Maui Travel and Adventure Guide


Maui was the second destination of our five-day Hawaii getaway in 2019. We stayed on the Big Island for the first three days of our trip before flying to Maui for the remaining two days. Keep reading for our Maui adventure!

How to Get to Maui

Ocean view from Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Ocean view from Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Our trip started with a flight on United Airlines from Houston (IAH) to San Francisco (SFO). From SFO, we continued on United Airlines with a flight into Honolulu (HNL) where we had a 2.8 hour layover before our flight to the Big Island (KOA). The flight to KOA was operated by Hawaiian Airlines. After staying on the Big Island for three days, we flew Hawaiian Airlines from KOA to Maui (OGG). All flight segments were booked and purchased together through the United Airlines website.

We each used 90,000 MileagePlus miles for a round-trip economy ticket and we received a complimentary upgrade to business class as a benefit from our United credit card. The upgrades were subject to availability based on status and priority. We were able to monitor our status on the waitlist by logging into the United website and checking there.

We received confirmation of our upgrades when we got to our gate at IAH, about 10 minutes before our flight started boarding. Our IAH-SFO and SFO-HNL flights were business class on a Boeing wide-body plane equipped with Polaris seats, but our HNL-KOA flight was economy on a narrow-body plane operated by Hawaiian Airlines.

If you want to learn more about airfares, check out our other post here.

Where to Stay in Maui

Infinity pool and bar at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, which we booked using our AMEX points through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts, a hotel benefit program available to American Express Platinum or Centurion card members.

We tried to get a room with an ocean-view but the best upgrade we could get was the large garden-view suite. The room was 1,100 sq ft (102 m²), and “garden-view” basically means the room’s view is the outside common area of property, which was still nice, but we would have preferred an ocean-view room if there was one available when we were there.

The room was super clean and modern. The property’s layout made our room feel very private and quiet. We didn’t have any issues with noise when we stayed there.

Full size cabanas and smaller seating areas are available to rent at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, but you’ll need to reserve a few days in advance

The rest of the resort property was incredible. Words cannot fully describe how nice it is, and pictures do not do it justice. This is quite possibly the nicest hotel resort we have ever stayed at.

It’s a pricey hotel and a good reason to redeem your credit card points for your stay. If you want to sign up for an American Express credit card and earn an additional sign on bonus, use this link for the AMEX Business Platinum card or this link for other AMEX credit cards!

One of the pool areas at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
One of the pool areas at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

How to Get Around Maui

[Used a national car rental company this time instead of Turo. We rented an Infiniti sedan. Wanted a luxury car with some performance for the Road to Hana.]

What to Do in Maui

Road to Hana

Black sand beach at Hana

One of the most popular activity in Maui is driving the Road to Hana, which is a 64.4-mile-long (103.6 km) stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 connecting Kahului to the town of Hana in east Maui. Along the way, there are sevral amazing sights and attractions to stop and see.

The city of Hana is located at the extreme southeast of the island of Maui, and travelling to and from the area takes several hours by car because the highway for the Road to Hana is very windy, narrow, and passes over 59 bridges, of which 46 are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from east of Kahului to Hana, almost all of it through a lush and tropical rainforest.

Start early to beat the crowd. It’s a two-lane highway with windy roads, and you don’t want to get stuck behind a slow crowd. We downloaded the Shaka Guide app which was a great way to explore the Road to Hana with guided history and tips! There’s so many great stops to explore along the way.

There’s no wifi or cell phone signal along the Road to Hana, so make sure you should download everything you need ahead of time, including your itenerary and an offline map from Google Maps. If you bought the Shaka Guide app, there’s an option in the app to download everything on your phone so you can use the app when you’re on the Road to Hana without any cell phone service.

One-lane bridge on the Road to Hana

Lava Cave

Entrance to secret cave on the Road to Hana
Entrance to secret cave on the Road to Hana
Inside secret cave on the Road to Hana
Inside secret cave on the Road to Hana

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo forest on Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
Bamboo forest on Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

There are many hidden gems on the Road to Hana, and one of our favorites was the Bamboo Forest. To enter the forest, you will need to find the unmarked hidden entrance located on the side of the road. It’s about 20 minutes outside of Haiku. After you pass the tight hairpin part of the highway, you wlil see lots of cars parked along the very narrow shoulders of the road. Be sure to park as close to the side of the road as you can so that other cars can safely pass by. That part of the Road to Hana is very narrow due to all the cars parked along the sides.

