Is it me or has everyone been traveling to Hawaii lately? At least half of my friend group went to Hawaii during May and June and I feel like my feed is full of geolocations on one of the Hawaiian islands…no lie we went there in early May too 😀 here’s my take
Whew chile don’t even get me started on the extra it took to get into Hawaii. Vaccinated or not, you’ll need to schedule a Covid-19 test to get into Hawaii. Check with your airline or state of Hawaii website for the most recent updates as this could change at any time. When we went in early May they made us take a Covid-19 test that was specific for Hawaii and had to be through one of their listed vendors on the website. Additionally, the state of Hawaii required you to create an online profile letting them know the details of your stay, plans, etc. This is also where you submit your Covid-19 results. Once you have completed all the tasks on the website you will get a QR code 24 hours before your flight. It is VERY important that you get this QR code because it’ll expedite your entrance into Hawaii significantly. I’ve also heard that some hotels and Airbnb’s require the QR code before arrival.
You’re in the clear once you’ve made it into Hawaii, the getting there was the hard part. Now let’s chat about things to do and places to see…..
A cute beach town in Maui with a lot to offer and much to see…if you’re looking to spend the day doing some local shopping and exploring then add Lahaina to your list. They’ve got good eateries and if you like to check out some of the local history like me then Lahaina is perfect because you can do a short historic walking tour, highly recommended.
This was my favorite part of Lahaina. Go to the Banyan Tree and sit there for a few minutes to take in the stories this tree could tell in the last 100+ years. It is also where the Lahaina Heritage Museum is located at the Old Courthouse. This is a good starting point because it gives you a brief history of Hawaii when it was inhabited primary by the Polynesians and how it came to be what it is today.
Download the Historical Lahaina Walking Tour Map and Brochure and give yourself a self-guided tour starting from the courthouse. As you shop and eat your way through Lahaina you’ll pass many of the historical sites and houses. Depending on the day some will be open so pop your head in and learn about the families that occupied the area!
Top of Haleakala National Park
If you’re looking for a view of Hawaii in Maui then make the drive up to the Top of Haleakala National Park. You get just about 10,000 ft. high and get some amazing views of the cloud systems, volcanoes, and Maui. If you want to check out the sunrise then make sure you book your spot well in advance because. When I planned my trip earlier this year, you needed to book your spot 60 days in advance. There was no cost associated but you did need to book it well in advance. Always check the website to get the latest news!
Tip: If the Road to Hana is on your list then this road is a good practice for what’s to come!
Molokini Crater and Turtle Bay
During your Maui trip I recommend taking a day trip and explore the sea. You are in Hawaii after all and did you really experience Hawaii Life if you didn’t take a day out at sea. A popular day tour from Maui is the Molokini Crater Tour. It’s a partially submerged volcanic crater that’s crescent shaped off the coast of Maui. To be honest it looks cooler in pictures or from far away because once you’re there it’s so large that just looks like a large rock. Most tours give you about 45 mins. to snorkel in the channel the crater’s created and filled with sooo many varieties of fish so that was pretty cool. I would recommend to book a tour that also will take you to Turtle Bay so you can snorkel with the turtles. Out of all the places I’ve snorkeled I have never seen so many turtles. We cut our snorkel short and only went for about 30 mins and I easily saw over a dozen turtles as well as many of the fish we saw at Molokini.
Road to Hana
The road to Hana is probably the most popular tour on the island. I 1000% recommend you go on a weekday and definitely leave early (be in Paia by 7 am), fill up on gas, grab lots of snacks, and pre-download the map with your stops. The actual road is extremely windy and very narrow in a lot of areas….it’ll appear like it’s only wide enough for one car but the entire road was created for two-way traffic. There’s also virtually NO parking along the road but the whole point of the drive is to stop and check out the waterfalls, caves, and views which is another reason I recommend you leave early. If not, you won’t get to stop where you want and chances are you’ll be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic the entire 2+ hours to Hana.
Tip: Make sure you look up where you want to stop and pre-download the map to be accessible offline because there is NO service until you get to Hana. Here’s a link on a how to guide 😉
I mentioned earlier to bring snacks but make sure you keep an empty stomach for Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread Stand (turn off a little before you arrive to Hana), as well as for the yummy food trucks when you arrive to Hana. You MUST MUST MUST get the banana bread, it is definitely worth the hype! I also recommend getting the Kalua Pork sandwich if you’re hungry, delicious! You have about 30-45 mins. left before arriving to Hana depending on your speed and traffic at this point. Again once you get to Hana you’ll be able to stop by the food truck park and grab Hawaii favorites like shaved ice, garlic shrimp, poke bowls, and much more.
Most likely you’ll go back the same way you came. If you do the entire drive one way then visit Paia on a different day. It’s a cute historic fishing village that’s transformed into a cute beach town. Don’t make the mistake of stopping here for breakfast on your way to Hana. Everyone that I know that did never actually did the Road to Hana drive because it was too crowded by the time they started. Instead plan for an early dinner in Paia on the way back down. Mama’s Fish House is very popular restaurant but make sure to book a reservation well in advance (I’m talking about months)!
Paia is quaint and small so its perfect to stretch and go for a walk after being in the car all day. There’s a bunch of cute boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants to explore in a short amount of time.
Tip: Missed a stop on your way to Hana? Hit it on your way back. If you left early then chances are you will be going opposite of traffic from everyone else. Although parking may be more difficult since as mentioned above there really isn’t any real parking.
Oh the beaches you’ll see. Maui is full of great beaches. You can almost pull over anywhere on the island and find a cute secluded beach with a small family or two or end up at a popular beach spot. There’s a ton of unnamed beaches where families will set up for the day with their canopies and tents for a perfect beach day. We checked out a few beaches during our stay but the ones I would have to recommend are in Wailea. Wailea is resort heaven and where you’ll find all the top rated resorts with endless pools and beach access. If you’re staying at one of the hotels then GO YOU, you’re winning in life! If not, no biggie! There’s a two mile stretch of public beach access for everyone whether you’re staying in one of the resorts or not. I recommend booking a chair on the beach and spend the day there and grab lunch at one of the said resorts. It’s the perfect way to spend the day!
If I could give you one tip before going to Hawaii it would be to plan, plan, plan! Plan out your entire itinerary and make reservations in advance for all tours and even restaurants. Mama’s Fish House had a waitlist a few months out and one of my biggest regrets since I won’t be flying to Maui just to eat there. Do all of your Covid-19 protocols in advance and check back frequently because Hawaii has its own set of rules and changes frequently! Maui is a pretty small island which means traffic jams are real! Plan to leave early for anything you want to do like the Road to Hana…if you’re not going through Paia by 7 am then just don’t even waste your time. I have friends who went and did not have a good time because they were stuck at their hotel/airbnb the entire week of their trip because they thought they could show up and it would be no problem…it was a problem! Again, Plan! Plan! Plan!
<3 Happy Traveling