When you picture the quintessential island escape—marked by cerulean waters, golden swatches of sand, and swaying coconut trees that stretch up into the clouds—there’s a solid chance you’re envisioning Maui’s idyllic shores. But don’t get caught in the trap of thinking it’s nothing more than a beach getaway. For generations, Maui has lured curious travelers from all walks of life, ranging from love-struck honeymooners to action-seeking daredevils and beyond.
This little slice of paradise is defined by its technicolor natural wonders, where lush valleys and wild jungles converge with sleepy oceanfront towns and bustling tourist-laden epicenters. There’s something for everyone to love, whether you’re interested in swimming with a kaleidoscope of tropical fish; surfing its larger-than-life barrels; ziplining through the canopies; weaving your way through charming shops; or simply soaking up the sun with a mai tai in hand. It seems as if every nook and cranny of the island is just waiting to be explored.
But Maui doesn’t stop there—it also offers well-heeled holidaymakers a more polished, refined side, too. Here, five-star luxury resorts and world-class restaurants mingle in harmony with the island’s signature laid-back vibes and rugged outdoor adventures. In Hawai’i, the notion of living harmoniously with nature might just be its most profound draw, which is yet another reason why visitors and locals alike can’t seem to get enough.
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Where to Stay in Maui
Deciding where to stay will most likely be the hardest vacation-related decision you’ll have to make. Every stretch of the island has its own unique selling point that attracts a different type of traveler, but you can follow this general overview to develop a better feel for Maui’s layout:
West Maui: If you want to be in the center of the action, West Maui is the place for you. Always buzzing, this region is a popular choice for tourists of all walks of life, thanks to its impressive roster of oceanfront properties, phenomenal restaurants, and pristine shores. There’s always something to do in West Maui.
South Maui: Another fan favorite, South Maui offers the same prime waterfront views as West Maui, but with less hustle and bustle. Hot spots like Wailea keep people coming year-round in search of golf, luxury resorts, and ultimate relaxation.
North Coast: Maui’s North Coast is relatively isolated with only a handful of smaller hotels, but the enchanting region is dotted with hippie towns like Pāʻia (known as one of the windsurfing capitals of the world) and secluded Haiku (marked by its undisturbed beaches).
East Maui: Known for its dramatic scenery, East Maui offers an endless selection of epic adventures. Hairpin turns bring thrill-seekers past cascading waterfalls, plunging cliffs, and emerald rainforests bursting with life. But with few properties, your best bet for staying in Hāna is to rent a place through a service like Airbnb (assuming it’s operating in compliance with all applicable state and local laws).
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Central Maui: The expansive region of Central Maui is teeming with tons of interesting attractions and off-the-beaten-path gems to uncover. Kahului and Wailuku are main points of interest, and it makes the perfect basecamp for those who plan to road trip around the island.
Upcountry Maui: What Upcountry lacks in beaches, it more than makes up for in rustic charm. With an elevated topography and rich volcanic soil, native Hawaiians have used Upcountry fields to grow prized crops like taro and sweet potato for generations. This is the land of the paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys, and also serves as a modern-day hub for Maui’s artistic set.
Courtesy of Paia Inn
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort & Spa: One of three Hyatt properties on-island, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort & Spa features impeccable design and plenty of perks—not to mention direct access to Mokapu Beach. The South Maui stunner is set on 15 acres of prime real estate, offering 301 rooms, including 35 spacious suites and 11 luxury villas, each replete with private lanais to soak in the tropical overlooks. Don’t miss the property’s five different pools, state-of-the-art Matrix fitness and strength training equipment, or the local specialties served up at the chef’s tasting table in the heart of Ka’ana Kitchen.
Montage Kapalua Bay: Kapalua Bay was once the coastal retreat of Hawaiian ali‘i (or royalty) and is now home to Montage Kapalua Bay, a revered five-star resort. Sitting on West Maui and lapped by the waves of Namalu Bay, this island sanctuary boasts residential-style accommodations inspired by Hawaiian culture. Guests can hone their ukulele skills during a group lesson, hit the green on Maui’s premier golf courses, or schedule a romantic catamaran sunset sail.
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Paia Inn: For a less pampered experience, escape the crowds and venture to Maui’s North Coast, where you can book a room at the Paia Inn. Located in the heart of bohemian Pāʻia, this hip boutique property is situated just steps away from miles of untouched, white sand beaches. Here, the attentive staff is more than happy to arrange a diverse itinerary of outdoor activities, such as snorkeling alongside sea turtles; embarking on a horseback riding adventure; or trekking through dense bamboo forests.
