Having been in the business of memorable Maui vacations for over 40 years, we have fielded a lot of guest questions! We love being a resource for island information, so it was natural that we packed tons of this knowledge into our new website last year. This post brings together the most frequently asked visitor questions about Maui, divided into sections by topic, with links for additional information. We think it is the most comprehensive Maui FAQ out there!
1. What are the must do activities on Maui?
This is probably the most popular question from visitors planning a trip to Maui. While you could spend an entire vacation hanging out at the beach and pool, there are a few must do things to experience. These are the top contenders based on local knowledge and visitor feedback.
2. What is the weather like on Maui?
Maui weather is generally beautiful year-round and we move though the year not noticing too much difference. We do have our tropical seasons, but even during rainier months, there are plenty of sun-filled days on the drier south and west shores of the island where most visitors stay (and where all Destination Maui Vacations condos are located). Maui also has large swaths of tropical rain forest. In fact, Maui’s Pu’u Kukui (the highest peak in the West Maui Mountains) is in the top 10 wettest places on earth.
So, weather differences on Maui are more strongly noticed by location on the island than by what time of year it is. Maui encompasses 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones. Any charts you view on the internet for the island of Maui will average highs and lows for all areas, which could be quite different than where you are staying. Our descriptions below describe temps and conditions at sea level during different times of year. You can assume that temps will decrease as you move up the slopes of the 10,000 ft. Haleakala volcano or high in the West Maui mountains.
March, April, May. Spring on Maui is a beautiful time of year where you will find both cooler days in the low 70s and emerging summer weather above 80. Early in spring there may be rain showers, especially in windward and mauka (mountain) areas. Whales are still active but will be leaving by the end of spring. Remember Maui has many micro climates, so the weather can be very different depending where you are in the island.
June, July. Welcome summer’s sunniest months with the most consistently dry weather that can reach mid to upper 80s along the coast. These months are also the most popular for families to vacation. You’ll find Maui summers sunny and warm most everywhere, and the near-shore ocean warming up for swimming and snorkeling. Trade winds typically arrive in the afternoon to cool things down. Remember to slather on plenty of reef-safe sunscreen- just a few minutes of summer sun can burn fair skin, especially when reflected off the sand.
August, September. Maui’s summer extends into these months with warm, humid weather, and the occasional tropical storm. The island is less crowded and water temps are still warm. North and east facing shores start to cool as we head into Fall. The Pacific Ocean sees tropical hurricanes in these months, but they rarely pass directly over the Hawaiian Islands.
October, November. You may not notice much of a transition on Maui’s south and west shores from fall to winter. The season is marked with a little rain and a few degrees drop in temperature, but still plenty of sunshine. However, as storms pass the island, they impact north and east shores where daytime temps can drop into the high 60s with rain and wind. These storms typically dissipate at they hit Haleakala and the West Maui mountains, keeping the south and west shores sunny with highs in the low 80s. Occasionally weather patterns shift and a storm can come in from the opposite direction (we call this a Kona storm because it is blowing from that direction from the Big Island). At these times Kihei and Lahaina will see more wind and rain, which is what helps keep this side of the island green. Fall is also the time when Pacific Humpback whales begin to arrive in Maui waters.
December, January, February. Winter months have the lowest air and water temperatures for the year, but again, there is still plenty of sunshine on south and west shores with highs around 80 degrees. Tradewinds will drop off a bit during the winter too. Even though the other side of the island will see regular showers and temps sometimes dropping to the mid 60s, there is also big surf and wind- great for surfers and windsurfers and those that love to watch from spots like Hookipa. When the weather shifts Kona, it’s opposite day on Maui- with the south and west shores getting some rain or a winter storm, while the north and east could be sunny.
3. What clothes should I pack?
Maui has a relaxed beach lifestyle, and we don’t take what we wear too seriously either. You may notice a lot of comfortable clothes with natural fabrics in earth and ocean tones. Our evening attire, for going out to a nice restaurant, event or luau, is a little more polished, but nothing formal. This guide will help you know what to pack for an island look that won’t make you stand out as a tourist.
4. What else should I bring (and not bring)?
In addition to clothes, there are quite of few things you may want to add to your suitcase or carry-on. We guarantee you may not have thought of one or two of these items.
