Vacationing to Maui: Where to Stay and Eat on the Island of Maui
When we were deciding on our winter vacation for 2019, we threw out a lot of options around the world. Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Peru, Tulum, and even the French Polynesian Islands. Ultimately, we decided on none other than Maui! We had taken a trip to Hawaii before we had kids (6 years ago) and had visited Big Island and Oahu. The resorts we stayed at were beautiful, and we did enjoy it, but I think we had envisioned a little more of what Maui/Kauai were like. So we were super excited that we were finally getting a chance to go back to Hawaii; originally we thought we could do a couple days on Kauai but ultimately we decided there was so much to see and do on Maui alone. We’ll save Kauai for a different time :)
When we left the snowy/cold Midwest, it was -30 degrees out and with windchill it felt like -50. These record-low temps made this trip so much more enjoyable! Even though we went to Maui during the winter season where it rains a lot, we were still able to do nearly everything we set out to. When we landed, it was raining, though not pouring, and I kept chuckling at everyone saying how cold it was and how their winter storm was coming in. Winter storms for us are 18 inches of snow and 130 degrees COLDER than Maui! We were happy to be there for the next week.
Where We Stayed on Maui
We flew into OGG airport and took a shuttle to Grand Wailea, a Waldorf-Astoria hotel located on the southwestern side of the island. This is where many of the nicer resorts on the island sit and I’m told that this is the drier side of the island as well (the leeward side). We spent our first 5 nights there. The grounds are gorgeous, and smell of sweet honey and nectar. There are multiple pools, lava tube slides, white water rapids and a lazy river, a Tarzan swing, hot tubs, an adults-only pool and swim-up bar, and beautiful beach! There are also many bars/restaurants on site to choose from, all with great food and drinks (but expensive). We didn’t try out their spa due to price, but hear that it’s exceptional. Our room was clean and staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating. If you stay here, make sure to visit Mich (pronounced Mitch) at the Botero Lounge and tell him how legendary he is - he’s been there since the opening!
This resort is GREAT for kids, because there is a lot they can do. I swear, our kids would never have gotten bored had we brought them. That said, I wonder how people afford bringing their entire families here! Not only are the rooms expensive (thanks Hilton points!) but the meals are $15 minimum and more like $20-$30 for a lunch. The breakfast buffet was $42 per person! We saw so many pregnant ladies here too, so I’m wondering if this is also a very popular baby-moon location!
For our last 2 nights on Maui, we checked out of Grand Wailea and drove east towards Paia. We stayed at Lumeria Maui, a wellness retreat boutique hotel known for it’s yoga practices. We loved staying at the resort, but we also really liked a change of scenery and a little more of a low-key experience in a different setting. The last few days of our vacation we did a lot more exploring and adventuring, so we unfortunately didn’t get to take advantage of the yoga classes that were included in our resort fee at the Lumeria.
This place was so peaceful and beautiful, it would make a perfect girlfriend getaway with your tribe. Imagine swinging in a hammock, doing yoga 2 times per day, drinking a Bloody Mary in the saline pool overlooking the north shore in the distance and a kitty meowing at your feet. You could hear the roosters crowing in the morning. What a wake up call! The breakfast, which is included in the cost of your stay, was good but not spectacular (I think they could have had more options than they did), and overall the cost was a little spendy but I would definitely recommend it for those that want to immerse themselves in nature and mediation/yoga while on Maui.
Where We Dined on Maui
We ate all over the island, and honestly, the fish everywhere was awesome. I feel like Maui has “ruined” fish for me because it was so good, nothing will ever compare! We ate all over the island, and it was expensive everywhere! Plan for a big meal budget :)
Grand Wailea Restaurants / Bars (Southwest side of the island)
Grand Dining Room: We ate the breakfast in the Grand Dining Room every morning but we didn’t get the buffet (which was $42 per person!) and instead, opted for avocado toast, açaí bowls, egg white omelets, and guava juice. Everything was amazing. But even still, each meal was over $20 per person (kids 5 and under do eat free though). There were birds just flying around and landing on your chair, eating at your feet, flying by your head….I kind of loved it until I saw them perched on the Bloody Mary bar and so we decided to grab Bloody Mary mix and vodka from the little stores nearby. The buffet looked great with a ton of fresh-looking options.
