View at the summit of Haleakala at sunrise as taken on my iPhone.
Oahu, especially Honolulu, has a city feel. Maui is like the suburbs. It is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and the second stop on my trip to Hawaii. The beauty of nature throughout the island is incredible. The west side of the island has the comforts of the modern world and lavish resorts. The summit of Haleakala is at the center of the island. The east side of the island, specifically Hana, is far from the resorts and preserves the timelessness of “old Hawaii”. Whether it is watching the breathtaking sunrise at Haleakala, hiking, swimming in the pristine Pacific Ocean, enjoying perfect beaches, going on a snorkeling adventure, etc.; there is some type of nature for everyone to enjoy.
I have added additional recommendations from my return trip in 2016.
Maui is absolutely beautiful. Nevertheless, two places stand above the rest:
Haleakala (“house of the sun”) is a dormant volcano, over 10,000 feet above sea level. The Haleakala National Park costs $15 for a 3 day pass ($25 for an annual pass) and you can pay with credit card (they prefer it anyway). You can drive up to the Visitor Center and the summit, Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill), right above the Center. Waking up early to see the sunrise at the top of Haleakala is a must do. It is one of the most spectacular and beautiful things you will ever see. I took a video of the minutes before and after the sun rises above the clouds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaZJs09u9qI. Honestly, no picture or video I took does the sunrise any justice. It is a million times more majestic with your own eyes. The event really begins 30-40 minutes before sunrise as the sky slowly lights up with an orange glow. As it gets closer to the sunrise, you can see the beauty of the bed of clouds below you. Of course, it climaxes with the giant yellow ball of the sun rising above the clouds.
Unfortunately, there is a chance for a major letdown too. The first time I time I went to Haleakala, the clouds completely blocked the sunrise. It was still beautiful to see the sky light up and rays of the sun reflect off the clouds. I only realized how disappointing it really was when I saw the sunrise on a clear day. During that first day, there had been a lot of rain that was being caused by a tropical storm in the nearby ocean. I went anyway because I was afraid it could be worse if the tropical storm directly hit the island in the subsequent days. I was hoping that the clouds would stay below the top of the volcano since I would technically be above the clouds. It did not work out.
A mountain or volcano has a climate of its own so it is very unpredictable. However, storms in the nearby area (Kula if you use internet weather services) will increase the chance for a disappointing sunrise. My advice is to schedule going to Haleakala on your first full day in Maui so you optimize the chances you have at a clear sunrise. It will never say sunny in the weather forecasts for Maui because it is a rainforest. If it says partly cloudy, it is the equivalent of sunny anywhere else. As a result, set your alarm for 2-3 AM and check the forecast first. If the forecast is not partly cloudy, you will have to use judgment and do a cost-benefit analysis that weighs going back to sleep. In addition, wear long pants and bring a jacket. The top of the mountain is significantly colder than where you are staying. I would also not book your flight out of Maui before 9 AM so you give yourself one last opportunity to see the sunrise if you do not see a great one before then. I changed my flight on my last day just to have one more shot at it but it was well worth it. However, I definitely would have booked a later flight if I knew better. I saw the sunrise, had time to fill up gas, and get back to the rental car location by the airport before 8 AM.
The road up to the top is winding. There are a lot of switchbacks since you cannot drive straight up a mountain. You need to concentrate but it is not really dangerous unless you are reckless and speed. If you want to see the sunrise at the summit which is a little further up than the Visitor Center, you need to get there earlier than you would have to for a spot at the Visitor Center parking lot. Get to the entrance by 4:30. It will take another 30 minutes to drive to the Visitor Center and summit. There is a right turn before the Visitor Center that heads up to the summit. There will also be a parking attendant there. I did not get there early enough the first time I went but I got there in plenty of time the second time. Honestly, the biggest thing is that it is a clear sky. You will have a great experience at the Visitor Center elevation too as long as it is clear. There is also a short path up a small cliff to the right of the Visitor Center, you can walk that gets you a little higher.
