So it had been about five years since we’ve visited Maui, and what better reason to go back than for our first wedding anniversary right?
Flying in to the Kahului airport is always a lot of fun the temperature is a perfect 78 degrees and the afternoon winds are blowing pretty good. It feels like I was just here yesterday or almost as if I belong here. We always talk about just picking up our things from California and moving to Kihei Maui. Maybe someday…
I know many people that love visiting Hawaii for vacation and almost all of them like staying in Lahaina Maui. For me, I like to visit there, maybe for a day but we really love the south side of Maui in Kihei.
I’m blessed and lucky enough to have great opportunities to stay in that area of Maui and can’t really complain about the views from out lanai either. We had the chance to stay in the best Maui condos around.
When it comes to where to stay in Maui… Kihei is my favorite
Maui town. The thing that’s great about Kihei Maui is that you get a perfect mix of local fun along with all the great vacation amenities, without it being all about the tourists.
There are plenty of great little shopping malls, bars and dining along the South Kihei strip, and not far down the road there are great beaches and parks in Kamaole. Tons of places to book and attend activities like the traditional Luau, a Helicopter ride or a visit to the main volcano that made up Maui, Haleakala. If you decide you want to get some top notch services than only 10 minutes away in Wailea are some of the most beautiful resorts in all of Maui like the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons. The pool areas and the views are breath taking.
When we are staying in Maui on vacation, we tend to spend most of our time at the big beach in Makena. One of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to and the waves are perfect for body surfing most days.
Here are some of my favorite adventures, dining and things to do while staying in Kihei Maui. Favorite Maui Restaurants & Dining
A good mentor once told me the most important thing to do in life is have at LEAST one or two long two to three hour dining and cocktail experiences each week… These are the things that make life worth living I think. Would you agree?
If you want to eat casual and local here are a few of my favorites Kihei Maui Restaurants. If you want to find the best Restaurants with 5 star service and food you may have to visit Wailea for that type of dining.
Da Kitchen – If you are looking for some awesome authentic Hawaiian plate lunch food this is the place. Right across from the Kamaole beach. The value is extreme. One lunch will really feed two. They serve a macaroni/potato salad mix that is wonderful.
Pizza Madness – So, if you just want some casual pizza and beer there is not a huge selection in Kihei Maui however this is the place I would recommend… the pizza is great with a really nice casual fun dining parlor with some of the best local hawaiian beers on tap. They are known for the best pizza on Maui and I would agree so far.
Kihei Cafe – I have not eaten a better breakfast in Maui. Great, casual big hawaiian style portions. If you like breakfast you’ll love this place for sure.
Oceans - This place is great for a bite and some pool. Try the coconut shrimp okay? Often when you are on vacation, it can be hard to find a bartender that will make you a real quality cocktail the way you like it. The bartenders know what they’re doing and they have some great nighttime entertainment too.
Moose McGillycuddy’s - One of our favorites for happy hour. $3 Mai Tai’s with a great ocean view of the beach. We like coming here around sunset time. Don’t miss out on some great dining deals too! The food is worth what you pay for sure. The have different food specials every night.
Stella Blues - This is the place for Breakfast for sure! I’ve been finding myself going there almost daily for the awesome breakfast deals. Check out their reviews here.
Below are some of what I think are the best Maui activities on the island.
Favorite Maui Adventures
Hana Highway Adventures
To be perfectly honest with you… I’ve done this trip twice in my life and both times thought it was extremely over rated. The scenery is breathtaking however the drive and the stops take all day, the road is slow and very windy, and there are looky lou’s EVERYWHERE!
If you insist on going though.. there are a few things I recommend you don’t miss. Be sure to stop in the Hippie Town of Paia as it is your last chance to get a picnic lunch (there is not much to eat on the way) and fuel up your car. Take a bit of time to check out the shops too.
This town has some great shopping and made me feel like I was in a mini Berkeley California. They have some unique shops too. Not the same old tourist junk shops like in Lahaina.
If you want to do it all pick up a Hana CD guide to listen to in your car.
In my opinion when you do this drive you should leave early, avoid all the stops on the way there and drive straight to the end where you will visit the Seven Sacred Pools.
You don’t want to miss this area as it is truly unique. If you drive straight there you will avoid all the tour busses too. After hanging out there for a bit enjoy the ride back and make as many stops as you want.
Whatever you do DON’T continue driving after the pools and attempt to make it all the way around the island… I did this once and the road becomes unpaved, bumpy and all around hellish! On a map it may look attractive to go all the way around but trust me… you won’t make it back for dinner. Don’t do it!
On the way back from the pools I recommend making two stops for sure.
The black sand beach at Hana is great for a picnic and hanging out for a bit. Relax and take a load off.
As you continue on your way back don’t miss the “Lava Tube” this attraction is not on the guide that you get from Paia and the tour busses don’t stop there.
This is likely one of my favorite attractions on Maui. You can become a Spelunker for a bit and go deep into the islands largest and longest underground Lava Tube. It won’t hurt your money purse either. The trip is only $10 and takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on how much you want to explore. If you drive the road to Hana and you miss this… I would say you blew your whole trip there for sure!
The trip is long and it will take your entire day… It’s worth it to do at least once I would say.
