Find all the secrets of the Maui Island in Hawaii with your travel guide Wandder
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
We spend 7 days in Maui and it was one of my best vacations ever.
If you are wondering how is the best way to split your days in the Maui Island, which places to visit and how, how many days do you need and more, I think this post will help a lot in your planning. Maui is a destination that requires a lot of planning and reservation with anticipation for different places like the Hakeakala, luau, tours and etc. I think in the way we plan and did our vacation, we manage to visit all the incredible places in Maui, but also we could relax and enjoy the beach life.
There is a lot going on in Maui, you have beaches everywhere, you have incredible restaurants, different Luau shows, there is a lot of places to snorkel and to travel to. And also, of course, a lot of secrets to find. I was trying to find the best way to divide this post and I think lets start with the first questions that comes to mind and them o to our 7 days itinerary.
What is the best time of the year to visit Maui?
Where should I stay in Maui?
Do I need a car in Maui?
What are the must see in Maui?
7 days itinerary in Maui, including Maui secrets
1. What is the best time of the year to visit Maui?
The best weather in Hawaii is in April, May, September, and October.
April - an excellent month, but avoid holidays, when applicable
May - the best overall month for visitors, in our opinion
September - excellent month, great for those seeking fewer visitors
October - great month, excellent selection of local festivals & events
November to March are the rainiest months, and June through November is hurricane season – though big storms are rare. Winter also brings the best waves for surfing, especially on north shore beaches. The quietest month (and cheapest time to visit) for tourists is November.
2. Where should I stay in Maui?
You have basically 2 main areas to stay in Maui, Southwest of Maui - Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea and Makena (red line on the map below) and Northwest of Maui - Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili, Kahana, Kapalua (blue line on the map below).
When we were planning our trip we couldn't decided where to stay, so we split our trip in different hotels across the island. I think that it work out great, because we really could enjoy each part of Maui and also decrease our time in the car dislocating between places (Maui looks small but it is a big Island, it can take more than 1 hour to dislocate from your hotel to if staying in the northwest to the airport or to the south of the Island).
We stayed 2 nights on Kihei, where you can find cheaper small apartments close to the beach, the environment is very laid-back, the sunset is amazing and is a great spot to stay when you are exploring the south part of the Island. Then we stayed other 2 nights in Lahaina where we got the nice resort experience, free Mai Tais in the big pool, visit the city and practiced surf. And to finish up, we had 2 nights in Napili, in a nice hotel by the sea, where we enjoyed the north part of the island, with a lot of snorkeling every day.
(Red) Southwest Maui (Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, Makena)
Pros: Enjoy the sunshine and laid-back vibe of Kihei before having a low-key meal at one of the many BYOB restaurants in the area. Kihei also has great budget condo rental and hotel options if you’re looking for something besides the massive five star resort destinations, which you’ll find plenty of in Wailea. Great area for shopping, restaurants, and a convenient for tours departing from Ma’alaea Harbor or South Kihei Boat Ramp. The sunset view is incredible and it is great spot to explore the south of the island.
Cons: expect this side of the island to be fairly busy (including most beaches in Makena, Wailea and Kihei). Also, since Kihei is the driest part of the island, you’ll have pretty consistent sunshine and warm weather. If cool breezes and lush plant life is your thing, this might not be the place for you.
(Blue) Northwest Maui (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili, Kahana, Kapalua)
Pros: No matter where you stay in northwest Maui, you are close to restaurants, shopping, grocery stores, nice beaches, and nightlife. If you like being in the mix of things, northwest Maui is a great option. Plus, some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Watch the surfers at Honolua Bay and visit Nakelele Blowhole for Maui day adventures that won’t put a dent in your gas tank. Convenient for tours departing from Lahaina Harbor.
Cons: Since this side is such a popular place for visitors, the streets are always fairly crowded. Expect the beaches and the restaurants to be full as well, especially in high season. Also, while driving the entire Road to Hana in a day is possible, it will add time to your day when starting from the west side. If you plan on seeing all parts of the island, this isn’t the most convenient area to stay, but nonetheless a popular choice because nearby beaches are gorgeous and there’s a lot to choose from when it comes to restaurants and activities.
3. Do I need a car in Maui?
Yes. It is a big island and to efficiently explore it you will need a car. You can get around Maui by shuttle, tour bus, taxi or public transportation, but to really experience Maui, you should consider reserving a rental car in advance from the Kahului or Kapalua airports.
4. What are the must see in Maui?
Road to Hana, Haleakala National Park, Kaihalulu (Red Sand) Beach, Molokini Crater, Waianapanapa State Park, Hookipa Beach, Ohe’o Gulch Pools, Maui Ocean Center, Humpback Whale Watching, Iao Valley State Park, Kaanapali Beach (Black Rock) and Lahaina.
5. 7 days itinerary in Maui, including Maui secrets
My boyfriend and I spent 6 nights in total in the Maui Island. As we couldn't decided on one place to stay we split our trip and stayed in different locations across the Island. As we didn't have a lot of luggage and we have rented a car, it was pretty simple to do it.
