3 Days in Maui
Explore the hidden secrets of Maui Island. Here is a 3-day itinerary for you to plan a perfect trip to Maui
Maui is the undisputed playground of Hawai‘i. No other island has a range of activities and scenery available to you here. There’s almost nothing you can’t do on Maui: hike in pristine rain forests, snorkel in an extinct crater, coast a bicycle 10,000 feet down a volcano, walk along miles of beaches, frolic under a waterfall, dive into a natural freshwater pool, lie on a black or even red sand beach, or sip a drink as the sun sets over nearby islands. Whatever fantasy you have, Maui is bound to deliver.
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3-Days in Maui
Resorts aren’t actually rated 5 or 4 stars in Hawaii per se. We’ll call them the “Top Resorts on Maui” which are:
- Four Seasons Resort Maui
- Fairmont Kea Lani
- Montage at Kapalua Bay
Where to stay in Maui
This list may assist you in planning what to bring. Obviously, you won’t bring everything on the list, but it might make you think of a few things you may otherwise overlook:
If you’re looking to spend the day at a beach, don’t feel compelled to bring everything with you from the mainland. Hawai‘i Beach Time (808-585-1474) rents everything beachy you can think of—from umbrellas to kayaks, beach chairs, surfboards, hammocks, etc. And their prices are fairly reasonable. Spend $50 or more and they’ll deliver it all to you anywhere on the island, for free.
What to Bring
Hiking sticks (carbide-tipped ones are good for boulder-hopping hikes)
Shoes—flip-flops, trashable sneakers, water shoes, hiking shoes
Shorts and other cool clothing
Camera with lots of storage
Light rain jacket
Junk clothes for bikes, hiking, etc.
Mosquito repellent for some hikes. (Those with DEET seem to work the longest).
Mask, snorkel and fins
Cheap, simple backpack—handy even if you’re not backpacking
Small flashlight for the Haleakala sunrise
Reef-safe and water-resistant sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
Hat or cap for sun protection
Day 1 in Maui - Maui Itinerary
If you haven’t checked out our Maui one day itinerary you can do so here. We guide you through a jam-packed first day exploring the Road to Hana, Hamoa Beach and more.
Breakfast at Ku‘au Store & Deli
One of your better bets for picking up some grinds on your way out to Hana. Open at 6:30 a.m., they have a coffee bar, smoothies, cold case deli and some hot breakfast sandwiches. $7 for a burrito that is loaded, $6 for breakfast panini (meat or veggie).
Poke, BBQ lunch plates and more panini and sandwiches. Lots of organic, local produce and natural foods for a decent price, considering it’s a small store. (They even stick freshly cut lime in the half papayas in the cold case.) Lots of locally made baked goods, many loaded with superfoods and nuts.
Road to Hana
The road to Hana is without question the most famous and desired drive in all Hawai‘i, the crown jewel of driving. It’s been compared to driving through the garden of Eden: a slow, winding road through a lush paradise that you always knew existed—somewhere.
If you’re a one-dayer, we suggest you look through our app and prioritize the things that interest you most. Maybe you want to do some bodysurfing at the best beach on the island for it. Then Hamoa Beach is what you want. If you want to see a drop-dead gorgeous view of the coast, make sure you take Nahiku Road. If you want to dig your toes in a genuine volcanic black sand beach, then Wai‘anapanapa is a must-see. Want to see crazy fools make daring leaps into the water? Want to take a powered hang gliding flight along the coast? You need to see Armin. This is just a small portion of what’s available. The point is, you can’t do it all, so decide which adventure is most important to you.
Dinner at Mama’s Fish House
This is where we come when we want to treat ourselves, so let’s cut to the chase: diabolically satisfying food and an extremely pleasing ambiance.
They are right next to a beautiful beach and tide-pool; the only things between you and the sand are picturesque palm trees. Food, service, ambiance—all top notch. We like early dinners best. You know as soon as you walk up the gecko walkway and through the banyan tree root archway (which got that shape when it crushed a building) that this will be special.
The mostly seafood recipes are very imaginative and change daily, so it doesn’t make much sense to mention specific ones. But we’ve never had a bad meal here. They even give credit on the menu to the fishing boat or fisherman who caught each fish. Polish it off with a Polynesian Black Pearl dessert and a chocolate martini.
This is a well-oiled machine that serves 1,000 meals a day and is often listed as one of the top 10 restaurants in the U.S. Other than the price, complaints are hard to think of.
