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As with my top 10 beaches list, these are my favorites, so this list may not be the most well known or famous restaurants on the island of Maui, but they are still some of the top rated ones on tripadvisor. We tend to stay away from the ritzy and expensive places; preferring to eat at places that are affordable while still offering amazing food. The list is somewhat Kihei focused as well, since that is where we have stayed on each of our three visits to Maui.

#1 – Sansei Seafood and Sushi. One of the first restaurants we go to, and definitely the one we visit the most on each trip (usually at least three times a trip). Their fresh Hawaiian fish and sushi is amazing. Especially the rainbow roll shown below:

Sansei Restaurant, Maui

#2 – 808 Bistro. A newer restaurant right next to our condo at the Maui Banyan (and right behind Fred’s Mexican). We decided to give it a try, and then ended up going back again and again. The food was awesome and the portions were good.

Pork Chops @ 808 Bistro, Maui

#3 – Cafe O’Lei. One we found on tripadvisor and had not tried on our first two trips. Not the cheapest, but certainly not unreasonable. Especially for the great food and fresh fish.

Asian Shortribs at Cafe o'Lei, Maui Hawaii

#4 – Coconut’s Fish Cafe. Another newer place that was not here on our first two trips. But what an amazing place it is. The decor is certainly unique, and the food was awesome. We didnt know that a fish burger could taste so good.

Fish Burger at Coconut's Fish Cafe

#5 – Maui Coffee Roasters – One of our favorite places for an affordable breakfast. And Shauna’s favorite place for coffee – best coffee on the island she says.

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict @ Maui Coffee Roasters

#6 – Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse BBQ. Another great restaurant in Kihei. Not a big place but the flavor is strong and the food is awesome. Cant wait to get back again for those ribs and baked beans.

Fat Daddy's Smokehouse BBQ, Maui- Ribs

#7 – Sea House – Decent food, and an awesome location. We have been here a few times for lunch. Eating here with the ocean breeze blowing and the waves crashing is something we look forward to once again on our next trip.

Update – we went here on a return trip and didnt enjoy it as much. But the view was still amazing!

SeaHouse Restaurant at Napili Beach

#8 – Paia FishMarket. Another great affordable place for fish and chips and fish burgers. Although we ate at Coconut’s listed above more this past trip, as Paia is a bit of a drive from our condo in Kihei.

Fish'n'Chips at Paia Fishmarket Restaurant, Maui

#9 – Waterfront Restaurant. We came here during our wedding trip of 2008.

Update – this restaurant moved, and has since closed.

Waterfront Restaurant, Maui

#10 – Kihei Caffe. A great place for breakfast. Their banana-macadamia nut pancakes are awesome. This place will definitely be higher on our next list.

Kihei Cafe - Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes

As with my previous Maui Beaches top 10 list, this list may not agree with other views of beaches on the island of Maui. This list represents the beaches I have enjoyed the most, and the ones I look forward to visiting on our next visit to Maui. And as with my other blog posts, you can click on the green hyperlinks to open the previous posts.

#1 – Secret Cove Beach – this one makes it to the top of my list since it was our wedding beach. It is always the first beach we visit once we have unpacked and settled into our condo. Its a small beach, and I have only seen one or two people swimming here in all of our visits. So without the sentimental wedding memories it may not seem like the #1 beach to everyone. But it will always be our favorite.

Maui Destination Wedding Beach Northern Pixel Photography

#2 – Maluaka Beach – an amazing south Maui beach, and one of my favorite snorkeling spots. We have spent quite a bit of time here as well. Great sand, great water, scenic for photography, its our favorite beach to spend the day.

Maluaka Beach

#3 – Napili Beach – the beach I would stay at if we ever stay in West Maui. Scenic, great sand, great boogie boarding, great snorkeling. Its a 45 minute drive from our condo in Kihei, but one of our favorite day trip locations.

Napili Beach Maui Wedding

#4 – Palauea Beach – another awesome south Maui beach in Wailea. No facilities or lifeguards, but the snorkeling is awesome. Although the water was a bit cloudy on our last trip as the wind was blowing and the waves were bigger than on previous trips.

Northern Pixel Photography Destination Wedding Canadian

#5 – Honolua Bay – the beach itself is rocky and not like the other beaches on the list. But the snorkeling (in the summer months) is amazing, with the clearest water I have seen on Maui (although I still havent been out to Molokini). In the winter months it becomes a very popular surfing location. Whether you want to snorkel or not, its worth the trip to enjoy the view and walk through the forest. But dont leave anything in your car, as there seems to be a lot of break-ins out there.

