver and my dive master course with Maui Dreams Dive Co. They are super friendly and help you to organize all your dives. If you want to do some diving or want to learn how to dive, I can highly recommend Maui Dreams Dive Co.
Living in Hawaii is quite expensive and so are the prices at the supermarkets. One little trick to save some money is to get a member card for the different stores. Safeway’s and Foodland’s member card give you a discount for a lot of their products. If you don’t have your own member card, you might get one from the cashier or you just tell them your phone number and then you also get the discount.
In the unlikely situation that you should have bad weather or if you just need a change of activities, you could go to Regal Cinema Kahului. In Switzerland I rearly go to cinemas but this one here is super cool. I never had so much leg space like in this cinema. I couldn’t even reach the seat in front of me and I am 195cm tall. The seats are super comfortable and you can lower your seat back like in an airplane business seat. You should just bring some warmer cloths if you are from one of the countries that is not used to ACs as I am. Also, if you buy some popcorn and a drink, get the largest size and you can refill it for free! This amount of popcorn might be too much for a snack but is definitely a good option for a cheap dinner to share.
What I didn’t like
The Iao Valley State Park was a bit of a disappointment to me. You have to pay 5$ for the parking and there isn’t a lot to see. There is a trail you can walk with a suggested walking time of 30 minutes. It took me about 3 minutes, though. The much better trail to do is the Waihee Ridge Trail.
I think the Twin Falls on the Road to Hana are way overrated. The waterfalls are actually really small and there isn’t much else to see.
I don’t recommend eating at Paia Fish Market. We saw all the good reviews on TripAdvisor and Google about Paia Fish Market’s really good seafood and fish. Ralph and I ordered some shrimps and calamari with fries. But what we got was very disappointing.