Maui Activities & Restaurants
Browse on Tom Barefoot’s site the largest selection of Hawaii Activities, more convenient and cheaper than buying directly from each company: Hawaiian Tours and Activities Helicopter Tours. Whale Watching and Sunset Cruises. Sailing to Molokini + Snorkeling. Haleakala on Horse Back. Zipline. Water Sports. Luaus.
You can drive to Hookipa Beach Park (2 miles from the cottage) and watch the surfer and windsurfers. It can get pretty spectacular. Also many turtles are coming out of the water and resting on the sand. While yellow taped and protected it is fun to watch them. But easier and more private to just walk from the cottage to next door Tavares Beach, you are guarantee to see from 1 to 20 turtles.
In the cottage we have printed the directions to Jaws, famous big waves surf spot. It is only 20mn from the cottage. Only worth going between September and March when a huge swell is coming.
Not far from the cottage if you want a short hike at Twin Falls.
Driving to Hana
It takes us about 2 hours to get to Hana if you do not stop. It is fun to stop at look outs, by waterfalls or food stands to buy banana breads, fresh coconuts or vegan ice cream at the mile marker 27.5. As you drive to Hana, your first main stop would be at Waianapanapa Park (black sand beach). But just before Waianapanapa you could visit the Kahanu Garden, it takes about 1 1/2 hour.
Hana Town has one grocery store, one small restaurant and one gas station! One nice hotel with an art gallery too. Just a few miles after Hana there is a beautiful turquoise water beach called Hamoa Beach. Very nice for a lunch break and a swim. Continue Hana Hwy (330) to the Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls, also the Seven Sacred Pools. Be brave and continue the loop around the island instead of turning around to come to the cottage (longer in distance but faster in driving). The road (31) is a little narrow and unpaved for a few miles (car rental companies discourage to drive it as there is no cell service back there) but once you make it around the lumpy bumpy there is a beautiful straight asphalt laid road. Make sure you stop at the only Kaupo Store. By the way, Kaupo is the start (or end, depending where you start) of the most challenging hike on Maui, Kaupo Gap Trail, taking you in and out of the Haleakala crater. You will finally arrive at the Ulupalakua Winery, you can visit and taste, there is also a little store across the road, the Ulupalakua Ranch Store. Keep driving now Hwy 37 and you will end up between Kahului and Paia.
Sunrise at Haleakala Crater National Park is often noted as a highlight of their Maui vacation experience for many of our guests. We love it too. It has gotten so popular that the National park Service is now taking reservations (for sunrise only) which, most likely will need to be made well in advance of your visit to be sure to get a space. Of course no one can guarantee the weather but if you are the least bit interested we suggest you make the booking. It requires an early departure so many of our guests make the journey the first morning of their arrival as they might be still a bit jet lagged and will wake up early anyway. We just heard that for those who like to decide at the last minute the Park releases a few tickets for sunrise a couple days before. “Another batch of tickets will also be available for reservation two days in advance, at 4:00 p.m. HST (Hawaii Standard Time) the day before arrival.”
We have a page in our welcome book in the cottage that gives you directions and times. It takes about 1h30mn to drive from Paia to the summit. Note that the sky is already spectacular and worth seeing before the sun peaks. Use the flash for portraits. And stay a little longer after the sunrise, the colors and shadows of the inside of the crater are wonderful.
From there you can hike Sliding Sands or drive down to hike down Switch Back called Halemau’u Trail. See all the Crater Hikes map. If you don’t want to commit to a big hike, Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is easy and short; it is not inside the crater but on the side in the midst of pine trees.
On the way down we like to stop afterwards for breakfast or lunch at the Kula Lodge. The view is incredible. And if it is lunch time we order brick oven pizzas.
