If you’ve ever met anyone who has been to Maui, Hawaii, then generally their first statement is “Maui! I LOVE Maui” followed by a big pile of advice to help you plan your vacation. I was so thrilled to receive detailed hand-noted maps of the islands with recommendations for the best food, best places to see the Turtles (Goal #1 for me) and best beaches to relax. And I SO appreciated all the tips and advice, and now would like to share in return.
Finding Sea Turtles (Aka #1 Vacation Goal Achieved)
When I set out on this vacation I not only wanted to see a turtle, I wanted to get beautiful underwater close ups with my professional photo gear so I rented an underwater case for my Canon 6D (available in Hawaii, but it was cheaper to rent from home and bring with me).
Our first destination to see Sea Turtles was on Ho’okipa Beach Park (on the Road to Hana, near Paia). We loved this spot so much that we visited twice. We were able to get parking, fresh coconuts, and a perfect spot on the sandy beach to spend the day and enjoy the 20+ sea turtles on shore, along with the sea turtles and surfers who both spent time rolling through the surfing waves. This beach is surrounded by a rocky shelf so we didn’t try to snorkle here but enjoyed the views.
Our second destination was to seek out turtles while snorkeling, on several days we ventured to Kalapula Bay, just North of our hotel in Kaanapali and the turtles did not dissappoint. This bay is sheltered and great in the spring and summer months but is often too rough for winter months. There is also a lifeguard shack with paddleboard, kayak and snorkle rentals available on site, along with public washrooms. We had great luck seeing the turtles both feeding right at the edge of the shore, and snorkeling deeper in the bay. This photo is one of my absolute faves of the trip, this young, small turtle emerged from the coral on the bottom of the bay.
Eat + Shop like the Locals Do
I am a locavore through and through and I absolutely go stir crazy if I don’t get the chance to go out of the tourist hot spots to find local foodie stops and great small business artisan shops. Don’t get me wrong, we always indulge in the must-do hot spots, but I get just as much enjoyment finding somewhere that I didn’t look up on TripAdvisor or Yelp and just has a fabulous menu or fun decor. For Maui – the tourist must do was Mama’s Fish House and it lived up to the rave reviews, we loved it, and checked it off our list for great food, great views and perfect service.
One place that I stumbled upon was Sip Me, in a small town called Makawao just above Paia. The 10 minute drive up from Paia yielded a stunning church and a few other beautiful sights (aka Perfect Photo Ops in my book). SIP ME is an organic coffee & juice bar with trendy decor, delicious coffee cake, and coffee that literally forces you to slow down and take time to relax and enjoy the space as you wait for both hourglasses to tell you your (award winning!) coffee is now perfect to drink. This is not the spot to get take out, come in and sit down, update your blog and enjoy the space.
Makawao was also home to several streets filled with local artist shops and local fashions my fave being Mercantile, along with muraled back alleys, rustic buildings and a lot of free roaming chickens. It’s worth the stop and getting out of the tourist hot spot of Paia. Parking is a little tough, but I found a marked parking lot only 1 block from the main road.
One other can’t miss stop that we enjoyed was a detour to Maui Brewing Co. it is a quick detour off the highway in Wailea and worth the visit for a tasting and tour.
Of course most people come to Maui for beach + relaxation. We spent many days chasing this pursuit as well by parking our beach chairs with a cooler and a book into a scenic sandy paradise nap spot. Each day we tried out a new beach, and our hot spot for people watching was Makena Beach – think crazy surf, Kaanapali Beach for relaxing and epic sunset photos, and Keawakapu Beach for avoiding the crowds and surf for great swimming. The photos speak for themselves.
We Dined, We Relaxed and as always I have a thousand vacation photos to remember our adventure. And, although we don’t often say this about our destinations, for Maui, we will be back again soon.
What is your favourite Maui spot?