Last week, I asked readers for their best tips for traveling to Hawaii since it’s one of the most popular and dreamt-about destinations right now. Many of you submitted your tips (thank you!) and this advice, from reader Linda Perry of peachheadfamilies.com, is very helpful for anyone planning a trip to Maui. Here’s what Linda had to say:
Thanks again for the great service you provide. I moved to Maui 6 months ago for 6 months from LA. I will be returning to LA next week. On the Maui Facebook groups, there is a lot of anger by locals regarding the tourists. I wrote this (below) to the group to help the tourists feel welcome.
I know there is a lot of stress by people visiting so I just wanted to give you my experience living here the last 5 months. The last couple of weeks have been busier than I have ever seen it. I live on the Lahaina side. I have never encountered any negativity from anyone. Everyone has been warm and welcoming.
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I have eaten out almost every night. My advice is to plan ahead and make reservations. There are a number of restaurants that do not take reservations so put your name down and come back when it is time. Waits during Spring Break can be up two hours. If I am hanging out at the beach at Whalers, when I leave the beach, I will put my name down at Hula Grill or Leilani’s and ask for a table outside. I will then go home and shower and come back when they say I should return. If I am hanging at the beach in Lahaina by Betty’s, I will leave the beach, put my name down at Waikiki Brewing or another restaurant on Front Street, go home, shower and come back.
The restaurants that I like to go to that do not take reservations are Down the Hatch, Cool Cats, Amigos, Captain Jacks-all located at the Wharf on Front Street. I also like Waikiki Brewing and Tommy Bahamas Marlin Bar, located at the other end on Front Street, which is also first-come, first-serve.
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My favorite restaurants that do take reservations are: Fleetwood’s on Front Street (rooftop dining, live music; I love Paul West who sings there), Merriman’s in Kapalua (great food and beautiful ambience and prix fixe menu), Kimo’s on Front Street (for prime rib and ocean views), Pour House in Kapalua (for Italian food, ask to sit on patio, live music certain days so confirm when), Mama’s Fish House (for expensive dinner in Paia, with amazing food and gorgeous ocean views; this is my favorite). You must make a reservation at all of these restaurants in advance. I would also suggest a sunset cruise. I do the Pacific Whale Foundation sunset cruise pupus (not the dinner one) out of Lāhainā. They have someone playing ukulele and singing. I go almost every week; I love it so much. You get three cocktails and plenty of food.
All of the restaurants I have listed have outdoor dining or open-air restaurants. You may need to request to be seated outdoors.
If you do get a reservation at Mama’s Fish House and are going the same day you fly in or are departing, they will hold your luggage while you dine. Do not ever leave your luggage in the car unattended. If you are touring on that side of the island, this is what I do. I drive through Paia, then go to Ho’okipa Beach to see the turtles. You drive down to the lower parking lot and there are hundreds on the beach to the right if you are facing the ocean. I had been there a few times and never noticed them as I thought they were rocks. Be sure to stay at least 15 feet away from them. Do not go up and touch them. Then I drive to Twin Falls (which may be closed during Spring Break due to the crowds), I continue driving the Hana Road to see the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. I then drive a bit further to enjoy the beauty and then turn back and have dinner at Mama’s Fish House. I have not driven the road to Hana myself so eventually I will do it with a friend, but I am too nervous to drive it myself.
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If you are hanging out at Whalers Beach, parking can get expensive. If you spend $15 at any of the stores, they will give you parking validation for three hours. If you eat (or take out) food at the restaurants at Whalers, they validate your parking and you don’t pay anything. We will usually get wings or something simple from Leilani’s and then our parking is covered.
If you find your car rental has been cancelled, there is a guy name Barry that is a driver. I have called on him a couple of times as he has come through for me. He also does tours. His number is 808-250-7258. When I used him, he charged $60 from Lahaina to the airport.
Apps if You’re Driving
If you do have a car and are driving around the island, invest in the Shaka Guide app or Gypsy Guide app, especially if you are driving the Road to Hana. I find the Shaka Guide more entertaining. It will tell you what stops are worth stopping at and which ones to skip. (I loved the Shaka Guide for Oahu as well if you happen to be going there as well).
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When you are walking around and will be within six feet of people, you should wear your mask. I know they have been issuing tickets on Front Street. Everyone has been very respectful sitting six feet away at the beach so you do not need to wear a mask while hanging at the beach. I can’t speak to what the rules are at hotel pools. When I stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in February, they came around the pool and made us put our mask on while sitting in the lounge chair, even though the chairs were spread out from each other. When I am hiking, I carry my mask and when someone is approaching, I put it on.
If you hike, use the app All Trails. There is a map feature, which will show you on the trail and when you get off of the trail. I used it for the Kapalua Village Walking Trail Lake Loop and for some reason, I kept getting off of the trail. But with the map, I was able to figure out how to get back on it. Great app. Kapalua Coastal Trail is also a great hike on the west side. Very easy. You can take that hike to the Labyrinth and Dragon’s Teeth, which is near the Ritz-Carlton. Nakalele Blowhole is another great hike but don’t go if it has rained as the rocks will be slippery. And wear good shoes; don’t wear sandals there.
If it is windy, the Tommy Bahama umbrellas that you buy at Costco will not hold up in the wind. It will get blown inside out. The only umbrella that works well in the wind (other than hotel umbrellas) is the umbrella you purchase at the Tommy Bahama store. They cost $75, compared to $25 at Costco. The big problem is Tommy Bahama has been sold out of umbrellas and chairs and have no idea when they are getting more in.
If you like a massage at your place, I use a guy named Larry, who works at a high end resort on the west side, and makes house calls. I think he is great. He even brings hot towels. Right now, he charges $90 for 90 minutes and he has specials often so be sure to ask him about his specials. His number is 512-888-1456. Also, his sister Lauryn does my hair, so if you need your hair done on the island, feel free to contact her as well. Her number is 808-868-7152
Yoga on the beach at Airport Beach which is where the Westin Kaanapali Villas are located on Fridays at 8:30 Am to 10:00 AM. Donation only. Just drive straight in and park and go to the grass straight ahead.