Molokini is one of Maui's star attractions, renowned for its dazzling coral reef and its ultra-unique location. Molokini is a half-submerged volcanic caldera situated nearly three miles off the South Maui coast. The islet is home to a seabird and marine sanctuary and boasts an incredibly biodiverse array of marine life— over 250 species of tropical fish call the crater home! Because of Molokini's immense popularity, the crater can see up to 1,000 visitors a day. That's why we recommend booking a trip with Redline Rafting. This locally-owned tour company hosts small group tours to Molokini from Kihei Boat Ramp— only a 15-minute ride from the crater. Redline's two-hour morning snorkel reaches Molokini no later than 7:15 am, allowing guests to explore the crater sans crowds.
Humpback whales visit the warm waters around the Hawaiian Islands each year to mate and give birth. Year after year, Maui sees the highest concentration of humpback whales in Hawaii. In turn, the island is regarded as the state's top whale watching destination. Whale watching tours are abundant around the island, but one standout is Kai Kanani. This beautiful catamaran offers whale watching tours that depart directly from the sand at Maluaka Beach. With an onboard naturalist on hand to narrate whale behavior, guests will gain a deeper understanding of humpback whales while sailing along the South Maui coasts. Whale sightings are so frequent in these waters that Kai Kanani boasts a whale sighting guarantee— if you don't see a whale, your next trip is free.
White tablecloths and flickering candlelight set the mood for this outstanding Maui favorite. Not like Lahaina Grill needs the enhancements: Organic, Maui-grown products accent an array of elegant dishes, from seared ahi and foie gras with Maui onion demi glace to wild salmon filets filled with local asparagus, tomatoes, and spinach. The frequent recipient of numerous awards, it also boasts one of the most discerning wine lists on the island. Sound spectacular? Reserve in advance; its 130 tables are often booked fast.
Eateries abound on Lahaina's world-renowned Front Street, but few can claim they're situated directly on the water. One of them—the incredible Pacificʻo Restaurant—does so with aplomb. With a kitchen helmed by Le Cordon Bleu alum Greg Harrison, the beachfront beauty derives nearly all of its ingredients straight from Maui's bounty. Chief among them is the restaurant's own organic farm, Oʻo, which supplies luscious produce to Harrison's team daily. Dishes are extraordinary—fresh fish carpaccio with Oʻo Farm radish vinaigrette, hemp seeds, and mixed greens, and lobster ravioli with shiitake mushrooms, onions, fennel, marsala beet cream sauce, and truffle oil. With the moon glistening over the water only steps away, this is the way to experience Maui.
Those venturing to the island's remote northwestern edge ought to set out with an appetite: Across the street from Honolua Bay rests one of the most flavorsome mobile kitchens on Maui. From this purple, solar-powered food truck comes dishes supplied by Honolua Farms and other local plantations, such as smoothies made with their own organic fruit, and hummus sandwiches with organic cheese and vegetables. The first restaurant on Maui to be awarded the Platinum Level Ocean Friendly Restaurant by the Surfrider Foundation, Honolua Farms Kitchen also serves refreshing fruit slushies and baked "yummies."
Maui County is actually composed of three other islands— Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe. Out of the three, Lanai is the most accessible and welcoming. Public access to Kahoolawe is prohibited following the bombing of the island by the US military, and Molokai is a small Hawaiian community with few tourist amenities. On the other hand, Lanai is a fun and easy day trip from Lahaina. A public ferry runs between Lahaina and Lanai daily, but to make the most out of your day on the Pineapple Isle, we suggest going with Trilogy. Trilogy hosts a fantastic Discover Lanai tour. Trilogy has exclusive permission to escort guests to the pristine Hulupo'e Bay and Marine Preserve. Here, you can spend the day snorkeling, hiking, basking in the sun, or playing rounds of beach volleyball with the crew. Not to mention, Trilogy supplies their guests with ono grinds throughout the day, so don't worry about packing snacks!