Snorkeling on the South Shore, our favorite beach is Maluaka Beach next to the Makena Golf & Beach Club (ex Prince Hotel). I find some shells and the water is pretty clear. Paako Cove or Secret Cove is this adorable little beach, famous for wedding pictures. In winter, beautiful beach with turquoise water is Big Beach, everybody’s favorite. In summer, beware the surf is monstrous but spectacular for watching body boarders.
Now that you have gone around one side of the island through Hana, you might want to try to drive around the West Maui Mountains: the way to do it is from Paia, Lahaina, Kapalua, Wailuku. I have done it once 30 years ago and Craig used to bike around! We have heard from guests it is better to do it clockwise as at some point the road is narrow and you want to be the one against the mountain and not the one on the edge of the cliff!
Also here is a website about road work and lane closures, it matters when you plan to drive around the West Maui and suddenly you are stopped half way and have to turn around!!!:
Upcountry Farmers Market in Lower Kula is very very nice. We buy organic veggies, fruits, coffee, honey…. and a great variety of prepared food. Go early… 7am to get first choice. Tama has a stand and sells cup of her award-winning coffee, kulabeans. And Jamie is the only one selling the freshest fish you have ever eaten, usually mahi or ahi (tuna), sold out by 8! There is another market on Wednesday at 17 Omaopio Rd at Waipuna Chapel. Maui Swap Meet in Kahului.
Luaus and More
You can compare the different Luaus and reserve directly on Tom’s Barefoot’s site. Luaus are very touristic but also very appreciated. The two most famous ones are: the Old Lahaina Luau (Hawaiian) and the Feast at Lele (Tahitian).
You have children with you (or not) and want to see the sea creatures, go to the Maui Ocean Center, very nice aquariums. And next to the aquarium is the Maui Golf Sports Park. Visit the Lavender Farm, Surfing Goat Dairy, Flower Farm, also a Farm Stand, fun to go at pumpkin time!!! And you can learn more about bees, pick your own organic vegetables and buy the best cow and goat yogurts and eggs in Kula at mauibees. Get a tour and Luncheon at the O’o Farm, pick your salad, visit the coffee farm while your lunch is prepared (recommended by guests).
Visit the Haliimaile Distilling Company and next to it Makai Glass Maui. If you go upstairs you can watch from the balcony some glass art work being done as well as ask questions to the artist. A quality store for gifts just opened in Paia: Luna & Tide (next to HiTech). Or rent a 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster Convertible, why not!
And no, our house is not for sale 😉 (we have been asked before) but if you are interested in a Maui property or have questions about real estate, we recommend Angelynn Bair Realtor (S) at The Maui Real Estate Team, 808-268-8320.
We have some guests’ left over equipment in a box in the garage. If you cannot find your fit most rentals are in Kihei. From May to September, when the surf is down on the North Shore you can easily snorkel in front of the property (access from the little beach next door) and at Hookipa (right side looking at ocean). There you will not only see lots of turtles sleeping on the sand but you will be able to swim with them while they are feeding. But you will see nicer coral and a wider variety of fish if you go to the West and South sides. Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay are small and accessible bays, easy for snorkeling. Honolua Bay is beautiful. Also in between Kihei and Makena I like to go to Maluaka Beach, on the left side when you look at the ocean. If you continue down the coast of Makena you will arrive at the Ahihi Kinau Reserve.
Surfing, SUP, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
Here are some surfing schools. The first three might be the best for you as they will teach you wherever the waves are appropriate for you, they don’t have a set beach like the others: Rivers to the Sea, Action Sports Maui, Surf 7 StandUp Paddle Adventure, Maui Wave Riders, Maui Surfer Girls
Now in summer most of the surfing is done in Kihei (20-30 mn from here) and towards Lahaina. Hookipa (2mn from here) has some small waves too.