There are also a lot of hiking trails at Haleakala in the crater. The Crater Trail and Sliding Sands starts by the Visitor Center parking lot. However, I would not hike too much of it unless you just want a really good workout. I hiked an hour down and an hour back up. The hike back up is a legit workout due to the elevation gain and thinner air. The views as you descend are not worth it though. There is not much to see. I would walk 15-20 minutes down and then go back up.
- The Road to Hana
Hana is a small town isolated on the east side of Maui. The charm of the town is that it has isolated itself from the changes in the last twenty years that have occurred on the west side of the island (e.g. the resorts). Nevertheless, the scenic and difficult drive on the road to Hana is what everyone remembers. It is a very beautiful drive. The road runs along the northern coast line. There are many waterfalls of all sizes. The flora on the cliffs next to the ocean is a spectacular sight. On the other hand, you will definitely need to be focused when you drive. The roads are narrow and winding. There are also a lot of one way bridges. Nevertheless, I did not find it too scary. At first, I would get startled when cars drove by on the other side of the road, out of nowhere, on sharp turns. However, I realized that we were both going 15-20 miles per hour so the fear quickly subsided. It is scarier driving 55+ miles per hour on the winding roads of the Taconic Parkway in New York. In addition, there are yield signs that warn you before you get to the one way parts of the road. Again, you need to focus but it is not dangerous unless you are reckless or not paying attention because you are staring at the beauty on the road (which is possible). If you do get nervous, just let a car pass you and follow at a comfortable distance. Passengers in the car get to just soak in and see all the beauty. However, the driver gets to brag that he completed the drive.
There are GPS guides that will direct you at all the points to stop at on the road. My friend did something similar many years ago on his Honeymoon. He said the drive toward Hana is great because it is exciting to make all the stops to break up the long drive. However, he had a headache because of the winding roads on the way back after he already looked at everything so did not make any stops to break up the drive. If you do get the GPS guide, I think it makes you stop at a lot of small things too (e.g. it considers any small stream a waterfall). After getting this feedback, I decided on another strategy: driving straight to Hana on the way there while I have my optimal focus then making stops on the way back. I usually just stopped for big ticket items. You can usually tell if there is something good to see if you spot multiple cars parked at the side of the road. You can also notice things you want to stop for and see as you drive. In addition, I read about frustrations from travelers who get stuck behind cars that go really slow or stop to see the scenery on the road. I avoided it by leaving for Hana early in the morning (I got to the beginning of the road in the north close to the town of Paia by 7 AM). I did not encounter much traffic. In addition, I advise against driving to Hana from the south side of the island via the Pilani highway. The car rental agreement has an embedded footnote that states driving on parts of that road voids the agreement. They have that clause because parts of that highway are rough (e.g. dirt, narrow paths). If you do decide to go that route, definitely rent a 4X4. In my research, I also saw warnings to drive very slowly when you arrive or leave Hana. There is a school where the police apparently strictly enforce the speed limit for the school zone. As a result, I made sure that I was aware and super careful when I drove through that section of the road.
I also agree with the idea of picking a few stops on the road to Hana and focusing your time on them rather than trying to spend a few moments at everything. Accordingly, the following are places I stopped at:
- Haleakala National Park – Kipahulu District
After I reached Hana, I drove another 30 minutes south to the back end of Haleakala National Park. The same park pass that gets you to the top of Haleakala also gives you access to this part of the park. Unlike the crater at the volcano, this part of the park is lush with vegetation, streams, and some waterfalls. The visitor center and parking lot will be on the left side of the road as you drive down from Hana. I hiked the Pipiwai Trail which is 4 miles round trip with moderate elevation gain. The trail gets really pretty once you hit the bamboo forest. There are also two waterfalls on the hike. Your view of the first waterfall is cutoff by trees and plants in the way so you will only see the top half. However, the beauty of the second waterfall against the backdrop of the valley is well worth the hike. There is also a small stream you can cross to get a closer view of that second waterfall where you will see the bottom of it. The view is still great even if you do not cross the stream. I did cross and got my socks and hiking boots soaked. They are waterproof but water will go above the top of your boot. You can also try to go across barefoot. While the path is very safe, it could be very muddy and have puddles.
