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Frommer's Maui day by day

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Frommer's Maui Day-by-Day Guide is the complete up-to-date reference for visitors who want to maximize their stay in the smartest, most time-efficient way. This invaluable guide offers reviews on a wide array of sightseeing, lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment options in all price ranges, and also includes thematic and walking tours of the city's best-loved neighborhoods with Frommer's trademark candid and accessible expertise.

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13 Chapters

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16 Favorite Moments


To experience the true magic of Maui, just step outside to watch the glow of a sunrise, see the reflection of the moon on the inky ocean, sniff the perfume of flowers dancing in the air, or listen to the murmur of a tropical breeze through a bamboo forest. A few more of my favorite Maui experiences are described below.


Watching windsurfers ride the waves at Hookipa. This beach draws windsurfers and surfers from around the globe to ride, sail, and pirouette over the waves. Watching them flip into the air while rotating 360 degrees is the best free show in town. Go to page.

Smelling the sweet scent of ginger on the road to Hana. At every twist on this windy road you are greeted by exotic tropical blossoms, thundering waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and a glimpse at what Maui looked like before it was “discovered.” Go to page.

Walking the shoreline trail at Waianapanapa. This trail will take you back in time, past lava cliffs, a tropical forest, an ancient heiau (temple), mysterious caves, an exploding blowhole, native Hawaiian plants, and the ever-changing sea. Go to page.


1. Strategies for Seeing Maui


Maui may be an island, but it’s a good-size island and your vacation time is precious. There really is just one cardinal rule: relax. Maui is not a place to “see” but a place to experience. If you are too busy rushing to see everything, you won’t experience the magic of the island. Here are my suggestions for making the most out of your time.


Rule #1: Remember you are on vacation

Don’t jam your days with activities; allow time to relax, to stop and smell the plumerias. Since you’ll probably arrive jet-lagged, make sure to spend some time on your first day lounging at the beach or the hotel swimming pool. Don’t forget that exposure to sunlight can help reset your internal clock—another good reason to visit the beach when you arrive.

Rule #2: Expect driving to take a lot longer on Maui

Maui does not have adequate public transportation, so you will need a car to get around. But plan to get out of your car as much as possible. Don’t just look at Maui from the car window; get out and breathe in the tropical aroma, soak in those views, and listen to the sounds of the island. Sure, you could drive the 50-mile-long (80km) Hana Highway in as few as 2 to 3 hours, but that would miss the point of the journey entirely. One last thing: Maui does have traffic jams. From 7 to 9am and 4 to 6pm the main roads are bumper-to-bumper with commuters. Plan accordingly. Sleep in late and get on the road after the traffic has cleared out, or watch the sunset and then go to dinner.


2. The Best Full-Day, Two & Three-Day Tours

Maui may be an island, but it’s a big one (48 miles×26 miles/77km×42km), the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. If you only have 3 days, concentrate on the very best Maui has to offer: a beach, the scenic Hana Highway, and the view from the top of Haleakala, a 10,000-foot-high (3,048km) dormant volcano. Day 1 from the airport to your accommodations in Lahaina/Kaanapali and to the beach is 40 miles (64km). If you are staying elsewhere, ask at your hotel for help amending directions. Day 2 to Hana is 75 miles (121km) and Day 3, from Hana to Haleakala and back to the airport, is 87 miles (140km). START: Kapalua Beach. Trip length: 177-mile (285km) loop.   Travel Tip For detailed descriptions of the beaches in this chapter, see chapter 5. For hotel reviews, see chapter 10. For more on the recommended restaurants, see chapter 8. To get to Kapalua Beach from Lahaina/Kaanapali, take Hwy. 30 north to Kapalua. Go left at the KAPALUA RESORT sign onto Office Road and follow it to the end. Take a left on Honoapiilai Road and a right at the beach access sign next-door to the Napili Kai condominium.  