Snorkeling at Honolua Bay, Maui

#6 – Kamaole II Beach. Right across the road from our condo at the Maui Banyan, so we spent quite a bit of time here, and have a lot of great memories from this beach. It has been crowded on some days, and almost empty on others. But we have walked on the beach, explored the rocky point, and enjoyed the swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding. And of course it makes a great spot for watching the sunsets…

Kamaole Beach Sunset

#7 – Big Beach. We didnt get to spend a lot of time here on our latest trip. But what an amazing beach. And they have lifeguards here now too (last I heard anyhow). The waves can get very big though, so we haven’t swam here at all. But the sand is great and the sunsets are awesome.

Big Beach, Maui

#8 – Po’olenalena Beach. Another beach I wanted to spend more time at. There are two sides of the beach, and it did not seem too crowded both times I was there. Just around the corner from Palauea, so the snorkeling is supposed to be great as well (although the water was rough and not clear when I was there) Will be stopping here again next time for sure.

Maui Wedding Beach Top 10 Beaches

#9 – Hamoa Beach. Might have to spend a few nights in Hana on our next trip, so we can spend some more time at this amazing beach.

Hamoa Beach

#10 – Ka’anapaali Beach. I still didnt get a chance to snorkel Black Rock, so will have to keep this on my list for next time, based on my desire to spend some time more here. One of the most famous and popular beaches on the island of Maui.

We heard about Cafe O’Lei on TripAdvisor prior to our trip. It was one of the top rated restaurants in Kihei, so we really wanted to try it out. We ended up eating there our first night since it was relatively close to our condo at the Maui Banyan. Although it was closed when we first got there, as it was only 4:15pm local time. We were pretty hungry after the long flight and had hoped to find an early meal. We went to the coffee/smoothie bar next door and had a nice cold smoothie to help cool us down – we were struggling to adapt to the +28’C heat since it was still below zero when we left home that morning. It was actually a pretty good find, and we went back here four more times during our trip.

We went back up the stairs to Cafe O’Lei at 5pm, and were one of the first groups to be seated. The waitress actually just took our drink order and had to leave for a bit, to take part in their pre-dinner meeting to learn the specials for the night. The special was the swordfish, which sounded good to me. Shauna ordered the Asian Short Ribs and my mom ordered the jumbo prawns.

Asian Short Ribs:
Asian Shortribs at Cafe o'Lei, Maui Hawaii

Our drinks came out quickly, and we happily enjoyed the fresh baked bread that was still warm. Since we were one of the first groups there, our food came out pretty quickly. It was amazing and we were certainly very happy to be back in Hawaii once again.

Swordfish:
Swordfish at Cafe o'Lei, Maui Hawaii

This was the first place we ate during our trip, and ended up being the last place we ate as well – not that we planned it that way.
My brother and I both tried the Ahi tuna on our last night – it was amazing. I wasnt sure about all the spicy sauces that came with it, so I got them on the side, while he ordered the way it was supposed to be. I ended up adding almost all of my sauce on to my plate anyhow, so I might as well have gotten it like he did. But I liked that the waitress offered to bring it the way she did, just in case.

We will definitely be back to the Cafe O’Lei during our next trip to Maui, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good meal in Kihei.

We had heard that the Pipiwai Trail was one of the best hikes on the island of Maui. Unfortunately it is located on the far southeastern part of the island, a good distance from just about everything else on the island. It would certainly be helpful to stay in Hana. We were staying in Kihei however, and decided it was worth getting up early for.

We left our condo at 630am and headed out along the Hana Highway. We decided to go against the grain and head in a counter-clockwise direction, in the hopes of avoiding most of the traffic that is normally found along the Hana Highway each day. So we headed up through Kula and onwards towards the Haleakala Visitor Center via the Kipahulu highway. The views are very impressive as you ascend the Haleakala volcano, and we could even see the Big Island:

Looking back towards central Maui, you can just see the towns of Kihei and Wailea
Maui Panoramic

View of the lava fields and the Big Island in the distance:
Lava Field View

We arrived at the Kipahulu Visitor Center around 930am. The parking lot was pretty much empty, with only a few other cars. We stopped in at the visitor center to ask them about the trail conditions. The staff there was very helpful and gave us a good update, and directions on which trail to take. So we headed up the trail and across the highway. The first part of the trail is a bit of a climb, some of it through an open field with little shade. Within half an hour or so, we arrived at the Makahiku Falls Overlook, although as we had learned at the visitor center, the falls were pretty much dry and no water was flowing from the top. Still a pretty good overlook though into the valley below the falls. A few minutes later we arrived at a fork in the trail – to the left was the main trail, to the right was Makahiku Falls. Since we knew the falls were dry, we decided to check it out – despite the various warning signs. We definitely would not have gotten so close if the water was flowing, and looking back now might not have gotten so close regardless. I was pretty nervous while standing near the edge, as my survival instincts were telling me this was not a place I should be. I reached out with the camera and took a quick photo downwards. This one still makes me a bit nervous to look at:

Looking down the falls

I walked across to the other side, and made my way upstream, to get a better vantage point of the infinity pool at the top of the falls. What an amazing view, and a sight I will not forget:

Infinity Pool

From there it was back to the main trail. There were a few other small side trails along the way, leading to other small waterfalls and pools. We checked out most of them – some were worth it, some not so much.

