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 Paying $$$ for Things You Can Do Anywhere. There is no end to the things you can spend money doing on Maui, but since you probably don’t have the funds (or time) to do EVERYTHING, I recommend focusing on what’s special about Maui. Leave ziplining, ATV tours, horseback riding, submarine rides, etc. for other places. On Maui, driving the Road to Hana, seeing the summit of Haleakala (preferably at sunrise), snorkeling at Molokini, and perhaps a luau are “don’t miss” experiences.
RELATED: Not very familiar with Maui? Read up on the lay of the is(land) and where to stay plus my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, condos, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels plus my area specific guides (including where to stay, eat, and things to do) for Wailea, Ka’anapali, the north shore, and upcountry plus my review of staying at the Four Seasons Maui.
3.Skip the Tourist Traps. Just because something is popular with tourists doesn’t mean it’s a tourist trap-some experiences are highly worth doing/seeing and that’s why you hear about them a lot. But there are some diversions built specifically for tourists that might not belong on your “must do” list if you’re short of time. Because of a general lack of “attractions” on Maui (zoos, museums, historic sites, etc.), the Maui Ocean Center 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. Maui Tropical Plantation is another spot that gets promoted a lot. Nestled at the bottom of the West Maui Mountains, it’s a pretty spot, and it’s free (you’ll pay extra for activities), but there isn’t really anything you’ll see here that you won’t find elsewhere so it’s not a place to spend a full day if you’re short on time. The Mill House (one of my favorite restaurants on Maui) is located here though so definitely stop by for dinner and take a stroll on the grounds.
RELATED: 15 Things to Do on Maui
4.Skip the Cheesy Luau. If a luau is on your bucket list for a Hawaiian vacation, skip one of the cheesy ones and go for the best experience. A lot of people ask me what the most “authentic” luau in Hawaii is and honestly there’s not one. Luaus are celebrations for special occasions that usually take place in somebody’s backyard (like a big family get together) so a commercial luau obviously isn’t going to be the real deal, but some are definitely better done than others. My favorite on Maui is the Old Lahaina Luau, but Feast at Lele is also great if you’re looking for a more upscale experience.
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5.Skip Spending $$$ on a Mediocre Dinner. When I tell people my favorite nice restaurants on Maui (here are 11 of them), they often blanche and say “oh gosh we could never afford that.” But the thing is, most visitors will end up stumbling into a restaurant in a tourist area and spending about the same money without the quality and experience. This happens in resort areas (Ka’anapali and Wailea) and Front Street in Lahaina. None of the places are particularly bad, but I think a lot are mediocre for what you pay. So instead, do your research and plan your nice meals in advance to make sure you end up at the best places. Also, read best breakfast spots in Maui and best spots for local food.
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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