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What to Do in Maui
Visit Coconut Information: In Hawai’i, coconuts reign supreme. Originally known as kumu nui (translated as “the great source”), coconuts were the ultimate lifeblood for native Hawaiians. Today, Ryan Burden passionately shares their legacy through interactive cooking classes at Coconut Information. Located in Haiku-Pauwela, visitors can swing by his part-farm part-school facility to learn why coconuts are the most sustainable food source on earth; explore their impressive versatility; and sample some tasty coco-inspired dishes.
Go Paragliding: If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to soar through the sky like a bird, make that dream a reality while visiting Maui. Proflyght Paragliding has operated on the island for more than 15 years, and the experts have successfully taken more than 10,000 people flying. Their Waipoli flight park sits on the slopes of Mt. Haleakalā, and participants get to ogle breathless vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see.
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Explore ʻĪao Valley State Park: One of Maui’s top natural attractions is tucked away in the tranquil ʻĪao Valley State Park. Hordes of hikers flock to the verdant park to catch a glimpse of Kūkaemoku (also known as the ʻĪao Needle), a vegetation-covered lava rock pinnacle that rises 1,200 feet high. Pro tip: Head to the park in the early morning to beat the foot traffic and enjoy the clearest visibility.
Experience Māʻalaea: Māʻalaea Harbor is the island’s former commercial port that now serves as a hub for aquatic adventures. From here, tourists can take a sailing excursion, book a scuba diving session, or head out on a seasonal whale watching voyage. After, bop around the Māʻalaea Harbor Village boutiques to find the perfect souvenir.
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Venture to Makawao: A must-see Upcountry destination, Makawao is unlike any place you’ve ever visited. With its sprawling pineapple plantations and rich paniolo Hawaiian cowboy legacy, it makes for a one-of-a-kind day trip you won’t soon forget. While there, peruse the wares of local glassblowers, woodworkers, and painters who all call Makawao home.
Where to Eat and Drink in Maui
The Mill House: The Mill House sits in the center of Maui Tropical Plantation and is surrounded by vast farmlands and the striking Waikapū Valley. The upscale, multicultural menu highlights seasonal ingredients that pay homage to Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisine. Helmed by Chef Taylor Ponte, the restaurant places an emphasis on sustainable practices and works closely with local farms to deliver fresh, inventive dishes. Their cocktail list is also guaranteed to wow your tastebuds.
TIN ROOF: Tucked back in an unassuming Kahului strip mall is TIN ROOF, an authentic Hawaiian venue that serves some of the freshest ahi tuna poke bowls on Maui. Other menu highlights include their Mochiko Chicken (twice-fried chicken thighs marinated in ginger sake shoyu and topped with housemade su-miso sauce, gochujang aioli, and mochi crunch) and their Chop Steak (wok-fried flat iron steak served with garlic and scallion bottoms). Their casual atmosphere and friendly staff make this a can’t-miss stop during your Maui getaway.
Nuka: This sleek Japanese eatery is the ideal spot to grab fresh sashimi, savor a specialty sushi roll, or split a handful of creative small plates. They also mix up some mouth-watering cocktails to wash everything down. Keep in mind they don’t accept reservations, and tables can fill up quickly, so try to time your meal just before or right after the dinner rush.
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Mama’s Fish House: This world-famous establishment perched on Maui’s North Shore is a beloved obsession for a reason. Family-owned since 1973, the restaurant captures a true sense of place. At Mama’s, gracious service meets the soothing Maui breeze. Every morning, their team of fishermen head out into the ocean to catch that evening’s offerings. Expect a wide array of Hawaiian staples, like multicolored mahi-mahi, tropical ono, opakapaka, onaga, uku, papio, ahi, and more.
Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice: No trip to Hawai’i would be complete without indulging in the local delicacy that is shave ice. Satisfy your sweet tooth with this classic Hawaiian treat, made from ice block shavings paired with whimsical toppings. Ululani’s in Lahaina is one of the most renowned and some of their most popular flavors include pickled mango, lychee, and passion fruit. Just remember—this isn’t a snow cone, an Italian ice, or shaved ice—it’s shave ice, and Hawaiians will be quick to correct you if you get it twisted.
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