Unless you’re on an endless vacation (a girl can dream, right?) you’re probably limited on time (and money!). And planning a trip to Maui can be overwhelming. There’s so much to see and do! But how do you know what’s worth it and what’s not? Friend, just listen up. I’ve been there and pretty much done it all so I’m going to let you in on some secrets. Here are 6 things to skip on Maui (and what you should do instead):
1.Skip Never Leaving Your Resort. I know how tempting it is to park yourself in a beach chair under an umbrella and wile away your vacation days with a good book, but Maui isn’t the trip for that. Sure, do it a little but don’t be one of those people that never leaves your resort. If you’re looking for that kind of vacation, go to Mexico instead. Maui has so much to see and explore from gorgeous beaches (everyone of them looks different) to beautiful drives and incredible hikes leading to hidden waterfalls. So be sure to plan time to get out and see it all…in between naps on the beach of course. For some background on Maui’s best beaches, check out this post and for the best list of things to do on Maui, read this.
2.Skip the Maui Ocean Center. Because of a general lack of “attractions” on Maui (zoos, museums, historic sites, etc.), this aquarium gets promoted pretty well to the tourists. Maui Ocean Center is a good option for a rainy day (it has a pretty neat shark “tunnel” and sea turtle exhibit) but it’s kind of pricey ($28/person) and likely isn’t much better than aquariums you have back home. If you’re interested in checking out Maui’s local sea life, I would recommend going to…the ocean! Do a snorkel excursion to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town or one on the west side that leaves out of Ka’anapali. In season, you’ll see whales, usually turtles, lots of fish, and your guide will usually even find an octopus for you. If you have kids, try the Reef Dancer (glass bottom boat) where you’ll get an up close look at Maui’s coral reefs and divers will show you all sorts of findings (shells, octopus, urchins, etc.) through the windows.
3.Skip Maui Tropical Plantation. This spot nestled at the bottom of the West Maui Mountains also gets promoted quite a bit to tourists. Unless you’ve got plenty of extra time, I wouldn’t prioritize it on your trip. It’s free which is nice (you’ll pay extra for activities) but there isn’t really anything you’ll see here that you won’t find elsewhere. The view of the mountains is incredible but I would recommend heading to nearby Iao Valley instead where the views are much more spectacular. And while Maui Tropical Plantation does have a great gift shop, you’ll find similar items at the Whaler’s General Stores.
4.Skip the Resort Luau. If a luau is on your bucket list for a Hawaiian vacation (and it should be!) skip the ones that the resorts offer and go to the Old Lahaina Luau instead. It’s the best luau on Maui and still conveniently located right in Lahaina town.
Photo via Old Lahaina Luau
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5.Skip Dinner on Front Street in Lahaina. Tourists are drawn to Lahaina’s Front Street like moths to a flame. It’s an old whaling town and it’s pretty charming but also kind of cheesy. You’ll still find plenty of art galleries and local boutiques but you’ve also got your tacky souvenir shops and chain restaurants (Bubba Gump’s, Hardrock Café, Cheeseburger in Paradise, etc.). Anywhere you eat overlooking the water will be pretty pricey (especially at dinner) and I think most of the restaurants are just mediocre. I would save your money and make a reservation at Mama’s Fish House on the north shore instead. It’s easily the island’s best restaurant but many people shy away from it thinking it’s too fancy or only for special occasions. If you’re not careful, you’ll easily end up spending the same amount of money on a less than stellar dinner on Front Street, so save your money, and go to Mama’s instead. Make your reservation before sunset and arrive early to take pictures at the famous tree out front.
That’s just my two cents, but if I were gong to Maui for the first time, I would want the real scoop on what’s worth the time/money and what’s not. These are my opinions, but if you find yourself particularly drawn to something and think you’d like it, go ahead and check it out!
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