An Insider's Guide to Maui with Jess Moss
Travel Writer and Editor
Adventurer & Photographer
I crave nature and wildlife when I travel, so I would spend my perfect day on Maui because during whale season it's hard not to see whales from shore. My most memorable moment on the island is swimming in waterfalls after driving along the road to Hana. I prefer to stay in a condo when I'm visiting, so that I can save money and cook meals at home. I’d pick one in Kaanapali for the great sunset views over Molokai and Lanai.
The activities that can't be missed
- Driving the winding coastal road to Hana, which passes black sand beaches and jungle waterfalls.
- Watching the sunrise atop Haleakala–be sure to bundle up, it's freezing up there!
- Sailing and snorkeling to Molokini, a partially submerged crater off Maui with abundant marine life.
My favorite places to eat
- Any shave ice shop or truck: Shave ice (no, not "shaved") is the perfect cool treat after a day at the beach!
- Aloha Mixed Plate: A plate lunch is a cheap and authentic Hawaiian meal, and the combo of meat with rice and mac salad will fill you up for a day of adventure.
- A luau: A luau's a feast so you'll have plenty of dishes to sample. Be sure to try poi–it's an acquired taste (and after many trips to the Islands I have yet to acquire it...) but you can't miss it.
The places you should definitely see
- Lahaina: The touristy but historic town is a good spot for dinner or browsing the shops.
- Makena Beach: This huge beach is the perfect stretch of sand to soak up some rays.
- Hana: It's a hippie little town, but the real treat is the drive here. It's one of the most spectacular roads in the world.
My favorite hidden gems
- Peahi (Jaws): This mega wave is for advanced surfers only, but when it's going off you can watch the pros from shore.
- Alii Kula Lavender: I love the products from this unique lavender farm.
- NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center: This is a great spot in Kihei to learn about Maui's famous aquatic residents and potentially see a few from land.
The most romantic thing you can do here is visit one of the many world-class spas on Maui. They're the perfect place for a couple's massage.
The place I'm most excited to go next is to Molokai and Lanai, a quick boat ride from Maui but each with a very different vibe.