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  • Writer's pictureNiki

The Perfect Week in Maui

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

So you are headed to Maui and looking for the perfect way to spend your time? Well, look no further as I have been there, done that, and have lots to share about my experience.

This photo was taken in Wailea, in Oct. 2021.


You'll quickly find that I am a no-BS type of person and I specifically hate when you have to scroll through a million things before getting to the heart of a blog post so jumping straight to it here is how I'd suggest spending 7 days in Maui.


Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Arrive and try to fight through the jet-lagged

Day 2: Haleakala National Park Sunrise & South Maui Beaches & Lu’au

Day 3: Road to Hana

Day 4: Waihe’e Ridge Trail & West Maui (Lahaina)

Day 5: Molokini Crater Snorkel & Turtle Cove

Day 6: West Maui (Ka’anapali to Honokohau)

Day 7: Maui Winery & Haleakala Sunset


Bonus: What I would eliminate if only given 3, 4, or 5 days on the island.


When deciding on how to build out our itinerary, we (my husband and I) first made a list of everything we wanted to do and then created the order based on logistics - driving time, location on the island, availability, etc. Ultimately we like to have one main goal/event for each day and then let everything else kind of fall into place based on how we feel or what we learn from talking with locals once in the destination.


Hawaii continues to grow in popularity and as such, some of the bookable activities book up months in advance. So if you find a restaurant or an activity that you believe will make or break your trip, it's best to reserve your spot ASAP.

 

Day 1: Arrive and try to fight through the jet-lagged

Depending on where you are flying from this may or may not be an issue for you. Coming from the east coast, we landed in Maui at around 5 pm and by 7 pm I was a walking zombie. It's crucial you try and fight through this though or else you'll be up at 3 am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

After you've gathered your luggage and your rental car (a must), I suggest making a pitstop at either Costco or Wal-Mart to load up on snacks (meals if you are balling-on-a-budget this vacation), drinks for the beach, and any other essentials you think you may need.


Tip: Maui is very eco-friendly so you'll have to bring your own reusable grocery bags, buy bags, or use a random box to carry your items

 

Day 2: Haleakala National Park Sunrise & South Maui Beaches & Lūʻau

Due to the time change, most people find themselves up earlier than normal so use that to your advantage and head up the mountain to see the most stunning sunrise around. At 10,100 ft above elevation, you will be above the clouds getting the most epic view. In order to watch the sunrise, you will need to make reservations. It is $1.00 for the reservation and then you will pay an entrance fee upon arrival. If you are unable to snag tickets or are simply not an early riser, you can always catch the sunset as this does not require reservations.


Tip: Wear all of the clothes you brought. It is absolutely freezing up there until the sun is up and then you will want to start shedding the layers on the way down. My OOTD was yoga pants under joggers, a t-shirt, under a long sleeve, under a sweatshirt, under a jacket, fuzzy socks for gloves, and a pool towel for a headscarf.

Double Tip: Try out a tour instead: Majestic Haleakala Sunrise Tour with Pick-up


After the sun rises you can spend the day enjoying the national park, but after being up so early we were ready for a relaxing beach day. We journeyed down the volcano and headed to South Maui for the more local beaches.

Suggested Beaches to check out: Kama’ole Beaches, also known as Kam 1, 2 and 3. Kam 1 is the largest, Kam 3 is the most popular amongst locals, and Kam 2 is where my husband snorkeled right off the shore and swam with sea turtles! Wailea Beach (our personal favorite), Po’olenalena Beach, and Big Beach (Little beach is right next to it, is a nude beach)


Wrap up your first full day in Hawaii with an iconic Lūʻau. Most people tend to end their time on the island with one, but we felt it was better to kick off our time with a bang. We chose Old Lahaina Lūʻau as it has a more traditional Hawaiian approach (i.e. no fire dancers). The food was incredible - I have never had pork that mouth-watering good in my life.

 

Day 3: Road to Hana

I must admit that this is a controversial topic for me. The Road to Hana is on every single "must-do activity" list out there and after experiencing it, I can say that yes I do agree, BUT it is something that I would not do again.

This is where my Travel Agent brain really kicks in and I have to say it’s all about expectations and the type of traveler you are. If I were planning this with you, we would sit down and have a conversation about pros and cons and ultimately decide together if the activity is worth your time.

With that being said, the drive is beautiful; we found one of our favorite beaches, along with some really good food and the freshest banana bread. We even saw a couple get engaged with the stunning ocean background! You do not need a jeep or 4WD but having an open top definitely adds to the fun and beauty of the drive.


Tip: Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks as there are not a ton of places to stop along the road.

