Just Returned From → Boston, Massachusetts. Headed To → Rossland, British Columbia.

Before you scroll any further, let’s take a second to connect…
Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from my adventurous life—it’s how to BE PREPARED.

I’d like to pass this on to you. Enter your email below and receive my free guide: THE TRAVELLER’S CHECKLIST.
…And travel bravely, friends!

Maui: How To Do It All In 7 Days

Turtle Town



My guide to creating the ultimate week-long vacation in Maui.

In This Maui Article You Will Discover:

  • How To Take Full Advantage of Maui in Only 7 Days
  • Where the Best Sights & Attractions Are
  • What To Expect When You Arrive
  • Pitfalls to Avoid & Tips to Keep In Mind

Don’t let anyone tell you the Hawaiian Island of Maui is only for honeymooners and snowbirds. Simply put, it is one of the most scenic, temperate and adventure-filled destinations anywhere on this planet. Whether you can surf the biggest breaks imaginable, such as Jaws on Maui’s North Shore, or simply enjoy a good Luau or sunbathe — think Kaanapali in the southwest — Maui has got it, and everything in between. Culinary experiences, deep-sea fishing, mountain expeditions, scuba diving — I could spend the rest of this article just listing activities and still not have covered the all. Want to kill a wild boar with a buck knife? That’s big game hunting, Maui-style.

But for most of us, our idea of the Valley Isle lies somewhere south of the extremes of big wave surfing or pig hunting and a little north of reading the latest Harlequin romance novel on the beach.

If you’ve got seven days to spare, I’ll give you Maui.

Royal Lahaina

The view from the Royal Lahaina: spectacular.

Kaanapali

Touchdown in OGG, Kahului, Maui, and the open-air airport that gives you your first taste of the tropical breezes that will guide your way over the next few days. Palm trees sway in the ever-present wind, offering a constant cooling to keep the temperature in the mid to high 20-degree Celsius range all year round.

First stop, Kaanapali — about a 30-minute drive in your rental car from the airport.

Kaanapali is Maui excess — a resort community on the southwest shores. Sunny year-round, and generally sheltered from the wind, it’s paradise and the perfect Maui introduction. You have your choice of hotels — with two of the best being the Hyatt Regency  Maui, simply due to its massive pool equipped with a waterfall, waterslide and a bar, and the fact that it has the best Luau on the island (see video HERE or at the bottom of this article); and the Royal Lahaina. The Royal Lahaina is a bit more subdued than the Hyatt — but it’s next to a nicer beach and has a newly renovated tower with great views of Molokai.

The choice is simple: if you’re single and looking for action, choose the Hyatt. Visiting with your significant other? The Royal Lahaina is the one for you.

Turtle Town

Snorkeling in Maui’s Turtle Town will get you up close and personal with some interesting marine life.

Kaanapali is all sun, surf and sand. Mild waves make learning to surf or boogie board easy, and the beach, long and golden, is second only perhaps to Hamoa, in Hana. (But we’ll get to that one later.) After a morning swim to wash the cobwebs out from the Blue Hawaiis or Mai Tais you had the night previous, book an afternoon snorkel to Molokini and Turtle town.

Touristy? Maybe, but the chance to snorkel in an underwater volcanic crater then seeing massive green sea turtles up close and personal is too good to pass up.

No matter where you stay, if you’re looking for the best nighttime show, head to the Hyatt Regency. There is a Luau in pretty much every hotel on Maui, but this one is the biggest and the best. Listen to the pounding rhythms of the drums, watch the hula girls and guys sway their hips (tell your spouse you’re taking in local culture) and generally pig out on, well, pig. Roast pig — cooked underground in a bed of coals. And yes, drinks are included in the price. Done? OK, now you can sleep. But leave your balcony door open, because waking up to the smells and sounds of the South Pacific is the reason you came.

Fun fact: the road around the west side of Maui is a must-do — it’s so narrow and windy it makes the famed Road to Hana look like an interstate by comparison.

Haleakala Sunrise

Get up early and head to Haleakala for sunrise – it’s worth it.

Upcountry

You’ve done the big resorts. Now it’s time to slow things down a bit, and head into the “real” Maui. About a 45-minute drive east of Kaanapali will take you to Makawao, the centre of Upcountry Maui. It will feel very different, because it is. This is where the locals live. Neighbourhood bars and restaurants (try Polli’s for the biggest burritos on the island), boutique shops and friendly bed-and-breakfast accommodations are the order of your stay. These B&Bs won’t jump out at you like the towering resorts of Kaanapali, so you should do some research beforehand — or just stay at the Hale Ho’okipa Inn, owned by California transplant Sherry Attix. This restored 1924 home is not only a Maui heritage site, it’s also quaint and romantic and perfect for couples. Sherry and the other patrons are always friendly, and breakfast is healthy, with homemade granola, organic Kona coffee and plenty of local fruit. It’s like a detox after all that roast pig and wine at the Hyatt.

