This November I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving on Maui to visit my sister who lives there (not fair, right?). This was my second time visiting the island and it was even better than the first. If you are going to any of the Hawaiian islands I would suggest going for at least a week. That’s how long I went for and when I was leaving it just felt too early - I felt like I had just endured the long flight there, that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted, and I just simply didn’t want to leave. Next time I think I will do ten days to play it safe.

Maui is so incredibly beautiful but you can definitely miss out if you don’t plan in advance before your trip. I had my own personal tour guide that lives there so I recognize this might not be the easiest thing to do, but that’s why I want to share with you everything we did! I’ve rounded up my favorite “must dos” when it comes to exploring, eating, and drinking while on Maui.

What to do:

Hana - the road to Hana is famous for it’s narrow lanes, windy turns, and numerous waterfalls that are hidden along its sides. Although going to Hana requires a full day it is so worth it. You can swim under waterfalls a few times as you make your way to the east side of the island. Once you’re there you can indulge in some of the best thai food (Pranee’s is the best!) and chill out on one of Maui’s most gorgeous beaches called Hamoa. Up for a longer journey? Drive around the back side of the island to see the ocean on one side and incredible rural landscape on the other.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm - this attraction is in Kula, and is home to the most beautiful property of growing lavender and a cute gift shop. You can sip on hot or iced lavender tea, snack on lavender scones, and explore on your own throughout the lavender fields. You truly feel like you are in the clouds and it is such a unique experience.

Ho’okipa Beach - this beach is my sister’s favorite beach and it makes the perfect afternoon of laying in the sun and watching surfers. We hung out here a few of the days I was there and every time it was the perfect way to relax.

South side - the south side of Maui is gorgeous and has most of the resorts. You may find yourself staying in this area if you are looking to indulge or on a honeymoon, etc. One day we explored the resorts and relaxed by the pool. Some of the resorts have incredible restaurants that might be worth checking out for brunch, happy hour, or dinner. Most resorts allow daytime visitors but some don’t allow non-guests to use their facilities so double check beforehand!

Hiking - I didn’t get a chance to hike on this trip but I did the first time I went to Maui and it is so incredible. The valleys and waterfalls make for an out-of-this-world view, and provides the perfect experience to unplug.

Maui Brewing Company - this brewery is perched on top of a hill where you can see both the ocean and the mountains and sitting there at sunset is one of the most relaxing experiences. Live music in the background, beer flights, mouth-watering appetizers…doesn’t get much better than that.

What I wish I did - helicopter tour!!!!!! This is on my bucket list. It’s a little pricey (~ $300/person) but looks absolutely stunning. I will do this one day.

Where to eat/drink:

Mama’s Fish House - OH MY GODDDD this food is amazing. My sister works at this restaurant, so it is an understatement when I say we got the special treatment. From drinks, to appetizers, to desserts, we were treated throughout the entire meal. That being said, everything was to die for and I would have spent my own dime on everything I consumed. I got the Pau Hana cocktail, my favorite appetizers were the ceviche, shrimp wantons, and the ahi sashimi salad, and for my entree I got the Panang fish curry (currently drooling thinking about this). This restaurant is a MUST if you go to Maui. That’s that.

Monkey Pod - we went here my first day for lunch and it was such a cool atmosphere with good food and even better drinks. Their Mai Tai has lilikoi foam on top of it and it might have been one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. If you don’t know what lilikoi is it’s passion fruit and sooo tasty! Would fly back to Maui solely to sip on this delectable cocktail.

Paia Bowls - such solid acai bowls! I went here 3 or 4 times in the week I was visiting - for snacks, for meals..etc. Too good to pass up.

Belle Surf Cafe - this coffee shop is the perfect beach vibe you (or at least I) search for while on an island vacation. They have a wide selection of espresso drinks as well as a full food menu. And it is incredibly aesthetic.

Paia Inn Cafe - This little cafe is part of a inn in downtown Paia, which is a cute lil’ beach town! Their seating is outside on a beautiful patio so you can take a break from the sun and their menu has everything from coffee drinks, to cold-pressed juices, to three different types of eggs benedict. This was one of my happy ‘n’ full moments during the trip.

There’s my round up of things to do on Maui and the best places to eat and drink (although there are many more gems around the island). Also suggest grabbing a six pack of local beer and watching sunset on an oceanside cliff or perched under a waterfall…can’t really go wrong here.