The Ultimate Guide to Maui
Trust us when we say there is a lot to do on each of Hawaii’s islands. Maui, in particular, is the undisputed playground of Hawaii and has all the rainforests and unique beaches you can imagine, plus a range of activities for any fantasy.
Creating an ultimate guide to Hawaii is a full-time job. It takes us two years to produce a first edition book, and in the meantime, we update our mobile app daily with new information on places we’ve reviewed.
But to highlight a few real gems, here are the top places you can’t miss while you’re in Maui. We’ve rounded up our favorite resorts, sights, activities and restaurants so you’re fully covered and can make the most of your vacation. These places all received A Real Gem or an Ono in our books and app as they stand out from the rest.
We’ve personally stayed at and reviewed every single resort on Maui, and these ones came out on top. They both receive “A Real Gem” from us because they offer something particularly special. Curious about the other resorts? Download our app for free to read all of our Maui resort reviews.
Four Seasons Resort Maui
Oh, my, where do we start? We’re fearful of sounding like drooling stooges for the Four Seasons, but this is our favorite resort in Wailea. When you walk in, you can actually feel the tension falling from your limbs. It soon becomes evident why. Here, they did everything right. The resort is immaculate and lovingly cared for. The smallest details seem to have been anticipated. The grounds are impeccable. Not a dead leaf or blade of grass in sight. The staff here is the most professional we’ve seen and seem genuinely concerned about your happiness.
Honua Kai Resort & Spa
This 38-acre condo property opened in 2009 and operates like a resort. Even though each unit is individually owned, all have the same type of furnishings from the on-site agent. Many units are not rented out—they’re second homes for their owners—but a lot are. The condos themselves are furnished luxuriously in a contemporary Hawaiian style. Bosch or Viking appliances throughout—everything a gourmet cook could want. They feel very spacious, like a second home, and all have queen sofa beds, so even a studio can sleep four comfortably.
See all resorts on Maui in our app. Download Now!
Maui is where you’ll find calm waters, limitless activities, and great beaches. While our app features all of the sights to see in Maui, these are the ones that are not to be missed. You can download our app and use our custom maps to plan your trip around the top sights in Maui.
A great beach! Tons and tons of fine salt and pepper sand, some shade, showers, clear water and the best bodysurfing on the island make this one of the island’s primo beaches. The thickness of the sand toward the middle is so great that you don’t have to worry as much about stubbing your toe on rocks as at most north- or east-facing Hawaii beaches (though it’s always possible). Toward the center of the beach the sand drops abruptly a little way offshore, meaning that the waves tend to break at the same spot each time—exactly what you want for bodysurfing.
Leaving Hana, there is a surprise waiting for you if you have time to venture to it. It’s one of the largest and nicest freshwater pools on the island. Called Waioka by the Hawaiians, its physical appearance has spawned a new age name that seems to have stuck— Venus Pool. It looks like a painting that you would normally dismiss as being too contrived, too perfect, yet here it is. It’s located next to the ocean with a hala tree-capped ball of lava symmetrically dividing the sea view. There you’ll find numerous places that people jump from, deep water in several spots, the pounding ocean just on the other side of the gravel and some perfect areas on the mountain side from which to sit and cogitate. The aura is unforgettable.
The way the clouds race by, clawing at some of the nearby peaks, you could be looking at Mt. Everest instead of a Hawaiian peak across the crater. The beauty is hard to describe, but it’s unlike any other place we’ve seen. Adjectives that describe it include desolate, wondrous, arid, majestic, colorful, harsh, peaceful, vast, spiritual, exciting, scary, ancient… all of these and more can be applied to Haleakala Crater. If you were smart enough to dress warmly and can concentrate on things other than the temperature, you’ll come up with your own adjectives.
If you want more from your Maui vacation than a suntan, Maui offers a multitude of activities to keep you happy and busy. Below we list out the more popular activities to do on Maui, with candid information on each. If you’re itching to see what other adventures await you in Maui, you can download our app and filter through the activities based on your preference. The app also includes a geo-accurate map you can use offline, meaning you’ll always have a guide to Hawaii in your pocket.
No matter where you go in the world, if you ask people where to find the best windsurfing on the planet, Maui is nearly always rated as the best. That’s because of an accident of geography. Our amazingly consistent trade winds from the northeast are speeded up near Kahului by the venturi effect between the two mountains, so it’s always windier there than the general trade speed. The shoreline orientation means the wind is usually along the shore to slightly onshore and parallel to the wave direction. Perfect!
