After a month long fast from social media, I am so happy to share our complete travel itinerary from our trip to Maui this past June! We wanted to go on a romantic and relaxing vacation to celebrate our five year anniversary (coming up this September) and Maui was the perfect location. Living in Southern California, the one-way, under 5-hour flight to Kahului Airport was a breeze and we loved our experience flying Alaska.
I was able to pay for both our round trip flights, 6 nights in a condo, and our rental car all on points I had saved on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. If you are not using a credit card to rack up points for travel, I highly recommend you do. Most credit cards that offer decent points (this one gives you 3x points on travel and dining) also come with an annual fee. I was hesitant to cough of $450 a year for this one, however, as long as you book $300 in travel on the Ultimate Rewards site in a year (which, why wouldn’t you if you have the points) you get that money back, which means the annual fee is actually only $150!
Six nights in Maui was the perfect amount of time. If you end up booking a trip there, I would highly recommend staying for at least 5-7 nights as there is so much to see on the island. We were able to go on so many adventures, including a hike across lava rocks and a hike through a bamboo forest, and also had plenty of time to just chill on the beach and recharge. I came back from that trip so refreshed and grateful that we had this opportunity to explore a stunning, tropical island and spend quality time, just the two of us 🙂 Since I was so pleased with how we spent our time there, I thought I would share our complete Maui travel itinerary with all of you. I hope the following gives you inspiration for planning your own Maui vacation!
We stayed at Waiohuli Beach Hale condos in Kihei, HI for all six nights in Maui. After our flight landed at 12:30 pm, we picked up our rental car and drove straight to the Costco right by the airport to pick up some wine and some food items for the condo. We wanted to keep our trip economical, so we ate a few meals at our condo and got some snacks that we ended up taking with us to Big Beach a few days later as well as in a cooler (provided by the condo) during our Road to Hana trip.
Upon arriving at our condo, we went straight to the beach right in front of the building. While we didn’t have an ocean view, this condo was one of the few that did not have a street in front of it before you could access the beach. We walked right from our door, through the front lawn of the condo complex, and walked along the sand. People warned us about how crazy the winds can get during the day and they were in full force while we walked the short distance along our little beach. Afterward, we got a late lunch at Coconut’s Fish Cafe in Kihei, each drank a carafe of Mai Tai at Life’s a Beach (this is a local dive bar), and watched the sunset at Kalama Beach Park.
My husband was really looking forward to snorkeling on our vacation so, besides paying for food and gas, that is the one thing we booked and paid for without credit card points. I scheduled a 4-hour tour to Molokini and Turtle Town with Maui Reef Adventures that started at 7:00 am. The boat we went on was pretty small, so I would highly recommend taking Dramamine with you if you get motion sickness. The benefit of riding out on a smaller vessel is that we got to Molokini before all the bigger boats so it was just our small group swimming around the clear, warm water. I am not the strongest swimmer and was having a hard time adjusting to breathing while under water so I used one of the pool noodles the boat had on hand.
After Molokini, they took us to this place called the Back Wall right by it that had the bluest water I have ever seen. After that, it was turtle town and we had plenty of opportunities to witness those giant beauties floating through the water and sunning on the surface. The whole staff at Maui Reef Adventures were very friendly, accommodating, and knowledgeable. The staff provided a very light breakfast and lunch, so I would recommend eating beforehand and picking a place for lunch afterward. They had plenty of water and Hawaiian juice on board and provided all the necessary snorkeling equipment. Just don’t forget a beach towel and underwater camera, like we did!
After snorkeling, we hit up Maui Brewing Company right when they opened at 11:00 am. We were lucky that their tasting room was less than a mile up the road from our condo. They have so many great beers, but when of my favorites is their Coconut Hiwa Porter. We shared a taster on their patio, with a gorgeous view of the ocean, then went back for a nap before going on a hike along Hoapili Trail in La Perouse Bay. After our hike, we had dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea where I had a life-changing cocktail called the No Ka Oi. You can thank me later 😉
Kihei is an affordable and centrally located city on the southwest of Maui, far away from the heavily trafficked tourist areas. However, we came with the goal of seeing as much of the island as possible, so we started Day #3 with brunch at Koa 156 in Lahaina. We chose this place because of how well reviewed the views are and the picturesque dining scene along with the food did not disappoint. I had their special, Ahi Eggs Benedict along with a Passionfruit Mimosa and my husband had the Loco Moco and their Bloody Mary. We walked around the short downtown area and did some shopping before driving to Kaanapali.
We parked at the outlets at Kaanapali since they are centrally located and checked out some of the stores, then headed to Hula Grill for some drinks. I had a Lava Flow with Mango Puree and my husband knocked back a couple of their famous Mai Tais. After relaxing with our drinks for a bit, we took a walk along Kaanapali to Black Rock beach where we paused to watch some brave souls jump off into the water.
Once late afternoon hit, we went from Kaanapali to Paia where we killed some time grabbing a snack at Mana Foods and checking out the unique shops. I wore a light cover up all day and kept a dress to change into in our car before our dinner reservations at Mama’s Fish House. Eating at Mama’s came highly recommended and our experience there exceeded expectations. From the private beach to the romantic ambiance to the amazing food all made the steep price tag well worth it. Since we were so economical the rest of our trip, and we were celebrating our five year anniversary, after all, we did not feel guilty splurging on this once in a lifetime meal.