3. The Best Special-Interest Tours: Maui with Kids, Romantic Maui, Maui's Farmlands, Maui History & Culture

Your itinerary is going to depend on the ages of your kids. The number-one rule of family travel is don’t plan too much, especially with young children, who will be fighting jet lag, trying to get adjusted to a new bed (and most likely new food), and may be hyped up to the point of exhaustion. The 7-day itinerary below is a guide to the various family-friendly activities available on Maui; I’d suggest staying in South Maui (Kihei or Wailea) for the first 2 nights, then moving to West Maui (Lahaina or Kaanapali) for the next 2 nights, and then to Hana for your last 2 nights. START: Kihei/Wailea. Trip length: 7 days and 295 miles (475km).   Travel Tip See chapter 10 for hotel recommendations and chapter 8 for detailed reviews of the restaurants mentioned in this chapter. Kihei/Wailea. In my experience, the first thing kids want to do is hit the water. A great, safe beach to start with is Wailea (Go to Page), fronting the Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea resorts. If you have young kids who are not used to the waves, you might consider taking them to the swimming pool at your hotel. They’ll be happy playing in the water, and you won’t have to introduce them to ocean safety after that long plane ride. If this is your first day in Maui, you’ll probably want an early dinner, too, with food your kids are used to. My pick of family-friendly eateries in Kihei are either Shaka Sandwich & Pizza (Go to page) or Stella Blues Cafe (Go to Page). Get to bed early.  

4. The Best Regional & Town Tours: Lahaina, Road to Hana, Hana, Molokai Mule Ride


This is the fabled Maui you see on postcards: Jagged peaks, green valleys, crystal clear water, and sandy beaches. The stretch of coastline from Kapalua to the historic port of Lahaina is the island’s busiest resort area (with South Maui a close second). Expect a few mainland-style traffic jams. START: Olowalu. Trip length: 17 miles (27km).


Olowalu. Most visitors drive right past this tiny hamlet, 5 miles (8km) south of Lahaina. If you blink, you’ll miss the general store. Olowalu (many hills) was the scene of the 1790 massacre, when the Hawaiians stole a skiff from the USS Eleanora, and the captain of the ship retaliated by mowing them down with his cannons, killing 100 people and wounding many others. Stop at MM 14 for one of my favorite snorkeling spots—over a turtle-cleaning station about 150 to 225 feet (46–69m) out from shore—to see turtles lining up to have cleaner wrasses (small fish) pick parasites off their shells. Take at least 30 minutes to watch the turtles. Kids love it.


5. The Best Beaches



Beaches Best Bets


Best Black Sand

Waianapanapa State Park, MM 32, Hana Highway (Hwy. 360), Hana (Go to page)

Best for Body Surfing

H. P. Baldwin Park, MM 6, Hana Highway (Hwy. 360), between Spreckelsville and Paia (Go to page); and Hamoa Beach, Haneoo Road, Hana (Go to page)

Best for Solitude

D. T. Fleming Beach Park, past MM 30, Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy. 30), Kapalua (Go to page)

Best for Families

Kamaole III Beach Park, S. Kihei Road, Kihei (Go to page)

Best for Hawaiian History & Culture

Waianapanapa State Park, MM 32, Hana Highway (Hwy. 360), Hana (Go to page)

Longest White-Sand Beach

Oneloa Beach (Big Beach), South Makena Road, Makena (Go to page)

Best for Kayaking

Maluaka Beach (Makena Beach), Makena Road, Makena (Go to page); and Kapalua Beach, past MM 30, Honoapiilani Road, Kapalua (Go to page)


6. The Great Outdoors


At once forbidding and compelling, Haleakala (house of the sun) National Park is Maui’s most compelling natural attraction. More than 1.3 million people a year ascend the 10,023-foot-high (3,055m) mountain to peer into the crater of the world’s largest dormant volcano. The crater is large enough that the entire island of Manhattan would fit inside: 3,000-feet (914m) deep, 7½-miles (12km) long×2½-miles (4km) wide, and encompassing 19 square miles (49sq. km). But there’s more to do here than simply stare into a big black hole: Just going up the mountain is an experience in itself. The snaky road passes through big, puffy, cumulus clouds, climbing from sea level to 10,000 feet (3,048m) in just 37 miles (60km) to offer magnificent views of the isthmus of Maui, the West Maui Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. START: Kahului. Trip length: 37 miles (60km); about a 2-hour drive.


Travel Tips

Pukalani is the last town for water, food, and gas (there are no facilities beyond the ranger stations). On the way back down, put your car in low gear so you won’t destroy your brakes on the descent.


