If you aren’t planning out your meals in advance are you even going on vacation? Just kidding. But for a lot of people food is the main attraction of a trip and there’s no better way to get to know a destination than eating your way through it. South Maui has a nice mix of high end resort restaurants, food trucks, casual happy hour spots, and pretty much every cuisine you can imagine. Here’s a roundup of my favorite restaurants in Wailea and Kihei:
Monkeypod: This was one of my go to spots when I lived in Maui and for me, a return trip to Maui is never complete until I’ve had a Monkeypod Mai Tai. Their happy hour is a don’t miss where besides the mai tais they do half price appetizers. Monkeypod serves the “bar menu” of Merriman’s (the original restaurant on Maui of Hawaii famous chef Peter Merriman-he now has a range of restaurant concepts throughout all the Hawaiian islands that all focus on local, fresh, farm to table ingredients) and IT’S ALL GOOD. Get dressed up or go casual, anything goes at the Monkeypod. It gets loud, it gets crowded, and it’s not “undiscovered,” but inevitably whenever I’m checking out another happy hour spot in Wailea, I always end up thinking “I wonder what’s going on at the Monkeypod.” If you sit on the side patio, you’ll have a distant ocean view. Now if you want the real scoop…they’ve opened a second Monkeypod in Ka’anapali on the west side and if you’re only go to one, the one in Ka’anapali is definitely better. It’s right on the beach so the views are A+. There’s also one in Oahu in Ko’olina and they’re getting ready to open one in Waikiki.
Gannon’s: With some of the most dramatic views in Wailea, Gannon’s might be my number one pick for a nice dinner in Wailea. The food is classic Hawaiian regional cuisine (Chef Bev Gannon has several popular restaurants on Maui) and you’ll be plenty impressed by it, but it’s really the sweeping views of the ocean that you’ll remember most. They do a fun happy hour menu on the bar side, but they don’t take reservations.
Pint & Cork: This has become a popular spot (even a bit of a local spot) for a lowkey dinner. It’s inside the Shops of Wailea, and you’ll find pub fare and craft brews as well as plenty of TVs for sports fans.
Matteo’s Osteria: A bit off the beaten path in a shopping center off the beach, this is one of the best spots in Wailea for Italian food.
Restaurant at Hotel Wailea: Hotel Wailea is quickly becoming one of Wailea’s swankiest spots (and that’s saying something!). The restaurant at this adults only resort is definitely one to make reservations for if you appreciate the finer things in life and you’re looking for an intimate or romantic meal.
Duo: This steak and seafood restaurant at the Four Seasons is upscale dining at its finest. You’ll get the top notch service that the Four Seasons is known for as well as really good food served up right on the pool deck with epic views of swaying palms and gentle crashing waves. This place wins for the best pool/beachside dining in Wailea.
On Another Note: Trying to figure out where to stay on Maui? I’ve written a ton of posts that will help. I’d start with my 15 favorite resorts and hotels on Maui. Also, you’re going to want to decide between staying on the south side or the west side so this post about Wailea vs Ka’anapali is golden. Read about my favorite luxury resorts, boutique hotels, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, and condos (many under $100/night!). If you’ve narrowed down the area of the island you want to stay, but need help picking a specific hotel, read these posts about where to stay in Wailea, Kihei, Ka’anapali, Lahaina and Kapalua, and Hana. And if you just want more details (more! More! more!), read my reviews of staying at the Four Seasons and the Fairmont Kea Lani.
Ferraro’s: This lovely Italian spot at the Four Seasons is located poolside. It’s terraced down towards the ocean. Make reservations well before sunset because you’ll want to see this place in the daylight.
Ko Restaurant: The Fairmont Kea Lani’s flagship restaurant draws its inspiration from the ethnicities of Maui’s sugar cane plantation days. 90% of the menu’s ingredients are sourced locally, and the open air atmosphere of the restaurant makes for a nice evening.
Ka’ana Kitchen: This family style farm to table restaurant serves breakfast and dinner daily at the Andaz Resort. This spot also has a chef’s table experience as well as an interactive cocktail experience.
Humble Market Kichin: Besides Monkeypod, this is probably my favorite happy hour spot in Wailea. They offer a small but nice menu and you can’t beat the view.
Four Seasons Lobby Lounge: If you want to check out the famed Four Seasons resort, but don’t want to drop the big bucks to dine in one of their high end restaurants, stop by the lobby lounge for drinks and appetizers. I mean, it’s seriously a good spot though and most nights they have live music and a hula dancer.
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Island Gourmet Markets: Owned by ABC Stores (a chain you’ll become very familiar with in Hawaii), you’ll find not only a nice selection of snacks and groceries here but also a kitchen that makes hot and fresh items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The premade snack and meal options are pretty impressive so this is my go to spot to stock up for a beach or sunset picnic.
Honolulu Coffee: This Hawaii chain (located in the Shops at Wailea) is a great spot to get your morning coffee.
