Ready to hang loose in the beautiful Aloha State? Maui, nicknamed the Valley Isle, is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy some island time like a local. From the inside scoop to the best macadamia nut pancakes, to the white sandy beaches worth a visit, you won’t be sorry taking a step off the beaten path during your visit to this beautiful Pacific island.
Welcome to Maui
Fuel up after your long flight — Hawaii really isn’t close to anywhere, is it? — at Tinroof, the hottest take-out spot in the whole state. Most first-timers go for the famous spicy fried chicken sandwich on a soft bun. If you love seafood, ask about the daily catch served on top of a veggie rice bowl. As the savvy locals know, you can skip the wait by ordering online ahead of time.
Da Kitchen is the place for diving into a mondo — a.k.a. huge — plate lunch. Chicken katsu and beef teriyaki are popular at this spot in a strip mall. (There’s a second location in Kihei that only offers take-out.) The lunches are massive, as in big enough to split between two hungry islanders.
Get your meal to go, and check out the action at nearby Ho’okipa, a white sand beach park that usually has world-class wind surfers shredding the waves. Before leaving this part of the island, take a spin through the town of Paia, home to uber-cute shops, an amazing health food store, and Paia Bay Coffee. Take a load off, and sip your java under a picture-perfect palm tree.
Hit the Beach
Snorkeling, boogie boarding, surfing, and walking the beach — that’s why you came here, right? Check into your hotel and hit the shore. Many locals fire up the barbecues in public parks every Sunday, and you can follow their lead with your own cookout. Most supermarkets sell ready-to-grill marinated meats. Grab a slab of the kalbi beef at Takamiya Market in Wailuku, and grill it island-style.
The beaches can get crowded on sunny afternoons, so hop in if you want to join the party. If not, the best time for a quiet walk along the sand is early morning. The boardwalk stroll on Kaanapali Beach is a great way to work up an appetite for a stack of macadamia nut pancakes. This area is also home to “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel,” the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. Learn about local life at the free Hawaiian culture shows that take place daily.
The Gazebo at Napili Shores Resort attracts a lot of people with its yummy breakfasts and great ocean views, but you’ll probably have to wait for a table. Pioneer Inn Grill and Bar, 808 Grindz Cafe, and Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop are great — and super popular — places to start the day on the west side of the island.
Maui’s beaches deserve lots of props, but locals also enjoy the cool mountain air upcountry. One of the best places to experience the island’s heights is at the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, just off Highway 377. Walk through fields filled with flowers all the way to the high point to catch an awesome view of the West Maui coastline below. Don’t miss the lavender-flavored pastries in the gift shop. Strange? Yes — but delicious.
On the drive back, take a tour of Surfing Goat Dairy, where the kids are never “baaad.” They bleat, jump, dance, and entertain from their pens. The dairy’s cheese is worth the drive all by itself. Don’t leave without a combination plate to take back to your hotel.
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