After two full days of outdoor adventure and exploring different cities, we were ready for a day at the beach. We spent all morning at Big Beach in Makena, just outside of Wailea, which was 20 minutes from where we were staying. The sky was moody, the water, warm and mild, and we felt like we could have stayed out there all day. At around 2:00 pm we started packing up just in time as it started to rain and spent the remainder of the day drinking pints at Maui Brewing Company and playing board games. It was the perfect, relaxing day.
While I could not wait to go hiking in Maui, one thing that I was looking forward to the most was seeing the sunrise over Haleakala Summit. I am glad I did my research before as parking at the summit is no longer first come, first serve as of February this year. You can make reservations on the National Park Service website for $1.50, which does not include a $25 fee for entering the park unless of course you have an NPS annual pass. Another thing to note is that that fee is good for 3 days so we saved our pass and used it to enter the park again when we hiked Pipiwai Trail during our journey on the Road to Hana.
There are so many pictures I have taken in my life, in which looking at them later have thought, “This does not do it justice.” Out of all of those so far, witnessing the sunrise at Haleakala Summit is beyond compare. We had to wake up at 3:30 am in order to make the 1 1/2 drive up the mountain before the sun rose at 5:15 am. In my research, I read how freezing it is at the top that early and it is no joke. I wore thick layers and a waterproof jacket, but I wish I had brought a beanie and waterproof pants. We stood and waited for the sunrise with frigid drizzle biting at our faces. Due to the weather, our view was masked by fog and rain right when the sun came up, but after 10 minutes hanging out in the Visitor’s Center, we stepped outside and were blown away by the otherworldly beauty. The dark orange and pink line of light streaking framing the thick, sea of white clouds was unlike any scene I had witnessed. It truly felt like we were hovering in the sky.
We spent a good hour at the summit, walking around and taking pictures before our stomachs starting grumbling. We grabbed breakfast at Kula Lodge, which had decent food, quick service, and a beautiful garden on their vicinity. On our way back down the mountain, we also stopped at the Ali’i Kula Lavender fields. At the point, we felt like zombies from getting up so early, so I didn’t feel like we made the most of our experience there. We did grab a brownie before we left and, as you could have guessed, took a nice, long nap back at our condo.
Once late afternoon hit, we headed to Kamaole Beach III and just sat in our beach chairs, watching the waves and the sunset. After dinner at Southside Paia Fish Market, we shared some Hawaiian Shaved Ice (strawberry and mango with coconut ice cream) and headed back to our condo to rest up for another big day!
On our last, full day in Maui, we left our condo at 8:00 am and drive to the 0-mile marker for the Road to Hana. My father in bought us a copy of Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook before our trip and I carved out time while in Maui to bookmark the best spots to stop during our journey. We stopped at our new, favorite coffee shop right outside our condo, Akami Coffee Co., for some breakfast croissants and cold brew.
There are so many beautiful waterfalls along the Road to Hana, and while we didn’t stop at every one, we were lucky enough to see six on our journey, including two during our Pipiwai Trail hike. There were several spots the guidebook did not recommend stopping at and others that it warned were closed (including the Seven Sacred Pools). I would highly recommend buying a guidebook like this one because there is limited to no cell reception on the Road to Hana so any online research you do beforehand won’t be accessible during your journey.
Even if you’re looking at a map, many of the places to stop on the Road to Hana are hard to find. When we stopped at Red Sand Beach and then the Venus Pool, we had to park our car and walk around a bit to figure out which direction to go in. Luckily, on both occasions, there were other people who were looking for the same spot so we tended to follow their lead. Both of our favorite parts of the trip were on the Road to Hana: my husband’s when he jumped off a cliff into the Venus Pool and mine when we hiked Pipiai Trail to Waimoku Falls.
In total, including our 4-mile hike on Pipiwai Trail, the Road to Hana took us 9 hours. Since we knew where we wanted to stop (don’t forget to grab some banana bread at the Halfway to Hana stand!) we were able to complete the whole Road to Hana loop, which includes a narrow, one-lane, two-way road with the backside of Haleakala to your right and the ocean to your left. I would not recommend taking this route if you are not used to driving in backcountry or mountainside roads, but while it is treacherous, the whole loop allowed us to take in every natural facet of the island.
On our final day in Maui, we got breakfast at Kihei Cafe, which was another place that got continually recommended to us. They accept cash only, but there is an ATM inside, and the service was very fast. I had the best papaya I’ve ever had in my life along with eggs, bacon, and their famous biscuits. We took our time sipping on iced coffee and taking in every last minute of our time in Kihei. On the drive back to the airport we stopped at Costco again to pick up a 5-pack of dark chocolate, Macadamia nuts to bring back for friends and family.
Our departure was bittersweet, but instead of focusing on how much I did not want to go back to work the next day, I took a nap on the plane and dreamt of rushing waterfalls, lush, tropical vegetation, enormous banyan trees, bamboo forests, towering, green mountains, sunlit fields, and, of course, the bluest water as far as your eye can see. People call it paradise for a reason and, while we were perfectly satisfied with the time we spent there, my husband and I can not wait to return.
I hope the above inspires and motivates your own tropical getaway to Maui. If you have any comments or suggestions from your own travels to this magical island, I would love to hear from you below!
In Love, Peace, and Travel ~ xo