Travel Guide & Itinerary for One Week in Maui, Hawaii
I planned a mother-daughter trip to Maui for my mom’s 60th birthday, and we had a blast! It was my first time in Hawaii, so I asked around for recommendations from family that used to live there, friends that go every year, and even a few locals! This blog is a round up of the must-see spots and everything you’ll need to know to plan your trip!
Since we visited May 2021, during Covid-19, there were quite a few travel restrictions to get there. You have to get a negative Covid test within 72hrs of your flight (even if you are vaccinated), and then if you are not vaccinated you have to take a second rapid test upon arrival in Maui. We got our NAAT ID NOW test done at the Walgreens drive-through for free and got results in just a few hours! Just make sure and book your appointment a few days in advance since they don’t allow same day appointments. Be prepared to wait in pretty long lines at the airport once you arrive… We landed in Maui around noon and didn’t leave the airport until 4pm due to the lines of Covid check points and at the rental car check in. There’s a shortage of rental cars in Maui, as a lot of places have right now, so prices are crazy high. We booked a Hertz rental car through this website a few weeks in advance, and it was half the price of booking directly through Hertz! Although the travel day was long and stressful, it was so worth it! The island of Maui is pretty strict on mask wearing and social distancing. We felt super safe there since everyone had been tested and they do such a good job of contact tracing and keeping cases down! Since all the restaurants are at 30% capacity, make sure and book reservations as far out as possible.
Where to Stay
We decided to do an Airbnb/condo rental so that we would have a kitchen to make breakfasts, and have our own bedrooms. We stayed at Kamole Sands in Kihei (South Maui) that was walking distance to the beach. We found it to be very centrally located for many of the activities we wanted to do. There are a few beautiful beaches nearby and tons of amazing restaurants and food trucks! Since it was our first time in Maui, we wanted to see as much of the island as possible. If I were to go back I would probably stay at a hotel in West Maui to just relax and be close to the beautiful turquoise beaches out there!
What to Do
There is so much to do and see in Maui, besides just laying on the beach! We visited a total of 11 beaches in our one week there. Here are the places I recommend seeing the most:
Beaches (in order of favorite to least favorite):
Road to Hana:
Definitely set aside a day to do the Road to Hana if you’ve never done it before! It is a super long day but so worth it! It was about 8hrs round trip of driving for us from our condo, not including all the stops we did. I found this blog online that was really helpful in planning. The roads are really small and windy so I took a Dramamine beforehand since I am prone to car sickness. We downloaded the GyPSy Guide Maui app since there is no phone service most of the way there, it guides you through with GPS and narrates the history of Maui with all the best stops! If you want to visit the Waianapanapa State Park make sure and reserve it online a few weeks out. We stopped at the bamboo forest, rainbow eucalyptus trees at the Ke’anae Arboretum, Nahiku Marketplace, Hana Bay Beach, Koki Beach, Hana Town, and the Seven Sacred Pools. We also did a few turn offs to see view points and waterfalls along the way.
We spent an afternoon in Upcountry Maui and thought it was beautiful and a unique area to visit! We went to Ali’i Kula Lavendar Farms and there were amazing views of the whole island. We took some photos in the lavender and then got a lavender tea and some goodies from the gift shop. We then drove to Grandma’s Coffee House which is known to be one of the best coffee shops in Maui! After that we drove to Maui Wine and did a wine tasting of their amazing pineapple wine! It’s actually made of fermented pineapples instead of grapes so it wasn’t too sweet and is probably the best white wine I’ve ever had! Definitely brought back a few bottles.
There are so many places to snorkel in Maui and see beautiful fish and sea turtles! We did one tour through Seafire Snorkeling that took us out to Molokini Crater and another spot where we saw a bunch of turtles. We thought Molokini was a bit overrated since we saw just as many fish and sea creatures as other free spots along the beach. Some other great snorkeling spots were Makena Cove where theres a bunch of turtles or Kaanapali Beach.
My brother and I booked a surprise private sunset sail for my mom’s birthday gift, and it was probably the highlight of the vacation! We booked it through Shadowfax Sailing and they were so accommodating! It was just us two, the captain and 2 crew members and we had a great time getting to know them along our sail. They played Hawaiian music, served us appetizers and champagne, and smoothly sailed along the coast out of Maalaea Harbor. It was so fun and relaxing and we got some amazing photos as the sun was setting!
We didn’t do much shopping besides some gifts and souvenirs from Whalers Village, but I got a lot of recommendations for shopping at the Shops at Wailea and some boutiques in Paia (Boutique Aloha, Mahina Boutique, Pearl Butik, Simmer, Maui Girl) recommended by my friend Alex.
Sunrise at Haleakala Crater:
This was another thing on our list we ended up not doing, but I got a lot of recommendations for! We decided not to do it since the drive sounded pretty daunting (windy, cliffside roads with low visibility in the dark) and I was also worried about dealing with altitude sickness since it’s the highest elevation gain in the shortest amount of time in the world (10,000ft above sea level)! However, if driving small roads and altitude doesn’t bother you, it looks like an unreal experience to watch the sun rise above the clouds! Here is a good article I found about planning your visit.
Where to Eat:
Probably the most important part of this blog post right here!! Maui has the most amazing food, whether at an expensive restaurant with a view, or a cheap food truck, you really can’t go wrong! We got groceries to make easy breakfasts at our Airbnb and sandwiches for lunches at the beach, and went to a local farmers market to cook some fresh Ono fish with maui onions and purple sweet potatoes for dinner one night. Here were our favorite spots:
What to Pack:
My secret packing trick was using Fashion Pass for all my cute vacation clothes! If you use my code “MERISSA” you can get $35 off your first month of unlimited rentals. This website is perfect for getting statement items that you’d only wear on a tropical vacation! Besides the obvious of what to pack, here were some things on my list that were helpful for the trip:
This itinerary may not work for everyone depending on what time you arrive and depart and what side of the island you are on, but here is a general idea!