Maui Favorites

We are frequently asked to share some of our favorite sights and restaurants on Maui. We decided to make this page a reference – it will be a living docuemnt that evolves as Maui evolves. It is organized by region starting from where we are – we hope you find it helpful.

Much Aloha!

Doug & Jen


Close to Hale O Kauka Healing Garden (North Shore)

For anyone who would like to access spa services we recommend reserving time at our neighboing spa, The Temple of Peace Healing Sanctuary.

200 yards up Haiku Rd. there are some good food options:

Eat at Collens at the Cannery (my favorite local restaurant, not fancy but good and reliable. Good for picking up coffee and a croissant at the counter in the morning, take out pizza or a full sit down meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner)

Nuka for Sushi.

Haiku Market (is a Foodland Market with their famous deli counter poke- cheap, fresh and delicious), fresh Michu, organic options and great for picking up picnic lunch for the Road to Hana or the beach.

Veg-Out for vegan pizza and pasta.

Wailuki Coffee Cafe for a quick cup of brew in the morning.

If you can get a reservation at Mamma’s Fish House and have a serious dinner budget – it is well worth every penny, the ambiance, the food and the service are amazing. We don’t recommend taking kids – they don’t seem to be too kid friendly, we’ve learned (we have kids).

Close Beaches:

Hookipa & Ku’au – great for watching surfers, kite surfing, wind sail surfing & whale watching in the winter (the surf is strong on the North side – not for beginners)

The Beach at Mamma’s Fish House – has limited public parking but is a beautiful spot especially for photos.

Our favorite beach for water play is The Cove at Baldwin Beach. Lots of parking and bathrooms. Usually there will be a sunbathing honu (sea turtle) on the sand.

The Road to Hana – we are just a mile up from Hana Hwy right at the start to the road to Hana excursion. You might want to wind around Haiku Road until you find Baked on Maui – to get a quick bite before starting your road trip to Hana. Its a great little cafe with the most amazing cinamon rolls – truly! There is also a little grocery shop there in Pauwela to pick up some organic snacks. Or Haiku Market has everything including a fresh poke bar. We definitely recommend packing lunch and snacks for the drive. Bring a cooler bag. And you may want beach towels and chairs too.

On The Road to Hana we recommend stopping at the swimming hole/waterfall at the 10 mile mark and we recommend getting advance reservations and parking at Waianapapa State Beach, Maui’s famous black sand beach. It is gorgeous. Don’t by pass the small cave by the stairs – its worth crouching down to walk in (it is spacious inside). And definitely pick up local fruit, avocados, (the tangerines in Hana are amazing) and some tropical flowers at the farm stands along the road from the Waianapanapa parking back to the HWY (I recommend bringing at least $20 cash with you). I recommend skipping Coconut Glens, it is disappointing – we wish them all the best but it’s not worth the time in our opinion. There are two state/public bathrooms on the Road To Hana and if you want to purchase a snack at the entrance to The Garden of Eden – they also have a guest bathroom and off HWY parking. The huli-huli chicken stand just before Waianapanapa beach is good (if it’s open) and the shops have some rare Hana local artisinal items and jewelry. I also love the shop in Hana near the post office called I Heart Hana. Treat yourself to a local artisnal tahitian pearl or sunrise shell bracelt or earings – like no where else. The Hana Ranch Restaurant there is good too -if you’re having wine or drinks at their bar – just make sure you have a designated driver for the way back. And we recommend trying to get back by sundown unless you are staying the night in Hana. Also, you’ll have almost no cell service on the entire road – so familiarize yourself with the map before you go and bring some tunes for the car that don’t require streaming.

Twin Falls is a huge local favorite near Hale O Kauka and on the way toward Hana however they have been taken over by fire ants – so we don’t recommend it anymore. You can hardly walk or sit without getting bitten up – just not fun until the infestation is eradicated. We’ll update this page when its safe to return.

Paia is also close to Hale O Kauka and you’ll likely pass through it on your way to our place. It’s worth doubling back if you really like seafood – Paia Fish Market is fantastic. Its super casual and great for take out. Cafe Des Amis is also great and they have a cute outdoor eating garden – Indian food and crepes (even glutten free). Flatbread pizza is great and they have a glutten free crust option. We also frequently do our grocery shoppping there at Mana. The Shave Ice Shop in Paia is good (there are two next to each other – the one with the natural flavors is better) and the ice cream shop next to Cafe Des Amis is also great! The shops in Paia are great too, lots of eclectic clothing and swim wear shops.

