Frequently Asked Questions About Maui
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?
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 or GPS 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
What will the weather be during the month I am going to Maui?
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.
What clothes should I bring? What to wear to dinner?
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!
What is the best restaurant on Maui?
My wife’s 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.
How can I get a good price on airplane tickets to Maui?
Compare airfare prices on several discount travel websites and book your ticket on a Tuesday. This is what I hear works. There’s a sweet spot between booking too far out and last minute where tickets aren’t too crazy.
Here’s a link to more info on Maui airfares.
Why do you advise me not to drive back from Hana on the southern route?
I aI 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.
Where can I swim with dolphins?
There is no place 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.
How can I get the best price on a hotel or condo?
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 (email@example.com) 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.
Which side of Maui should I stay at, South (Kihei-Wailea) or West (Kaanapali)?
There are two major hotel & condo areas of Maui, so how do you decide on the best area 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.
Do I need air conditioning in my condo on Maui?
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 Alphabetical List.
When can I see the whales?
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.
I stayed in a hotel last time. Should I stay in a condo the next time I go to Maui?
QUESTION: We just returned from a week in Kaanapali. We stayed at the Sheraton for the second time and realized that with our kids getting bigger, a hotel room just doesn’t really cut it for us anymore – we were tripping all over each other! Having said that, we are looking at booking a condo for next time and would really appreciate any advice you could give us. I absolutely love Kaanapali but have been told that the weather is somewhat better in Wailea, any truth to that? We don’t need to be right on the beach but don’t want to be too too far away either. I loved the look of the Kaanapali Ali but don’t know if it is out of our price range or not. What are your thoughts on the Grand Champion Resort? Please feel free to be brutally honest. It’s tough for us when you are booking something sight unseen and are only going by internet photos which can quite often be deceiving.
ANSWER: You have a very good idea, to stay in a condo instead of a hotel, as your kids get bigger and you need more space. Here are my comparisons between staying in a condo and staying in a hotel: Hotel vs Condo
I prefer the west side of Maui (Kaanapali side) over the Wailea side. Here is my comparison: West Maui vs South Maui
You are correct that there is slightly less rain in Wailea than in Kaanapali. Here is the temperature and rainfall for each month of the year in Lahaina: Maui weather
Since you “absolutely love Kaanapali” I think you should consider staying in one of the two condos that are right on Kaanapali Beach. They are Kaanapali Alii which you can see my review and my photos here Kaanapali Alii and Whaler which you can see my review and my photos here Whaler condo
Regarding whether either of those two are in your price range, there are a lot of good specials and discounts available. So if you shop around, you can often find good deals. Use the big white box about half-way down the middle of the following page, to get discount prices for any dates you are considering for those condos, from Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, and other discount websites quickly and easily:
Maui Hotels and Condos
Which restaurants do you most highly recommend?
This is our 15th time to Maui and we love it. I was just printing some of your Maui website. Is there a way to see your favorite picks on restaurants with out going into each restaurant listed? You have been “spot on” with your recommendations
You can see my favorite picks of Maui fine-dining restaurants. The first 15 listed on that page would be the ones I would most highly recommend. You can see my favorite moderate-priced restaurants. I would most highly recommend the top 12 on that page. You can see my favorite inexpensive Maui restaurants where the top 14 are the best.
What is your favorite Maui hotel, restaurant, beach, time of year?
If you could stay in one place on Maui, eat at one restaurant, fly on one airline, go to one beach, and get married wherever you wanted, then where would you stay, where would you eat, which beach would you enjoy, and where would you tie the knot? And what time of year would you do all of these things?
I would stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui because it is the best hotel on my favorite side of the island, though the very best hotel on all of Maui I feel is the Grand Wailea. I would eat at the Roy’s restaurant and ask for Susie to be my waitress. I would fly on Hawaiian Airlines for the best service. I would spend my time on Kaanapali Beach because it has lots of activities in addition to beautiful views. I would get married on North Beach, just north of Kaanapali. I would go to Maui in February because that is the best month to see the whales.