7. The Best Shopping



Shopping Best Bets


Best Alohawear

Moonbow Tropics, 36 Baldwin Ave. (Go to page)

Best Asian Antiques

Brown-Kobayashi, 38 N. Market St. (Go to page)

Best Hawaiian Antiques

Bird of Paradise Unique Antiques, 56 N. Market St. (Go to page)

Best Place to Browse

Bailey House Museum Gift Shop, 2375-A Main St. (Go to page)

Best Local Maui Artists

Hana Coast Gallery, In the Travaasa Hana hotel (Go to page)

Best Cookies

Broke da Mouth Cookies, 190 Alamaha St. (Go to page)

Best Gifts

Maui Crafts Guild, Corner Bailey Ave. & Hana Hwy. (Go to page)

Best Gifts for the Kids

Maui Ocean Center, 192 Maalaea Rd. (Go to page)

Best Handblown Glass


8. The Best Dining



Dining Best Bets


Best on the Beach

Hula Grill $$$ Whalers Village, Kaanapali (Go to page)

Best Breakfast

Charley’s Restaurant $$ 142 Hana Hwy., Paia (Go to page); and Longhi’s $$$$ Shops at Wailea (Go to page)

Best Burger

Cheeseburger in Paradise $$ 811 Front St., Lahaina (Go to page)

Best Budget Deli

CJ’s Deli & Diner $ Kaanapali Fairway Shops (Go to page)

Best Crepes

Café des Amis $$ 42 Baldwin Ave., Paia (Go to page)

Best for Families

Stella Blues Cafe $$ Azeka II Shopping Center, Kihei (Go to page)

Best French

Gerard’s $$$$ 174 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina (Go to page)

Freshest Fish

Pineapple Grill Kapalua $$$ 200 Kapalua Dr. (Go to page)


9. The Best Nighlife & Performing Arts



Nightlife & Performing Arts Best Bets


Best Place to Bury Your Toes in the Sand

Leilani’s/Hula Grill, Whalers Village (Go to page)

Best for Hawaiian Music

Masters of Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar Series, Napali Kai Beach Resort (Go to page)

Best Dance Floor

Casanova, 1188 Makawao Ave. (Go to page)

Best Place to Drink with Locals

Kahului Ale House, 355 E. Kamehameha Ave. (Go to page)

Best Family Show

Kupanaha, Kaanapali Beach Hotel (Go to page)

Best Music

Mele Mele Lounge, Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (Go to page)

Best Hawaiian Slack-Key Music

Masters of Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar Series, Napili Kai Beach Resort (Go to page)

Best Hotel Lounge


10. The Best Lodging



Lodging Best Bets


Most Romantic

Hamoa Bay House & Bungalow $$$ Hana (Go to page)

Most Historic

Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono $$ 2199 Kahookele St., Wailuku (Go to page)

Most Luxurious Hotel

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui $$$$$ 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea (Go to page)

Most Luxurious Condo

Kaanapali Alii $$$$ 50 Nohea Kai Dr., Kaanapali (Go to page)

Best Moderate Hotel

Lahaina Inn $$ 127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina (Go to page)

Best Budget Hotel

Nona Lani Cottages $ 455 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei (Go to page)

Best for Kids

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea $$$$$ 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea (Go to page)

Best Value

Pineapple Inn Maui $$ 3170 Akala Dr., Kihei (Go to page)


11. The Best of Lanai


The smallest of all the Hawaiian Islands, Lanai was once a big pineapple plantation. Today it is home to two exclusive resorts, hundreds of years of history, one small town, and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. It’s possible to get an overview of this island in a single day: If you catch the first ferry, departing at 6:45am, you can see all my favorite spots (the island’s unusual “supernatural” site, a windswept beach that’s perfect for beachcombing, and quaint Lanai City), plus get in some beach time and still make it back to Lahaina in time for dinner. START: Manele Bay Harbor. Trip length: 68 miles (109km).


Manele Bay Harbor. To make the most of your day on Lanai, take the first ferry from Lahaina Harbor, which leaves at 6:45am. Seeing the morning sunlight glinting off the ocean is one of my favorite ways to start the day. Small, picturesque Manele Bay Harbor has a handful of boats ranging from old fishing vessels to luxury high-tech yachts. If you’ve already arranged a 4-wheel-drive rental through the ferry company (Go to page), they’ll pick you up at the harbor and take you to the car-rental company in Lanai City, a 30- to 40-minute trip.


The Savvy Traveler



Before You Go

Government Tourist Offices

On Maui: Maui Visitors Bureau (1727 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793; 800/525-MAUI [6284]; On Lanai: Lanai Visitors Bureau (1727 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, Maui 96793; 800/947-4774;

The Best Times to Go

Most visitors don’t come to Maui when the weather’s best in the islands; rather, they come when it’s at its worst everywhere else. Thus, the high season—when prices are up and resorts are booked to capacity—generally runs from mid-December through March or mid-April. The last 2 weeks of December in particular are the prime time for travel to Maui. If you’re planning a holiday trip, make your reservations as early as possible, count on holiday crowds, and expect to pay top dollar for accommodations, car rentals, and airfare. Whale-watching season begins in December and continues through the rest of winter, sometimes lasting into April.



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