Double Tip: If the driver doesn't want to miss out on the scenery, and if you want to avoid the frustrations of bumper-to-bumper traffic, opt for this guided tour: Small Group Road to Hana Adventure Tour with Pickup

 

Day 4: Waihe’e Ridge Trail & West Maui (Lahaina)

After spending all day in the car yesterday, your body will thank you for starting today off with a hike! Now, I am not a person who enjoys hiking in the slightest. In fact, I complained most of the way haha, BUT the views you get are worth it and you will feel so accomplished by the end. The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is roughly 5 miles roundtrip with the worst of the incline being right in the very beginning. I’m not even kidding. You will park your car and immediately go up an incline so there is no “easing” into this. We started around 7:00 am and were done by 9:30 am or 10:00 am.

Tip: 100% get there right when they open because parking is limited. If the lot is full the next closest lot is about 1 mile away… Getting there early also means the sun won’t be as hot.


In the evening we headed over the Lahaina to hang out on Front Street. This is a bustling area with shops, restaurants, and bars along the waterfront. It’s great to window shop, grab a happy hour drink, and watch the sunset. The restaurants tend to fill up right as sunset hits so you’ll want to grab a reservation or find a table before then. This is the area that is also home to the famous Banyon tree, and yes, that is actually all one tree!


Day 5: Molokini Crater Snorkel & Turtle Cove

You can’t go to Maui without getting out on that beautiful blue water. My husband might as well be a fish, so we wanted an excursion that would offer ample time in the water with a variety of species to see. My main goal was to swim with sea turtles. Needless to say, both of our expectations were not only met but well exceeded.

We chose the Molokini Crater Zodiak Adventure Snorkel & Turtle Cove Swim excursion. Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic crater that houses a variety of ocean life and is just off the coast of Maui. The second half of our tour was spent in a location where Turtles tend to hang out and I was beyond lucky to swim amongst 10+ of these stunning creatures. Our guides were incredible. They catered the tour around our needs and based on the crowds of other tour boats at these locations so that our group always had a private set up. 10/10 would use them again.


Tip: If traveling December - March, I highly suggest their Whale Watch Adventure Aboard Maui's Only Luxury Super Raft

 

Day 6: West Maui (Ka’anapali to Honokohau)

The final stretch of land that has yet to be explored is the northern part of West Maui. Here you will find various beaches, incredible views, and the popular Nakalele Blow Hole.


This drive reminded us a bit of the Road to Hana - with the exception of the Ka’anapali area - as the roads are windy the further north you go, the views are stunning, and there aren’t many places to stop and eat along the way.


Suggested beaches/stops: Nakalele BlowHole (high tide is the best time to see it explode), Honolua Bay, Makaluapuna Point, Napili Bay (popular for snorkeling), Kahekili Beach Park, and Ka’anapali Beach. The latter is the main resort area and is the best place to take a beach stroll while the sun sets.

 

Day 7: Maui Winery & Haleakala Sunset

On your final day in Maui, you are probably exhausted and ready to relax. You also most likely have loads to refold and repack before heading out tomorrow. So, on your final day head to Maui Winery to take in the views, enjoy various fruit wines, and breathe in that mountain air one last time.

If you missed your chance for the Haleakala sunrise or simply aren’t a morning person, you will be in the general area of the Haleakala entrance after leaving the winery so it’s an easy final pitstop to say goodbye to this incredible island.

 

Bonus: What I would eliminate if only given 3, 4, or 5 days on the island.

Many people do not have the opportunity to go to Hawaii more than once in their lifetime so when they do go, they want to make the most of it and island hop. Here are what I believe to be the top priorities if your time on the island is shorter than 7 days.

5 Days

  • Haleakala Sunrise & South Maui Beaches

  • Molokini Crater Snorkel & Turtle Cove

  • Waihe’e Ridge Trail & West Maui (Lahaina)

  • West Maui (Ka’anapali to Honokohau)

  • Road to Hana

4 Days

  • Haleakala Sunrise & South Maui Beaches

  • Molokini Crater Snorkel & Turtle Cove

  • Waihe’e Ridge Trail & West Maui (Lahaina)

  • West Maui (Ka’anapali to Honokohau)

3 Days

  • Haleakala Sunrise & South Maui Beaches

  • Molokini Crater Snorkel & Turtle Cove

  • Waihe’e Ridge Trail & West Maui (Lahaina)

 

With every travel blog post, it's important to keep in mind that the writer has no idea about the type of travelers who will be reading this. As the reader, it is your job to decipher if my travel style fits yours because even though I may have liked or disliked something you may find the complete opposite to be true! Thus, if you'd like a vacation fully customized to your travel style, check out Travels by Niki's Services page to get started with your personalized travel quote.


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