Traveling to a place like Maui for the first time? Everyone has an opinion, but take some advice from people that live and work here. We love helping people create their perfect vacation! Here are some of our best tips to design a stress-free Maui vacation in a few easy steps, including a wealth of resources.
Step 1: Decide Where You Want to Stay on Maui
If this is your first trip to Maui, probably the first decision to make in your plan is where to stay. Visitors to the island generally gravitate towards the sunny south and west facing shores. This means the Kihei and Wailea areas in South Maui, Lahaina to Kaanapali on the west side, and Ma’alaea Village and Small Boat Harbor right between the two. There really is no wrong answer, just a few preference choices.
Our Where to Stay article reviews each of these areas, with links to different condominium resorts to explore.
Step 2: Decide the Length of Your Trip
The length of your trip is a huge factor affecting your trip budget. But also, how much time you can devote to vacation, away from work and other obligations. Also check with others traveling with you what time frame works best for them. Even young family members may have important school or extracurricular events coming up.
Make a general determination of length of stay. Note that the average stay on Maui is 8 days to explore most of the highlights at an easy pace. Because of the travel distance and time to get to the islands, a stay of less than a week is not recommended.
Remember this is a guideline, and the total length of stay may change based on fitting in things you want to do, or budget.
Step 3: Research Your Costs
Maui has peak seasons, and expect costs, from airfare to places to stay, to be more expensive during these times. Less expensive times are spring (March through May, except Spring Break), and Fall, mid-September through mid-December.
Airfare. Industry experts suggest booking a flight around three to four months out for best prices. However, you can start looking online early. Check Google Flights to see prices from all major carriers. Look at the fare calendar too. Sometimes shifting your flights to a Tuesday or Thursday can save quite a bit. You can also set up a fare alert, and get notified when your draft itinerary drops in price. The app also shows if the fare you select is low, average or high, based on past data.
Accommodations cost per night/total stay. You may want to book your accommodations early to secure the most desirable locations and condominium units with the best view. Consider purchasing trip insurance if there is a likelihood your plans could change, or to protect against the unexpected. It’s a small investment for peace of mind.
The Destination Maui Vacations website is a good place to start looking for beach vacation accommodations. With over 100 condominiums in 17 beach resorts, you are sure to find one that fits your vacation style. Guests like seeing a breakdown of all costs and taxes, before entering any contact or payment information. You can also use the Split Cost calculator if you are sharing the cost with other family members, or want to see a breakdown of the total cost per night.
Food- groceries and dining out. Goods and services are high on an island, where most items are shipped in. Expect to pay about 50% more overall for dining out and groceries.
Activities. There are many free or low-cost things to do on Maui, including glorious beach days, snorkeling from shore, hiking and epic road trips. But there are also some popular must do’s that have a premium price tag, including boat tours, scuba diving, a helicopter tour, luau or golfing, just to name a few.
Take a look at our comprehensive activities section, and additional links at the bottom of the page, just to get an idea of what you would like to do.
Rental Car & Gas. Rental car prices climbed across the country, and Hawaii is no exception. Most legitimate rental car outlets allow free cancellation up to close to arrival time. Shop around, secure a rental reservation that has a free cancellation policy, then keep looking periodically to see if you can find a better deal. As of this writing, gas on Maui averaged $4.98 per gallon, according to AAA. If you have a Costco card or Safeway gas card, these pumps run $.75 to $1 less per gallon.
Souvenirs/Gifts. It’s always nice to bring a little something back home as a reminder of travels. See our shopping tips for inspiration.
A Few More Tips
If you don’t already have a travel rewards credit card, now might be a good time to look into one. If more travels are in your future, you might also consider a switching to a no-fee ATM card. Those bank fees can add up!
Before You Take Off
Consistent weather year-round means you don’t need to pack a ton of clothes. But if you plan to go to the top of Haleakala Crater you will need a sweatshirt, coat, long pants and shoes. See our unusual packing tips for things you may not have thought of, or packing and other tips when traveling with kiddos.
We look forward to your visit!