1. Costco:  So not cool that this is my #1 suggestion, but if you want to pick up food before you head to your hotel or condo, stop at Costco. It’s on your way from the airport (5 minutes away) and is the least expensive place to buy food on the island.
  2. West Maui:  This is Maui’s main hotel zone and where Kaanapali Beach is located.  The beach is beautiful,  with places to rent snorkel equipment for snorkel right off the beach.   It’s also a good place to take surf lessons or try paddle surfing (you can find companies that offer lessons right on the beach too).  The only downside is that the large concentration of hotels makes it one of Maui’s more crowded beaches.  Kapalua is also located on the West side of the island, about 20 minutes past Kaanapali. This is where the world famous Kapalua Golf Course is located and it’s worth the drive to just to see the spectacular ocean views and unexpected groves of pine trees.  Beaches here are less crowded but don’t include the accessibility to amenities that Kaanapali Beach has to offer.
  3. Front Street in Lahaina:  This is a small tourist town near Kaanapali with lots of little souvenir shops and restaurants. There is also a harbor here where a lot of the snorkeling and whale watching excursions depart from.  This is a great  place to go in search of entertainment, whether it be day trips or nightlife.  There are several restaurants on the waterfront, but my favorite is Kimo’s because of it’s casual local cuisine and outdoor seating right over the water.
  4. South Maui:  Wailea is my favorite part of the island because it’s less crowded than Kaanapail and includes some of the most beautiful beaches on the island.  Ulua Beach has just enough surf for boogie boarding or body surfing but is still safe for the kids to swim.  During low tide, there are great tide pools to play in and look for sea life.  It also has excellent snorkeling right off of the beach, where  you can see tons of tropical fish and sea turtles.  On the way there, you’ll go through the town of Kihei which is a great place to stop for lunch — lots of restaurants located in the strip malls, including Da Kitchen, a local favorite.  Just a few minutes drive past Wailea is Makena, home to Big Beach.  This is an incredible stretch of uninterrupted beach, but be careful swimming since it’s known to have a strong undertow.  Worth the drive though if you want to get away from the crowds since there are no hotels directly on the beach.
  5. Ho’okipa Beach Park:  This is a world famous spot for windsurfing and surfing on the North shore.  It’s fun to drive there and watch but be careful swimming because the ocean can be very rough.  On the way there, you drive through the town of Paia which has some interesting restaurants and shops.  It’s a total surfer/hippie town, but is also home to Maui’s famous restaurant, Mama’s Fish House.  The food and views are amazing, but it’s definitely pricey and a reservation is highly recommended.
  6. The Road to Hana:  A lot of people like to drive to Hana because it takes you along the North coast of the island, which is the rain forest side.  It’s beautiful, with waterfalls and black sand beaches, that you can stop and check out along the way.  However, driving there can be a little tricky — it’s a bunch of hairpin turns and spots where the road goes down to one lane.  It’s only 50 miles long, but will take a good 3 hours one way.   Plan an entire day to do this and make lots of stops along to way to see all the sights, including Twin Falls, Seven Sacred Pools, and the Ke’anae Arboretum.  Don’t leave anything valuable in your car as there can be theft from vehicles left unattended by tourists checking out the sights.
  7. Haleakala National Park:  You can drive to the summit of Haleakala, which is 10,000 ft above sea level.  It’s pretty cool to check out the volcanic crater and see the island from up there.  Just dress warmly — it is very cold up there, especially early in the day.  This will take you through upcountry Maui which is really different from the beach areas and very pretty.  This is also where you go to ‘bike down the volcano’.  You can also hike into the crater, which is very cool but not an easy hike.  Take lots of water and dress in layers because it will start out cold and then get really hot. Review the hiking trails first and avoid Kaupo Gap if you’re looking for a simple day hike.  There are also a lot of hiking trails at Hosmer Grove near the summit that are better suited for families with kids.
  8. Activities:  We don’t usually do a lot of paid activities since our family loves to just play at the beach, but there are a few we’ve done and liked:  A Skyline Haleakala zipline tour on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala which was a fun way to experience upcountry Maui; A Maui Ocean Riders rafting adventure to Lanai, which I’d recommend because it’s more exciting and less crowded than the large (and slow) boat tours to Molokini; An underwater tour on Atlantis Submarines was a great way for the kids to see ocean life without having to snorkel.
  9. Luau:  This is a fun way to experience Hawaiian culture.  You’ll get to sample some of the “native” foods and the entertainment is usually pretty good (a little cheesy, but fun).  Talk to the concierge at your hotel and just find out where you can get the best deal since they’re all pretty much the same.  For adults looking for higher quality, The Old Lahaina Luau is consistently the top rated and most professional.  It’s also the most expensive, but consider that the cost of top shelf liquor is included in the price.
  10. Maui Ocean Center:  This is Maui’s aquarium.  It’s rather small, but our kids always enjoy going to it.  It’s in Maalaea, which is on the way to Lahaina/Kaanapali.  It’s a good place to stop en route for an hour or so.  The adjacent Seascape restaurant has a kid friendly menu and outdoor seating where you can enjoy the view of Maalaea Bay.
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