Maria Souza will teach you how to Stand Up Paddle: Stand Up Paddle Boarding School
NEARBY GOLF COURSES: Maui Country Club is the closest one, 5mn from the cottage. Private course (9 holes) but open to public on Mondays. Maui Country Club
Pukalani Country Club is the next closest to the cottage – 20mn – and no wind. And a great view over the island. Pukalani Country Club
Waiehu public golf course. Probably the cheapest one. 35mn from the cottage. Windy. Waiehu Golf Course
The Dunes is in Kahului, 20mn from cottage. The Dunes at Maui Lani
If you like to hike we have a book in the cottage with all the different hikes. Here are the top 10 Hikes in Maui. Here is a hike on paved road with spectacular view, on a dead end road with barely any cars: Thompson Road. You park at Grandma’s coffee place (nice muffins and drinks) and walk up 100 meters towards the hospital and on your right you will see Thompson Road. I found this video on youtube to give you an idea of the place and see if it is of any interests to you. Another trail close to the cottage is in the Makawao Forest, shaded hike, great for walking or mountain biking. My favorite thing to do is to walk Baldwin Beach which is 5 minutes from the cottage. Two miles beach, walk to the end, Baby beach, you can swim laps in flat water. Also the little beach next door is walking distance and great to go dip to help you wake up or later in the day to cool down. Turtles are sleeping on the sand, and about as many as 30 show up at night.
Camping and cabin rental: how to get a permit, location of authorized camping sites.
Here are the birds you can find in Hawaii. First in the yard we have the adorable Majiro, they come in group and you hear them before you can see them. They are so small but they constantly sing and talk to each other!! I hear them regularly. We also have Cardinals, Egret, the Golden Plover and the loud Mynah bird. There is also the Pond in Kahului And the Board Walk in Kihei Also up on the mountain, Hosmer’s Grove
Yoga is everywhere, especially in Paia. Kay is my friend’s favorite teacher: Iyengar Yoga Maui. Also the Maui Yoga Shala. What I would recommend if you have any sore body part is Somatics with Lisa Cary. I go to her class almost every Wednesday afternoon and I have now pain free neck and back. Check out her website, few people know about Somatics.
The Maui by the Sea cottage is 1/2 mile from Paia Town. Paia has over a dozen restaurants: Maui’s North Shore, (Fish, Crêperie, Argentinian, Mexican, Sushi, Pizza, Vegan, Raw, Thai) and 1/2 mile in the other direction you have the famous Mama’s Fish House restaurant, fine dining. We prefer lunch time as it is not as crowded and you can enjoy the view, reservation recommended. If you cannot get a reservation let us know, we might be able to help. Other option if you would like a very special dinner with privacy: Maui Catering Services. Table could be set on the ocean side of the property with back up on the cottage deck in case of rain. Not cheap $150/200 per person. Check with us first for the date. In Paia also a health food store and deli (which I prefer to Whole Foods) called Mana Foods, they close at 8:30pm. Kuau Store (closest store to the cottage, located btw cottage and Mama’s fish House) is a small deli store with smoothies, coffee, juice and lunch plates. Open from 6:30am to 7:30pm. If you are looking for poke (raw fish prepared local way) to take out you will find it in the back of Tamura’s liquor store. In the list below we have tried a lot but not all of these restaurants. Some were recommended by friends.
My 3 favorites for morning coffee after beach walk are: Cafe des Amis has a little courtyard they have curries, sweet and savory crêpes, closes at 8:30pm. Paia Bay Coffee. Not easy to find they are located in the middle of Paia behind the San Lorenzo store. Paia Inn Cafe, a little more expensive but very quiet and more intimate. Island Fresh Cafe is about 1/2 mile above Paia on the left. Easy for parking, private, quiet, outdoor tables in the shade. Fish Market, Craig’s favorite, great fish tacos, you order, they call your name, you eat at a big wood table, closes at 9:30pm. Flat Bread Pizza closes at 10pm. And if you want more quiet and with booth and traditional food, and sushi bar, Charley’s closes at 10pm on Friday and Saturday. And this restaurant in Paia called Rock & Brews has just opened in 2014. It should be a fun place to go. Big tables, huge tv with either sports or music shows. Almost across the street from Rock & Brews is Toby’s Shave Ice, it has great poke bowls (raw ahi with soyu, ginger etc.)