If you would like to head up to the Volcano crater or Upcountry in general – were close to Haleakala Hwy which takes you right there. The crater is 10k feet up, some get altitude sickness so be aware of that and plan an easy rest of your day after. The Temple of Peace (our neighbors) have a Hyperbolic Oxygen Chamber at there spa – which is really helpful for altitude sickness, or the bends for diving. Do not hesitate to reach out if you think you need some oxygen therapy. We do not recommend splurging on a bike tour down the volcano – the locals hate it and for good reason, the roads here are not set up for bike riders, many on the bikes are inexperienced and the locals tend to drive fast down and up these winding roads. In our opinion it’s just not safe for the riders or the locals driving these back roads. Sunrise at the Crater requires an advanced reservation but anytime of day is great and sunset is also an option.

The closest attraction to our place on your way Up Country is The Sacred Garden of Mailiko – one of our favorite places on Maui. Something about the energy of the space is super peaceful and we love walking their laberynth and visiting the gift shop after walking through their quirky plant nursery with many vignettes and photo ops. Especially near the large buddha in their garden. They also have a goddess reading/meditation room if you have some time to spend.

Makawao is a quaint Hawaiian piholo (cowboy) town. Great shops and few food trucks worthy of stopping in for lunch. Definitely find the glass blower’s shop – you can usually watch something being made and it’s really hot!

I do not recommend the Mexican restaurant there. Better to keep going to HaileMaile for sit down dinning if you are so inclined. HaileMaile General Store is good food and service, large portions though and can be a bit heavy – not for every day.

There are more delicious food trucks in Pukalani near the Longs Drug Store (yes, they still call it Longs here not CVS)- locals love these. The Farmers markets in UpCountry on Saturday and Wednesday mornings are also filled with local treats. Local farm stands along the road are a nice way to try some local grown fruit and/or avocados – they usually are on a cash honor system set up.

There are several farms with tours and attractions worth stopping at if you are traveling through Up Country / Kula area – The Lavendar Farm, The Botanical Gardens, The Surfing Goat Dairy (they have goat icecream and a cheese shop) and as a final destination I recommend The Ulupalakua Winery. There is a local lunch stop accross from the Winery that we like too. You can spend a whole day in the Up Country. We like the view from the Kula Lodge and grounds, but the food and service are disappointing – maybe just have a drink and check it out. Best during the day because they have mirror film on their windows which prevent any view at night. If you are on Maui for Halloween, there is a great pumpkin patch in Kula too.

If you want to pick up beach gear, Costco near the airport is the best price – if you’re a Costco member. There is also a Target behind Home Depot which you may pass on your way to the West or South side from the Airport. Or there’s always the ABC stores in the resort areas. In UpCountry – Longs usually has a selection and the local grocery stores like Foodland and Haiku Market do have a few things too. Our favorite grocery stores on island are Mana in Paia, Whole Foods in Wailuku, Down to Earth in Kahului, Foodland in Lahaina (the one in the strip mall near Ross). We don’t have a recommendation on the Southside (Kihei, Wailea, Makena) of the island yet.

If you are heading to the Westside (our favorite sunny vacation spot, very different climate from the rain forest and cooler UpCountry climate) we love Lahaina Town. We always try to dine at Lahaina Fish Co. It used to be our first stop after landing when we still lived in Los Angeles. The food is amazing and prepared well, the tropical drinks are also perfect and the ambiance reminds us of dining on a boat deck with the sea right up to your table. Our kids love looking for puffer fish and pencil fish in teh water below the dining deck. Just after sunset is the best time to dine at Fish Co.

We also love Kimo’s (a few doors down from Fish Co.)- we usually just request patio seating which does not require a reservation. Kimo’s is one of several restaurants owned by the same group (they own Hula Grill, Leilani’s and Duke’s – even the one in Malibu). The food is good and the drinks are perfect. They are also famous for their Hula Pie – an slice of icecream pic as large as your head – seriously. covered in hot fudge. We frequently eat at Fish Co and then get drinks and dessert at Kimo’s – they usually have live Hawaiian music on the patio too. The house wine is very descent.

Our favorite touristy shop on Front Street is Whaler’s General Store. The Galleries on Front Street have a lot of signed and number pieces from very well known artists – it’s fun to gallery stroll between dinner and dessert.

