Updated: 6 days ago
This blog has been a work in progress for about 9 months now. With a big time lapse for about 6 of those months 🤣. Life happens, ya know! Some of it was written soon after our trip and other stuff, 8-9 months later, so I tried my best to remember everything correctly. It's not perfect, but I wanted to get it out there to help others going to Maui without (hopefully) being too outdated!
Maui is absolutely magical. Perfect weather 24/7, relaxing in ways you didn't know existed, environmentally conscious, and just stunning. Locals take great pride in their island and it shows. Visit this site to get acquainted with Maui before going and remember to be respectful of the land, don't litter, and ditch the chemical-laden sunscreen, and only use a mineral-based one to protect the reefs and sealife!
There is so much to be done on the second largest Hawaiian Island, and while we fit in a lot when we went in October 2021, I feel we barely skimmed the surface during our few days there.
Here's where we stayed:
We found a really great deal at a new hotel on Maui, AC Marriott Wailea. Despite being new, this was one of the cheapest hotels we could find, and because we booked through Costco Travel, we had a rental car included AND we received a $200 Costco gift card upon completion of the trip. We stayed in a ground-level room with patio doors that led out to the pool area, which I preferred over a higher room with a balcony. Easy access to relaxing pool lounging and delicious drinks from the tiki bar! It's a fairly small hotel, with an infinity pool that overlooks the parking lot (don't be fooled by the strategic photos!), but it was still beautiful and we loved the location. The Shops at Wailea is a big outdoor mall across the street (where Lineage is), there is a boutique-y shopping center next to the hotel (where Akamai Coffee is), a small center behind the hotel (where Matteo's is), and a larger one down the road a bit (which houses Sprout Vegan Cafe). It's also within walking distance to a couple of really lovely beaches.
Here are all of the places we dined at:
(There are more mentioned on the Hana list below!)
Matteo's Osteria - this place was right behind our hotel and ended up being a happy accident. I did a lot of food research in advance but didn't find much for dinner options nearby. Once at the hotel, I was yelp searching "vegan" as I often do and this place popped up. They have a separate vegan menu and gluten-free options so we decided to walk over one night. They have a gorgeous patio but it gets packed, so I'd recommend making a reservation if you plan to come here. We took our food to go and ate outside our hotel which was perfect. We shared the Misto Salad and I got the Primavera Pasta made GF both of which were delicious. Jesse got the vegetarian ravioli and loved it - I know because he said it probably 5 times!
Wailea Kitchen - This was another restaurant we discovered right by our hotel tucked out of sight on a hill with an amazing view. We were really excited for this dinner given the ethos of the business and everything they were about, however, it was a pretty big letdown.
Sprout Vegan Cafe - An all-vegan cafe near our hotel that we went to twice given the convenience. Things we tried were; poke bowl, huli huli bowl, Philly sushi roll, lox toast on gluten-free bread, aloe slush, and an iced matcha. Jesse liked this place more than I did. If you haven't gathered by now, he's pretty easy to please! lol. Everything was decent and the sushi roll was probably my favorite thing we ate there. The aloe slush was tasty and refreshing, however, the matcha was very disappointing, although I'm not surprised because all 4 of the matches I tried while on Maui were not good =(
Lineage - You guessed it, another restaurant near our hotel! This was our favorite meal of the entire trip, and I definitely recommend calling to get a reservation in advance! (Online showed no openings, but there were some when I called). They have plenty of v+gf options all labeled, as well as super friendly and knowledgeable servers. We got the smashed cucumber and peanut salad, crispy noodles + lapa'au mushroom gravy (this entree was an entire show!), vegetable fried rice which was the best fried rice I've ever had, and Jesse got the garlic Szechuan noodles. We shared the tapioca dessert which was a little weird tbh. We will definitely eat here again if we ever make it back to Maui! Also, plan to go early or stay after and explore the beautiful mall it's in as well as the local market right next door.
Earth Aloha Eats - There are two food truck lots near the airport. One of them houses the all-vegan food truck, Earth Aloha Eats. We got there shortly after it opened and unfortunately the rice wasn't ready yet so I went the complete opposite direction of the bowl I wanted and got the pulled pork fries which I shared with Jesse. He also got a chicken wrap which he enjoyed. They also didn't have the dessert we wanted to try. Glad we tried it, but it didn't necessarily knock my socks off. The best part? Friendly chickens roaming around everywhere! You'll actually see them roaming around a lot of Maui.
