Josh and I went to Maui for Spring Break this year and absolutely loved it! Maui is such an amazing island with an abundance of things to do. We only got to go for four days, but we tried to see, do, and eat as much as possible.
We flew to Maui from Honolulu with IslandAir which only took about 35 minutes, since the island is really close. We rented a Jeep Wrangler, which is also my absolute dream car, through Enterprise and picked it up pretty much right next to the airport. We arrived in Maui late afternoon and after picking up our car we went to Target for some groceries and then directly to our hotel. The hotel we stayed in is in Kihei, which is only a 30 minute drive by car from the airport.
Our hotel definitely wasn’t our favorite, because it didn’t have great amenities and was kind of dated, but we spent such little time there that it didn’t really bother us. Finding an accommodation in Maui was actually quite challenging because hotels are pricey and book out quickly. Kihei was a great location though for our trips because we were close to freeways and right in the middle of the south/west shore of the island.
On our first day in Maui we decided to take a trip to Upcountry Maui. We drove to the Kula Lavender Farm and visited and took a tour of Ulupalakua Vineyards. Kula Lavender Farm was absolutely beautiful – the views from the farm were stunning and the farm itself was gorgeous too. We walked around the farm for a while and took lots of photos and then we stopped for a lavender scone and lavender tea at the café. We enjoyed the scone paired with lilikoi jam and decided to buy some jam to take home with us. We then drove the vineyard, which is only about a 10 minute drive from the lavender farm. The winery amazingly offers a free tasting of all of their wines and lucky for me Josh agreed to driving us back to the hotel. A lot of the wines were delicious and we decided to buy a bottle of Maui Splash – a wine made from pineapples, which was just the right amount of sweet (and if you know me, you know that that’s my favorite).
On our second day in Maui we dared to drive the (in-)famous Road to Hana, an experience Josh prefers to never speak of again. The Road to Hana is a windy, narrow road along the east coast of Maui. Driving the road is day trip that takes between 7 to 10 hours depending on the amount of stops made. We spend quite some time researching the road and all of the amazing things you can see while on it and decided to make between 5 and 6 stops. We left our hotel early in the morning with fully charged phones and cameras and put the route as well as the stops we planned to make into google maps on our cell phone. The great thing about google maps is that is continues to work even when there is no more service. The Road to Hana starts in Paia, a little plantation village on the north shore of Maui, and leads to the little town of Hana. The road starts out just like a regular highway and then gets narrower, windier, and scarier as you keep driving. Even though driving the road was a scary thrill of not trying to fall of the edge of the road or collide with the cars coming toward us, we still tried to enjoy the views and sights the Road to Hana has to offer. Our first stop was Keanae Peninsula, which offers beautiful views of the ocean. We then continued to drive and stopped at a pretty, but overly crowded waterfall. Before we stopped to look at that waterfall, we actually meant to stop at a few others that were just off of the side of the road, but those places were so crowded with cars that there was no room for us to stop. We also missed one or two stops in the beginning – even though the GPS kept working, it did not tell us anymore where to stop or to turn, it just showed us the locations on the map. We then continued to drive on this insanely scary road and our next stop was Waianapanapa State Wayside Park. This was the stop I was looking forward to the most because it features a black sand beach that I was dying to see. There are also a short coastline hiking trail, a blowhole, and some large sea caves. The black sand beach was amazing! I had never seen anything like this before and just had to take a handful of the sand to touch it and to get a close look at it. Then it was back into the car for us to continue our drive to Hana. We were so happy to have finally reached Hana, just to be slightly disappointed by the sleepy little town. There are barely any stores and just one restaurant. We went to “famous” Hasegawa General Store for some water and then it was back into the car for us with two more stops ahead of us. So we continued driving on Hana Highway to beautiful Koki Beach. Koki Beach was just a few minutes south of Hana and we spent some time there just looking at the beach and walking around while taking some pictures. Our last stop was Oheo Gulch, also called Seven Sacred Pools, which is part of Haleakalā National Park. By this time we were already completely exhausted from driving on sketchy Road to Hana for hours. We were really excited to see the waterfall and the seven sacred pools though, so we decided to pay the fee to get in and go on the short hike to the waterfall. It was slightly crowded, but definitely worth it. The sacred pools were so pretty and seeing the waterfall together with the pools and the ocean was an amazing view. After our final stop we thought “Off we go, back to our hotel in no time.” We were wrong. We were soooo wrong. As already mentioned, I had put in all the stops into my phone before leaving the hotel, including our way back home. Somehow we thought that it would be best and easier not to turn around and drive Hana Highway back toward the north shore, but instead continue on the same road which turns into Piilani Highway. This road follows the south shore of the island and then eventually takes you back to Upcountry Maui. Turns out, it might have been the faster route, but definitely not any easier. The road at some point turned into a dirt road and was so narrow that the car basically touched the mountain on one side and almost fell of the cliff on the other side. Often, there was only room for one car, and if there was a car coming toward you one or the other had to back up in order to let the other car pass. We both were so glad that we decided to go with the Jeep instead of renting a small compact car. That Jeep became my best friend on that drive. This was definitely the scariest road I have ever been on and the scariest drive I have ever done. I already had been driving for more than six hours, the phone with the GPS was dead, and the road just kept going and going and going. It finally turned into a regular paved road again, but it seemed never-ending. And with no way to check when the road would end or rather would end up in Upcountry, we were getting really impatient. The scenery around us was gorgeous, it looked like pure, untouched nature with no houses or any signs of human population, except the road, and probably would have been a relaxing, tranquil place to us if we hadn’t been on the road already for so many hours. When we finally reached Upcountry, Josh and I traded seats, so he could drive us back to the hotel, I felt so relieved and ready for a drink as I had never felt before.
The next day we decided to take it easy and check out some beaches. We went to Big Beach, which was not far from our hotel and relaxed there for a while. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go swimming because not just the beach was big at Big Beach, but also the waves. The waves were not just big, but also had a strong shore break and we did not feel like breaking our necks that day. The beach was beautiful and we just did some tanning and relaxing while watching the waves. We then went to the beach closest to our hotel swim a little, but the beach reminded us of a beach in Mallorca during peak season. Meaning: It was ridiculously crowded. There were people everywhere and the beach wasn’t all that pretty either. So we got some lunch and relaxed at the pool at our hotel for the rest of the day.
On our last day we decided to drive to Paia, a little hippie and plantation town on the the north shore of Maui. We had already passed through Paia on our way to Hana, but didn’t get the chance to stop. Everything looked so pretty though, so we decided to go there on our way to the airport. Turns out, Paia is a very popular destination to visit so we did not get the chance to stop again. Not because we didn’t have time, but because we merely could not find any parking. This sounds crazy, but this appears to be a common Hawaii problem. There are just too many people and too little space for all of those people and cars. However, we did get to stop at a nearby beach before heading to the airport.
Finally, I have to say that Maui was absolutely gorgeous. There is so much to see and so much to do that we are considering going back one day to look at all of the things we didn’t get the chance to see.