Another hike that starts at the visitor center is the Kuloa Point Trail. It is only .5 miles round trip. It is short so it is worth doing to see the ocean and pools of O’heo which are sacred. In 2015, the pools were closed off when I visited. You can walk down to them and swim again. Another great view of them are on the bridge you cross driving right before you reach the visitor center.
In total, I spent about 2 hours here.
- Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill (5305 Hana Hwy Hana, HI 96713)
I highly recommend this food truck off the side of the road. It is the second best place I ate in Maui. They will usually have huge lines as a lot of tours will also stop there. The barbecue is amazing and among the best I have had anywhere. The meat is barbecued fresh on the grill after you order. It is very tender and the sauce is incredible. I had the barbecue chicken. However, the lady at the register said that everything is great there and I believe her. At work, I learned to trust but verify. I verified her statement when I returned in 2016. I also had the pork chops and fish tacos. Both dishes were also awesome. I recommend getting to Braddah beore 2 PM. Items begin to sell out around then.
- Hasegawa General Store (5165 Hana Hwy Hana, HI 96713)
As a store, it is nothing special. However, it is worth a quick stop since it is iconic. It serves a small town in the middle of nowhere so it has a little of everything and is overpriced. They also have shirts that say you survived the road to Hana. They are the only thing I would buy besides a drink if I forgot to bring enough.
- Hana Beach Park and Red Sand Beach
I came here by accident trying to find Kaihalulu beach, the red sand beach. Unfortunately, my data plan just ran out completely and I could not look up how to get there in 2015. In regards to Hana Beach Park, it is a solid beach but nothing special.
When I returned in 2016, I found the Red Sand Beach. This beach is a bit hidden. You need to go behind the Hana Youth Center at the dead end on Uakea Road. The trail is not obvious and I only saw it because I saw some people walking back. As you stand in front of the yellow guard rails right of the Youth Center, you will see a tree line. Walk in a 2 o’clock direction and you will hit the trail. You will also see a lot of signs warning you that the landowners are not responsible for injuries. The danger of the trail is exaggerated. It is narrow at parts but you will be fine unless you are reckless. If you are concerned, you can bypass that part of the trail by walking all the way down to the first beach in front of you as you descend down then walking on it before reconnecting with the trail. It is a quick 10-15 minute walk to see the unique, beautiful red sand so I definitely recommend it. Parking can be difficult so you may need to park a little further from the Youth Center.
- Waianapanapa State Park
It is known as the black sand beach. It is a must stop. First, the view of the coast is spectacular. There are jagged rocks on the coast line due to black lava formations that meet the ocean. In addition, the plants are very pretty (e.g. bright green flowers, tropical trees, etc.). There is also a hiking trail, left of the beach, that you can hike for great coastal views. It apparently runs for 4.5 miles, which I did not know at the time. I was also hoping that the trail loops but it is one way so I walked 20 minutes out and then returned when I realized it is not a loop. As I noted before, the trail has jagged rocks. I would definitely wear appropriate footwear. I wore sandals and I could definitely feel the sharp rocks, especially when my feet accidentally came out of the sandals a few times. The beach is incredible. It is a cove with a couple of rock formations that visitors swim around. I saw at least one rock formation where it is hallow so you can go into it. I did not bring swimming trunks to go swim in Hana. Nevertheless, the black sand beach would be my first choice to go swim on the east side of Maui. I spent an hour just walking around this state park. If you want to swim, I would definitely allocate at least two hours here.
There is a parking lot for the park and there is no fee to enter.
