How to Do Maui, Hawaii, Like a Local
Renowned for its 30 miles of gorgeous white, red, and black sand beaches, the second-largest island in the archipelago is also a prime spot for spotting humpback whales.
Natural Wonder: Red Sand Beach
Save your iPhone battery for plenty of photographs and pack your lightweight hikers. This small cove near Hāna gets its startling, deep rusty hue from a volcanic cinder cone, and its deeply blue waters are just as striking. Fair warning: The hike to Red Sand Beach is strenuous, and the beach itself is clothing optional. (For detailed directions—you’ll need them—go to mauiguidebook.com and search for “Red Sand Beach.”)
Culture Excursion: Īao Valley State Park
The park (which will reopen December 15 after renovations) is home to the ‘Īao Needle, a 1,200-foot-tall rock outcropping blanketed in lush greenery that’s easily reached on a paved path. Further, ‘Īao Valley is the site of the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai—an important win in King Kamehameha I’s campaign to unite Hawai‘i.
Secret Beach: Maluaka Beach
South Maui’s golden stretch of sand was already a bit of a secret. But now, with the Makena Beach & Golf Resort (which fronted it) closed, the crowds have virtually vanished. Bonus tip: This beach is also considered one of the prime areas for spotting sea turtles.
Knockout View: Waihe‘e Ridge Trail
This dramatic ridgeline hike through the West Maui Forest Reserve pays off with big ocean vistas, views into a lush rain forest valley, and glimpses of Makamaka‘ole Falls.
Shopping Stop: Driftwood
The artsy upcountry town of Makawao is home to several boutiques among its historic mercantile buildings. Hit Driftwood for a sophisticated blend of clothing, accessories, and footwear.
Meal of the Moment: Tin Roof
The James Beard–nominated chef Sheldon Simeon is changing the culinary game on Maui with his deft take on casual fare at Tin Roof, featuring a poke bowl, mochiko chicken, and other island classics in a low-key, neighborhood-style joint. Open for lunch only.
Prime Watering Hole: Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman
Amid the buzzy fun of Wailea, this bar-forward restaurant has everything you want in a hangout: craft beers (many local), an
excellent list of wines by the glass, smart cocktails, live music, and lobster deviled eggs.
Top-Notch Mai Tai: Mama’s Fish House
If you didn’t plan far enough in advance to score a table at the ever-hot Mama’s Fish House, post up at the retro-perfect bar for the drink they’re best known for. And try not to become too attached to those glass tiki goblets they come in.
Old-School Favorite: Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice
This local institution crafts its nearly 50 syrup flavors (including calamansi lime and pickled mango) in-house. Order as the locals do with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and then take it across the street at Kenolio Beach for a perfect life event.
Related: Fun Things to Do in Maui:
Sweet Sunset Spot: Honoapi‘ilani Highway
Cruise this waterfront stretch between Mā‘alaea and Lahaina, and take your pick of scenic beach pull-offs. Locals promise you’ll have killer sunset views.
Famous and Worth It: The Road to Hāna
It’s a classic for a reason. One-lane bridges and hairpin turns through forests and past waterfalls (mile marker 10 has a swimmable one) make for epic driving and indelible memories. But don’t make the rookie mistake of driving there and back in a day; stay the night in Hāna and explore Haleakalā National Park.
Souvenir Power Move: Wings Hawaii
Samantha Howard and Melody Torres of Wings Hawaii transform crystals, gemstones, and precious metals into striking pieces. Shop the flagship store in Pā‘ia and pick up one (or many) of their blithe “Lucky You” necklaces made from shells and silk threading. At $9, they’re the ultimate impulse buy.
Rest Your Head At: Hotel Wailea
Tucked into the hillside just above the bustle of the beach, Hotel Wailea has 72 rooms spread across 15 lush acres. Set aside one night for dinner at The Restaurant, Wailea’s elegant island-to-table eatery. (Go all-in on sweeping views with a table on the garden terrace.) Rates start at $489.
Insider Take: Designing the Perfect Maui Saturday
“I start with a workout at Maui Powerhouse Gym in Kīhei, and then make a day of it at Little State Beach in Mākena State Park. A climb to the top of Pu‘uōla‘i is a must for magnificent views. I’ll have dinner at Hotel Wailea—ahi poke crackers and kampachi crudo, followed by the fish of the day. Finally, I head to Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort for live music, skipping the fruity drinks for a cold glass of Pinot Grigio to beat the tropical heat.” —Tim Clarke interior designer/owner of Tim Clarke, Inc.