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Maui, Hawaii Insider Tips

Looking for insider tips for things to see and do in Maui, Hawaii? I have recently returned from the Hawaiian Islands and I’m happy to share some Maui “must do” recommendations with you.

The first experience I do with visitors from out of town is to go to a Luau – it is a must see for people who have never been to Hawaii.  A favorite is the Old Lahaina Luau. Their performers are very talented and the pacing of the show keeps your interest.  The buffet is also one of the best from any luau. I recently tried the Wailele Polynesian Luau at The Westin Maui Resort and enjoyed the five member fire knife dancers, as well as Fiji and Maori performances.

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Ko Restaurant at The Fairmont Kea Lani offers plantation era-inspired cuisine

Authentic Hawaiian dining Maui-style

If you are looking for an authentic Hawaiian dining experience,  Ko Restaurant at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui offers plantation era-inspired cuisine.  They have truly represented Maui cuisine from the main cultures of the island all brought together when working the sugarcane fields.  The menu features Portuguese stew,  lobster tempura, chicken and mushroom lumpia, Maui Cattle Company ribeye, pancit, and coconut gelato.

Want to impress your dining companion?  Go to Restaurant Nick’s Fishmarket Maui and order the Strawberries Panzini – Ulupalakua Ranch strawberries flambéed tableside with Grand Marnier served with Hawaiian brown sugar, Devonshire Cream & Chocolate sauce – the presentation of this dessert alone is worth it!  Located at The Fairmont Kea Lani Resort. Save me a bite!

And if you like fresh fish at a great price, locals know to go to Eskimo Candy in Kihei (South Maui).  They have the freshest fish caught by the owners, but hurry because they will sell out!

Kihei Caffe has got great breakfast treats and espressos.

If you haven’t been to Maui before, you should try Mama’s Fish House, just past the hippy town of Paia. The menu lists the fresh fish and who caught the fish daily.  Another splurge and one of my favorite restaurants is Lahaina Grill located on Front Street. They are known for quality cuisine, knowledgeable servers, and expansive wine list.

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Things to see and do in Maui – Maui works outs

If I want to be adventurous or simply get a cardio work out on the water,  go to any of the beaches in Kihei and Wailea for stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, Hawaiian canoe experience or surfing lessons.

Fitness buffs will love an active day outdoors in Maui. There are an unlimited amount of activities to try, from walking or hiking, to SCUBA diving, outrigger canoe paddling, surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, ziplining, snorkeling, paragliding, and, of course, horseback riding!

My favorite walking route is the 1.5 mile winding walk along the Wailea beaches – it is perfect in the early morning.

Early birds, bring your camera with you for sunrise at Haleakala (and lesser known – sunset AND late night at the top of Haleakala)   Other “must do” photo opportunities: Seven Sacred Pools on the road to Hana, Iao Valley, Twin Falls, Front Street Lahaina, Honolua Bay, Bamboo Forest, Black sand beach, Hookipa lookout point

If you walk to the top of Pu’u ‘ula ‘ula (Red Hill) – summit of Haleakala in the West Maui Mountains – you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view.

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Try the Hawaiian Canoe Experience – anyone can try it – free to guests of Fairmont Kea Lani

Insider Tip for Maui

My teenagers wanted to be sure to return home to California with Hawaiian tans.  Of course they didn’t listen to dear old mom when I shared that the Hawaiian sun was very strong and the importance of re-applying sunblock. Needless to say, they both fried themselves on our first day in Hawaii and spent the entire next day in the hotel room drinking Gatorade to re-hydrate and slathered in Aloe vera lotion. By the way – they missed out on surf lessons due to their sun burns.

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If you don’t intend to wear sun protective swimwear, be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen so that it doesn’t damage the fragile coral reefs in Maui.

Things to see and do in Upcountry Maui

At  Maui’s Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area, the weather is usually cooler and sometimes misty, but always beautiful.  The intoxicating scent of the trees will encourage you to journey farther into this state park located in upcountry Maui near Kula. While you are upcountry, visit O’o Farms located in the Waipoli (misting forest) district of Kula for a farm to table garden tour.

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If you come to Lahaina try a mixed plate. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Things to See and Do in Lahaina, Maui

If you come to Lahaina, Maui, get your picture taken at the famous banyan tree off Front Street.  It is one of the largest Indian Banyan trees in the world expanding over a 200 foot area. While in Lahaina, stop at Aloha Mixed Plate for the affordable food and stay for the water front views.

Are you looking for some Maui night life? For dancing, go to “the triangle” in Kihei (South Maui).  There are several different types of bars from Dog N Duck to Tiki Lounge, to Ambrosia, to Life’s a Beach – each has live entertainment.

Insider Tip: If you like sushi, Sansei Kapalua and Kihei is the place for late night dining.  They offer half  price sushi after 10 pm plus karaoke!

MauiTime is the newspaper the locals read to keep up on what’s happening on the island.

If you happen to be visiting Maui in June, check out the Maui Film Festival. Wonderful movies are shown outdoors on a golf course, under the stars.

Go on a whale watch in the winter time to view the majestic humpback whales!

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Come play in The Westin Maui’s 87,00 square foot aquatic playground. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Traveling to Maui, Hawaii with keiki?

Will you be traveling with keiki (the little one) to Maui? The Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea is worth a visit.  This Hawaiian aquarium features a turtle lagoon, hands-on tide pool, discovery center, and a 54-foot clear tunnel allowing you to walk among sharks, stingrays, and other fish.  Book online for discounts. Check out The Ohana Mama for additional tips from a local Maui mom blogger.

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What are your favorite things to see and do in Maui, Hawaii?

Thanks to Wendy Harvey for assistance with this post on Things to See and Do in Maui, Hawaii.  Photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau and Hawaiian Air.

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