- Halfway to Hana (13710 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708)
Their hours are 8:30 AM – 4 PM. In 2015, I drove past it in the morning before it opened. I tried to stop here on the way back but I got there 5 minutes before 4 PM and it had already closed. In 2016, I did not start the drive as early and got to try Halfway to Hana. It is definitely worth the excellent banana bread. It is a generously sized loaf. Although I loved the bread, there are so many places to stop at on the road to Hana and in the town that I would not schedule my day on making sure I am at Halfway to Hana while it is open.
- Mama’s Fish House (799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779)
Mama’s Fish House awaits you in Paia at the end of a long drive back from Hana. It is definitely the best food I had in Maui. They catch their mahi mahi and tuna fresh from the ocean daily, with the name of the fisherman who caught it on the menu, so I would definitely recommend dishes that feature either fish. For an appetizer, I had the crispy mahimahi roll with Hamakua mushroom sauce and lillikoi-fennel jam. The crispy, outer layer tasted like the outside of a spring roll. For an entrée, I had the “Ahi” which is seared in a Hana ginger-panko crust with Kalua Pig fried rice. Both dishes were incredible and the presentation is impeccable. I ate better Kalua pig in Maui but I went to this place for fish and it truly delivered on the fish. They also bake their own bread and it is very good. Moreover, a server came and gave me a small cup of the soup of the day to sample.
The décor of the restaurant is excellent. It is right on the beach so it is definitely a nice place to dine at as the sun sets. I also really liked the inside of it. It is clean and looks very good. In addition, it has a great atmosphere. Their service is good. The restaurant also has free valet parking. Mama’s Fish House definitely gets nothing but praise from me. Since it is a nice restaurant, I would bring a change of clothes after a long day of sweating. Nevertheless, you do not need to dress up.
Other Great Things to Do
1. Pride of Maui (101 Ma’alaea Harbor Rd, Wailuku)
Pride of Maui is the name of the boat. It provides an awesome five hour boat and snorkeling tour. The first snorkeling stop is the Molokini Crater. It is a beautiful crater in the ocean west of Maui and in between Maui and Kahoolawe. The coral and colorful fishes are amazing. The second snorkeling stop is Turtle Bay, just off the coast of Wailea Point. In addition to fish, it is a playground for sea turtles. I saw six when I snorkeled there and it was incredible swimming above them as they swam. For the snorkeling parts of the trip, a snorkel, complimentary fins, and noodle floatation devices are provided. Personally, I like to buy a new snorkel for $30 from Wal-Mart when I go to Hawaii so I do not have to use on that others have used already. You can also rent a wetsuit on the boat for $10. I was sold on it because it helps keep the heat in your body so you do not get cold in the water. I probably could have done without it and there is unsurprisingly a watery smell to them. Nevertheless, they are worth it if you think the water will be too cold and you will not be able to stay in for too long. The food, breakfast and lunch, is surprisingly great. Breakfast features pastries, which included a very good banana bread when I took the tour. Lunch offers barbecue: burgers, chicken, and hot dogs. You choose one then wait till everyone else gets their first choice before seconds. There were more than enough for seconds during my trip. The burgers are the best of the three. The chicken is very good too. I did not care for the hot dog. After Turtle Bay, there is also an open bar included with Mai Tais, other alcoholic beverages, juices, etc. On the boat ride back to port, you also get a delicious macadamia nut cookie to finish off the trip. One of my fellow travelers summed it up perfectly: “Just when I thought I couldn’t get any better, it did.” The crew is professional and a lot of fun. It is not cheap at about $118 per adult but it is totally worth the money in my opinion.
