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How I Fell in Love With Maui

We spoke to a frequent visitor about the best vacation spots in Maui


Rocky coastline of Maui, Hawaii
The sandy shores of Maui are the picture of paradise.

From destination weddings to family-fun vacations, Hawaii is a popular spot for travelers looking to soak in some of the world’s greatest natural beauty.  And what’s more, there are ample fun date ideas in Maui and plenty to do at night!

For Joe, who’s been visiting since his childhood, the island of Maui holds a special place in his heart. A Seattle native and travel lover, Joe walked us through his memories of Maui as a kid and on into adulthood, and explained just how much the island lives up to its reputation as heaven on earth.

So you’re a frequent traveler to Maui?

Yeah! I’m very fortunate and grateful that my family regularly took us out to Maui since I was a kid. My parents got engaged on the island and my aunt and uncle too, actually, so we have a bit of family history there! 

Maui was where my grandparents were happiest and what we always looked forward to as a family. Everything we did was so peaceful—jungle adventures, playing games in the sand and water, enjoying consistently beautiful weather, and of course eating really well, too… It really is paradise.

What are some essential travel tips for Maui?

Keep in mind to just take it easy when you’re there. Have some strong plans for the first few days, but then leave the rest open, kick your feet up, and really take in the relaxing atmosphere.

It’s really important, I think, to remember that it’s more than a tourist spot and to be sensitive to the local population, too. I try my best to give locals space and allow them to enjoy their home.

Waterfall landscape of the Upper Waikani Falls
The Upper Waikani Falls has a popular swimming hole for visitors!

What are some of your favorite activities?

Waterfall hiking! There’s a place where you can go and backpack through beautiful waterfalls, even jump down them if you want and go down natural waterslides. It’s really fun, and most importantly pretty remote and doesn’t disrupt local life.

My grandfather really loved whale watching too. He just took his binoculars and looked at them right from his balcony. It was pretty incredible.

Array of Hawaii cuisine staples like poké and barbecue
Fresh poké and kalua pork are delicious staples of Hawaii cuisine.

Let’s talk food! What are some of the best things you’ve eaten there? 

I love fish, and Maui’s a great spot for trying all kinds—cooked or raw! A local friend actually recommended a tiny fish bar that’s located right inside a liquor store. It was very much a hidden gem with some of the best poké (diced, raw fish traditionally marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce) I’ve ever had.

SPAM, actually, is also huge over there—I recently tried spam musubi (grilled spam on top of a block of white rice and wrapped together with seaweed) for the first time and it was definitely simple but super delicious. I really wish it was more popular on the mainland.

Is it true that Maui offers a little something for everyone?

Definitely. It’s family-friendly, adult-friendly, and couple-friendly. As a kid, I really enjoyed making up games on the beach with my family—the Maui Olympics were big for me and my brother.

Since I go there with my girlfriend now, there’s more of an emphasis on finding places that offer nice sit-down dinners… Star Noodle is great for that; it’s a very well-known restaurant just along the water. Great food, great atmosphere that’s perfect for couples.

A Maui beach during golden hour
It doesn’t get any better than golden hour on a Maui beach.

What makes you keep going back?

Maui is actually the only Hawaiian island I’ve ever been to, just because my family and I fell in love with it. I’d like to explore the other islands at some point, but Maui really is magical for me.

What I like is how remote it is, which you really can’t get often nowadays. The beaches are so beautiful, pristine, and calm… I think what makes it so special for me is that the hardest thing about going to Maui, actually, is leaving.