Lappert’s Ice Cream: There are a few of these in Hawaii and you don’t want to miss it! Besides their heavenly ice cream (they get you with the smell of those waffle cones), their coffee is really popular too.
Best Restaurants in Kihei
Wailea’s more casual neighbor to the north has no shortage of spots to eat and that’s one of the reasons I like staying in Wailea so much!
Breakfast & Casual All Day Eats
Kihei Caffe: This is my favorite spot for breakfast on the beach. It’s a total dive but the food is GREAT and you can’t beat the location. Go early or be prepared to wait in line. The pancakes are amazing and you can get them with a variety of toppings. This place wins for best breakfast on the beach. Cash only but they have an ATM inside.
Nalu’s South Shore Grill: Somewhat of a trendy spot, this place serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything is counter service and moves quickly (even with a long line), but the fare is a bit higher end than local “dive” spots. It’s located in the back of a strip mall, so no view but they’ve created a pretty lush atmosphere all the same.
Eskimo Candy: This local spot serves up good seafood plate lunches and heartier fare for dinner. You can also get it to go and eat across the street at the beach. Super casual and a good spot for happy hour.
Coconut’s: Coconut’s usually wins all of the “best fish tacos in Maui” award. They’re super yummy and very unique. The restaurant is very low key. You order at the counter and seating is community style. My favorite part about Coconut’s is that Wow Wow Lemonade is right next-door. Grab a handmade lemonade (made with local ingredients) before you head into Coconut’s.
808 Deli: With great sandwiches on the menu, if you need a casual lunch spot or want to pick up lunch to take to the beach, this is a great option.
Joy’s Place: When you just can’t handle another loco moco and need something a little healthier and lighter, come to Joy’s. Sandwiches, soups, breakfast, acai bowls, lots of vegetarian options…something for everybody!
Best Sushi in Kihei
Okay, I’ll level with you here. I am not a sushi person. Sorry. But…I get asked about sushi so much so I’m always asking around about the best places. Here are the top spots in Kihei
Miso Phat Sushi: In a strip mall, but hands down most people’s favorite.
Koiso Sushi Bar: Popular with locals. Another spot that’s not fancy, but known for having fantastic sushi.
Sansei Seafood and Sushi: With a second location in Kapalua, this spot is right across from Kalama Beach Park and has the best atmosphere of the three.
Food Trucks in Kihei
Kinaole Grill Food Truck: It’s a food truck, but also fancy. If you want to try the food truck scene, but need a little more “oomph” this is definitely your spot. It’s all good, but the crispy mahi is a don’t miss.
Horhito’s Taqueria: My personal favorite fish tacos on the island can be found at this food truck across the street from Kalama Beach Park (next to the 77 gas station). I’m not going to say they’re the best on the island (because I don’t feel like I’m a distinguished fish taco connoisseur), but they make them with a chipotle mayo that I love plus soft flour tortillas are the only way to go.
5 Palms: This is the spot to go in Kihei for an oceanfront special occasion dinner. It’s more lowkey than spots in Wailea, and on one of my favorite beaches in Maui.
Cafe O’Lei: This is a really solid dinner spot in Kihei. The food is good and it’s high quality, but not as high in price as comparable places in Wailea. The ambiance is nice and if you sit upstairs there are nice ocean views.
Cuatro: It’s located in a strip mall (what isn’t in Kihei?) so it’s not over the top in the atmosphere department, but it’s at the top of the “fine dining” in Kihei list.
Three’s Bar & Grill: With a great location in Central Kihei, this spot has a good fusion blend of classic Hawaiian staples, Asian flair, and American classics.
WowWow Lemonade: I cannot rave enough about this place! Locally made, fresh to order lemonade in a mason jar??? Yes please. But I think the real star here are the acai bowls. These are some of my favorite smoothie bowls I’ve had anywhere in Hawaii. They’re made fresh (not frozen!) so they’re very accommodating to both allergies and tastes.
Ululani’s: You can’t come to Hawaii without getting some famous local style shaved ice. Get it with ice cream on the bottom (trust me). Ululani’s is a local favorite and they’ve got multiple locations so it’s always super convenient.
Sugar Beach Bake Shop: On the north side of Kihei, get up with the sun and head to this spot for coffee and a sweet treat. It’s all good but their pies and malasadas are top notch.
Want more dining/restaurant recommendations? You’re not going to want to miss these posts sorted by type of restaurant…16 Best Maui Breakfast Spots, 11 Best Fine Dining Restaurants on Maui, 23 Favorite Restaurants on Maui. Looking for something on a certain part of the island? Check these posts out: Wailea & Kihei restaurants, Lahaina, Ka’anapali, and Kapalua restaurants, Paia & Haiku (north shore) restaurants, and upcountry restaurants. And if you’re looking for more in depth reviews, you’ll love these posts: Mama’s Fish House: Is It Worth It?, Old Lahaina Luau Review, and Grand Wailea Luau Review.