Arriving | First Impression | First Sites
The “first time” jitters on the plane to Maui were so real. We flew Alaskan Airlines, with an easy experience overall. As we flew through a huge foggy cloud and it opened up on the other end, seeing the beautiful blue waters for the first time — everyone cheered!
There were a lot of flatlands in the middle which was unexpected but you can see mountains in the distance.
The airport has a charming old-school feel like it was stuck in the ’80s. Small, with charming decor, open-air, and smelled very tropical immediately. It was our first glimpse of the charming feel of vintage Hawaii. The security belts were almost comical they were so small! Driving through Kahana, the ocean views were beautiful. Twisty roads over the cliffs and stunning deep blue water. A lot of cars were parked along what seemed like the bayside, very calm waters, and you can see people surfing. We passed a vibrant farmers market + Ledo’s Pie Shop which our driver said was a great spot.
After checking into our condo and grabbing the car, we were eager to get our toes in the sand. There are many pull-over beaches in Kapalua, but hard to get to because of the resorts blocking them. Once we found parking and ran down to the water for first time, a huge sea turtle walked onto the beach! He quickly swam right back into the water — but he gave us a warm welcome to Maui. Our next stop was to head south and stopped at Whalers Village, which definitely gave that touristy shopping feel and stunning view of the beach. Once again, I was shocked that all the hotels block the views of the ocean on the ride down! Once we reached Front Street in Lahaina – it had super charming feel, cool art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Everyone standing outside their storefront was very friendly and wanted to stop us to spark conversation – but we were itching to keep exploring. You can tell everyone was on island time! There were also so many shaved ice & ice cream places, I got a pineapple sorbet ice cream at Lappert’s Ice Cream.
We stopped for dinner at Captain Jack’s. Many of the restaurants had a long wait ( 45 min ) as it was getting close to sunset. Upstairs had a great view, good food & drinks. We got some fish & chips, which were delicious after a long day of traveling. Front street was a great first stop and peek into life on Maui.
Excursion | Maui Snorkeling Afternoon Tour
On day 1 we were very excited to experience Maui the right way…underwater.
This was our first taste of POG Juice. ( Passionfruit, Orange, Guava ). We were hooked.
Made it to Maalea Harbor after a beautiful ride along the twisty roads and ocean views over the cliff. Plenty of parking and easy to find — the Maui Snorkeling Booth stands out!
Check-in was super easy and everyone was friendly. We sat on the bow with a beautiful view and plenty of space for everyone to sit. You could feel the excitement from everyone as we headed to the “Turtle Town”. The crew was helpful and got our gear wet suits.
Once we arrived, the captain gave us a rundown and knowledge about what we’ll see, he even said we’d all see an octopus but probably not even know it!
The water was so much more blue & clear than expected – saw much beautiful fish and swam alongside some turtles. Time flew by exploring underwater.
Although a little windy, Captain Spencer got the 25 ft water slide ready – everyone had a blast. Super fun and unique to do in the middle of the ocean! Lunch was provided which was a sandwich with pasta salad & assorted juices. The ride on the way back was a little chilly & windy, glad we brought sweatshirts. Apparently, Maalaea Harbor is the second windiest harbor in the world! Overall, great experience with Maui Snorkeling & great start to our exploration of everything Maui has to offer.
Maui Snorkeling – Morning Tour | Ioa Valley
Day 2 was an early wake-up call with Maui Snorkeling’s Morning Tour – 6:30 am check-in. They provide breakfast and coffee which was great.
Once again, easy to find parking and the boat slip. Once everyone arrived & checked in, Captain Spencer gave a rundown on the boat, water conditions, etc. We were so lucky with another beautiful day! Had a seat on the upper deck, and headed to Molokini Crater. Molokini is known as one of the top snorkeling destinations in not only Hawaii but in North America! With approximately 200 feet of visibility, it is a must-do.
Everyone was very excited, taking photos and ready for the day ahead.
