You probably think that after you book your flights, your accommodations, and your rental car, you’ve got it made in the shade, right? Not so fast. Surprisingly, many people find laying out a daily itinerary for their trip the trickiest part!
While Maui has some of the best beaches you’ll find anywhere, it’s too far to go and too expensive to just lay around and work on your tan the whole time. Most visitors want to get out and really explore the island. But how do you know how much you can you do in a day? What are the “don’t miss” spots and what’s overrated? Do you need to do organized tours or can you see everything on your own? And how can you see it all and still have time to lay on the beach (because you need to come home with a tan, right?)???
Don’t panic! ; ) I’m going to break down everything you need to know so you can plan the perfect Maui itinerary!
First up, you need to know a little bit about how Maui is laid out. Maui is the second largest Hawaiian Island and it’s a lot bigger than most people think. It has a lot of unique geographical areas as well. It’s divided into five areas:
West Side: The west side is the largest (and oldest) resort area and includes the historic whaling town of Lahaina, the resort complex of Ka’anapali, and the planned golf resort community of Kapalua. This side has plenty of gorgeous beaches and so many shops and restaurants but can feel a little isolated from the rest of the island.
South Side: The south side is the driest and sunniest part of the island, and it’s home to Kihei (an area with a boat load of affordable condos), and Wailea (Maui’s most upscale resort area). This side has plenty of swimmable beaches and shops and restaurants, yet feels a bit quieter than the west side.
Central Maui: Most tourists don’t see much of central Maui besides the airport and Costco (both in Kahului) since until recently the valley has mostly been used for sugar cane production.
North Shore/Upcountry: Maui’s north shore and upcountry towns (Paia, Makawao, Haiku, and Kula) feel very “local” but are a still a big draw for tourists wanting to see the “real Maui.” These former plantation and ranch towns are full of restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.
East Maui: Mostly jungles and waterfalls, east Maui is typically experienced via the Road to Hana. While some choose to stay overnight in Hana (or for a few days), it’s very “off the grid” and most visitors see east Maui on a day trip.