5 Reasons to Visit Maui in January

rainbow in maui

This is a guest post by Susan Guillory of The Unexplorer.

Being the only person in San Diego who hadn’t yet visited Hawaii, I decided it was high time. After all, we’re the city closest to our tropical neighbor, so what excuse did I have? I took my 13-year-old (surly) son, since he’d complained every time I went somewhere last year without him. We chose Maui, for no other reason than I got analysis paralysis when studying which island is best.

Kaui is amazing!

There’s so much on Big Island!

Everyone around me had input into where we should go, so I just decided on Maui for our inaugural trip.

In retrospect, Hawaii (at least Maui) is better for a romantic getaway than for a mother-son trip. Everyone around us was either on their honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary after being married on Maui decades ago. Here I was with my grumpy son! Lesson learned.

Here are a few reasons why I suggest packing your bikini and googles in January to visit Maui.

1. Flights are Cheap

maui palm tree

The big reason I hadn’t been to Hawaii is that flights were typically around $800. I’d think of all the other places I could go for that price. But I was shocked when I started researching airfare in November to visit in January. Flights from San Diego were just $400! And it’s not just from my sunny city. My friend in Wisconsin said she found similarly-priced flights.

In January, kids are back in school (mine wasn’t yet), so tourism lulls slightly from its year ’round frenzy. Take advantage of it. The other islands were comparably priced.

2. It’s Less Crowded

woman chopping coconut

Well, I imagine it is, though I have no point of comparison. It didn’t feel like our hotel (Napili Sunset) was totally booked, and we never had to wait to eat at restaurants (even the ones whose Yelp reviews indicated there was usually a wait).

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The best part of going in off season is that the beaches aren’t a madhouse. I hate packed beaches. But while there were still ample people at Napili Bay, there was plenty of room to spread out.

3. Snorkeling is Awesome

napili bay turtle

I’m fairly new to snorkeling since San Diego’s waters are frigid and there’s not much to see below the surface. But I absolutely fell in love with snorkeling in Maui. The water was warm (the temperature outdoors was probably 83), and there were great opportunities to see fish.

I snorkeled at Honokeana Cove because I was promised “sea turtles without the crowds.”

What I didn’t realize until I got there was that you have to climb down precariously sharp rocks to get to the water, and then you have to time your entry and exit from the water accordingly so you don’t get bashed against the rocks by a wave.

I had a crappy underwater film camera and had a blast taking photos of random brightly-colored fish. But…no sea turtles. Saddened by this fact, I began to swim back to the rocks. I saved a few shots just in case.

All of a sudden, I nearly bumped into a large plodding sea turtle! A fellow snorkeler waved me away from the turtle (yea, no problem. I didn’t feel like getting bitten) and we trailed behind him at a safe distance taking photos.

Breathtaking experience.

4. Everyone Needs to Visit a Luau Once in Their Lives

myths of maui luau

I know luaus are cheesy, but I was excited to take my son to one. They ain’t cheap, so check Groupon before you buy tickets. We were unable to get discounted tickets but ended up at Myths of Maui because it was a little more affordable and had great reviews. I opted to upgrade to the VIP package because reviews said you got a closer seat to the action and first dibs on the buffet. Paying a little extra was worth it, and we got cool leis to take home (mine was with flowers and my son’s with kukui nuts).

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The show was a mix of old-school hula dances and modern hula, as well as ditties sung by the cheesy emcee and a spectacular fire dance. I was so close to the action and got some great shots. The buffet was surprisingly good. They roast an entire pig all day underground, then make a big to-do about taking it out. The pork we ate had to be from the pig the day before since there wasn’t time enough for them to carve the freshly-cooked pig before we ate!

5. Maui is Tropical…While Still Being American

maui sunset

I kept pushing Hawaii down on my travel bucket list because I imagined Bali or Fiji would be more…interesting. Maybe they are. I’ll let you know one day. But Hawaii — specifically Maui — is like a foreign place, with all the familiarity of America. So you don’t have to drive on a different side of the road. Renting a car and driving is as easy as doing so in Idaho or Montana. Everything’s in English. For anyone who wants a taste of foreign but is apprehensive about going somewhere “too foreign,” Hawaii provides the perfect balance.

This was my first taste of Hawaii, but I’m already looking forward to checking out the other islands!