I have read so many articles on the Hawaiian Islands, meticulously searched the Google maps of each island and ran through a million pictures on Instagram of others vacation experiences. It wasn’t easy, but early on I decided on Maui and Kauai, they’ve always just looked so magical to me. I feel like, if you’re going to Hawaii, you MUST at least pick 2 islands to explore – it’ll blow your mind how different they truly are. If you’ve got Maui and Kauai on the brain this article is for you!
We did the Air Bnb thing for both islands – a private room for about $75 per night. Great deal, hosts were insightful & gave privacy. Many great suggestions and conveniences came from our hosts.
Day 1: Appreciate the beauty
Im not going to lie when we landed, I was exhausted. We stopped at _______ Tacos and drove around the town a little bit. I just wanted to take in the beauty of this island and appreciate where I was right now. The very first night we stayed in Kihe (key-hey). Very cute little town, a lot of shops and stores. The rest of the trip was stayed near Paia, which proved to be PERFECT location for exploring The Road To Hana. Paia is exactly where Hana Road starts.
Day Two: Eat like a local, explore like a tourist
The sweet sounds of early Maui woke us up. The ocean you ask? No, the rooster’s crows reminded us that we weren’t in Florida anymore. You can hear them first thing in the morning, usually around 4 am. A couple on the plane told us about Kihei Cafe, and when we got there, there they were sitting down having breakfast! Well good morning and ALOHA! Kihei Cafe had great food items and a lot of interesting choices for fair prices. Our next stop is Lahaina (La-Hane-Uh). Along the way we found plenty of turn offs to enjoy and take in all the views of Maui. We actually found tons of great local art being sold, I bought many of my gifts this way. The town of Lahaina is charming, filled with banyan trees and extremely touristy, but we had fun going into all the shops and galas as I was on the hunt for a unique piece of jewelry – and yes I did find it, not in Lahaina – details later. Lahaina was also hosting a surf competition while we were there, which was pretty neat to watch. We decided to keep going North on the highway and eventually ran into Slaughterhouse Beach on the left. I’ve read about it, and I knew ahead of time I wanted to stop! It was very private and secluded – the waves were epic as well as the sea cave gave great photo opportunities. Highly recommend it. When you pass Slaughterhouse Beach, on the right you can’t miss the purple food truck. Their grass fed beef burgers were AMAZING and the atmosphere is so pretty, you sit by a running stream, surrounded by little chickies under the Maui sunshine. Just across from the food truck is Honolua Park, a short walk will take you to a renowned reef – just be wary there are a ton of rocks. We didn’t snorkel the reef, but it was definitely pretty cool to entertain the idea for about 10 minutes as we tried to climb over as many rocks as we could. Take the highway all the way around the island, you’ll get to a spot where you can overlook the reef just described – it’s pretty spectacular. Don’t ask questions, just do it. You’ll come across some amazing views off the cliffs and at Mile 38 pull over because you’ve reach the Nakalele Blowhole. Give yourself 4 hours to complete this task of going around the island that will eventually take you back to Paia. It was stunning!
Day 3: Molokini Crater & Haleakala Sunset
I booked the Molokini snorkeling Adventure about 1 month in advance, it cost $90 per person and I would say that it was pretty worth it. It was a huge boat, they provide all the snorkel equipment as well as a small breakfast and filling lunch. Molokini Crater was amazing to snorkel, although there was a TON of people there, also enjoying the reef. If i could do it over, I would definitely take more time in exploring the tour who gets there first thing in the morning. Haleakala Crater is another MUST do, trust me we were exhausted after Molokini, but I am so glad we ventured up the island to Haleakala (hAl-eee-ahhh-kahhh-la) “House of the Sun”. It is UNREAL and you feel nothing but euphoria driving into and eventually above the clouds. If you go for sunrise (which many people do) you now need a permit and you’ll have to visit the website for more information on that. I’m glad we went for sunset. There were way less people and it was just as beautiful. Make sure you have enough gas, the gas stations on the island are not 24/7 and god forbid you almost run out of gas like we did – which caused us to leave early and not get a chance to see the stars.