Breakfast at Fabiani’s (Kihei)
The former pastry chef from Longhi’s opened this bakery/pizzeria, and the results are outstanding. Everything is homemade, even the bagels. Quiches, croissants, cinnamon rolls, and an amazing Italian-style loco moco for breakfast (only at Kihei location), plus pizzas, pasta, and panini for dinner. Lunch is the same, but add hamburgers and sandwiches. The 12-inch thin crust pizzas are tasty. Or add the bolognese sauce to the cheese ravioli for a delicious dish.
For a place that takes obvious pride in their product and service, they missed one big thing that possibly should cost them their ONO: It’s loud inside. What? I said it’s so bloody loud inside, you should only come here with someone you don’t want to talk to. Our voices were raw after just trying to talk to the server.
Morning at Molokini Crater
To residents and visitors in the know, the name Molokini conjures up images of crystal clear water and bright, vivid coral.
If nature hadn’t made this offshore island, the Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau would have done it. This aquatic wonder was created when an undersea vent, held under pressure by the ocean’s weight, busted loose with lava and ash, building up what is called a tuff cone. The northern half has been eroded away by wave action, creating a semi-circular reef far enough offshore to be clear of runoff or sand. So underwater visibility is nearly always 100 feet, sometimes 180.
Visiting Molokini means taking a boat from either Ma‘alaea (10 miles away) or Kihei Boat Ramp (6 miles). Though it seems close to Maui, don’t try to take a kayak there. Currents and winds between Molokini and Maui are too strong for most kayakers
Lunch at Betty’s Beach Café
This hidden gem escaped us for years until savvy readers tipped us off. If you like a tacky, tiki bar atmosphere, look no further. The food is good, but the view takes things to another level. Large windows run the length of the restaurant, giving a nearly unobstructed view of the ocean and the island of Lana‘i.
The menu is American café-style. Breakfast features the usual lineup of omelets, Benedicts (love the blackened ono), plus pancakes and a couple of Mexican-style dishes. Lunch/dinner brings burgers, sandwiches, more Mexican dishes, seafood and salads. On lobster nights—Wednesdays and Saturdays—you can get a whole Maine lobster (from the Big Island) for only $20.
Prime rib on Friday (prime rib night) goes for the same price. No live music, but the grounds are basically right in front of the Feast at Lele lu‘au, which runs nightly from 5:30–8:30 p.m. It makes for loud dining, but you basically get a free lu‘au show (though whether that's a pro or con, you'll need to decide for yourself).
Day 2 in Maui - Maui Itinerary
Afternoon at Lahaina Town
Lahaina should be viewed as an event, not a place. You do Lahaina. You go there to eat, shop, walk and gawk. Lots of activities, especially boating-related, are centered around Lahaina. (This was, after all, an old whaling port.)
Lahaina is the only town in all of leeward Maui with a real downtown. If someone told you to meet them in downtown Kihei, you wouldn’t have any idea where they meant. Same goes for Wailea, Kapalua, Ka‘anapali or Napili. Though it’s only 1.5 miles long, downtown Lahaina is well-defined and bursting with things to see and do.
The biggest problem with Lahaina is that it’s crowded. And even when it’s not crowded... it’s crowded. A secluded stroll along Front Street is about as likely as a snowy day in Miami. But Front Street has electricity that defies explanation. No matter how much you curse its popularity, you can’t deny Lahaina’s charm. It’s busy, tacky, weird and wonderful. It’s full of old world character and new world annoyances. It manages to energize and relax at the same time. If you visit West Maui without strolling along Front Street (abiding by that old Yogi Berra axiom, “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded”), then you missed out on more than you think. Because for all its faults, Lahaina works.
Dinner and a Show at Old Lahaina Lu’au
The Old Lahaina Lu‘au is easily the best lu‘au on Maui, and if it wasn't missing a couple of common elements found at more standard shows, it would be without question the best lu‘au in the entire state. The professional crew is competent, friendly, and always up, and they make you feel welcome by giving everyone a fresh flower lei. The grounds, next to but not on the shore, have an assortment of thatched hale (buildings) giving things a distinctly Hawaiian feel. Drinks are served from their accommodating bar.
The food is better than any other lu‘au on Maui (except for their sister program Feast at Lele, but that's a different experience). The buffet offers all of the usual lu‘au items plus many Hawaiian dishes you'll have a hard time finding elsewhere, such as laulau (pork wrapped in a taro leaf and cooked until tender) and poke (raw, cubed, and seasoned ahi). Unlike a typical lu'au that features dance styles from across Polynesia, this show strives for a more authentic Hawaiian and Tahitian feel. That said, the dancing here is captivating. It's so riveting that most people don't even get up to go get seconds during the show.
