I absolutely love island destinations, and Maui had been on my life list forever! Hawaii is a fairly easy beach vacation from the west coast. It’s accessible by a direct flight, and we gain three hours, giving us time to make it for a late dinner if we leave right after work. I know you might be thinking, “..but its a six hour flight, that’s a little long for a weekend gettaway”. And you’re right, it is a long flight, but if you have a long weekend available, and only a little vacation time left, you can still make it work!
Here’s the 8 tips I learned for enjoying a short Maui vacation:
Leave After Work to Maximize Vacation and Reduce Time Off Taken
I’m not a friend of red-eyes or long haul flights, but sometimes they are necessary to get to your destination. Hawaii was somewhere I wanted to savor the day light, so we opted for a direct flight right after work. A nonstop flight leaving at around 6:30 pm after work would be about six hours travel time. Because of the time difference, we would arrive at about 9:30 pm, not too late, and enough time to get in maybe a meal and a good night’s sleep to seize the day in the morning. We piggy backed our flight off a long weekend, so we only had to take one day off to enjoy a full three days of the island. Crazy time schedule? Maybe, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
Stay in Wailea
As Maui tends to be a romantic destination, we opted to stay in one of the nicer hotels in Wailea. After extensive research, we determined that the Wailea area was a good location for a romantic getaway. We opted for the Hyatt Andaz Maui Hotel because of the great reviews, and epic pictures just looked so sexy (those cascading pools!)! I could also see from the map, that several restaurants were within walking distance, should we choose to stray from the hotel. There’s a time and a place to be stuck at the hotel the whole time, but I knew I didn’t want Maui to be one of those places!
Pick a Hotel that Suits your Vacation
As it turns out, the Andaz hotel was the perfect home base for our Maui stay. We loved the fact it had several pools, a beach, and the pictures of the stylishly designed resort looked amazing. It was a short, romantic weekend for me and the hubs, and the first time I had ever been to Hawaii, so I wanted to splurge. There is a jogging/walking trail along the beach that hugs the coast, which was perfect for our morning jogs.
On top of the hefty price, of course they tacked on the mandatory resort fees. But it came with cultural experiences that we took advantage of. For instance, in the afternoon, there was a ukulele demonstration, or on some days, a coconut presentation. The resort fees also counted towards any of the water sports they offered. One day we opted for an outrigger tour …which I’ll tell you about in our next tip!
Rent a Car
One of the adventures that Maui is famous for is the Road to Hana. It embodies the phrase “…its about the journey, not the destination”, and for this journey we needed to rent a car. I usually don’t like to rent cars because I like to enjoy my time in any given place, and driving on unfamiliar roads tests my nerves. Vacation for me is sometimes about escaping reality, and I don’t enjoy going to a restaurant to worry about drinking if I have to drive. (Lyft has been a gift!) However for this journey, a car was necessary. It also helps to have your own wheels if you are planning to go to any restaurants off the hotel. The island of Maui is pretty spread out, and there are many areas to hike and sight see that are best accessible by car.
Don’t Miss the Road to Hana
“…its about the journey, not the destination.”
Just keep this mantra in your head as you embark on this unique road trip. So many stops, how to choose! You’ll have to get up early to make them all. I would do some research and pick your favorite stops. For us, getting out and doing yet another hike to yet another waterfall was redundant, so we only picked two short waterfall hikes. We knew we definitely wanted to stop for the banana bread, for sure the black sand beaches, and maybe spend a little time in Hana. What we failed to research was how to get back from the town of Hana. I didn’t realize you were suppose to turn around, and therefore embarked on our next journey: The Wrong Way Home from Hana (I think I just found out what my next post will be!)
Partake in the Local Cuisine and Drinking
Is a way to a man’s heart through his belly? If so, then the same can be said for the heart of one’s culture, the food is the way in. We always try to make time for the local dishes, even if its against our dietary rules. Moko Loko, Poi, Kahlua Pig, Kahuli Chicken, you name the dish, we tried it all. The area of Wailea was fairly touristy, and local restaurants are hard to come by. However, you can walk along the beach north to the area of Kihei for more restaurant selections. Be aware, it is a long hot walk north from Wailea, so bring water!
For restaurants, The Monkey Pod Kitchen was absolutely a highlight. It was fairly walkable from the resort, and we had heard about their famous Mai Tais, so we definitely did not want to drive. It’s more of a fusion restaurant, and gets very busy. Reservations are certainly needed. Don’t miss the Monkey Pod Mai Tai with the macadamia nut foam, it’s the drink I’ll ask for during my last meal!
Peruse Eventbrite and Join a Local Event
This is a tip I picked up after randomly joining the Running of the Bulls in New Orleans, and I can’t believe I hadn’t been checking this site sooner! What I love about traveling is being able to partake in local events and get a feel of everyday life in the place I’m visiting. Eventbrite helps by providing a free place for local groups to list their events. Other places to check are Facebook Events, or the local paper for the weekend guides. Joining an event usually results in an amazing story you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise!
Make Time for Water Activities
This is a given, I mean, why do we go on island vacations afterall! I usually plan one full day to lounge at the pool or by the beach and just vegetate. As it turns out, the Andaz hotel was the perfect home base for our Maui stay. Did I mention it has 5 pools? I’m sure I did, but I’m going to mention it again because what kind of resort has five pools!!!? It was like heaven. You do have to get up early to reserve a chair in a prime spot, as it can get busy. And of course we made time for the beach.
As part of our resort fees, certain water sports were included, and one day we opted for a group outrigger tour of the nearby reef. We had to reserve a spot one day in advance, and the attendant let us know that there would be other guests joining us. The tour was early in the morning to take advantage of the cooler morning air, and active marine life. As it turns out, the other guests who would be joining us slept in, and we got the whole tour to ourselves! The guide was very knowledgeable about the local area and ecology, and open to answering any of our questions. We paddled along the coast, following the path of the reef, where we saw Sea Turtles in their natural habitat. That was pretty neat!
By following all these tips, we had a fairly perfect first trip to the Hawaiian islands. I didn’t let the short vacation time span deter me, in fact, it encouraged me to try to make time for it all. It was everything I imagined it would be, and well worth the 30 plus years of waiting!
Do you have any tips for visiting Maui? Tell me what you would do different.
Did I help you at all? Feel free to pin it!