First three nights - Kihei
It was a great start for our trip, as we were just settling in and understanding how everything works on the Island. First thing we did was go to a supermarket to get supplies for the next 2 days. When we arrived to the condo we rented, it was a pleasant surprise, it was not big, but was clean and had everything we needed, including beach chairs, snorkeling (we bought ours because we were staying for 10 days in Hawaii and we used it a lot) and of course a cooler that was so useful that we had to buy one for the other days of our trip. We spend those 2 days exploring the south part of the Island.
First day (Kihei): We arrived at 1pm, we were tired (20 hours from Chile to Hawaii) so we took it slow. We went to get our rental car (is very important to make a reservation with anticipation), our first stop was the supermarket Safeway in Kihei, we stop quickly to have lunch, went to the apartment and then went to a couple of beaches to spend our afternoon (there is a lot of beaches in this areas, so you should look up for the best for you, the best for us are Makena, big beach, Keawakapu Beach, Kamaole Beach Park I and Sugar Beach).
Second day (Molokini, Kihei, Wailea and Makena, Maalaea): For your first morning on the Island, is best that you choose something to do very early in the morning, it will be the day that will be the easiest to wake up because of the time change. If you want to do Haleakala in the morning to see the sunrise this would be the best day to do it (you need to make reservations with anticipation, 3 or more months before, in the website www.nps.gov). We went to Hakeakala for the sunset and it was very beautiful (we didn't want to wake up at 3 am!). Other option for this morning is to go to the Molokini snorkeling tour, which was what we did (it is also recommended to make reservations with anticipation for this tour). The tour is incredible, you go to the Molokini Island to snorkel with a lot of different fishes and sea life.
We chose one with free food and free bar with a lot of Mai Tais, they even give you some Mai Tais to drink in the water. In the afternoon, after the tour, we spent the day exploring Maalaea, Wailea and Kihei beaches and streets. We went back to the apartment to have a quick shower before going to the beach to watch the sunset and walk a little bit.
Third day (Road to Hana): We prepared sandwiches, snacks and fruits for the trip to Hana and it was the best thing we did. The trip to Hana takes all day long and has million stops with a lot to see. It is important to start the day very early because as I said that is a LOT to see. Our strategy was to drive until the end and come back stopping in the spots that we wanted (we also had a chance to see the places with more cars parked so we wouldn't miss in our way back). Best places for us were: Seven Sacred Pools, Koki beach (red beach), Hamoa Beach, Wailua Falls, Hana Town, Wai’anapanapa State Park (black beach), Lava Tube, Nahiku Marketplace, Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park, Garden Of Eden Arboretum, Waikamoi, Twin Falls and Paia city (you can do Paia city in another day if you end up without time).
Waikamoi stop deserves a detailed explanation, it a a beautiful waterfall that is not too easy to find (it is called as a secret spot in the Road to Hana). It is not easy to find, although it is marked now in google (when we went it was not). It starts in a small waterfall with a rope that you can jump into but if you keep hiking up through the stones you will find a secret and deserted waterfall (see pictures below).
Next two nights - Lahaina
After exploring the south part of the Island, we went to Lahaina for the next two nights. We chose the Hyatt hotel, because of it's location, price and reviews. It is a very nice hotel and we had a room with a view to the ocean. We spend the next two days surfing in Lahaina in the morning, exploring the Lahaina city (a lot of restaurants, shops, squares, etc) and ending the afternoon enjoying the pool in the hotel.
Forth day (Lahaina): We woke up early and went to the Lahaina city to rent some surfboards to surf in Lahaina Beach. After we had lunch in the Paia Fishmarket Front Street Restaurant and went walking around the city. We also had the famous Ululani's shave ice!!! We end the afternoon in the hotel, having some Mai Tais in the pool. After we went to our Luau Feast at Lele (you need to make reservations with 3 months or more of anticipation)
Fifth day (Lahaina): We woke up later, went surfing again in Lahaina beach, had lunch in Lahaina, drove around Lahaina, went to check the Black Rock beach and end the afternoon again in the hotel pool. This day we took it very slow and enjoyed the beach, the hotel and some Mai Tais. This evening we had a flight to Oahu and we come back 6 days later to enjoy our last two days on Maui.
Last night - Napali
After going to Oahu we still had 2 days in Maui before going back home. We chose to stay in Napali, because we still had things to see in the north of the Island and also because the hotels here are cheaper then Lahaina, plus was a different place to check out.
Sixth day (North road and Napili): We just arrived from Oahu and went directly to the north drive of the island. Starting in Paia going north until arrive in our hotel in Napili (see map below). Best places to stop are Mokuleia Bay and Slaughterhouse Beach, Honolua Bay, Lipoa Point, Punalau Beach (Windmill Beach), Honokohau's Boulder Beach, Nakalele Point and Blowholeand Village of Kahakuloa. It is a drive with a lot of stop for snorkeling so be prepare. It is also important to bring food and water for this trip. (If you need a supermarket stop, before the trip you can go to the Walmart to get food supplies and some gifts). We arrived still early to enjoy the pool and the sunset in the hotel.
Seventh day (Napili and Haleakala): In our last day on the Island we woke up without a hurry and enjoyed the beaches next to the hotel to do some snorkeling. We found a lot of fishes and green turtles swimming around. We went to Paia to have a late lunch (Cafe Mambo - great food) and head up to the Haleakala National park to watch the sunset. After we went directly to the airport and back home.