This is soft tourism at its best — but don’t call it that to Attix. The B&B owner will no doubt talk at great length about the “leave no trace” ethos she has about visiting the islands. It’s a quiet spot, so you’ll want to head to bed early and entertain yourselves. (You’ve got an early morning coming…)

Perhaps best of all, Makawao is the staging grounds for your skyward trek to the summit of Haleakala, the House of the Sun. Set the alarm for 3:30 a.m., and dress warm! Haleakala is a volcano once worshipped by Polynesians for housing their gods. One look and it’s no wonder — the volcano stabs upwards from the plains of Upcountry to an oxygen-depriving 10,000 feet. It’s one of the most sudden elevation gains in all of North America, and home to a very windy road. It’ll be too dark to see any of the sights as you trek upwards, though. If you’re going to do Haleakala, you have to suck it up and do it at sunrise. Watching the sun rise up from the Pacific at a vantage point so high you can actually see the curvature of the Earth is an experience not soon forgotten.

Fun fact: Haleakala is not the dormant volcano people like to consider it. It erupted less than 300 years ago, in a geological timescale, that’s the blink of an eye.

Hana Highway

The Road to Hana – the Hana Highway – is a spectacular drive.

Hana

All right — let’s turn up the excitement with the most famous drive on all the islands, the Hana Highway. A non-stop drive from Makowao to Hana is about two to two-and-a-half hours, but that’s no fun. The whole reason for the drive is to take your time, stop and see the sights. Take a full day. Buy banana bread from the vendors, take a dip at the Twin Falls and a hike through the bamboo forests. Besides, the endless line of rental-car traffic is not going to let you speed. Not to mention the 56 one-way bridges and 600 hairpin turns  — they tend to slow things down a bit as well. I know the scenery is breathtaking beyond all imagination, but keep your eyes on the road, and on your gas gauge — there are no services anywhere between Paia (your last stop for gas) and Hana — only about 30 miles, but the stop-and-go driving and tight twisties really burns the petrol.

Seven Sacred Pools

Climb in to the waterfalls at the Seven Sacred Pools, on the Hana Highway – although there’s not really anything sacred about them (except the view).

Tip for the wise: don’t stop at the botanical gardens.

They are tourist traps epitomized — the whole island is a botanical garden, and the only difference at these ones is that they charge you $10 per person. Save your money for stops worth making, like the Lava Tube (a former Cold War fallout shelter), the barbecue shack for fish tacos, just outside of Hana, and Maui’s only blacksand beach, Waianapanapa. (That’s a mouthful.) Then break out the Platinum credit card, because you’re treating yourself and your spouse to Maui’s greatest accommodation: the four-diamond Hotel Hana Maui.

Bigger than the town of Hana itself, the Hotel Hana Maui is beyond reproach. Valets, guava juice, a lei and a cool towel will greet you as you check in, then you’ll be escorted to your bungalow in a golf cart. Once at your accommodations, you’ll revel at the bamboo floors, plush king-size bed and private porch overlooking the wild ocean — and she’ll die for the bathroom filled with complimentary products better than at most spas. (Which is no surprise, given that the hotel has North America’ number two rated spa at your disposal.)

Hotel Hana Maui

The Hotel Hana Maui is Maui’s premier resort. Take your platinum card.

While staying at the Hotel Hana Maui, take a 10-minute drive to the aforementioned Hamoa Beach — a picturesque silver sand strip with a massive shore break — then enjoy a seaside horseback ride, guided by a real Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy). Afterwards, feast on gourmet local cuisine made fresh by Chef David Patterson at Kau’uiki restaurant while you listen to traditional, live Polynesian music.

Fun fact: If you don’t have a rental car or the time to go all the way to Hana, the next best thing is the Napili Kai Beach Resort, in Napili, on the Island’s west side.

Hyatt Regency Maui Luau Video:

Tips:

  • Rent a car —self-exploration of Maui is a must. With that in mind, rental cars are targeted for break-ins. Don’t keep valuables in the car!
  • Maui is a sleepy isle… early nights and early mornings are a better option for making the most of your trip than staying out late and sleeping in until noon.
  • If you’re a new surfer, stick to beginner beaches. Locals can be possessive of choice breaks.
Paniolo

Horseback riding in Hana is a true delight – don’t miss out, hire a Paniolo!

Let’s Connect On Facebook!

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

4 comments… add one
  • Hotel Hana Maui is my fave!! Sooo relaxing and perfect. Also fun to make Paia and Haiku, artsy little towns, part of the Maui experience. ~ Aloha

  • Hunter Boback Dec 17, 2011

    Spot on with this write-up, I really suppose this website needs way more consideration. I?ll probably be once more to learn rather more, thanks for that info.

  • Cherie Attix Apr 13, 2010

    Aloha…thanks for the mention..wanted to add something more for the “give back” folks..
    Lots of opportunities to “eco volunteer” in our amazing environement..visit coastal and forest reserves to do some volunteering, planting trees, etc…lots to choose from. Check out my site http://www.volunteer-on-vacation-hawaii.com
    You’ll go home with great memories!
    Mahalo…Cherie Attix

  • surfer Apr 4, 2010

    Maui is wicked, but not the best for surfing. Oahu is better.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.