5. What are the best dining options on Maui?
There are definitely some traditional island favorites when it comes to food options. How about a loco moco for breakfast- a hefty serving of white rice topped with a full hamburger patty, a fried egg and thick gravy? Maybe some fresh poke for lunch- which is seasoned raw fish. End the day with an outdoor barbecue of teriaki chicken along with fresh Maui greens from one of our many farmer’s markets.
However, if restaurant recommendations are more your speed, our dining guide covers everything from casual dining to the best bars and fine dining. Or, check out our insider’s tips to finding the island’s best cheap eats.
6. What are the best beaches?
There are beautiful beaches to explore island-wide. While the sunny south and west shores are popular for sunning and swimming, when the wind or waves kick up, many flock to the northern shores to watch or participate in big-wave surfing or windsurfing. Our beach guide and map will show you our favorite 15 beaches, and help you find your own favorite spot in the sun.
7. Where should I go snorkeling or scuba diving?
Maui offers excellent near shore reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving right from the beach. Your other option is to go on a boat tour, and that is where our islands really shine. Maui is surrounded by Lanai, Molokai and the partially submerged volcanic cinder cone, Molokini, creating an abundance of snorkeling and diving opportunities not found anywhere else in the islands. Note the waters around another nearby island, Kahoolawe, is closed to the public.
We also get asked whether to bring snorkel and dive gear from home. For snorkelers, unless you have a custom fit or prescription mask you’d like to bring, the answer is no. There are an abundance of snorkel gear shops with reasonable rental prices, such as Boss Frogs or the Snorkel Store.
For scuba divers, the same goes for a custom mask. Also, many prefer to bring their own dive computer as they are familiar with the settings. However if any of your gear is outdated or has not been serviced in awhile, rental gear may be a better option. Lahaina Divers is known for having great scuba rental gear. They also go to more dive locations than any other operator, so are a good resource to discuss your dive plans.
Keep in mind when reading our guide that weather and water conditions affect different areas. Talk to your local snorkel or dive shop about conditions of the spot you would like to go before heading out.
8. What is the water temperature of the ocean?
Ocean water temps along the Maui coastline range from a low of 70 degrees on North and East shores to a high of 84 degrees on South and West shores. However, these temps can vary slightly depending on weather and time of year. Here is a chart of Maui’s coastal water temps. Note this monitoring in on Maui’s central northeast coast, so coastal water temps in south and west Maui will be slightly higher.
9. Do I need to rent a car on Maui?
In a word, yes. Unless you plan on staying in your condo the whole time (and how fun would that be), you should plan on renting a vehicle on Maui. Points of interest are just too spread out on the island to be able to experience without a vehicle. There is a bus system, but the routes and schedule are limited. Uber and Taxis are widely available but can be very costly.
10. Where to Stay on Maui
We are admittedly very biased about where you should base your Maui vacation, having fully equipped condos in 13 island resorts, specializing in beachfront properties at affordable prices. But the first question to be answered is what part of the island do you want to stay on? We have addressed this question by describing the three main areas where you will find vacation rentals, with the advantages to each one in this blog post. It’s a great tool to narrow down your decision making. Plus, there is a map showing each area of the island.
Another question we are frequently asked is if you should stay in more than one location on Maui. In general, we don’t recommend this within one trip unless you are staying more than two weeks. While you need a vehicle to get around Maui, destinations are not so far away that you can’t spend a day in a different part of the island. Also, who wants the hassle of packing up and unpacking during a vacation? Plus, booking two places is generally more expensive than staying in one place, if there are cleaning and other one-time fees. A better option is to stay in one part of the island on your first visit, then if you choose to, stay in a different part of the island for your next visit. We know that once you visit Maui, its sweet charms will work their way into your heart, and you will long to return again and again.
Your resource for more Maui info
Do you have more questions? We are happy to answer your questions through our Facebook page– just send us a message! Recently, a guest asked “is it possible to drive to Molokini?” This made us smile (Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic islet 2.5 miles off Maui’s southern shore only accessible by boat). But it is a good reminder…what is obvious to those of us who live here is not known to others who have not experienced Maui yet. We hope we never take our knowledge for granted. So ask away!