13 Things to Do in Maui: A Week in Paradise

Maui Weather

Maui is paradise on earth. Never too hot and never too cold, it's a peaceful rock in the middle of the powerful Pacific Ocean that houses beautiful jungle hikes, warm seas, and enough activities for a lifetime. But, you may find yourself parked on the beach sipping testing organic vodkas and pineapple wine until you can't see straight.

Maui Airport

With almost 2.5 million visitors a year, Maui is the second most visited Hawaiian island, and it's easy to understand why.  It has an easily accessible airport, which opens the gateway to luxurious resorts, the famous Road to Hana, Ocean Organic Vodka's plantation, cliff jumping at Black Rock Beach, quaint towns like Paia, and Haleakala National Park - overlooking dormant volcanoes and rainbow bamboo forests.

Want to learn how to maximize a week in Maui then keep reading and see all that the Valley Isle has to offer.

Maui Hotels

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Ka'anapali. It's situated where most of the other resorts are on the western side of the Island. But, if you want something a little more "authentic" check out Airbnb's near Paia. Here there are tiny villages and bed n' breakfasts that have a distinctly calmer vibe. If you're new to the island though, I can't recommend the Hyatt enough as the employees and location give you excellent access to all that Maui has to offer, without having to look too hard.

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Local Booze

If you trust this blog for only one thing, it should be this. Breweries, distilleries, and vineyards run aplenty here, so you have the whole gamut to choose from.

  • Maui Brewing Company

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This award-winning beer can be found all over the island, but you can take a tour of the brewery in Kihei. If you just want a taste, head over to the brewpub in Kahana and get some food with it too. Personally, I recommend the Pineapple Wheat, but the Coconut Porter is great too if you like dark beers.

  • Ocean Organic Vodka & Rum

I didn't know vodka tastings were a thing, but the views from the farm are worth the trip alone. I've found the vodka at Bevmos in California, but the rum can only be found on site. It's a pretty informative tour with an immaculate backdrop.

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  • Maui Wine

Famous for its pineapple wine, I'll admit, at first, I was skeptical, but Maui Wine's Maui Blanc is actually a dry wine and doesn't have the sweet taste that you'd imagine given the fruit. It's a unique take as it's certainly different from your typical white, but not so much that your standard pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc fans won't love it.

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Maui Beaches

  • Ka'anapali Beach

Sunset from here was like no other (featured image). With unobstructed views of the neighboring islands and a warm, calm sea. It's a great place to pop in or take a stroll.

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  • Black Rock Beach

Located by the Sheraton (north end of Ka'anapali Beach), this beach has a stronger surf and is built more for the adventurous in the bunch. Hawaiians believe this was where their spirits leaped to join their ancestors, leading some to believe that the tradition of taking Hawaiian volcanic rock as bad luck started here. Now, it's a cliff jumping and snorkeling paradise. Make sure you wear your water shoes when climbing up the rock as I stepped on a sea urchin, making for a very uncomfortable next few days.

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  • Keawakapu Beach

Translated as "forbidden cove", this beach is near Kihei, and while it is pretty developed, the condos and hotels are a bit off the beach, keeping all that dreaded commercialization at bay.

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Maui Cities

  • Paia

A multicultural mill and fishing village. Paia is perfect for a stroll along the main drag where you can buy products from local artisans and grab a bite that has influence from Chinese, Portuguese, and native cuisines.

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  • Lahaina

The largest "city" on the island is home to much of the island's museums and is a jumping off point for most of the whale watching tours. It's also the only real place for nightlife that you will find nearby.

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  • Kahakuloa

Maui's "most isolated village" is located on the tip of the island's north shore. Famous for it's Congregational Church (built 1892) where you get the best of both worlds with its ocean and mountain backdrop. The town is also home to Julia's Banana Bread, touted by many as the best in the world!

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Maui Activities

  • The Road to Hana

The most famous activity on the island is well worth the 4-hour drive with hairpin turns on the cliffside road. It is a major commuter road, so take your time and make plenty of stops to not only let the locals pass but also so you can take in all the sites. Some of the must-see natural beauties include Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, and the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe'o; just to name a few.

  • Iao Valley

The old burial place of Hawaii's chiefs. It is also the site of an old battlefield from 1790. Not to be outdone by its history, the valley and state monument's Needle Lookout Trail is also home to some of Hawaii's most beautiful fauna with placards explaining what the Hawaiians brought with them.

  • Wainapanapa State Park

Towards the end of the Road to Hana, you'll find a volcanic black sand beach and surrounding tide pools that turn bright red at different times of the year. Local legend believes this is the blood of a murdered princess, but scientists say it's the arrival of small shrimp. You decide.

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  • Haleakala National Forest

The crown jewel of Maui. Haleakala possesses the most endangered species of any park in the National Park System. Home of Maui's highest peak at 10,023 feet, it does snow, so bring your jacket, but highs also get up into the 80s. Home to volcanic ash, cinder cones, and numerous types of flora and fauna. You need to make sure to book your reservation before you come (because it sells out fast and they cap the number of visitors), but watching the sunrise from here is the most magical offering Maui will provide you on your trip.