Here we go again, frothing at the mouth about the water. But give us the benefit of the doubt here. The truth is that snorkelling on Maui can be outrageous—clean, clear water in many locations, calm surf much of the time, and gobs of fish and coral. The trick is knowing where to go. We’ve literally snorkeled miles and miles of coastline, from the top of West Maui to the bottom of South Maui, looking for good spots. In general, the best snorkelling is in South Maui, though West Maui does have a few gems.
Maui is the undisputed whale watching capital of Hawaii. The shallow water between islands here is the whales’ preferred birthing area. Few industries in Hawaii bring as much shameless phony advertising as whale watching. Photoshop allows companies to create fake scenes with relative ease. (For the record, we don’t doctor our photos.) Some show whales leaping so close to boats you think they’re going to get swamped. Just so you know, boats are forbidden by federal law from getting closer than 100 yards. The fine for violating a whale’s personal space is obscene. Whales are allowed to initiate closer contact (and they’re rarely fined), but in general, count on staying a football field away. That’s OK, because these oversized buggahs are so big that even at that distance they’re still incredibly impressive.
See all activities on Maui in our app. Download Now!
We’ve reviewed over 250 restaurants on Maui and marked those that stand out from the rest with an “ono” symbol. Here are a few of our top-rated restaurants, but if you’d like to see more you can download our app and filter through them all based on cuisine and price. Our app acts as your personal guide to Hawaii by locating each of Maui’s restaurants on our custom maps and showing the distance between you and a restaurant worth your while.
A’a Roots Health Café
You’ve asked us to find a good one, so here it is: a vegan health bar. The menu is simple, but the combination of ingredients and presentation is anything but. Many of the fruits used in the dishes are displayed around the shop (a nice touch). Noodle or rice bowls (love the soba bowl) and açaí/pitaya (dragon fruit) bowls are the mainstays here.
Café Des Amis
They call themselves French / Mediterranean / Indian. Sooo, we put it under American because we don’t have a category like that, and you’d never look for it. This place nicely complements the Pa’ia vibe. The inside is a little cramped, but the outside seating in a converted alley makes the experience. Wood fencing, gravel floor and simple wood tables and chairs with umbrellas make it an authentic outdoor cafe where sipping wine and eating with your fingers is basically a requirement.
I know what you’re thinking: a seafood restaurant at an aquarium—do I really want to hear the special? Not to fear, they have a lot more than seafood, and, of course, the catch comes from offshore waters. Lunch menu is sandwiches, half-pound Kobe beef burgers (which are great), and regular entrées such as coconut crusted Tahitian chicken and mac nut-crusted ahi. The view overlooking the harbor and boats is very relaxing.
If you’re hungry for more real gems on Maui, our app has them all plotted on our custom maps which can direct you to each location. The maps will even show you more attractions nearby and will tell you if it’s a real gem or not. Our maps can be downloaded for use offline, perfect for a hike to Haleakala Crater! Meaning this guide to Hawaii actually guides you to the sights and activities found on Maui, and you can gain access to the other major islands as well: Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island.
More information awaits you in our app, which you can download on your Apple or Android device.
See all restaurants on Maui in our app. Download Now!
Guide to Hawaii – Maui Island
Maui has it all, accommodation-wise, and as you consider where you want to stay—hotel or condo, by the beach or with a mountain view—you might find it intimidating to wade through the vast number of choices.
So here’s what we did. We have personally reviewed every resort on Maui. We have exhaustively cataloged all the amenities, formed opinions on what different properties have to offer and created comprehensive reviews. Sure, you can go online and look at reviews by people who have been to one or maybe two resorts. But none of those sources knows them all and can compare one to the other.
Because this information is so exhaustive, there isn’t enough room in our book to include it all. So we have put all of our reviews in our smartphone app, Hawaii Revealed, and made that portion available for free. There you can sort and sift through the resorts in a matter of minutes using our special filters. We also include our own aerial photos, so you’ll know if oceanfront really means oceanfront.
For instance, you might say, I want a hotel in West Maui, on a beach, that’s good for families, has an outdoor lanai, a children’s pool, and takes service animals. Oh, and a swim-up bar would be nice. With the filters in our app, you can cut through the 135 or so resorts and get to exactly what you want by reading our in-depth, brutally honest review. How’s that for cutting through the noise?
More things to reveal in the app, your ultimate guide to Hawaii:
- Reviews on Hawaii Resorts with their locations
- Reviews on every single beach on the islands
- Interactive maps of Kauai, Maui, Oahu and the Big Island
- Details to help plan your visit to Hawaii’s best sights, tours, activities and more
Download Your Personal Guide to Hawaii Now!