2. Waihee Ridge Trail
It is a 5 mile round trip hike along the Waihee Ridge. You are up in the clouds in the West Maui Mountains. Throughout the hike, there are breathtaking views of the coast of the north shore, mountains, and valleys. At the top and end of the hike, you can also see Molokai to the west in the distance. However, it is easier to see with your eyes as there are clouds at the top that prevent a clear picture. The beginning of the trail is already high up in the mountains. If you are using a GPS, set it to Mendes Ranches and Trail Rides (3530 Kahekili Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793). When you see the sign for the ranch on Kahekili Highway, make an immediate left. The entrance of the trail is surrounded by a farm. There is a gate within a fence you squeeze between. There are two more gates along the trail but you are permitted to hike past. After you enter the forest and make it up to the first picnic table, there is a clearing where you will be able to look across at Makamakaole Falls to the right. Along the rest of the ridge, you hike up various peaks of mountains and it feels like something out of Lord of the Rings. There is a sign to stop and picnic table once you reach the final peak and end of the trail. The paths are relatively smooth for a hike. I ran into a lot of mud when I first entered the forest. The mud continued for a bit. It can definitely ruin a good pair of shoes. As a result, I definitely recommend wearing hiking shoes.
The hike takes approximately 2 ½ hours. It is my favorite hike on Maui.
West Maui is the northwest part of the island that juts out. The drive on the west side is absolutely beautiful as you see the ocean and the nearby Hawaiian islands, including two of the other big ones: Lanai and Molokai. There are lookouts if you want to stop and admire the views. Even if you opt to stay somewhere else on the island, it is worth a day trip to explore West Maui.
While there are many resorts throughout West Maui, Ka’anapali features a cluster of them together. It is basically the Waikiki of Maui although not nearly as big as Waikiki. It is a mile stretch from the Sheraton on the north end and Hyatt on the south end. They are definitely the best looking resorts on Ka’anapali. In my opinion, the Hyatt is the most extravagant. It has a massive pool with waterfalls, rope bridges, and a bar underneath waterfalls. I stayed at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in 2016. It is an older hotel but clean and well maintained. None of the beaches in Hawaii are allowed to be owned privately so the public has access to every beach. Of course, you will still need to pay for parking at one of the resorts. I walked up and down the mile long beach every day. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy. In addition, there are great views of the islands to the west, Lanai and Molokai, on a clear day.
1. Leilanis on the Beach (Whalers Village, 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761)
The sesame ahi tuna steak is amazing here. It is extremely fresh with the perfect texture and great taste. Go up to the second floor for this entrée. The bottom floor features small plates. Fresh baked bread is served with your meal. The restaurant is in a beautiful beach location with views of the ocean. It is a perfect spot for a nice dinner in Maui.
2. Island Vintage Coffee (2435 Kaanapali Pkwy L5, Lahaina, HI 96761)
It is inside the Whaler’s Village in Kaanapali. I love the location on Waikiki and this one is great too. Their honey is delicious. It really makes the honey lattes and acai bowls amazing. When I stayed in Kaanapali, I had the acai bowls three times and lattes twice.
3. Japengo (Hyatt Regency Maui Resort Spa 200 Nohea Kai Dr Lahaina, HI 96761)
It is at a beautiful spot at the Hyatt. The hotel has an extravagant pool that includes waterfalls and rope bridges. It offers a perfect atmosphere at sunset. Japengo has great sushi rolls. The Happy Hour, 5-6, offers an assortment of appetizers at reasonable prices. Overall, it is too expensive to justify the price. The food is decent but I would only pay the full menu price for amazing food. If you eat at Japengo, you are paying more for the ambience and beautiful location rather than the food. Honestly, I would only go during the happy hour and order a sushi roll.
Lahaina is the town 5-10 minutes south of Ka’napali. There is a mall, restaurants, and shops. The main street, Front Street, and strip of shops and restaurants is right next to the ocean. You can see Lanai to the west. There is a free parking lot and limited street parking. I just went to a paid lot so I did not have to wait.
1. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (819 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761)
Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice has a couple of locations on Lahaina here. If the one at 819 Front Street is closed, the location at 790 Front Street is open across the street. It also has other locations around the island. I rank it as the best shave ice I had in Hawaii. I agree with its 5 star rating on Yelp. The syrup and texture are top notch. The macadamia nut ice cream that you can get with it is incredible. Definitely try Ululani’s if you are in Maui.