Days At Makena Big Beach
There are a ton of great beaches to visit on Maui but hands down, Makena Beach is the best for people watching, walking and finding some of the best body surfing waves on Maui. We keep going back to Makena when we want to have a “beach day” The great thing is that it is just a 15 minute drive from where we are staying in Kihei.
You really do want to be careful in the water though… one of the days we were there they waves were about 7 to 8 feet from the base and the water was really pretty dangerous. I attempted to body surf for a bit but I was ill equipped and after catching just one wave decided to call it quits once I was pummeled into the sand. I think it was a good idea as I’m sure the rest of my time in Maui would have been pretty tough if I had suffered any kind of injuries. The locals make it look so easy though.
Once you’re tied of watching the local surfers you might want to take a short hike over the rocks to the “Little Beach” at Makena. If you venture over there don’t be surprised when you see a quite a few naked body surfers. This kind of people watching is not for everyone.
Either way Makena Beach Maui is not something you should miss out on.
Day at the Four Seasons Wailea
We were lucky enough to know of some friends that were staying at the Four Seasons in Wailea about 15 minutes from where we stay in Kihei. We met up with them to hang out and take advantage of the top notch pools, cocktails and services.
Wailea is just 10 minutes from our condo in Kihei and also has some of the best hotes in Maui. To be honest anyone can just roll up to the hotel, have the valet park your car and check out the pool. They don’t seem to care as long as you are buying some cocktails. The Mai Tai’s were great but don’t expect the Moose McGillycuddy happy hour price previously mentioned. Be ready to spend a bit of money. Check out their pools, restaurants and swim up bars.
We also spent part of that day just checking out the other resorts in Wailea. Make a day out of it and live it up. Even if you aren’t staying there it’s fun to pay a visit to the best hotels in Maui.
Maui Hidden Spot Swinging Bridges in the Waihe’e Valley
My favorite hike and a hidden gem in Maui is the so called hidden swinging bridges hike in the Waihe’e Valley. It’s hidden away past Wailuku and the Iao Valley State Park.
When you park don’t leave anything in your car as theft here is very common. Leave the car empty with the windows down. Less likely you will get a widow broken.
The hike is only a bit over a mile long and is not a tough climb at all. Wear shoes, not sandals though. Follow the trails and you will discover some beautiful scenery, rivers and waterfalls. The fun part is there are two rickety old swinging bridges that you must cross on the way to the top. It really is a lot of fun.
Once you reach the top there is a hidden pool perfect for swimming and and there is a waterfall that you can hang out underneath. Not too many people know about this hike but it is one of my favorite things to do here for sure. Don’t miss out on it.
At least once you should get up really early and take the trip up to the top of the volcano Haleakala. You can take a tour and bike down and this tour really is a lot of fun. However if you’d rather go yourself get up there by about 4:45 am with some warm cloths. The summit is extremely cold even though you are on Maui. Sometimes it may even snow up there.
Bring a breakfast or some snacks to eat as there are no vendors in the park. The sunrise from inside the crater of the volcano is truly a spectacle and quite breathtaking. It kind of feels like you are visiting the moon or something.
Ulupalakua Shop Deli & Tedechi Winery Haleakala Upcountry
After watching the sunrise on Haleakala you may want to continue to tour the up country. When you are in Maui everyone and their mother will tell you to check out the “Road to Hana” while it really is gorgeous, if you would rather not spend your entire day on the excursion you may want to opt for a nice drive to the winery in Maui.
Just about 40 minutes from Kahului central Maui, and a beautiful scenic drive you don’t want to miss this. Once we got there we took some pictures with friends and had an awesome authentic pulled pork lunch at the Ulupalakua Shop and Deli.
Right across the street you can check out the tasting room at the Tedechi Winery… be careful I saw myself getting in real trouble, their tasting room is free!
Truthfully… they’re wines can’t hold a candle to California wine however it is a lot of fun and they even have a few that are made from pineapple only. Worth the drive for sure!
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Maui
I’ve been SCUBA certified since 2000 and have done a ton of dives in Maui. Some of the best beach dives are Makena Landing and Ulua beach. If you would like to do a more adventureous dive take a boat to Molikini with one of the Dive Shops.
Check out one of the Dive Shops and book an inrto dive if you are not certified or you just want to see if you might like scuba diving. They have great service and are pretty affordable. They rent out all your gear for free too! Also check out the smaller Scuba Shack in Maui too. You can find some great deals there. I’ve found you really get the best service and the most for your money when you book your dives with teh Scuba Shack
If you are a seasoned diver my favorite dives are the deeper ones around Molikini. In the past we’ve seen all kinds of things from sea turtles, to white tip reef sharks and we even saw a huge manta ray that had a wing span of at least 10 feet once out there. Diving is definetly something you should try.
Just Other Super Cool Stuff I Found on Maui
Super Discount Activities – There are a ton of activities for tourists on Maui. If you want an extreme discount on Luas, tours and adventures check out Auntie Snorkel You get discounts over half off the regular price. What is the catch tough? You must agree to sit thourgh a 90 minute timeshare presentation. To me… I’d say it was worth it.
Cool Maui Gift – Better than the average tourist junk shop I love the lava plants they sell at Living Memories of Maui They can ship all over too. Makes a great thoughtful gift that people will remember for sure!
There you have it! There is the list of my favoite things to do while staying in Kehei Maui. Have you been to Hawaii? Leave me a comment and let me know you favorite place or adventure and I’ll check it out next time for sure!
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