A Traveler's Guide to Maui
You’ve just landed your dream assignment on the beautiful island of Maui but have no idea where to start. What part of the island do you live? Do you ship your car? What is there to do? Maui is literal heaven on earth and for the purpose of this blog I will share my insider's tips & tricks to help you make the most of your assignment.
Where to Live
Even though Maui may seem like a small island, it does take a while to get from one side to the other. If you are working at Maui Memorial I would suggest living in Kihei. Kihei is centrally located and is 20-30 mins from the hospital. Kihei has affordable housing options, great beaches, good food, a fun “going out” scene, and great snorkeling. Lahaina is where most of the other travelers lived although it is a 30-1.5 hours from the hospital (depending on traffic). Lahaina is very touristy but has the best beaches, snorkeling, a good nightlife, and great food options. Paia is about 15-20 mins from the hospital, it has hippy vibes, very vegan friendly, a great destination for surfers, is pretty relaxed and close Road to Hana. UpCountry (Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Haiku) is a great low key option that is relaxing with cooler climates, its oftentimes more affordable but it is far from the beach and the food options are minimal. Kahului/ Wailuku are the closest two cities to the hospital. These cities are very local and probably the cheapest housing option on the island. In these local towns there are plenty of shopping and food options (Costco will be your best friend). The negatives of Kahului/ Wailuku is that the beaches aren't good (unless you are a wind surfer) and there is little to no nightlife. Hana is a good option if you want to live off the grid but it is very far ~3 hours from the hospital. Hana is where I spent most of my days off hiking and exploring tropical paradise. With Maui being a huge tourist destination- housing is not cheap. A one bedroom fully furnished is going to run $2000-$4500; $1500 being on the cheaper side if you are lucky. I would suggest finding roommates and splurging a bit to live as close as you can to the beach so that way you can make the most of your Hawaii experience.
I strongly recommend that you have a car. There is a bus for public transportation but you will be spending most of your day on it. Travelers that went to Maui with the idea that they were going to use public transport/ Uber quickly learned that a car is necessary to see the island of Maui. Shipping your car is anywhere from $1000-2500 one way, but may be worth it if you plan on staying longer than 3 months. The average monthly price to rent on the island is $500/month and they are usually pretty shitty cars known as “Maui Cruisers.” Scooters aren’t a big thing like they are on Oahu, but people do use them.
Maui Brewing ($$)- good beer, good vibes, food is okay
Monkey Pod ($$)- great happy hours, good food, get the Mai Thai and their strawberry pie.
The Farmacy ($)- best acai bowl on the island!
Tin Roof ($) - amazing authentic Hawaiian food and very affordable. The owner actually competed on Top Chef.
Dukes ($$$) - their nachos and mac nut crusted fish are soooo good. They also have amazing lava flows.
Star Noodle ($$)- solid asain cuisine
Nalus ($$) - great Brunch spot. I recommend the loco moco or the french toast.
Coconut's Fish Cafe ($)- great fish tacos
Mama's Fish House ($$$$)- some of the best food I’ve ever had. Very expensive, be sure to make a reservation days in advance
Flatbread Company ($$)- arguably the best pizza on the island
Old Lahaina Luau ($$$$)- The best Luau out of the four I’ve been to on the island. It sells out weeks in advance so get your reservation in.
The Gazebo ($$$)- the best breakfast spot on the island, long wait times but it is a must!
Things to Do
The Road to Hana- an all day trek. The drive is very windy and has a lot of one-way lanes. But it is WORTH it. So many waterfalls, great food, amazing beaches (black sand/ red sand) and so much more to discover. I was there almost every week because of all the hiking it has to offer.
Haleakala National Park- Amazing views of the island, so much hiking to be done. It is very cold, so bring layers (it even sometimes snows). Go for sunset or sunrise. For sunrise you need reservations, but for sunset its first come first serve.
Snorkeling/ Diving- Maui has amazing snorkeling and diving spots- be sure to check out Hanauma Bay.
Beaches- Big Beach, Ka'anapali Beach, Baldwin Beach, Wai’anapanapa, Honolua Bay, and Wedding Beach are some of my favorites. Be sure to go to Little Beach on Sunday evenings for fire dancing and drum circles (warning it is a nude beach, but clothed individuals are welcomed).
Hiking- Most of the hikes are on the Road to Hana. There are 100’s of amazing waterfall hikes and cliff jumping. Haleakala offers some unique Mars-esque looking hikes. You can also find some hikes up by Lahaina and Kahalui. I would recommend getting the Maui Revealed book. This was my bible when I was in Maui, it gives detailed descriptions of how to get to all of the hidden hikes.
Nightlife- Maui is tame compared to Oahu but there are some good low-key nightlife options. The Bar-Muda Triangle in Kihei has a ton of dive bars and is always a good time. Lahaina has some more upscale bars and clubs that bring in some DJ’s, but since it was an hour from where I lived I did not explore it much. Happy Hour is a big thing in Maui. Almost every restaurant offers a Happy Hour and that is where you found me since the island is so expensive.
There are only two hospitals in Maui, Maui Memorial and Kula Hospital. The traveler community is pretty tight-knit so you will get to know other fellow travelers very quickly. Out of 16 assignments, Maui is, and mot likely will be my favorite one. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more questions! MAHALO!
Written by Ryan Cogdill