2. “Local Food”( 222 Papalaua St # 202, Lahaina, HI 96761)
It is a hole in the wall type place for lunch. It is very good. I had the kalua pig cabbage plate that includes macaroni and rice. I also ordered the spam musubi. It is basically spam sushi which is a popular item in Hawaii. At first, I scoffed at the recommendation from friends to try it. However, I really enjoyed it when I ate it. It tastes a lot better than any spam I have had before then. I would definitely recommend Local Food if you want something good, cheap, and quick for lunch.
3. Island Cream Co. (305 Keawe St #511, Lahaina, HI 96761)
Ululani’s macadamia ice cream, which is an add-on to its shave ice, is my favorite single ice cream flavor in Maui. As a pure ice cream shop, Island Cream Co. is the best I found on Maui. The macadamia ice cream flavors are great. The turtle flavor and fruity ones are fantastic too. I also like that the shop includes a chocolate wafer stick with the ice cream.
4. Kimo’s Restaurant (845 Front St a, Lahaina, HI 96761)
It is a beautiful restaurant in a great location on the water on Front Street. As you eat, you will have great views of the ocean and Lanai to the west. Overall, the food is very good but not amazing. The tuna avocado stack and beef rib appetizers are excellent. The fish tacos entrée is ok. Although the fish is fresh, it was cooked a little dry.
5. Old Lahaina Luau (1251 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761)
This luau is a bit touristy. It is also a little disappointing that there is no fire show at the end like the other luaus I have attended. On the other hand, it probably features the best food I have had at a luau. It is also the only one that serves poke, which is very good. In addition, a premium open bar is included. Chief’s Luau, on Oahu, is my favorite luau but Old Lahaina Luau is a solid option to experience a luau on Maui.
6. The Fish Market Maui (3600 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761)
It is a decent hole in the wall type place for fresh fish. I tried the ahi tuna steak and poke. While the fish is definitely fresh, it is nothing special. It is not overly expensive but not cheap either. It is in Lahaina but in the section that is actually north of Ka’anapli.
Kapalua is north of Ka’anapali and another beautiful stretch of coast in West Maui. In my opinion, it is more scenic than Ka’anapali and Lahaina.
1. The Gazebo (Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger, 5315 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761)
It is a scenic spot to have breakfast on Napili Bay. On a clear day, you will also see the entire coast of Molokai. However, the weather can change quickly. It was clear when I began eating breakfast and Molokai became completely covered by clouds by the time I was done. The white chocolate macadamia pancakes are excellent. The fried rice is also awesome. The portions at very generous at Gazebo. It is popular and a small restaurant. As a result, there will be a wait. As an alternative, you can call in a takeout order and eat it on the beach.
2. Kapalua Coastal Trail
Parking for beach access can be found in between Napili Kai Beach resort and Bay Club Place. Kapalua Beach and the trail is gorgeous so it is definitely worth it to walk around. The total trail is 1.76 miles one way. I began to walk it but then it started to rain hard so I turned around. It is a good hike to consider if you want great views but not the elevation change.
Other Good Sights to See
- Iao Valley State Park
This park is the beautiful backdrop for Wailuku. It is on the east side of the West Maui. It is close to the airport. You will see the majestic valley as you drive west from the airport. The fee is $5 per car. All the paths in the park are paved or has stairs. You can walk down to the stream and gardens or walk up to a lookout where you will see the Iao Valley Needle. The needle is a famous tourist attraction. It was used as a lookout during some of the historical battles on Maui. Of course, you also have great views into the valley and out towards the rest of Maui. At the lookout point for the needle, there are signs not to pass the rail. Behind that sign is a trail made by hikers that take you up closer to the needle. While you get a slightly better view of the needle, there is really nothing else up there to see. I recommend staying on the designated paths in the park. The hike up is a good exercise but it is not worth it. There are better things to do and see in Maui. It is a beautiful park but you can enjoy it in 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Makena Beach
If you want to go to a beautiful beach on the west side of Maui and not pay, go south and go to Makena beach. There is a big Makena Beach but I found a couple of spots north of it that are good. I assume they have a lot less people than the big beach too if you want more privacy. The first spot is Makena Landing Park which is on Makena road. It is a small cove and beach. The parking lot is right next to it. If you go further south on the road, Maluaka Beach is bigger. There is a parking lot on your left that is across the street from a church on the right. You walk down to the beach from there. The beach is beautiful with great views of the islands. A couple of the resorts lead into the beach. However, all beaches are public in Hawaii so you can go right on them. I definitely recommend Maluaka Beach if you want to swim.