4. Day 4: Taking The Road To Hana (hah-nah)
We highly recommend buying the CD that we found on eBay for about $10. The CD is pretty cool in the way that it also breaks done some history of Maui as well as the culture. You won’t have time to see everything so create a list of must see’s – it’s super easy to get caught up in the beauty of it all and stay too long at certain places. We did not organize our time wisely and missed out on the bamboo forest as well as the Venus Pools at the end of the road. Just to get to the bamboo forests alone, is a 45 min hike one way and you don’t want to do that in the dark. You will notice an arboretum the first 45 mins of the drive. They want to charge you $30 a person, it’s a rip off please pass the arboretum – you will find a free one on the way (announced by the CD) and you will see all the same plants, especially those vibrant eucalyptus trees. If you’re goal is to find the Venus Pools do not stop at every waterfall you see as you will see many (hind sight is 20/20 take it from me!). Keanae was one of my favorite places and you’ll find the road right after that second arboretum, also announced by the CD. The audio warns you that people have died in these currents and to not swim there, but when we saw the locals jumping in we couldn’t resist. We don’t recommend jumping in and to proceed with caution, but on a calm day – it was worth it. Of course we stopped along Black Sand Beach and we found Red Sand Beach. Red Sand beach is a little tricky, but totally manageable and worth it. Once you arrive in Hana, you want to get to the Hauoli and Ua Kea intersection – walk toward the ocean and on the left you’ll see a yellow gate – walk through and find the path that will take you to Red Sand Beach. You’re welcome. Side note – we took the back half road to Hana around the island home to Paia. A lot of it was dirt, so we don’t recommend driving it unless there is at least 2 hours of daylight left. Doing that in the dark was not worth it and we cursed it the whole way home.
Day 5: Fly To The Garden Isle
Once we landed in Kauai we went directly to the farmers market that is held weekly on Saturdays. The Kalua Pork was to die for. It was right by the airport so it was really convenient and fun. Kauai, in comparison to Maui moves much slower, and the tourists are minimal at best. I personally like the North side of the island near Princeville. It’s ritzy, beautiful and well taken care for. First things first, we went to The Kings/Queens bath. The parking lot is super small, but don’t lose hope, hang out and wait for somebody to leave. Whatever you do, do not block cars. Signs tell you to pull all the way up and to not block cars, but if you’re smart you’ll do what we did and park halfway up on the bank so no one has a chance to park behind you and block you in (you’d be stuck for who knows how long). The walkway down to the bath is beautiful, go barefoot or wear a good durable shoe, it does get slippery. There were many people at The Baths when we went, jumping into the Sea turtle infested water. Those things are huge!! It took many minutes for me to decide to jump in, but I’m glad I did! After swimming in one of the deadliest tide pools in the country we headed to Ke’e Beach (key-ay) or better known as “the beach at the end of the road.” You’ll pass an immense cave on way there – enjoy the beach and its gorgeous privacy. While we we were there we enjoyed the company of a monk seal who came up to itch himself on a lava rock that we were sun bathing on. Today was a good day.
Day 6: Raft Adventure with Captain Andy Exploring The Napali Coast
Totally worth it. It was a bit pricey, about $175 per person but it was totally worth it! Kyler and Iki where fantastic guides! It’s a 6 hour tour on a raft boat that is small enough to enter the sea caves and what a thrill it is! We swam at Polihale, saw pods of Spinner dolphins which they stopped for, and entered the sea caves while going under waterfalls. The Napali coast is breath taking and it’s an absolute MUST DO and Captain Andy’s Raft Tour was the ultimate experience. It doesn’t stop there though, they also took us to Napali Coast State Park (Nualolo) where we went snorkeling and had an amazing lunch on the beach. We really appreciated the fact that you need a permit to enter this beach, so we were the only ones there. Another interesting aspect to this beach is that it also houses some ancient Hawaiian ruins which they explain and take you on an informative tour. GREAT TOUR. Afterwards, head to Waimea Canyon. It is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. You’re right there – check it out.