Some more of my favorites:
Favorite condo: Kaanapali Alii in an ocean-front room
Favorite sight to see: Crater at the top of Haleakala volcano (mid-day, not sunrise)
Favorite dessert: Chocolate souffle at Roy’s in Kaanapali
Favorite luau: Old Lahaina for adults, Hyatt luau for kids
Favorite rental car company: Whichever has the best car rental deal
Favorite shave ice: Ululani’s in Lahaina
Favorite garden: Enchanting Floral Garden in Kula
Favorite town: Lahaina
Favorite shopping center: Whalers Village in Kaanapali
Road to Hana with Temptation Tours or Valley Isle Excursions?
For a tour to Hana I am trying to decide between Temptation Tours and Valley Isle Excursions. The Valley Isle tour is about $70 more. Is it worth it or at least would you recommend them?
In my opinion, Valley Isle Excursions is better than Temptation Tours, for many reasons. We love the driver/guides, the trip is really custom (if the group wants to do one thing over another, you get it), and the vans are really nice. See this page of my website for a comparison of those two and other Road to Hana & other Van Tours.
How can I have a Maui vacation as cheaply as possible?
1. Shop for air fares. Try lots of different months and different flights and different airlines and look for the best deal. Shop online. Use the box on this page to check out air fares: Air Fares.
2. Go during the off-season, fall or spring. Avoid the expensive seasons of summer and winter. Avoid any holiday, which is always more money. By far the most expensive week is from Christmas to New Year’s.
3. Stay in a condo instead of a hotel, so you can use the kitchen to make some of your meals, so you won’t have to spend so much on restaurants.
See the bottom half of the following page for some less expensive condos: South Maui Condos.
Use the white box on the following page to shop for condo prices for various dates: Hotels and Condos
4. Eat meals in your condo instead of in restaurants. Figure what your grocery bill is per week at home, and then add 50% additional onto that for the higher prices on Maui. Bring small baggies of your seasonings, plus coffee filters or other small light items, from home so you don’t have to buy them on Maui.
5. Shop on Maui at Costco and Walmart (both in Kahului). If you shop in the regular grocery stores, get the discount cards at Safeway and Foodland. See this link for more about Maui grocery stores.
6. If you do decide to eat some meals in restaurants, choose from the following page which has the least expensive good restaurants: Inexpensive Restaurants.
7. See the following page to shop for the cheapest rental car: Car Rental Deals. You MUST have a rental car to get around on Maui.
8. Do only free activities (swim, hike, sightsee), to avoid expensive paid activities (boats, helicopters, tours).
What is that statue about at the Maui airport?
While waiting in the Kahului airport security check-in line to depart from Maui, I noticed a big statue of a man with the sun over his head. What is that supposed to be?
The bronze statue (shown in the photo below) is called “Maui Releasing the Sun” and it was created in 1992 by Maui-born artist Shige Yamada.
A Hawaiian legend says that the demi-god Maui lassoed the sun over Haleakala Volcano, in order to slow the progress of the sun across the sky, so that his mother’s tapa-cloth would have a longer time to dry in the warm sun. So the person depicted in the statue is Maui, and in this pose he is releasing the sun back into the sky.
What should I know before I move to Maui Hawaii?
I would like to move to Maui Hawaii. What are the most important things that I need to know?
Living in Maui is not like being on vacation in Maui. Everything is MUCH more expensive in Hawaii than in the rest of the United States. Most people who live in Maui have to work two jobs just to get by. But you can make the move work if you do your research first and know what to expect and get some tips on how to deal with it. It’s also good to start with some Hawaii size and population facts.
Before you make plans to move to Hawaii, I strongly recommend that you read both of the following.
1. All the sections about living in Hawaii on the Aim for Awesome – Living in Hawaii website.
2. The book So You Want to Live in Hawaii.
How can I find out about new things to see and do on Maui, new restaurants, more choices of places to stay?
Subscribe to the free monthly email Maui Newsletter by filling in your email address on the Maui Newsletter page.
Can we use the pools at the Grand Wailea without staying there?
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.
What time is sunrise and sunset when I will be on Maui?
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
Is there a boat or ferry between Maui and Oahu (Honolulu)?
No. You have to take a plane. The Hawaii Superferry ran from December of 2007 to March of 2009, but it is no longer running.
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 do a Pearl Harbor tour. 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.
Why do you tell people to avoid timeshare presentations?
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.