One of the highlights of the trail that we had been looking forward to was the bamboo forest. We knew it was coming, but weren’t quite sure where it was on the trail. We came to a bridge, and the bamboo forest appeared before us:

Into the Bamboo Forest

It turns out it is near the mid-point of the trail, 1.2 miles from the visitor center:

Bamboo Forest

This was our favorite part of the entire trail. We could have made it this far, and turned around satisfied. There is a nice boardwalk throughout much of the bamboo forest. It definitley made for easier walking, although it seemed a bit slippery in places where the boardwalk was wet (it might be rather hard to walk on in the rain).

Pipiwai Boardwalk

Amazing Bamboo Forest

Pipiwai Trail

Pipiwai trail

We eventually made it to the end of the trail, and were treated to the view of Waimoku Falls. It had been dry for a while prior to our visit, so there was not a lot of water flowing. But with a drop of 400 feet, it was still an impressive sight:

Waimoku Falls

We stopped here for lunch, and ate while wading in the stream below the falls. There was a nice shady spot along the stream, but a large group of people had all the good spots taken. But we were quite happy to take a break and have some food and water. Bring lots of water… we barely brought enough, and were getting quite low by the time we reached made it back to the Banyan tree:

Banyan Tree

We knew that hiking in the heat would require a great deal of water however, so we had a cooler in the car full of water (as well as more food for the long drive home.

It was a great adventure, and one that I would certainly recommend. The overall grade of the trail was not that steep, and the boardwalks through the wetter areas were quite helpful (although somewhat slippery as I mentioned above)

One of the many spiders along the way (they really seemed to like the bamboo forest – stick to the trails)
Maui Spider

The Hana Highway is one of the most popular drives on the island of Maui. We had driven all the way around during our previous trip, and knew that we wanted to do the same again this time. However we did some more planning for this trip, and decided we wanted to hike the Pipiwai Trail this time as well (trail post to follow). Since the trail is located near the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center on the far southeastern shore of the island, we knew that we had a long day ahead of us. We decided to leave early in order to make sure we had enough time for all we had planned. We left our condo at the Maui Banyan at 630am, in order to take advantage of as much daylight as possible.

Since we mostly wanted to hike the trail, we decided to try and take the most direct route possible to get there – which looked on the map to be in a counter-clockwise direction. This is not the standard route that most people take, so we were not sure how it would turn out. We were concerned about the condition of the road, and whether it would even be open, but decided to take the risk and headed up towards, then past Kula. It was not long into our trip before we started stopping to enjoy the amazing views and take some photos. It was a beautiful clear morning, so we could even see the Big Island of Hawaii off in the distance.

Here is a view along the highway:

Scenic 'Highway'

This is definitely not a drive you would want to make to try and make up some time. The road is still very windy and quite bumpy – with a lot of broken pavement, and even some unpaved sections. The scenery is spectacular however, and definitely worth the trip. Although I would most likely travel in a clockwise direction next time, as most of the traffic goes that way. The main benefit would be to avoid many of the oncoming vehicles, which we always seemed to meet at the many narrow points, one lane bridges, or blind corners.

One Lane Bridge

View of the coastline looking back towards the Sea Arch:

Kipahulu Highway

It was nice that we left so early however, as we encountered much more traffic in the afternoon. This made it easier to stop and soak in all the scenery…

One of my favorite views along the coastline:

South Maui Coastline

Mile 30

One of the many pullouts:
Pullout

View from the pullout of the black sand beach below:
Rocky Beach

View of the coastline looking back towards the pullout:
Scenic Coastline Drive

One of the many signs along the way – falling rock:
Falling Rock

We eventually made it to our destination – the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center. It was just before 10am when we got there, so the parking lot was mostly empty. We stopped briefly at the Visitor Center to ask about the trail conditions. She told us the trail was in good shape, and that one waterfall was flowing and one was likely not. From there we headed up the trail. It was about four hours later when we returned to the parking lot and headed back out on the road. By this time the parking lot was pretty much filled up completely.