That's A Wrap - A cafe across from the beach in Kihei with a few vegan and gluten-free options. I got an acai bowl with fresh, delicious fruit on top, however, the acai itself was icy and not great. I also got a baked banana donut which tasted like banana bread and was realllly good! I can't remember exactly what Jesse got, but it must've been a special, vegan crabcakes or something similar! There was a really cool store a couple of doors to the right where I got beautiful Hawaiian wraps that doubled as a beach blanket.
Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods - The next center over from That's A Wrap houses this all-natural market with lots of vegan items. They also have a deli/juice/coffee bar inside with some vegan options and a couple that can be made gluten-free. I got a pretty good acai bowl that I ate at Ulua Beach, while on my newly purchased wrap from above!
Moku Roots - This is a really neat zero-waste, plant-based restaurant in Lahaina with lots of gluten-free options. Jesse and I shared the happy hour crazy fries which were very spicy. I opted for the taro burger since it's a staple I likely can't get anywhere else, and honestly, it was pretty flavorless. I definitely recommend adding more/another sauce and cheese if they let you! Jesse got a buffalo cauliflower wrap which I think he thought was pretty basic. We also got an iced lavender latte which was just watered down iced coffee with some milk and the lavender... not a latte at all! I wouldn't get that again, however, I will definitely go back here to try more food because I just love everything they're about - they pack food to go and leftovers in ti leaves for crying out loud! Bonus, they have a little zero-waste retail section with some great products.
A'A Roots - This vegan cafe had some of the most uniquely beautiful food, but it was just ok. Jesse had the breakfast burrito and I had the breakfast bowl. There was a lot going on, yet somehow just not a lot of flavor. I did have the whipped dalgona coffee special and that was deeeelicious!
Akamai Coffee - Akamai carries 100% Maui Coffee and has many locations throughout the island. There was one right near our hotel so we went a couple of times. They've won some awards, but nothing really blew our minds. They also carry Maui Ono vegan donuts!
Peace Love Shave Ice - A cute Hawaiian shave ice stand in a parking lot with the sweetest owner! They use traditional syrups, 100% natural syrups (no dyes, which is why I went here and only here for shave ice), and are made with Raw Maui cane sugar syrup with sugar-free options. I don't remember what Jesse got, but I got rootbeer and lychee and it was all really, really good! Definitely go here and opt for the natural syrups!
Maui Ono Donuts - Vegan donuts served out of a trailer in a parking lot! While they do have gluten-free options, you need to order them 8 hours in advance, so I didn't end up getting any. You can order in advance on their website, so I definitely recommend doing that!
Believe it or not, we do more than just eat! Here are some sites/attractions we saw too:
First up, Road to Hana. This is an all-day experience, so definitely plan out your trip at least a little bit. Personally, I'm a planner and made a list of all the stops we wanted to hit, their hours, and whether we should go there on the way there or back, just to be prepared. (You can do a complete loop, but we opted to drive to Hana and then go back the way we came). This way, we had a good plan for the day, although not super rigid, and could tweak as needed along the way.
Down to Earth Market and Cafe - This market opens at 6am and is a great place to stop at the beginning of your adventure to stock up on water and snacks. It's also close to the airport and where we stopped to grab some food for the plane; I got a tofu musubi for my plane food and it was really tasty. I also got the most delicious locally made cultured macadamia nut spread from Sattvic Kitchen. They have many prepared items and a salad/hot foods bar, in addition to your standard market fare.
Rainbow Kitchen and Rebel Tonics - This food truck opens at 7:30am and is where we stopped for breakfast and caffeine. We were the only ones in the entire lot which surprised us as this was one of the best places we went on the whole trip! I got the reishi cacao latte which was divine, as well as the mochi waffle with the most delicious macadamia whip. Jesse got the mighty bowl and mermaid drink, both of which he loved. Even if you don't do Hana, stop here!
Twin Falls Farm Stand - A farm stand with some limited food options and 2 waterfalls a short walk from the parking lot. Very beautiful and can be done quickly! Be prepared for some mud on your walk to the falls.