There is a new restaurant that looks like it will be good – It’s Tommy Bahamas at the end of Front Street. We look forward to checking it out. It’s on the corner in front of the Outlet shops which, if you are from the Mainland and have room in your suitcase is worthing perusing – the winter clothes tend to end up on the clearance racks here on Maui. And if you’re looking for the perfect Hawaiian mumu – you must check out Hilo Hattie’s there.

Down the other direction is Betty’s – which is only good for lobster night, Saturday and Wednesday a whole Maine lobster for under $24. Drinks are not good – maybe go with beer.

We also like the Lahaina Plantation Restaurant for breakfast – it’s french. And there is a Paia Fish Market in Lahaina now too! Burgers in Paradise is interesting – everyone should try it once, especially if you like burgers. I like their veggie burger – definitely more of lunch stop than dinner. And there’s the Cool Cat Cafe upstairs accross from The Banyan Tree – for some reason my husband likes to have a drink there (the view is good) while we shop. The Hawaiian local handmade quilt shop is just below and there is also a shop that makes Hawaiian clothes for America Girl style dolls that my kids love. Accross the street from the Banyan tree is a good Shave Ice and IceCream shop. We don’t recommend getting the combo – just shave ice. Or ice cream.

Further into the Westside we like a little beach called, Honokawai. It is small but peaceful in front of a grass park with picnic tables and they have a public bathroom. We like that little spot so much we bought a condo accross the street. When we stay there you’ll find me meditating at Honokawai in the early sunrise hour. Accross the street is The Farmers Market and a local Latin Grocery Store that we shop for beach snacks and drinks. I do not recommend Bad Ass Coffee in the same strip mall – terrible service. There is a local gift shop there though, if they survive the pandemic – it’s sweet and all locally made items.

The next stops on the Westside are Whaler’s Village in Kaanapali for resort style open air shopping and dinner at Hula Grill – we actually love sitting at Hula Grill all afternoon eating appetizers and drinks while our kiddos explore the beach just in front of the restaurant and terrorize the upscale dinning establishments bathrooms to change their clothes before joining us for dinner. Before the pandemic they had a nice children’s climbing structure in the open air mall but it has been closed for awhile. Hopefully it re-opens. There is also frozen yogurt in the mall in case you didn’t get enough dessert on your trip. BTW, Hula Grill also serve Hula Pie. We also like Leilani’s accross the way but more for date night than dinning with kids. During happy hour at Hula Grill there is usually a ukelele player and/or hula dancer for entertainment. My kids love to find the pearl jewelry kiosk in Whaler’s Village and spend their souvenir money on breaking open an oyster to get a pearl for their collection.

Our favorite Westside beach is Kapalua Bay where you can rent kayaks and surfboards. It’s right next to our favorite Westside restaurant, Merriman’s. There are beach showers and public restrooms and small public parking lot – if you circle enough times – you’ll get a spot. Definitely get a reservation at Merriman’s for sunset- so delicious and beautiful. Or brunch is fantastic there too.

The Iao Valley in Wailuku is a great little hike and the Gardens behind are also amazing. The Aquarium at the Ma’alea Harbor is fantastic but closed since the beginning of the pandemic, sadly. The Whale Foundation is just around the corner toward Kihei – its a sweet stop, especially durin whale watch season and they have a public restroom (these things are good to know when you have kids).

More torward the Southside, we like the Shops at Wailea. The public bathroom there is clean and good, we usually stop for tea and ice cream and use the restroom on our way back from a beach we like in Makena.

The beach we like on that side is past all the Wailea resorts, past the Shops at Wailea – there is a state beach near the cinder cone that you can see on the island maps. You pull in off the hwy and find a secluded beach of red sand. We usually spend a few hours there. The sun is scorching hot – make sure to bring your sunscreen. There are always turtels (Honu) in the surf and if you look very carefully in the tide pools at the end of the beach – you will find whole sea shells – they tend to be the same color as the sand, you have to be a very good beachcomber to find them. They are a favorite treasure of ours.

In Kihei there are some open air shops/stalls that we like. One has a local buddhist man who sells jewelry and trinkets – he has very good energy. Sugar Beach is a local favorite. And that sushi place that my friend says is to die for is there – I can’t remember the name. Maybe you’ll find it.

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