On the way to Makawao this restaurant has a nice menu (room is a little loud for us): Haliimaile General Store.
In Makawao town, for diner is the famous Makawao Steak House, I like eating in the room on the right next to the fireplace. And for lunch a new outdoor Mediterranean Cuisine with flavors of the Middle East, Habibi. Komoda Bakery for cream puffs, donuts on a stick, butter rolls & other pastries (opens at 7am until 4pm, closed every Sunday and Wednesday).
A sushi bar just opened, Nuka, very very nice. Colleen’s great for breakfast and lemon bars! and lots more small organic restaurants and food trucks across the street and around the parking lot. Further down Hana Hwy on West Kuiaha at the Pauwela Cannery there is another restaurant opened for breakfast and lunch, Baked on Maui.
La Provence,(cash or check only) French pastries. Kula Bistro, Kula Lodge (nice to stop there coming down from your sunrise watch, beware you might not be alone and there might a long line of tourists!) Also Grandma’s Maui Coffee
Kahului & Wailuku Restaurants
Local “grind”, there is one in Kahului: Da Kitchen. I will add this Vietnamese restaurant A Saigon Cafe as some guests mentioned it and loved it, I like it too. And in the same neighborhood in Kahului, there is a bakery with French looking desserts that I just discovered : Stillwell’s Bakery & Cafe A little further up in Wailuku, Aria’s: Aria’s And a golf restaurant, the Dunes in the middle of town. We have just explored this place recently. The Mill House at the Maui Tropical Plantation. If you walk up passed the main building, you will find a nice restaurant decorated by the same person who decorated Mama’s Fish House. Menu wants to be fine cuisine, small portions. For dinner they offer tapas. They also have a Chef’s table. Food trucks are more and more popular: I have heard many good things about Geste Shrimp along the harbor road and a group of 6 food trucks are across the street from Costco.
We have gone quite a few times for breakfast, lunch and dinner to the 5 Palms restaurant which is at the end of Keawakapu Beach. And we just discovered Sarento’s on the Beach where we had a fabulous diner next to the beach and facing the sunset, see our blog. They don’t seem to serve lunch, but do have breakfast until 11am. 5 Palms is best for breakfast and Sarento’s for dinner. Breakfast with no view but wonderful coffee go to Belle Surf Cafe and delicious crêpes, see our blog about it. For beer lovers Kihei has the Maui Brewing Co.
West Side Restaurants
At Maalaea Harbor, where the Ocean Center is. If you go down the stairs next to the Ocean Center you will find Beach Bum’s Bar & Grill, always packed, Maui’s premier Barbecue restaurant, live music. In Lahaina, Kimo’s is on the water, it is right on Front Street so pretty touristy style. Not far, Lahaina Fish Co, is one of my local friends’ favorite. Longhi’s closer to the harbor, sit upstairs. If you prefer simpler, not as touristy and away from the crowd then drive down Front Street to Honu and Mala, almost only seafood. Not as fancy setting but right by the ocean and easy parking. It reminded me of the local restaurant in the Caribbean. Just off Front Street is the Lahaina Grill, no view, but 5 stars restaurant.
We finally made it to Star Noodle right outside of Lahaina, up the hill in the industrial zone, a combination of Hawaiian, Japanese, Thai… noodles. It took us a little bit to find it and it was full so we took out. Well worth it.
In Kaanapali, the Hula Grill is fun, right on the beach and you can sit with feet in the sand, usually always live music around sunset.
I am adding this one in Kapalua that I really like for the view, it is right on a beach with turquoise water, the Sea House.
Let me know if there are other things you are thinking about and I will be happy to help. And when you get here and experience some great activities or restaurants, please share them with us so we can pass on the information.