Watching the sunrise from Haleakala is an ethereal experience that graces countless travelers' bucket lists. As the sun rises from the east over Hana and breaks through the clouds, the crater is bathed in an explosion of light. More often than not, you'll be given the precious view of the Big Island of Hawaii in the distance. Unfortunately, the summit at sunrise was being loved to death, smothered by crowds, which brought up concerns of negative impacts on the area's fragile ecosystem. As a result, a reservation system has been in place since early 2017, and it's about as easy to get a reservation as it is to win the lottery. Fortunately, you can still book a sunrise tour with Haleakala EcoTours to view the famed spectacle. Not only will they pick you up, but they'll navigate the windy road to the summit while you snooze in the cozy tour bus. As a bonus, you'll learn far more about Haleakala's unique history, culture, and geology with a tour than if you were to drive yourself.
Going to a luau is something every Hawaii visitor should do at least once. While we encourage visitors to learn about Hawaiian culture and history from other sources, luaus serve as a fantastic introduction to Polynesian heritage. While a brief Google search of 'Maui luaus' will certainly yield dozens of results, we like the Feast at Mokapu. The Feast at Mokapu is infused with a dash of luxury, boasting chef-crafted, individually plated Hawaiian dishes, top-shelf cocktails, an elegant seating area, and a pristine view facing the ocean. This luau tells the story of Polynesian voyagers settling in the Wailea area and highlights Hawaiian values like kuleana.
Duo is located in the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea. This beautiful indoor/outdoor facility presents views of the ocean and swaying palm trees to add to the ambiance. Duo primarily serves steak and seafood, with provisions sourced from local suppliers. The restaurant also features an extensive international wine list. Duo is open for breakfast and dinner; however, patrons are required to wear more formal attire at dinner.
Monkeypod has two locations on Maui, with one in Wailea. This Peter Merriman restaurant is a haven for food lovers and craft beer connoisseurs alike. The owners source all their produce, meats, and fish locally to ensure meals are prepared with only the best ingredients. Guests can also expect homemade cream pies, wood-fired pizza, and at least thirty-six craft beers on tap.
Traveling with a vegan or vegetarian? You're in luck because the fares at this sleek cafe cater to plant-based eaters and omnivores alike. Inventive creations like the 'Crunchy Wrap' will have you saying adios to fast-food joints like Taco Bell forever. Meanwhile, dishes like the heaping Mediterranean Bowl or House Burger with Kimchi Fries are sure to please regular meat eaters. Check out Sprout Vegan Cafe in the Wailea Gateway shopping center in Wailea.
Maui's verdant Upcountry region is often overlooked in favor of the sunny beaches on the south and west shores. However, Upcountry is peppered with hidden gems, from funky small paniolo towns to low-key wineries and breweries. Start your day off in Makawao, the cowboy capital of Maui. Grab a delicious pastry from the famed Komoda Bakery and wash it down with a craft coffee from Espresso Mafia before exploring the many art galleries and boutiques. Be sure to stop by Hot Island Glass to browse incredible glass art pieces— and potentially watch master glass blowers at work. Next, head to the fragrant fields at Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm before hitting Maui's only winery in Ulupalakua. For the perfect end to the day, stop by Restaurant Marlow in Pukalani for authentic Neapolitan pizza, then mosey over to Mahalo Aleworks next door and watch the sunset from the upstairs patio.
If you're considering booking a sunset cruise while on Maui, let this be your sign to book with Maui Custom Charters. Sure, you could book a cheaper cruise on a commercial tour boat, but the intimate sunset sails with Maui Custom Charters are unparalleled. Maui Custom Charters offers completely private, personalized sunset sails for up to six guests aboard their beautiful 42' sailboat, Nova. Not only will you and your guests have the boat to yourselves, but you'll also receive unmatched attentive service from the Nova crew. Not to mention, you won't have to jockey with any other guests for a perfect sunset view.
Maui's lush, waterfall studded rainforests are one of the island's biggest allures. On Hike Maui's East Maui Waterfalls and Rainforest Hiking Adventure, visitors can get a dose of several of Maui's best waterfalls in one day. This hike travels a total of 2.5 miles through a lush valley, stopping at 3 to 5 waterfalls. Adrenaline junkies rejoice; several of the falls offer cliff jumping opportunities. This hiking adventure is a great way to ensure you don't get lost, stumble upon private property, or get caught in an all-too-common flash flood event. Still, you'll also gain a plethora of knowledge about Maui's plant and animal life from your naturalist guide. If you're keen on exploring the rainforest, this is the only way to go.
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