Other Places to Eat (Kihei)
I stayed in Kihei and there were very good dining options. It is a good part of the island to stay in if you do not want to stay in a resort.
- Horhitos Taqueria (1941 South Kihei Road, Kihei, HI 96753)
It is a food truck and my favorite spot to eat in Kihei. The Mahi Mahi fish tacos are amazing. Of course, it is also a cheap dining option.
- Cafe O’Lei Restaurants (2439 S Kihei Rd #201A, Kihei, HI 96753)
This café has good food at reasonable prices. It is a good spot for lunch with their lunch special. I ordered a chicken lettuce wrap and the fish of the day lunch special. The fish special is $12-$13 which is a little more than the regular lunch special. On the day I went, the fish was mahi mahi. It was fresh and the sauce was really good. In general, both the dishes were good.
- Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (1881 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753)
Sansei is known for its creative dishes. It definitely gets an A for presentation but I had mixed feelings about taste. The Panko-Crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi is one of their signature dishes. It is good but not great. Moreover, I did not really like the other two things I ate. The first is the Soy Ramen Noodles. It is very forgettable and I did not think it is very good. I did not like the noodles or the broth. I had the tempura macadamia ice cream for dessert. The ice cream is good but I did not care for the tempura batter. On the other hand, everything I ate was half off because I ate at the cocktail bar during Happy Hour. It is the reason there is a line at the door before it opens every night.
- Kina’ole Grill Food (1, 7 Alanui Ke’ali’i, Kihei, HI 96753)
It is another good food truck in Kihei. I did not think it was as amazing as the hype suggests but I also did not try what they are known for, the coconut shrimp, since I am allergic to coconut and do not like shrimp. Instead, I had the panko crusted mahi mahi. I thought it was good but not amazing.
- Surfing Monkey Hawiian Shave Ice (1881 S Kihei Rd, HI 96753)
This stand is next to Foodland. It is a great spot to get some shave ice. Their syrup is made from local sugar cane. It is very sweet and arguably the best syrup I had in Hawaii. I ordered the Maui Tropical Heaven which includes passion fruit, guava, and mango flavors. It is awesome.
- S & Q’s Coffee & Shave Ice Shack 2439 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753)
This shack is at the entrance of the Rainbow Mall in front of Café O’Lei. It is another excellent spot for shave ice. The syrup and ice cream are very good. I ordered a half cherry and half watermelon shave ice with vanilla ice cream. It is on par with all the best shave ice spots I tried on the Hawaiian islands.
Oahu has the best coffee shops but Maui has a few good ones too. Wailuku Coffee Company (26 N Market St, Wailuku, HI 96793) served me the best latte I had on Maui but it also served me the worst. It is because of different baristas. The one on the weekend made a terrible drink and the one during the week made an amazing one. It looked and tasted like two completely different drinks. On my third time there, I had a drink in between. As a result, I have not seen any consistency among the baristas. Nevertheless, it is worth a roll of a dice. Java Café (1279 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753) is very good and I like that I had a consistent experience both times I went. It is within a shopping plaza so just park in the plaza. Belle Surf Café (1794 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753) is another good coffee shop in Kihei.
Island Vintage Coffee, mentioned above in Ka’napali, is also another great choice for coffee on Maui. Wailuku Coffee Company’s best latte is better but Island Vintage is on par and more consistent.
For my guides for other Hawaiian Islands, please see: