People frequently write email to me with questions about Maui. Many of the answers are in the various sections of this website that you can get to from the Maui Vacations Home Page on this web site, including the pages about Hotels & Condos, Restaurants, Car Rentals, and Things to Do. But here is some additional information about the questions I get most often.
What are the top things that I absolutely must do on Maui?
What will the weather be during the month I am going to Maui?
What clothes should I bring? What to wear to dinner?
What is the best restaurant on Maui?
How can I get a good price on airplane tickets to Maui?
Why do you advise me not to drive back from Hana on the southern route?
Where can I swim with dolphins?
How can I get the best price on a hotel or condo?
Which side of Maui should I stay at, South (Kihei-Wailea) or West (Kaanapali)?
Do I need air conditioning in my condo on Maui?
When can I see the whales?
How can I find out about new things to see and do on Maui, new restaurants, more choices of places to stay?
Can we use the pools at the Grand Wailea without staying there?
What time is sunrise and sunset when I will be on Maui?
Is there a boat or ferry between Maui and Oahu (Honolulu)?
Can I see Pearl Harbor while I am in Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) for a couple hours on my way to or from Maui?
Why do you tell people to avoid timeshare presentations?
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What are the top things that I absolutely must do on Maui?
Watch the sunset every night. (It’s different every night.)
Watch the whales (winter only) from shore or from a boat.
Walk through the lobbies and grounds of the big resort hotels (Hyatt, Westin, Sheraton, Ritz, Four Seasons, Grand Wailea).
Walk through the town of Lahaina (art galleries, shops, restaurants, boat harbor, history).
Haleakala crater (sunrise or sunset or mid-day).
Iao Valley and Iao Needle.
Road to Hana (with recorded guide CD to find the sights on the way).
Eat at great restaurants (see the Maui Restaurants pages of this website).
Many more suggestions on the Things To Do On Maui page
Average temperature and rainfall for each month in Lahaina:
|Month||High||Low||Water Temp||Rain inches|
For today & tomorrow’s Maui weather, scroll to the bottom of the following page: Maui Weather.
Dress is very informal resort clothes everyplace. In the daytime, people wear shorts and t-shirts all year around. In the evening, guys do not need a tie or jacket in even the fanciest Maui restaurants (but slacks and a shirt with a collar are advisable). You will see men and women in shorts and t-shirts in practically every restaurant, even for dinner, but my wife and I feel that something slightly nicer is more appropriate in the better restaurants at dinner time. What you consider a “nice dress” from the mainland will be too dressy for any restaurant on Maui, but you can wear a more casual dress, or a silk blouse over white pants if you want to be as dressy as it gets on Maui. Anything but shorts or jeans will work in the very nicest restaurants on Maui. Light colors are most common. If you decide to buy any Hawaiian-style clothes while you are there, the most choices are usually at Hilo Hattie in Lahaina, but remember that anything that looks real Hawaiian will look too loud and be almost unwearable when you get it back home!
My wife and my favorite Maui restaurant is Roy’s Kaanapali. It has a view of the golf course, and the food is marvelous. Phone 808-669-6999 for reservations at Roy’s. Many more excellent restaurants in all price ranges are described, with menus and food photos, on the Maui Restaurants section of this website.
Compare air fare prices on several discount travel websites from this box:
Here’s a link to more info on Maui air fares.
I advise against driving the unpaved southern route back from Hana because:
1. It violates the terms of your car rental contract, and the car rental company will not accept any responsibility to tow you out or to pay for any damage to your car.
2. The road is poor and unpaved and you can get stuck there, especially if it rains.
3. There is nobody there to help you on that road and noplace from which you can telephone for help.
There is plenty of other beautiful scenery to see on Maui without the need for any of the above risks.
Here’s a link to more info about the Road to Hana.
There is noplace to swim with dolphins in captivity on Maui. Your best chance is at Sea Life Park on the island of Oahu, or at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Oahu. They also offer it at the Hilton Waikaloa Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. On Maui, you can take a boat ride out into the ocean, where you might see dolphins, and occasionally you can see them from the shore. But you won’t get to swim with them. You can go on a whale-watching boat from Maui in the winter.
Use the box at the following link to compare discount prices: Maui Hotel Condo Discounts.
Never pay list price (called “rack rate” in the hotel business) at any hotel anyplace in the world. Always ask about package deals that may include a discount or a free night or free breakfast or a free rental car, etc. Also ask about AAA discounts and AARP discounts, if you belong to either of those groups. Call the hotel directly, as well as asking your travel agent what is the best price he/she can get you. Email Kay Ryan (Kay@mauikay.com) and/or Dave Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell them that I sent you (Jon’s Maui Info website), and see what deals they can get you. Call Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays at 1-800-242-9244 to ask about package prices that include hotel and air fare and sometimes a rental car. Compare several different hotels or condos in whichever area of Maui you are considering. But make sure the hotel or condo you select is in the resort areas (not in town), and preferably that it is on a beach (not a walk away from the beach), and preferably that it has air conditioning (which I feel I need on Maui even in the winter). There is much more detailed information about choosing the best place to stay on Maui, to meet your needs and your budget, on the Maui Hotels and Maui Condos section of this website.
There are two major hotel & condo areas of Maui, so how do you decide where to stay in Maui? Here’s my advice, after having stayed in both areas several times.
Kihei and Wailea are on the south end of east Maui. Kihei is a very crowded town with many condos but no resort hotels. It is less expensive than Wailea or Kaanapali, so is OK for families traveling with kids. But it lacks the space and beauty and luxurious feel of the resort areas of the island. Wailea is just south of Kihei. It consists of several large resort hotels, including the Grand, Four Seasons, Kea Lani, and Marriott Wailea. These are beautiful properties, but the surrounding landscape is relatively dry and barren. Where it is not watered for golf courses, it is brown and rocky.
Kaanapali and Lahaina are on the west side of Maui. In my opinion, that is the best area for you to stay on your Maui vacation. It is much more lush and green than Wailea, and it is not crowded like Kihei. The big resort hotels on Kaanapali Beach are within walking distance of each other, so you can explore or eat at different hotels and shopping areas without having to go too far. The hotels here include the Hyatt, Westin, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Sheraton, Maui Kaanapali Villas, and Royal Lahaina. In addition, it is only a 10 minute drive from Kaanapali Beach to the terrific tourist town of Lahaina, with shopping, restaurants, art galleries, boat tours, and fun!
If you don’t want to be right in the middle of the Kaanapali Beach resort, but would still like to stay on the west (Kaanapali) side of Maui, there are many less expensive condos in the several miles north of Kaanapali.
I much prefer west Maui (Kaanapali-Lahaina area) over Wailea or Kihei, so I will suggest specific places on that side, when making your decision of where to stay in Maui.
1. The three top resort hotels, in order of my preference, are the ones on the main Kaanapali Beach resort strip: Hyatt, Sheraton, or Westin. (I don’t like the Ritz because it is in a more isolated location, is not right on a beach, and it is more cloudy or more likely to rain or be windy in Kapalua.)
2. If you want to be right on Kaanapali Beach (where the Hyatt and Westin and Sheraton are located), but you want something less expensive, then I suggest the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. It is cheaper because it is older and less luxurious. But it is still a good hotel, the staff is exceptionally friendly, and of course the location is wonderful.
3. I suggest a condo instead of a hotel if you are traveling with children, or if you want a kitchen or more space in your room. If you are considering a condo instead of a hotel, then the most luxurious is Kaanapali Alii, located on the same beach strip as the Hyatt, Sheraton, and Westin. Also good and in the same perfect location is the Whaler. If those condos are both too expensive, consider the Maui Kaanapali Villas (right next to the Sheraton, so adjacent to the main resort strip like the others), or the Kaanapali Shores (a mile away), or the Mahana (best ocean views, but no shops or restaurant in the building).
4. If you need something less expensive than any of the above hotels and condos, then you will have less luxury, you will be further from the main Kaanapali area, and you may not get air conditioning. But be sure you are in a resort area (not in the city), and preferably on a beach (not across the street from the beach). Some possibilities include Napili Kai, Papakea, Hololani, or Kahana Reef. There are many others, many of which are described and have photos on the Maui Hotels & Condos section of this website.
I find that I need air conditioning most days, even in the winter. Some people feel comfortable with just the breeze going through an ocean-front condo with the windows open, but most people feel too hot in the daytime, and sometimes even at night, without air conditioning. This is especially true during the warmest months (May through November). All of the major hotels and the top condos do have air conditioning. But many of the less expensive condos do not have it. So ask before you make your reservation. Or check my review of any hotel or condo at Maui Hotels & Condos Links.
There are a few whales around Maui from mid-November to mid-April. But there are only a LOT of whales around Maui from mid January to early March. If you want to be sure to see the most whales in the ocean, it is best to plan your trip for the peak whale times of mid-January to the beginning of March. More details at this link: Maui whale watching.
Sorry, but no. The Grand Wailea has the most spectacular swimming pools on Maui, with multiple pools, water slides, swing, island, sand, water elevator, and more. If they let tourists staying at other hotels use their pools, they would not have room for their own hotel guests to use them. So they have a system of color-coded wristbands, and they check to see that anyone using their pools must be wearing one of their wristbands, to prove that they are really staying at the Grand. You are not allowed to use the pools at any hotel without staying at that hotel. But all beaches in Hawaii are public.