After you park, you’ll need to find the actual entrace to the forest. Depending on how many cars have already parked there, it could be a long walk before you find the entrance. You can enter the forest trail through one of the two holes in the fence. There’s a third hole that goes somewhere else, so make sure you go in the right hole!

Challenging terrain in the bamboo forest on the Road to Hana
Challenging terrain in the bamboo forest on the Road to Hana

The Bamboo Forest is awesome, but please be extra careful when you’re there. There are a few parts of the forest that are dangerous. Several people have been injured in the forest.

Most of the trail in the Bamboo Forest is not difficult, but getting to some of the waterfalls can be a challenge, especially the third and fourth waterfalls of the forest. Dogs are allowed in the forest, but due to the terrain, they will struggle going past the first waterfall.

The forest can get muddy in some areas, depending on the weather, so be prepared to get your clothes dirty and dress accordingly.

Make sure to wear shoes. Do not enter the forest wearing sandals or any other type of open toe shoes! You will not get very far without shoes!

We also recommend bringing bug spray. There were a lot of mosquitos in some areas of the forest where it was damp.

Testing the strength of bamboo in Maui, Hawaii

Hamoa Beach

Hala trees line along Hamoa Beach providing lots of shaded areas to escape the sun

We made a pitstop (a long pitstop) at the nicely secluded crescent-shaped Hamoa Beach!

The water is almost always pristine and sparkling at Hamoa Beach due to the little amount of development and construction there. The sand is also silky smooth, but keep an eye out for stray pieces of volcanic rock or sharp coral that the tide can bring in from time to time.

The beach has public bathrooms and showers, and there is also a foot washing station at the base of the paved path that leads up to the parking lot.

There are no lifeguards on duty, so you’re responsible for the safety of your family and yourself. Please be careful, especially in the water!

Birds flying near an island seen from Hamoa Beach

Punaluʻu Beach

Black sand of Punaluʻu Beach in Maui, HI

Punaluʻu Beach is surround by coconut palm trees, and this famous beach is known for its black sand and green sea turtles. The black sand was formed from lava and other volcanic activity, and it was a very unique and memorable experience walking with black shiny sand under your feet.

Punaluʻu Beach is open to the public and there is no fee for admission.

ʻOheʻo Gulch and Seven Sacred Pools

At the end of Road to Hana!
At the end of Road to Hana!

The Pools of ‘Ohe’o is a popular attraction in Maui and a good way to end the Road to Hana. You can experience several beautiful and stunning waterfalls and pools known as the Seven Sacred Pools.

‘Ohe’o is part of the Haleakala National Park, and admission to the entire park is $15 for a three-day pass, or $25 bucks for an annual pass to Haleakala, Volcanoes (Big Island), and Pu’uhonua O Honaunau (Big Island) National Parks. The admission fee will also allow you entrance on the same day into the Haleakala Summit (which is also a part of the Haleakala National Park), so save your receipt and plan your day accordingly.

There are full national park facilities at ‘Ohe’o, including large paved parking lots and bathroom.

The pools are very popular, so expect the place to become more crowded as the day progresses. Try to arrive before noon to avoid the crowd as best as possible.

Access to the pools are closed off frequently in wet weather because of flooding and safety concerns, so be sure to plan your Road to Hana accordingly.

Ver‘Ohe’o Gulch is a valley that was formed by the stream from the surrounding rainforest. The stream runs through the valley until it empties into the Hawaiian ocean along the coastline. There are several spectacular cascading waterfalls and plunge pools that you can enjoy, and the most accessible pools are excellent for swimming and cliff-jumping!

Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā, also called the East Maui Volcano, is a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. The tallest peak of Haleakalā, at 10,023 feet (3,055 m), is called Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill).

Haleakalā National Park is a 30,183-acre (122.15 km²) park that includes the summit depression, Kipahulu Valley on the southeast, and ʻOheʻo Gulch (and pools), extending to the shoreline in the Kipahulu area. From the summit, there are two main trails leading into Haleakalā: Sliding Sands Trail and Halemauʻu Trail.

To view the sunrise, you can visit the summit or the visitor center just below the summit. If you want to enter Haleakala National Park between 3:00 AM and 7:00 AM HST to view the sunrise, you must make reservations with the park.

