The flight from Oahu to Maui is a quick jump- barely enough time for the flight attendants to make it down the aisle with a tray of little foil-topped plastic cups filled with guava juice or water between takeoff and landing.
When I travel I like to plan for one big activity each day and leave the rest of the day unstructured. I’ve found this leaves plenty of time for exploration, spontaneous activities and reading books on the beach while also making sure I don’t look back on the trip and wish I had seen/done x, y, whatever. Something to keep in mind when visiting the Hawaiian islands in particular is that traffic during rush hour can be a real nightmare, so it’s never a bad idea to wrap up your excursions in time to spend the afternoon in the sand rather than on the roads.
For 3 days in Maui I would recommend:
1. Nakalele Point & Blowhole
2. Maui Tropical Plantation
3. Ocean Kayaking
4*. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Nakalele Point is a super cool spot. You can walk down an easy trail to see the Blowhole, a natural hole in the rock that spouts water every few moments as the waves crash against the shore. Be sure not to get too close, as this very professional looking sign will remind you…
Don’t stop there, if you continue down the shoreline you’ll find beautiful views, tide pools and you may even see some sea turtles swimming around in the clear blue water!
Along the road to/from the blowhole you will see locals selling fruit and other goods. If you happen to see a lemonade stand, STOP THERE. We met a lovely woman and her husband who were selling mason jars of lemonade flavored with different tropical fruits, and they were incredible. Passionfruit was my particular favorite, and it was even better when I took it back to our hotel and added some vodka! Poolside drink game perfection.
2. Maui Tropical Plantation
This is place is so cool, and it’s home to The Mill House, one of the best restaurants I’ve ever experienced. Their farm driven menu features a constantly evolving selection of fresh, flavorful dishes and handcrafted cocktails. The decor and ambiance are just as great as the food, with unique decor representing the history of the plantation. They even trimmed the dried orange on my cocktail to look like the mill wheels originally used on the plantation!
You could easily spend a day here. There is a train tour of the plantation, but it’s just as enjoyable to walk. Start the day with a coffee at Mill House Roasting Co. where all the coffee is roasted in house using beans grown either on the plantation property or elsewhere on the island of Maui. Explore the grounds, learn about the history of the plantation and maybe even check out the zipline before lunch! After lunch you can check out the plantation store, farm stand and small boutiques featuring locally made goods. Finish up with some ice cream from The Scoop (macadamia nut was my personal favorite) before you say goodbye to this beautiful property. Or stay for dinner at one of the other restaurants and call it a day!
3. Ocean Kayaking + Snorkeling
We did our kayaking tour with Kayak Olowalu and we had a great time! To be totally honest, our guide was a bit of a nut but we loved it. He totally owned it too, and he was doing all kinds of wacky stuff while we were out on the water.
The coolest part of the tour was that this guy knew exactly where to find the most sea turtles for us to observe while snorkeling, and we also saw a group of whales with some calves! We kept our distance to avoid disturbing them, but watching them was one of the highlights of the entire trip. It was also nice that this company is the only one on the island with a private beach front location, so we were able to launch our kayaks right from the check in point rather than having to be driven somewhere.
Their location is adjacent to a really nice campground that I would definitely consider for our next trip. That particular beach also had the greatest wealth of washed up coral pieces and interesting rocks of all the beaches we walked throughout the islands.
If you’re hungry from kayaking, check out Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie shop right across the road. Their hand held savory mushroom pie really hit the spot for me, and some of the sweet pies were incredibly popular with other members of our group.
4*. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
I am offering this up as an alternative or as a great activity for those who have more than 3 days in Maui. We didn’t make it to the farm on this most recent trip, but I have been there before and it’s absolutely gorgeous! You can book a guided tour or walk around on your own to explore. If you’re looking for the perfect Instagram shot, this is a great place to go as we all know fields of lavender are having a real moment as of late!
For this part of our trip we stayed at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, which were absolutely gorgeous. The beaches immediately accessible from the hotel are fairly small (in terms of distance from shoreline to sidewalk) but they extend quite far along the shoreline and are beautiful for walking. The outdoor space at this hotel was fantastic, they had multiple beautiful pools and plenty of outdoor recreation options including ping pong and an expansive grass lawn with cornhole (aka bags).
The absolute highlight of this particular hotel was the Sunday brunch, which was honestly the best I’ve ever had. The spread of fresh seafood alone would have made me happy (and the dessert table kept my vegetarian sister quite content) but when you combine that with bottomless mimosas in multiple flavors including guava and pineapple, it was pure heaven.
Overall we had a great experience here and I would highly recommend it.