We continued on in our counter-clockwise direction, and proceeded onwards toward Hana. By this time there was quite a bit of traffic on the road. We encountered numerous vehicles coming at us. The section of highway between Hana and the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center was by far the most stressful section of the day. Very narrow, very windy, and lots of traffic. We just took it slow though, and continued enjoying the scenery. As we got closer to Hana we took the road on the right leading to Hamoa Beach. What an amazing beach it is… this might be the destination we look to spend the most time at during our next trip:

Hamoa Beach

Not far down the road from there is another scenic beach – Koki Beach. There is a small beach park here, that was quite crowded during our previous trip. This time the beach was almost empty however, with one person on shore watching the one surfer in the water. What a relaxing beach:

Koki Beach - Maui

By this time we were feeling quite tired. It was a good nine hours since we had left our condo that morning. So we didn’t even stop in the town of Hana, and carried on our way. We made a quick stop at Wainapanapa State Park to check out the amazing Black Sand Beach. There is a great trail system through the park, but we just headed down to enjoy the beach and the sea cave:

Honokalani Black Sand Beach

Wai'anapanapa State Park

By this time the weather was starting to take a turn for the worse, and the rain started to fall. However the traffic had thinned out considerably, so we were able to take advantage of the many pullouts along the way that had been full during our previous trip. Unfortunately due to the rain it was only to have a quick look or take some quick photos:

Three Bears Waterfall - Maui

Hana Coastline

Hana Highway Waterfall

It really is an amazing drive with some spectacular scenery – and definitely worth checking out. There are a LOT of one lane bridges all along the road, many of them on switchback like corners. There was quite a few times where I was looking out the rear passenger side window to see if any traffic was coming from the other side of the bridge. The amazing Maui Coastline is the only place I can recall having to check my blind spot across a valley like this. I wanted to try and get a photo, but decided I should focus on driving (the others in the car agreed as well). I did find one spot to stop and take a photo of one of the crazy corners that are quite frequent on this drive:

Hana Highway

We also stopped at one of the food stands along the way (which I will add to the post once I can track down the name). We bought some fresh coconut and possibly the best smoothies we have ever had.

Overall it was one of the best days during our entire trip. We ended up getting back to Kihei around 730pm – eleven hours after we had left that morning. Very tired, but very satisfied with the adventure we had taken and the memories we had gained. Definitely a trip to be remembered.

A small group from our wedding trip went to Fat Daddy’s BBQ Smokehouse during our wedding trip in 2008 and said it was very good. So we decided to try it during our latest trip in April 2011. We were very happy that we did. Their restaurant is nothing fancy, and not very big inside. But they more than make up for it with the food.

View from inside, looking towards the bar area:
Fat Daddy's BBQ- Maui Restaurant

We ordered the pulled pork and the full order of ribs – they tasted amazing, possibly the best ribs we have eaten. The flavor was very strong, and the meat was nice and tender. You get to choose from a couple different side orders, we chose the baked beans. These were also very tasty, and made right in the restaurant.

Fat Daddy's Smokehouse BBQ, Maui- Ribs

If you are not a fan of strong flavors, this may not be the place for you. My mom doesnt like bbq sauce very much, so this was not her favorite place on our trip. There are a few options that did not seem to be as strong. But the rest of us really enjoyed it here. The service was good and the food was awesome. We will definitely be stopping here again on our next trip.

Fat Daddy's Smokehouse BBQ, Maui

We had been to Palauea Beach during our previous trip – it was one of my favorite places to snorkel. Since I had bought a new underwater camera for the trip, I was really looking forward to snorkeling here again.

It is one of the many amazing and scenic beaches of Wailea, however there are no services (outhouses only – no showers), no lifeguards, and parking is along the street where you can find it. But once you walk the short path through the trees to the beach, you are treated to a pretty sweet view:

Palauea Beach, Maui

I was a bit surprised at the size of the waves this time. During our previous trip it was very calm here. We are good swimmers so we headed out into the water to check it out. But with the waves being so big it was not a huge surprise to find the visibility was very poor – we could not see much at all. We swam out quite a ways hoping that it would get better once we got out away from the shoreline. But the farther from shore we got, the water remained the same. It was not long before we decided to head back to shore.

Palauea Beach, Maui

We had come to the beach well prepared however, and had brought the boogie boards as well. (we learned our lesson from not having them at Napili). It worked quite well to go out about waist deep, wait for the right wave, and enjoy the ride. I got a few videos of my brother enjoying the boogie boarding:

Although the waves started to get bigger:

After swallowing a fair bit of water that became the last ride of the day. It was back to enjoying the sand and the scenery. The beach was not very crowded, but there were quite a few other people enjoying the boogie boarding as well. The waves were quite large near the rocky point where most of the good snorkeling is located. There was one brave/dumb couple attempting to snorkel out there. We were a bit worried about them, but they did make it back to shore safely. Definitely not a place I would be swimming though:

Big Waves at Palauea

I am definitely looking forward to checking out Palauea beach if we make it back to Maui again in the future. Even with out the amazing snorkeling we still had a lot of fun here – what a great beach.

Palauea Beach, Maui

 

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