Pu’a Ka’a State Wayside Park - We actually missed this on the way in, so we hit it on the way back. There's a parking lot and bathrooms with waterfalls across the street, no hike required - yes you can get in there and swim!
Hana Harvest Cafe - When we went here it was a stand with packaged grab 'n go items and a truck with drinks. There wasn't much that was both vegan and gluten-free but I did eat a red cuban banana! Jesse got a banana bread that was not impressive despite it's accolades.
Coconut Glens Ice Cream - This artsy ice cream truck is a must! Even though some local restaurants carry CG's, which we also had, stopping at their physical location on the road to Hana was a fun experience, definitely recommend it!
Waiʻānapanapa State Park - We had no idea that you needed reservations to visit this park due to Covid, so unfortunately we did not get to go =( Don't be like us, plan ahead and make reservations if still needed to see this beautiful black sand beach! (I did get to visit it when I was 16 and remember loving it then)
Town of Hana - Once you finally arrive in Hana, there isn't much to eat in the way of vegan and gluten-free options. I was able to modify a veggie kebob from a food truck, but it was not good and there were ants crawling in it and I wouldn't recommend it. Definitely plan ahead with snacks, or stock up at the fruit stands along the way!
Veg Out - On our way back we discovered Veg Out, a vegetarian restaurant with some vegan options which wasn't on our initial list. I got a lentil soup to hold me over and Jesse got a sandwich. It was just ok, I wouldn't go out of my way to stop here, but it'll work in a pinch.
Artisan Ice Cream by Cafe de Amis - Our last stop of the Hana trip was for more food and ice cream! (I'm now realizing our first "activities" listing is a lot of food 😂). Cafe de Amis has some vegan options (double-check to confirm GF options) and was decent, plus they have a nice patio! They also have an ice cream shop next door with a handful of vegan options that were yummy.
Mana Foods - Across from the Cafe was this amazing market filled with vegan options! We got a couple of their homemade baked goods as well as a local pono pie which was so good. Definitely stop here on your Hana trip.
Next, a Luau is a great way to learn more about Hawaii's history and culture. And luckily, there are a few! If you're looking for a traditional Luau, I definitely recommend Old Lahaina Luau which is super vegan + gf friendly! Items we ate were kalo and sweet potato chips with kalo hummus, greens salad, pa’i’ai, stir-fried veggie plate with tofu and mashed sweet potato, and lastly, haupia and kulolo for dessert. The dinner and show take place on the oceanfront at sunset, truly a gorgeous setting. The show itself was educational and a magical experience. I actually went to this luau with my family when I was 16, but being an adult I had so much more appreciation for it. Due to covid, dinner was no longer served buffet style and instead was a plated dinner with a dedicated server; we preferred it this way! And yes, it is still all-you-can drink.
We also spent a couple of hours exploring the shops in Wailuku. On Market St. there were a few stores we liked such as a shop filled with goods from local artisans, a music store, antique shop and more. I also spotted a zero-waste store nearby although we didn't make it in. More of a local scene here and not touristy.
One day we got an outdoor couples massage in a relaxing tent on a hill at Wailea Healing Center. Not as close to the ocean as we thought, but still amazing! Definitely make appointments in advance if you plan on doing anything like this. One of our masseuses told us about the sacred ʻĪao Valley, so we decided to go there one day when we were nearby. This valley is rich in cultural and spiritual values and is the site of the battle of Kepaniwai where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army in 1790. It was a quick, beautiful visit, and also VERY windy!
We definitely had to visit a few beaches while in Maui! One place that my bff Kristen (who was there just before us) recommended was Secret Cove. Behind a rock wall with a slim doorway lays a small patch of sand with the blackest lava rock and bluest water. It was breathtaking and gave me some of my favorite pictures I took the entire trip (most of which were selfies and not on the master photo album below haha!).
Our last day we visited all of the shops on Front Street in Lahaina. We snagged some good souvenirs, visited the famous Banyan Tree in Lahaina Banyan Court Park, and just explored while on a leisurely stroll.
I definitely still have a list of things to see and do next time (like visit the farms in upcountry and zipline for starters!), but we covered a lot of ground on this short trip. Hopefully you enjoyed this recap and found some helpful information!
Click Here to view all of the photos from our trip, including ones taken from all of the businesses/stops mentioned above!
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