Sunrise Hike to Watch the Haleakala Sunrise
Sunrises from atop Haleakala have taken on legendary status. They are said to be comparable to a religious experience, that they will heal your soul, rejuvenate your spirit and perhaps even fix that ingrown toenail you’ve had lately. In short, they are said to be the best in the world. As a result, sunrises from up here are considered must-dos for visitors. But they ain’t free. The park now requires an online reservation—in advance—before they will let you into the park to watch the sunrise. And they charge an extra $1.50 (in addition to the entrance fee) for this “service.” If you don’t have a reservation from www.recreation.gov, they will turn you around until the sun comes up. (The sunsets are still free, but please don’t call this to their attention, or they might start charging for that, too.)
The first time we came to watch the sunrise up here, we thought it was the most overrated, overhyped event we’d seen. The second time we did it, however, we were blown away by its majesty. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. What’s the difference between pleasant and wow? Multiple trips have cemented a theory. It’s simple—clouds. A sea of clouds (especially broken clouds) below you with the sun rising from beneath makes a glorious canvas for the sun to paint. It’s like nothing you’ve seen, and when it’s good, it’s as good as a sunrise can get. Other times, when it’s too clear, it’s simply… nice… and cold. And for nice it’s hard to justify the hardship. Fortunately, having clouds below you is fairly common, though less common than at sunset.
Lunch at Serpico’s
A likable menu throughout the day. Breakfast is mainly American while lunch and dinner turn Italian with thin crust pizza, several parmigiana (including shrimp), pastas such as baked ravioli, hot hoagies, and salads. It ain’t fancy, and you certainly won’t drive all the way to Pukalani to eat here, but it’s solid and comforting food before or after a hard day exploring Haleakala, and portions seem generous.
Afternoon at Ka‘anapali Beach
Ka‘anapali is one of the finest beaches you’ll find on Maui. This portion fronts most of the Ka‘anapali resorts and Whalers Village. There’s a concrete path running the entire length of Ka‘anapali Beach, from the Sheraton to the Hyatt. It’s a great place to be at sunset. This beach turns into a kickin’, hoppin’, happenin’ place as all eyes are cast toward the sunset. Dinner cruises ply the waters, beachside restaurants hum, and couples walk the glorious beachside path holding hands and waiting to greet the night. It’s busy but not offensively loud. If you’re staying in West Maui, you should strongly consider spending one evening doing a stroll along this path, then dining at one of the restaurants along here.
Day 3 in Maui - Maui Itinerary
Dinner at Duke’s Beach House
Is there a killer view here? Check. Great fresh food? Check. Ka‘anapali prices? Check. Part of a local chain that runs a tight ship, Duke’s is no different. Breakfast has some great choices, such as the giant kahuna pancakes and seared ‘ahi Benedict. Lunch brings salads, burgers and some fresh fish choices (which they tend to do very well). With dinner comes great seats for sunset, more seafood and steak. Dinner can get pricey—arrive for the end of happy hour (3–5 p.m.) to get better deals on starters and drinks. We really like that they strive to use locally sourced ingredients, even macadamia nuts from Moloka‘i. The portion sizes can be lacking for seafood entrées —add a side such as salad or soup if you're on the hungry side.
Hawaii Revealed App
That’s a lot of activity packed into 3 days! But we didn’t stop at simply reviewing the resorts, restaurants and activities. We’ve organized them based on prices, regions, and loads of other unique filters in one app. If you wanted to know more information, such as which resorts have an outdoor lanai, which restaurants have live music, and which activities need half a day or more, we’ve catalogued all of that information on our app, which you can filter through.
We have the same custom maps found in the book on our app, only now you can zoom in and quickly see what’s nearby, then tap on the activity to read more. The maps will also show you the distance between a resort and an attraction, making it easy to plan your Hawaii trip.
You can also find the following in our app:
- Sights information including their locations, pricing, and contact details
- Adventure activities and their reviews
- A planner to save your favourites spots
- Maps to view nearby activities, resorts, restaurants and more.
Download the Hawaii Revealed app to see all the real gems and not to be missed sights on the islands.
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Plan your Maui Vacation with our Hawaii Revealed App
Check out our new Hawaii Revealed app with everything you need to know about where to stay, including unbiased reviews, restaurants, and activities. Download the app for free on iOS to get previews of the best-selling Hawaii travel guides in the palm of your hand. Choose in-app purchases for full access to details on each island.
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