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a man riding a wave on a surf board on a body of water

…you may want to repeat one of the other top 5 things to do in Maui from the previous article.  You could add these to your first visit also, but unless your here for 2 weeks it could be daunting to get them all in.  I have lived on Maui for over 17 years as a professional photographer and here is what I’ve found to be good advice for people returning to the island…

a group of people sitting at a beach with a palm tree

I highly recommend that any vacation to Maui include a day on the road to Hana no matter how many times you’ve been.  It’s difficult to see all that the “Hana Side” has in one day and each day and time of year is different out there.  Again, I always go out on a tour van for all the reasons stated in the first Top 5 article.  If you have a couple days to spend out in Hana that would be the time to drive yourself.  Either way just go!  You’ll always see something new.


a plate of food with rice meat and vegetables in a cup

Local Food/Dining

The food on Maui is spectacular!  Doesn’t matter if you load up on Laulau at costco, grab a chicken Katsu plate lunch (my favorite), or a gourmet dinner at the many outstanding restaurants, it’s always good because you’re in Maui!  I could go on and on because I’ve had so many good meals over the years, but I do have my favorites.

For local plate lunches I eat at Ichi Ban Ya in Kahului at least once a week, and when people visit I feel they must experience Da Kitchen in Kahului which is really close to the airport and another location in Kihei.  The portions are large enough for 2 meals at Da Kitchen.

For fine dining on the north shore Mama’s Fish House is world class food and located right on a secluded

a group of people sitting at a table with a plate of food

beach! Hai’ilimaile General Store is in the upcountry area and is worth the drive.  All the resorts have superb dining in them also.  My latest favorite is Ferraro’s at the 4 Season in Wailea.  Just keep in mind to bring an empty stomach and a full wallet….

Fruit Stands

a man standing in front of a produce stand

Much like shopping at your local farmer’s market for fresh in season delicacies, fruit stands can be found sprinkled throughout the island and are open year around. The avocados are always a favorite when in season and are not like anything you may find in the grocery stores on the mainland.

There are different kinds of avocados in Maui but I seek out the massive smooth skinned ones because of their nutty smoked almond flavor.  Apple bananas, pineapple, lilikoi, mangos (when in season) coconuts & star fruit are just a few examples of the abundance and definitely worth trying. Many of these stands are locals who pick the fruits themselves from trees in their yard and some are full blown businesses offering smoothies and prepared items such as coconut candy.

In my opinion there is no better smoothie on earth than a fresh cane juice pineapple banana concoction from one of these stands. There are many fantastic fruit stands to choose from out on the road to Hana  Many of these fruit stands are unmanned with a pay box employing the honor system. It is the local way of Aloha to trust and to share! The fruit grown in this ancient rainforest are unlike anything you may have had. The road to Hana is a crazy drive but sampling the fruits and banana breads along the way is almost reason enough to experince these beautiful gifts from the Aina (land) -Maui’s tropical fruit!


a tree next to a body of water

Maui has seen some explosive growth in zipline courses in the last few years.  I’ve been fortunate to have photographed many of the zipline courses on Maui.

The first zipline company in the USA is Skyline Eco-Adventures which built it’s first zipline course in the forests along Haleakala’s Crater road in 2002.  Today there are six companies and over 10 different zipline courses on the island.  They vary in length, number of zipline crossings and area/scenery but the best way I’ve come up with to understand which ones to try is to ask yourself these questions:

How fast will I go?

How high off the ground are the lines?

Do I get to stear?

The last question is because I like to photograph or video while I’m zipping and being able to maneuver is important to me.  If you’re afraid of heights, you’ll have the most fun of anyone, plus here is your chance to overcome that fear!  Most companies have a minimum and maximum weight limit, but some of the smaller courses are set up for children, like Maui Zipline.

Whale Watching

a large ship in a body of water

Every winter the humpback whales make their way to the channels of the Hawaiian islands where the water is warm, shallow to them and protected. This is where the whales come to breed, give birth and play.

Maui and Kauaʻi are the “hot” spots to enjoy these enormous creatures. I have had some unbelievable experiences in whale watching boats out on the water. It’s rare that you would go out on a boat during whale season and not see several…but it is up to nature.

Being up close on a boat of any type is where you’ll want to be for an amazing experience of these massive creatures.  From the shore you may only see a white splash on the blue waters or a tiny black dot but don’t bother running for the camera as you will have just that, a picture of a black dot. Out on the water with the warm breeze on your face is where you’ll get those great shots of the whales playing and breaching out of the ocean.

Oh, and just as a friendly local reminder, whale watching while driving is not a good idea. If you are on the road and see some activity out on the water, don’t be a rubber necker!  Be safe and pull over…you’ll be glad that you did!

Stand Up Paddle, Surf Or Kite Board Lessons

a person walking across a beach next to the water

Along the beaches on almost all sides of Maui you can find tan people renting sunburnt people all kinds of toys. Believe me, taking a lesson for your chosen water sport will make for a much less frustrating experience.

In a short lesson by a seasoned instructor, you can become good enough to at least have some bragging rights. Kaanapali’s “Digmi Beach” along the paths that run the length of Kaanapali beach is a great place to get some gear, have a quick lesson and then give it a go. Many of the beaches do not have lifeguards so having a guide is not only safer but you’ll have a lot more fun. Kiteboarding and wind surfing are mostly located on Maui’s north shore. Rentals and instructors are located in Kahului with the Kanaha beach park being close by. This beach park has amazing beaches which are quiet and secluded on shore but bustling with activity out on the water. These are fun sports to watch from the comfort of a beach chair also!

Another great place to play in the ocean on Maui is along the shore of Kihei’s Kamaole 1,2 & 3 beaches. Most of the gear and guides can be found in the shops and shacks nearby along South Kihei road. You can’t swing a snorkel around here without hitting a rental company!

Well that’s a simple rundown on some of the fun stuff to do on a return trip to Maui. The fact is there is more to do on the island than even two 7 day vacations could cover and that is why people return year after year.


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