From the summit, you can look down into a massive depression 7 mi (11.25 km) across, 2 mi (3.2 km) wide, and 2,600 ft (800 m) deep. The surrounding walls are steep, and the interior is mostly barren.

You can get to Haleakalā National Park by driving through the well-traveled Haleakalā Highway, which is mainly composed of switchbacks that leads to the peak. The road is open to the public, but some parts are restricted, so please pay attention to signs and barricades. The road is a well-maintained two-lane highway but it contains many blind turns and very steep dropoffs, so please be careful when driving. Cycling is popular at the park, so please watch out for them and be careful when driving through the area, especially around blind corners and also at night when it’s more difficult to see the cyclists on the road. Also, be aware that local animals, including cattle, are often encountered in the roadway.

The park charges a vehicle entrance fee of $30 USD. Public transportation does not go through the park, but there are private tour companies that provide transportation as a part of their tour.

The temperature near the summit tends to vary between about 40 °F (5 °C) and 60 °F (16 °C), so be sure to pack a jacket and dress in layers. Due to the thin air and the possibility of dehydration at that elevation, the walking trails can be challenging, so be sure to plan accordingly and know your limits.

Long exposure photo of Puʻu ʻUlaʻula at Haleakalā, Maui
Long exposure photo from Puʻu ʻUlaʻula at Haleakalā, Maui

Because of the remarkable clarity, dryness, and stillness of the air, and its elevation, as well as the absence of the lights of major cities, the summit of Haleakalā is one of the most sought-after locations in the world for ground-based telescopes (though to a lesser extent than Mauna Kea on the Big Island).

The geographic importance of Haleakalā attracts experts from all over the world to come for research at “Science City”, an astrophysical complex operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, University of Hawaii, Smithsonian Institution, Air Force, and others.

Iao Needle and Iao Valley State Park

Iao Valley State Park is home to towering lava rock formations covered in lush emerald green vegetation, including one of Maui’s most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. The iconic massive rock overlooks the Iao stream that runs through the valley.

The park is located in Central Maui, west of Wailuku, and is 4,000 acres with an easy hiking and sightseeing path that is 10 miles long. There is a paved pedestrian path leading from the parking lot to a areas for viewing the Iao Needle, which includes a ridge-top lookout that provides an incredible views of the valley.

The needle is sometimes covered in clouds, so an early start is your best bet if you want a clear view.

Restroom facilities are available inside the park.

Iao Needle

Wailea Beach and Makena Beach

Beach access near the Four Seasons in Maui, Hawaii
Beach access near the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Front Street and Lahaina Banyan Court

671 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761I

This area has a ton of restaurants and shopping, all within walking distance. We came here for the Fourth of July Fireworks. After the fireworks were over, there was a ton of traffic and it took us almost an hour to get out of this area, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly if you also come to Front Street for a holiday event!

Be sure to check out the Lahaina Banyan Court, which has Maui’s oldest living banyan tree.

Other Things to Do

Nakalele Blowhole
Kaanapali Beach
Whalers Village
Kamaole Beach Park III

Where to Eat in Maui

Mama’s Fish House

Waiting area for Mama’s Fish House

799 Poho Place, Paia, HI 96779

You can’t visit Maui without eating at the famous Mama’s Fish House! Although it’s super expensive and you could get better food somewhere else, the dining experience is worth it. The restaurant is right next to incredible looking shores and surrounded by beautiful tropical greenery. Don’t let the name fool you–the view and atmosphere is first class!

Anniversary lunch at Mama’s Fish House Restaurant

Make you reservations waaaaay ahead of time, because according to their website, due to high demand, Mama’s Fish House is currently booked 3–6 months in advance!

Maui Brewing Co.

Inside the restaurant dining area of the Maui Brewing Co. at their Kihei location

605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, HI 96753

Maui Brewing Co. has two locations. We went to the newer location in Kihei, which was very nice inside. The area does not have a lot of lighting at night, so it can get dark around that area, but don’t let that deter you from parking and going inside. The beer was excellent and we really enjoyed the dining experience. We highly recommend their location in Kihei.

Other Places

Here are a few other places that were recommended to us but we didn’t get a chance to try:

Eskimo Candy Seafood Market & Deli, 2665 Wai Wai Pl, Kihei, HI 96753
Sam Sato’s Inc., 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793


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