Bistro Molokini: This bar / restaurant is located near the adult pool at the resort. They had live music at night and we enjoyed the food / ambiance. The lamb ragu was lovely and I had to try their side of broccolini which did not disappoint.
Botero Lounge: We did happy hour here at the bar , located in the center of the hotel where guests first walk in. I hear the sushi was great, but unfortunately we weren’t around when the sushi chef was there. We made friends with legendary Mich and ate really amazing fish sliders.
Grotto Bar: This swim up bar at the resort was pretty cool, but had all the same signature drinks that you could get anywhere else at the resort.
HumuHumu: This is their fancier restaurant at the resort. Mike had the red snapper and I had the Mahi Mahi and both were wonderful. The setting was very romantic and the service was good.
Grand Luau at Honua’ula: We decided to book the luau one night and we had the most amazing sunset. There was fire, hula lessons, storytelling, aerial acrobatics, good drinks and a great buffet of food. The pork was amazing, all of the desserts were incredible, and the performance was quite entertaining. Definitely worth the price given the cost of food well, everywhere.
South, West, & Central Eats
Monkey Pod (Wailea - Southwest side of the Island) - We were told that Monkeypod had the best mai tai’s on the island, so we made a point to try it out. There was an hour wait, which is just proof that this place is good. And for so many reasons. This was the best meal we had on the entire island, and YES, they have the most amazing mai tai’s I’ve ever had, and I don’t even really like mai tai’s. Real strong too ;) We got lucky and snagged a spot at the bar after about 10 minutes, and chatted with the bartender Chris who was super personable and had great customer service. He slid over a slice of strawberry cheesecake and we were in HEAVEN. Seriously, if you go to Maui, please make a reservation here. The owner/head chef is the same owner as Mama’s Fish House on the northern side of Maui, but it is half the price.
Kula Lodge Restaurant (Central Maui) - We chose this place because, well, we were tired and hungry from our day on Hana Hwy and Haleakalā Volcano and there it was, lit up in all its twinkle light glory. Inside, it has a supper club feel but more islandy. The vibe was….interesting. Our particular waitress didn’t speak great English, and it was her second week on “evenings” so there was a bit of miscommunication on the order. Plus she wasn’t very attentive. However, there was other staff walking around that were attentive, quick, and you could tell were focused on a great customer experience, so I wouldn’t judge the place by our particular experience alone. The food was good, particularly the French onion soup.
Milagros Food Co (Northern side of the island in Paia) - When we stayed at the Lumeria, we were close to Paia, and in lower Paia we ate at Milagros, a Mexican restaurant that is NOT your typical Mexican. I had the Hebi (spearfish) burrito and it was different. Not bad….but more meaty than I like for my fish. The happy hour drink specials here were really good and we enjoyed sitting on their patio and people watching. The staff was also young, friendly, and attentive.
Ululani’s Shaved Ice (Paia) - This cute little place in lower Paia has amazing shaved ice. Granted, I didn’t try anyone else’s to compare, but I heard from several people that this was the best and it truly was delicious. Imagine a sno-cone, but so much better because the ice is shaved so much finer and the flavors are endless.
Road to Hana Eats (North/east side of the island)
Halfway to Hana: I knew I needed to get the famous banana bread at one of the stands along the Road to Hana, and we chose to stop at the Halfway to Hana Stand. It’s .3 miles past mile marker 17. This is generally renowned as 1 of 2 of the best banana breads on the Road to Hana. I didn’t get to compare it to Aunt Sandy’s or Julia’s (2 other renowned banana bread stands) but I can tell you it was the moistest banana bread I’ve ever had and the flavor was kind of….perfect. I saved some and flew it home to share with my kids, and they definitely said it was the best they had ever had too!
Nahiku Marketplace: At mile marker 29 on the Road to Hana you will find the Nahiku Marketplace, which has a variety of food stands. This is one of the few places you can eat a full meal on the Road to Hana instead of snacking. We tried the Island Style Tacos stand and they absolutely did not disappoint. The fish, again, was amazing and the slaw on top really completed it.
Click the link below to see what we did on the Island of Maui and what you should think about doing while you’re there too :)