The times for the middle of each month at sea level on Maui are:
Month Sunrise Sunset
January 7:06 AM 6:06 PM
February 6:57 AM 6:25 PM
March 6:35 AM 6:36 PM
April 6:07 AM 6:46 PM
May 5:49 AM 6:57 PM
June 5:45 AM 7:09 PM
July 5:54 AM 7:11 PM
August 6:06 AM 6:56 PM
September 6:14 AM 6:29 PM
October 6:22 AM 6:02 PM
November 6:37 AM 5:45 PM
December 6:56 AM 5:48 PM
Can I see Pearl Harbor while I am in Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) for a couple hours on my way to or from Maui?
You will need most of the day to see Pearl Harbor. The video and tour of the Arizona Memorial takes 75 minutes, PLUS you will have to wait between 30 and 120 minutes for your turn for that tour, after you arrive at Pearl Harbor. (You cannot make advance reservations for your tour time.) Therefore, you need at least 2 to 3 hours just for the Arizona. If you also want to take the guided tour of the battleship USS Missouri, that takes an additional 1 to 3 hours (including getting there from the Arizona), depending on waiting time. You also have to allow about half an hour to get to Pearl Harbor from the airport or from Waikiki, and a similar amount of time to get back. Adding up all these times, means that you need a minimum of four hours (if you go during a slow season with few tourists and very little wait times), or up to seven hours in the busiest times of the year (such as Christmas week), to do both the Arizona and the Missouri tours.
1. You spent thousands of dollars for hotel and food and activities to enjoy the beauty and fun of Maui, so why waste some of those precious hours listening to a sales pitch.
2. The sales pitches are often high-pressure and misleading and take longer than promised. If you have not been to Maui several times, and have not been to several timeshare sales presentations, then you will not be prepared to know what is truth and what is misleading.
3. I feel that Maui timeshares purchased at these sales pitches are a terrible investment, grossly overpriced, and some people who go to the sales meeting will be talked into buying such a timeshare, which I feel would be an awful mistake that they will regret later.
4. If you must buy a timeshare, you can often get it for half the price on the secondary market. This also gives you a chance to shop around, instead of having to make a decision while a high-commission salesperson stands beside you. (See #8 below for more about buying a resale instead of paying the full developer price.)
5. Many people who have bought a timeshare and have told me about their experience, say that they didn’t realize how expensive it would be (with yearly maintenance fees and other hidden costs), how tired they would get of always going back to the same place, how difficult it would be to trade or exchange for a really good property someplace else, and how impossible it would be to sell for anything near what they paid for it.
6. Before spending this much money, you need to see numerous other choices. The slick salesperson will convince many people that they have to buy right now, whereas you could do much better by shopping around over a period of days. And you don’t really want to spend several days of your precious vacation time shopping around. You wouldn’t buy a car or a home without spending some time on research and seeing what else is available. But those timeshare sales meetings talk people into spending thousands of dollars on the first timeshare they see.
7. When I look at what they are charging for purchase and for maintenance fees at some timeshares on Maui, this is what I conclude about the prices:
(a) The amount they charge for a one-week timeshare, is approximately FOUR TO EIGHT TIMES as much as it should cost, based on my calculation of one-fifty-second of the cost of buying a similar condo outright. (I say 1/52 because there are 52 weeks in a year, so theoretically a one-week timeshare is worth 1/52 of the cost of fully owning the condo where you would own it all year round.)
(b) When I figure out the total cost of a Maui timeshare bought at one of these sales presentations, including the down payment (time value of that money or interest lost on not having that money in the bank), the interest payments, the maintenance payments, etc., I conclude that the buyer could have just paid daily rent on a similar condo on Maui, like any tourist, looking for the best package deals or discounts, and it would not have cost him/her any more than if he had bought the timeshare. And if he/she is not saving any money through the timeshare, then why limit himself to properties that can be swapped or available weeks for swapping, instead of leaving himself the freedom to switch to a different condo or a different island or a different state or a different country every year (or of course he can choose to come back to the same place if that’s what he wants, but at least he has the UNLIMITED choice).
8. If you really want to consider a timeshare, then instead of making this major decision with a salesperson in the same room, you can research and decide at home on the internet. There are a number of online timeshare websites. Whether you deal with a timeshare-for-sale-by-owner site OR an online timeshare realtor, it is important to do your homework beforehand. Check out the Better Business Bureau, which shows information on many companies. If a timeshare company is not listed with the BBB or their record shows a number of complaints, avoid or use extreme caution when dealing with such a company. There are many options available online for advertising timeshares for sale, finding vacation property to buy, or online timeshare closings. Whether you’re considering buying Maui timeshares, or just looking for timeshare information, you need a lot of research before spending this much money, and you are better off doing that research on the computer without any salesperson present, and then following up with in-person visits to several available properties on the secondary market, before making a decision. I still think timeshares are a bad investment, but if you still want to buy one, at least study several and learn what you are getting into.