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Seven Tips To Plan Your Maui Trip
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Seven Tips To Plan Your Maui Trip

People come to Maui for six main reasons...sun, sand, sea, sights, shopping, sports. Here are seven tips to help make your Maui trip wonderful.

1. Do some research and planning.

Sort out how you want to spend your time. Folks come here and wreck their vacation running around trying to see and do everything. You can’t do it all. We've been here thirty years and we still haven't tried everything. Pick two or three “must-do” events, such as a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, and let the rest just happen. Make one of those events "just doing nothing." Relax in the prettiest place you can find and go home relaxed and refreshed.

To figure out what you really want to do, check out these sources. We can recommend the “Paradise Family Guide to Maui and Lanai” by Christie Stilson or the “Maui and Molokai Locations Guide” by Richard Stillman. You can buy these from your local bookstore or Amazon.com.

2. Pick a base to work from.

Most of the tourist action happens along the North Shore (Lahaina side) or along the West Shore (Kihei side). There are about 20 major hotels, 100 condos and dozens of B & B's to choose from. Don't accept the first rate you are quoted. Always ask for discounts, seasonal specials, package plans. To explore the possibilities, go to the Hotel, Condo, B&B Listing on our Maui HI! Web site.

The North Shore, from Lahaina on, is a string of white sand beaches backed by hotels or condos. Lahaina's Front Street is loaded with shops, galleries, restaurants and a few sights like an old whaling ship. Our favorite hotel is the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel; older, comfortable, filled with aloha and Hawaiian culture. Be aware that all beaches on Maui are public. You don't have to be staying at a hotel to enjoy the beach in front.

The West Shore, from Maalaea on through Kihei, is a string of white sand beaches backed by condos and strip malls until you get to the ritzy hotels at Wailea. The only real sight here is the new Maui Ocean center. Our favorite hotel on this side is the Fairmount Kea Lani.

3. Decide when to come. November and December are the most crowded and most expensive. Summer is hot, great for the beach and a good time for families. Hotel, airline, and car reservations can be hard to arrange at these times. Spring and Fall are least crowded and best times to get a package deal. Come in the off-season and you'll find the prices better, the beaches, hikes, campgrounds, and even restaurants less crowded, and the people happier to see you

4. You'll want a car...

because good stuff is spread out all over the island. Be sure to reserve one before you come. Ask about an AAA or AARP discount if you are a member. Ask your hotel about a package that includes a car. Pick up a free map at the airport. And, if nobody is meeting you, buy yourself a plumeria lei at the airport shop. The fragrance will remind you of why you're here. Keep it in the refrigerator and it will last for days. The roads are good and it's hard to get lost. From the airport to Lahaina is 30 miles and will take you about 50 minutes. From the airport to Kihei is about 25 minutes. Take your time, the views are great. Tune your radio to KPOA, 93.5 FM for some Hawaiian music.

5. Allow for two day-long sightseeing trips.

On one trip, drive to the top of Haleakala Crater. The view into the Crater is awesome. Sunrise and sunset are spectacular. Walk down Sliding Sands trail a little way. Take warm clothes, it's cold up there. While you're Upcountry, drive over to Makawao, an old cowboy town now gentrified, and look through the shops and galleries. Then downhill to Paia to watch the windsurfers at Hookipa Beach. If you want to have a beach pretty much to yourself, try Baldwin Beach Park just west of Paia.

On the second day trip, pack a lunch and take an unhurried drive on the Road to Hana, a long, twisty drive along the East shore cliffs through tropical rain forests, past pools and waterfalls. The drive is the trip since there's not much to do in Hana except visit the Hana Coast Gallery in the Hotel Hana Maui and the Hasegawa Store. You can drive on to the Seven Pools and even all the way around the South side if you're adventurous. That will bring you to the Ulupalakua Ranch and the Tedeschi Winery tasting room for little tipple. Long day, but wonderful scenery.

6. Do the rest of Maui.

From October to March, you can whale watch from the beach or roadside on the west shore near Maalaea. Or take a whale watching cruise. The Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea is a must. The Sugar Cane Train in Lahaina is fun. One of our favorite pastimes is to wander around the grand hotels, enjoying the facilities and grounds, maybe a meal. Try the Grand Wailea in Wailea for art, pools, gardens. The Hyatt Regency in Ka'anapali has gorgeous grounds with live animals, pools and waterfalls. For more ideas, try 100 free and affordable things to do on Maui.

7. Pack lightly.

Comfortable, informal clothing is worn everywhere. If you see a guy with a tie and coat, he's a lawyer on the way to court. Wear casual summer clothes, even in fancy restaurants, but bring warm pants and a windbreak if you're going to the Crater. Maybe a jacket for a really up-scale restaurant, but no tie. Aloha shirts are OK for business and social events. Be sure to get one while you're here. Shorts and a T-shirt or polo shirt, tennis shoes, sandals or rubber flip-flops work for everyday.

Sundresses, shorts and tops are fine for women everywhere. You might want something dressy but cool for evening. Women will want a sweater or wrap for the evening during the winter. Maybe a scarf,...the wind does blow. Boots are too hot, wear running shoes or sandals. Of course, bathing suits. And don't forget to bring sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and use it. The UV is fierce and a sunburn can ruin a vacation. Bring a hat and sunglasses to go along with this.

Our weather is usually sunny and warm (low 63, high 85), ocean water 77 degrees. You could run into a few days of grey clouds and showers between December and March but there is almost always a hole in the clouds somewhere with sun shining on a beach. You can get today's weather at Glen James Maui Weather Today.

Bonus Health Tip:

Want to wipe out your jet lag? You can be in the ocean off a white sand beach within minutes of getting off the plane. Right after you pick up your car, take a walk or quick dip at Kanaha Beach Park. It's within spitting distance of the airport. Ask the attendant for directions.

Hey! Have a great time!

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