On the way there, you can see the island of Maui from a new perspective & a fantastic view of Haleakala, which is 10,000 ft in elevation – I loved hearing some bits of info from Captain Spencer. The staff was super attentive and helped everyone get their gear along the way. Once we got to Molokini, the water looked very turquoise, jumped in & was shocked at the clear visibility. There were a lot of vibrant fish to explore. Due to its popularity, there were other boats, but we still had plenty of room to roam. After about an hour, we got back on the boat. Staff can around and served lunch, perfect time in between snorkel locations. Once we got to turtle town, there was more to explore.
Someone next to me pointed out an octopus – it was really cool to see! At first it was the same color as the coral & then changed to a deep purple & red. We came back to the boat to watch everyone having a blast on the slide – kids & adults all going down screaming & having fun. Overall, another great full experience with the snorkeling tour excursion.
For the second half of the day – on our bucklet list in Maui was to head to Ioa Valley and see the state monument – The Needle. It was an easy 45 min drive outside Lahaina. It was our first glimpse of the lush green mountains and plants of Maui.
A short .5-mile hike to the monument and the valley was breathtaking. There were many streams and creeks to explore. The land here is sacred and there is so much rich history. Be sure to read the maps & snipits of info about the park and its land.
Beach Day – Black Rock Beach | Maui’s Finest Luau
After the first few days of being out & about exploring, it was time to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Maui.
I was shocked that all the hotels block the beaches from the road, but every beach in Maui is public you can go to, you just have to pay to park. We decided on Black Rock Beach because you can snorkel off the shore & there is some cliff jumping. Depending on your vibe, there are tons of beaches to choose from.
We rented some snorkel gear at the local Snorkel Bob’s — there are tons of locations across the Island. It was super affordable and easy to rent. They are also a great place to get recommendations on excursions with knowledgeable staff.
Seeing the beach view for the first time, was absolutely stunning. Calm & clear water and not windy like other parts of the island. But, make sure to bring sunscreen — the sun was strong. Snorkeling offshore was extremely beautiful, clear blue waters. Many fish along the rocks and fun to watch people cliff jump. We even got lucky with a few turtles.
A nice bonus was that you can grab lunch at the resort – made it feel extra-tropical.
For dinner – we booked Maui’s Finest Luau in Paia Town. It has a charming feel with many shops and restaurants to explore — about 1 hour drive from Lahaina.
There was a beautiful sunset mountain view, live music & all-you-can-eat buffet.
The show was great, with many talented dancers. Throughout the show they told different stories of Hawaii and gave us a taste of Hawaiian culture & history. A must-do in Hawaii.
Waterfalls & Hana
On every Maui to-do list is the “Road to Hana”. We got an early start and packed some snacks and breakfast. Hana is known as the most remote town in the state of Hawaii, with a population of fewer than 1000 people. Along the way, the first stop was at the Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand for a fresh coconut, pineapple & banana smoothie. Along the way, there are huge stretches of lush coastline, waterfalls, and vast rainforests. Stunning emerald waters with rope swings & cliff jumping are yours to explore!
Breathtaking views of the ocean, along windy roads and lush greenery.
A sweet Hawaiian woman was selling handmade jewelry out of the back of her car. She gave us a little history about different shells used and the “Spirit of Aloha”. I loved getting glimpses of the culture of Hawaii.
They say sunset is Maui’s Midnight — after a long day in the sun, you are ready for a good night’s sleep. There is an abundance of places to lay a towel and watch beautiful sunsets on Maui. There are numerous parks along the bayside to put up a hammock and soak up the view. It is a beautiful way to end the evening & if you are lucky, you will see a few sea turtles poke their head up. On Sunday evening at Black Rock Beach – the Sheraton resort does a sunset ceremony and talked about the history of the Black Rock cliff jumping. It is a great way to reflect on how magical being on an island in the middle of the ocean is. I truly never wanted to leave, so gorgeous and serene!