Where to Sleep in Maui
The Sheraton Maui
There are plenty of resorts in this area and I'm sure they offer similar experiences, but we chose the Sheraton because the guy's points translated to cheaper rates. El Nino did a number on their beach, so it was pretty much rock meet ocean, ocean meet rock, but there are tons of chairs for laying out and sipping fruity cocktails in the lawn area. They have a luau most nights, but since we went during spring break everyone was sold out -- make sure to book those ahead of time if hula dancing is your thing. My favorite part was the "Lele Kawa" or cliff-diving ceremony each night where a dude recreates the legend of Kahekili (Thunderer), Maui's last chief, jumping from the Pu'u Keka'a to the Pacific by gracefully hopping up Black Rock (right off the "beach"), lighting torches along the way and diving head first into the waves at sunset. Of course we also climbed up Black Rock and jumped in, just feet first.
Maui Sunseeker Resort
The Sunseeker is the #1 LGBT resort in Maui, and although my boyfriend and I happen to be a straight couple, we are all about that "Always Aloha" attitude and this place was awesome. It's located on the south shore in Kihei and the owner was incredibly friendly, hooking us up with great spots to eat and beaches to hang out on. It's adults only (and even though I love babies, it was a nice break from the resorts where there were children EVERYWHERE). Plus, they sell very creative speedos in the lobby, so I'd call that a win. I'd recommend this place if you're an open-minded guy or gal looking for a cool spot to chill for a couple of nights.
Banana Bungalow Hostel
We had to get the full experience, so we went from bourgeois resort with pina coladas all day, to an LGBT resort with a clothing optional pool, to straight up youth hostel. Wouldn't want to let things get boring, right? Anyway, who wouldn't want to haul my GINORMOUS suitcase all over the island (honestly, I couldn't have done it by myself)? This place was a pretty typical hostel, but we got a private room so no bunkbeds for us. Since we got there on a Friday night there was a keg party going on out back and we played darts, made friends and realized there's not a whole lot going on in that area if you don't have a car. Luckily everyone was super friendly and there are even single bathrooms if you're not comfortable with showering like you're a freshman again. There are cool events you can sign up for each day, so it's perfect for younger crowds and people traveling alone, but we already had plans so I can't vouch for how great the activities themselves are. Also, on the site where it says "free pancake breakfast," just know that it's a box of Krusteaz pancake mix and a pan, so don't get your hopes up.
Where to Eat in Maui
As soon as you fly into Maui, the closest spot to get your nom on is Da Kitchen. They were on the Food Channel for their fried spam musubi, and let's just be real: I freakin' love spam. I know I may be in the minority here, but I do suggest trying it because if ever there was a time you'd be into it, it would be this crunchy, fried, teriyaki soaked, scallion topped business right here.
Disclaimer: this place is not cheap, but DAAYUM. We got fried oysters, the scallops and seared ahi tuna entrees and seriously, those oysters were the best things I've ever put in my mouth. The service was insanely good and just yes. Worth those four dolla signs on Yelp.
Choice Health Bar in Lahaina
I love acai bowls, and Hawaii is all about them. That being said, this place was exceptional. My bowl had local bee pollen in it and I would love to go back and try every single thing on the menu if I ever get a chance. Chad got a raw PBJ, which was delicious but the size of a Polly Pocket sandwich, so avoid that one if you're decently hungry.
Coconuts Fish Cafe in Kihei
This spot is known for its fish tacos that have a million fresh ingredients in them, and their coconut shrimp were on point as well. There's usually a long line (you order at the counter), but service is quick and if you sit outside you can watch the chickens walking around eating scraps.
Local Boys Shave Ice
This was my first "shave ice" experience, and I was instantly hooked. The sign inside read: "snow cone is a dirty word here," so I quickly learned what to call my new favorite treat that consists of snow-like ice with juice poured on top. Be sure to try the li hing mui powder (salty dried plum powder), but don't go shaking it on anything until you know if you like it. It's a local favorite, as well as the namesake juice flavor. I loved the mochi and toasted coconut toppings, but if you're not lactose intolerant, definitely get ice cream on the bottom and condensed milk on top, too.
The first stop on the Road to Hana is this adorable store that sells everything from liquor and paninis to sunscreen and chia pudding -- you'll know it by its iconic surfboard fence. We got almond milk lattes that contained homemade almond milk, cacao powder and local honey. They also offered raw pad thai, macadamia nut spread in addition to cream cheese and their bagels are perfection, so naturally this was my favorite store ever.
Halfway to Hana
This little roadside stop is, of course, halfway to Hana, and their banana bread is THE most amazing banana bread I've ever tasted.
Everywhere you look you'll see stands on the side of the road with fresh fruit in them. I picked up a fresh coconut and papaya, and I wish I'd stopped stuffing myself full of food for a few more opportunities to taste the local fruit selection.
What to See in Maui
This was our first stop after hanging out at the resort, and it was pretty terrifying seeing all the signs warning about high tides and deaths that have occurred at the site, but I quickly got used to seeing these signs everywhere we went. Luckily we didn't let it scare us out of getting some photos of the blowhole going full force (but we still winced as a man held his son right in front of it for a photo). It was a pretty cool start to all the sightseeing adventures. Unfortunately we didn't know to look for it, but this is also where you'll find the heart-shaped hole in the rock, so don't miss it! Also, wear shoes with traction as it's a little bit of a hike down rocks to see the blowhole up close.
Road to Hana
The most famous place to see all the stuff Maui has to offer is the Road to Hana by far, and there's SO much to see. If you're renting a car (which is what we did), you should research beforehand to decide where all you'd like to stop since you won't have time to see it all (unless you plan to spend some nights there along the way). The other option is to take a tour, which might be the best option if you're nervous about driving on crazy winding one-lane roads. In my next post I'll go over the stops we managed to get in before sunset since I took many, many photos along the way, and I wouldn't want you to miss out of any of them.
Makena Beach State Park
aka Big Beach (and Little Beach) - Big Beach is a gorgeous beach that has tons of families and beautiful views, but when you climb up the rather steep rocks to the side, you find Little Beach, which has no kids and lots of naked people. Yep, clothing-optional beach time. If that's the kind of thing you're into, I say go for it. I wouldn't say that's necessarily the kind of thing I'm into, but I will say it was a lot of fun even if I did accidentally overcompensate for my discomfort by serving myself far too many cheap mini wine bottles (no alcohol is technically allowed though, so use your discretion).
Maui Snorkel Tour
This was probably the favorite activity of all. It was a little pricy, but totally worth it as it took the least amount of effort with the most reward. We took off around 7am and as soon as we hopped on the boat we were served fresh fruit juice and a full breakfast bar. From there it was all about chillaxing and enjoying the boat as whales flapped their tails and showed off for us. Eventually we hopped off the boat to snorkel with sea turtles and I even got to pet an octopus, so that was awesome. Afterward we had a delicious Hawaiian-style lunch and mimosas as we sunbathed and were told too soon that we had to get off the boat. I would've been happy to stay on there all through the night.