Travel Pono on Maui| A local’s guide to the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Trip Planning Guide

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Travel Pono on Maui

Maui, with its beautiful beaches and postcard scenery, gives travelers plenty of reasons to visit. But those who go a little beyond the surface will find another way to explore the the Valley Isle — discovering its bustling farm-to-table scene, meeting the creative makers of local products, and taking the time to truly get to know the history of each place.

Making lifetime memories is easy with the Travel Pono mindset. We invite you to explore the island with care to help preserve our natural resources, cultures and communities. Follow these tips to learn how.

The walkable streets of Paia are lined with small cafes and aromatic restaurants.

Plan ahead

Pack right
Flight Attendant Heather Sanchez offers this advice: “Don’t forget to carry reusable items, like utensils, bags and water bottles, and reef-safe sunscreen, along with your hand sanitizer, when traveling. These small individual actions have a meaningful impact on protecting and preserving our island’s natural resources.”

Make reservations
Some of the best attractions on Maui call for reservations — be sure to book yours ahead of time. Visitors will need to make a reservation to enter Waianapanapa State Park and to witness a world-famous sunrise viewing at Haleakala National Park. Also, the island’s more popular restaurants might not have space for walk-ins, so call ahead to reserve your table.

Rent a car
Though we love relaxing on the beach, we recommend renting a car to experience Maui’s natural beauty, postcard-worthy spots and small towns. If that’s the route you choose, reserve a car from one of our rental partners to take advantage of special rates. Take note that some of Maui’s roads are narrow and can be congested, so choose off-peak times to visit and have a back-up plan. Take note and heed parking signs as they ensure locals and their neighborhoods are respected as you explore.

Go car free
The best way to explore Maui is with a local expert, and there are plenty of activity tours that provide transportation. The island is also home to local taxi companies as well as national ride-share services, all of which will pick you up from designated spots at the airport. Some hotels offer complimentary rides, too, and there is an affordable Kaanapali to Lahaina shuttle operated by Roberts Hawaii. Alternatively, consider staying in a small town that brings out the best of Maui. The walkable streets of Paia and Lahaina, for example, are lined with small cafes and aromatic restaurants.

Raise a glass to supporting Maui’s local businesses like MauiWine in Kula.

Support local

Every purchase at a local business during your vacation in Hawaii is an investment in our people, the land, our culture and all that makes our islands so special — from tastemakers reshaping cuisine to creatives sharing their native roots through art and design.

The area known as Upcountry Maui stretches from Makawao to Kula and is home to communities deeply rooted in agriculture and caring for the land. The Upcountry Farmers Market in Makawao, open every Saturday, is a core hub for local ranchers, farmers and artisans. Here, shoppers can browse vendor tents filled with tropical bouquets, fresh honey, freshly harvested produce, grab-and-go meals, rustic bread, local clothing brands and more. While many vendors accept credit cards, we recommend also bringing cash; ATMs are available in a shopping center adjacent to the market.

Among the vast rolling hills of Haleakala is the town of Kula, where slow, rustic vibes meet sweeping views of Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokini crater and the West Maui Mountains. MauiWine is among Kula’s best-known purveyors and the only winery in Hawaii that produces sparkling wines. It rests on Ulupalakua Ranch, where King Kalakaua, the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, historically re-embraced the tradition of hula. Today, MauiWine produces wines made from pineapple, raspberries and six varieties of locally grown grapes. Visitors can sip their wines and share pupu (appetizers) on the lanai (balcony) of the King’s Cottage, built in the 1870s to accommodate King Kalakaua. Guests can also have bottles shipped or specially packaged for airplane travel.

Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate opened the doors to its Lahaina factory with a top-of-the-line facility, a mission rooted in sustainability and chocolates uniquely created with a local flavor. The owner, a retired scientist with a passion for growing cacao, spent years developing a cacao farm on 20-plus acres of the West Maui Mountains before perfecting his first batch and opening the factory. Interested guests can tour the farm to learn how cacao grows, visit the factory to see how cacao is turned into chocolate, and enjoy a nine-piece chocolate tasting on a spacious, covered outdoor pavilion.

“We make certain our tasting experiences are memorable — not only for the quality of the chocolate but also for the information and entertainment value,” says Dr. Gunars Valkirs, CEO and founder of Maui Ku‘a Estate Chocolate.

More small businesses
Supporting local not only helps to foster the local economy, but it also can help you get closer to your next Hawaiian Airlines trip. HawaiianMiles members and Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® cardmembers can earn even more miles when supporting our local merchant and travel partners. To find more local entrepreneurs to explore, click here.

Non-residents will need to make a reservation to explore the wild coastline of Waianapanapa State Park.

Gain a sense of place

It's one thing to visit Maui but another to experience it. Venture beyond your hotel's shoreline to experience the island’s most magical outdoor scenes and get a better sense of place. Eco-tour businesses will shuttle your group to special whale-watching experiences, while Maui’s unique parks have scenery that will leave you speechless.

“Maui's star attraction, Haleakala National Park, is home to the largest dormant volcano in the world with a crater that offers unrivaled views and terrain, ranging from Mars-esque dunes to vast open fields of wildflowers in the warmer months. Arrive by dawn on a clear morning to catch the sun peeking over the crater walls and colors that spread across an endless sky. (Reservations are required for all sunrise visits.) Outdoor lovers may explore the park and spend the day trekking the crater’s trail system. All visitors to this Native Hawaiian site should respect native species and restoration areas. When planning your visit, we highly recommend you monitor the weather to avoid dangerous conditions and bring warm clothing as summit temperatures can dip below freezing.

Joining Haleakala on East Maui’s list of natural gems is Waianapanapa State Park, a 120-acre site with rich blue waters that contrast with black-sand beaches, lush greenery and native forests. Non-Hawaii residents are required to make a reservation to enter the park, and the new reservation system has been lauded for managing crowds at this serene nature space. Be cautious when ocean conditions are rough and observe all posted safety signs.

“Visiting one of Hawaii’s incredible state parks should be on everyone’s itinerary,” says Dan Dennison, senior communications manager at the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

PacWhale Eco-Adventures offers opportunities to see wild marine life from a safe and respectable distance, and tours, from sunset sails to snorkel adventures, that engage guests in its conservation initiatives. All profits raised from its tours fund critical research, educational programs and initiatives to conserve Maui’s rich biodiversity and ecosystems.