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Top 5 Destinations from 2015

Every year, around New Year's, it seems the feeling of declinism is strong. But thankfully my year didn't ring out that way. In honor of all the beautiful places, I saw this year I wanted to countdown the five best travel destinations. From coffee shops and clubs in the Balkans to parks in Amsterdam, I wanted to share how experiencing different cultures, history, and environments made 2015 a year I'll never forget.

5. ZLATNA RIBICA - SARAJEVO, BiH

Zlatna Ribica in Sarajevo

This little coffee shop off Tito Avenue in Sarajevo says a lot about the current city. First off, it's a coffee shop which is essential to Bosnian culture. It's also a pretty modern set up and crowd, with a lot of trinkets from the past. The only things this cafe/bar doesn't encapsulate are the rolling hills and Ottoman feel of the old town. Bosnia was one of the coolest places I've ever been and didn't know much about outside the war. It's also relatively untouched as far European tourist destinations go. To me, the cafe exemplifies the feelings of Sarajevo, a modernizing city with images of its past punctuating every bit of its surrounding.

4. VONDELPARK - AMSTERDAM, NL

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A city that's so much more than hookers and drugs, Amsterdam is a culturally vibrant and beautiful city. Vondelpark is a pretty famous locale that sits on the edge of Leidesplein and the Museum District. It's probably the best place in the city to ride your bike to and relax after seeing Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. There's a lot of beauty with the various ponds and the rose garden. From there you can hit up the bars or cafes that line the outside or play a game of giant chess in Leidesplein.

3. SUNSET POINTCAPPADOCIA, TR

Aktepe from Sunset Point

Rose Valley from Sunset Point

Cappadocia is probably the most unique place I've been in the world, and the Fairy Chimneys definitely are the major contributor. However, the most magnificent beauty that I experienced was hiking through the Rose and Red Valleys to end up at Sunset Point. It has a little bit of everything, a few fairy chimneys, frescoed churches, kangal dogs. Thanks to Fevzi at Fresco Cave Suites for showing us old Churches and the best vistas. He knows the trails like the back of his hand and is always looking to practice his English. Finishing an afternoon of hiking with a bottle of wine and watch the sunset from the above view is something that I'll never forget and was the perfect way to end my trip. Go in the fall when it's not too hot but still has all the colors.

2. RIVER BOAT CLUBS - BELGRADE, SRB

I'll be the first to admit I'm not a dancer and usually not one to stay at them till closing, but in Belgrade, I didn't leave till the sun was coming up for three straight nights. And sometimes my group was some of the first people back to the hostel (except for the people who couldn't even make it out). The views are beautiful, drinks inexpensive (if you're a tourist), and people are friendly. There was no elitist vibe at any of the places, and everyone was just trying to have a good time. As you can see below some people had too good of a time.

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HONORABLE MENTION

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The Blue Cruise is the coolest thing I've ever done, but I did it in 2014. It's all-inclusive, except for booze - which my brother managed to drink more of than anyone else even drank water. The sea is at around bathtub temperature and crystal clear, the food is fresh, and the crew is always laid back and capable. There's not a single spot on this four day - 3-night trip that isn't worth it.

Berlinale - Berlin is an awesome city in its own right. With a vibrant nightlife that

Potzdamer Platz during Berlinale

contrasts with a macabre history interwoven with a mighty imperial past. But during the winter, the Berlin Film Festival brings in some of the most significant stars and best films to be received in any given year. From Hollywood fare to independents, it's one of the best film festivals in Europe, if not the world.

Walking around Budapest - One of my favorite cities in the world. Budapest is on either side of the Danube and gives you the best of both worlds. The Pest side is flat with tons of great food (seriously Hungarian food is incredible) and tons of bars. You get some history with St. Stephen's Basilica and Parliament. While Buda is much more hilly, it's home to Buda Castle, a hill that has been a significant point of defense for European empires for centuries, and a more traditional town feel compared to the urbanity of Pest. I wanted to put this in my top 5 but felt like choosing an entire city was cheating. It's a pretty walkable city, though you'll want some kind shoes, and the town really glows at night.

View of Buda Castle at night

  1. LAKE BLED - SLOVENIA

One of the most beautiful, peaceful, serene, (insert positive adjective here) places I've ever seen. The lake and village surrounding it have a little something for everyone. There are hostels and upscale hotels and villas. On the lake, you can go boating, fishing, and swimming. There's even a warm spring which keeps this alpine lake's turquoise water relatively warm. You can hike and bike through the ridges of the Julian Alps. There's an iconic old church and castle, and a small modern waterpark, restaurants, and bars. The area is starting to get a little touristy, so, if you start to feel cramped, you can head about half an hour away to the pristine Lake Bohinj. Or you can hike up and catch closer views of the mountains and vistas of the lake. Either way, you can't go wrong and to just stroll along the lake and listen to the birds and church bells ring through the valley was almost meditative.

Lake Bled and Bled Church

Hopefully, this helps inspire you to see more of the world and maybe go to a place you never thought of before. I think 2016 will satiate my wanderlust a bit more, but sites like these make that a little more impossible every trip.