I am constantly dreaming about our next trip, whether it’s a staycation or a true getaway, so when Island Air contacted me about doing some island hopping and cataloging my experience by taking over their Instagram account (UPDATE 2017: Unfortunately Island Air is no longer an island airline!) – I was ALL IN. After a bit of brainstorming, Dane and I chose Maui for our island hopping adventure and immediately began discussing what we wanted to do! Today, I’m sharing how to spend 48 hours in Maui and what is the best use of your time 🙂
How To Spend 48 Hours On Maui
To note, if you have more than 48 hours, be sure to also check out my Ultimate Activity Guide For Maui! Now onward with how to spend 48 precious hours on Maui!
We caught the 7AM flight from Honolulu to Kahului on Island Air and enjoyed a quick trip. I love flying inter-island, because Island Air’s terminal is separate from the usual insanity of the main Honolulu terminal. Plus, they offer free wifi 🙂
**Update: Island Air doesn’t exist anymore. So sad! But Southwest is a good, affordable alternative!**
We touched down in Maui just before 8AM and our first stop was Krispy Kreme. This might seem silly to some, but this sweet spot is ONLY available on Maui, so we definitely indulged.
As soon as we had our donuts in hand, we hopped into our rental car and began the long drive from Kahului to Haleakala National Park toward Hana.
Just a note: For this trip, we opted not to do the Road to Hana, as we had done it on a previous trip. Had we not done it before, that would be at the top of our list. We would have perhaps done the Road to Hana, then ended with the hike and taken the shorter way out. Regardless – Road to Hana is worth every single bit of time spent on it! Plus, there is a delicious popsicle stand and Thai restaurant (Thai Me Up) along the way, not to mention gorgeous sights and painted trees.
Anyway, the trip from Kahului to the trailhead at Haleakala National Park was about two hours. It seems like a long time, but the road traverses along ocean cliffs and rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. It looked so majestic and because we lost all cell reception, it was kind of nice to just enjoy the ride! We stopped several times to take it all in and snap some photos.
We reached Haleakala National Park around 11:15AM and immediately scoped out which was the Pipiwai Trail.
If you’re interested you can also explore the Seven Sacred Pools here by hiking the opposite direction. The Pipiwai Trail is an extremely well maintained trail that runs through a bamboo forest and brings you to 400-foot Waimoku Falls, that sits high above the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo Gulch. Roundtrip, the hike takes about two hours. I recommend wearing sneakers, bringing bug spray and wearing sunscreen. The views are absolutely incredible and listening to the bamboo make natural music creates a very tranquil hiking experience 🙂
By the time we were leaving the national park, it was close to 2PM and we saw some dark clouds rolling in. We knew that road back was a little bumpy, so we hopped into the car and focused on getting closer to where we were staying. A full day of hiking leaves two people pretty starving, so we headed straight for one of our favorite places – Flatbread Company in Paia. We love Flatbread, because their pizzas are all made from local and organic produce. Plus, they offer gluten free and vegan options that taste just as good as their regular pies.
The pie above? Vegan. SO GOOD!
After we inhaled our food, we headed over to another favorite haunt – Paia Gelato. We visited this adorable dessert shop on our first trip to Maui three (!) years ago and have dreamed about it ever since.
With full stomachs and tired everything else…we made the short drive to Kihei to check into our hotel – Kohea Kai Resort.
Kohea Kai is an adults-only boutique resort that is just steps from the beach (#winnerwinnerchickendinner).
We stayed in one of three penthouses that offered a dine in kitchen and lofted bedroom, which was perfect if we wanted to stay in and eat, as opposed to eating out. We had grand plans of doing this, but never took advantage 🙁 Next time we are vowing to stay longer, because there’s even a cute little area for BBQ-ing that we missed as well. We enjoyed coffee every morning on our lanai overlooking the ocean and I sort of wish I could do this every morning. Ahh, vacation…
Saturday we woke up pretty earlier, grabbed a coffee from the complimentary breakfast spread at Kohea Kai and walked out to the beach. It was perfectly calm and there wasn’t anyone around!
Afterward, we headed toward the Kihei Caffe to grab some breakfast. This spot gets rave reviews and I saw it in the in-flight magazine, as well as Hawaii Magazine, so I knew I wanted to check it out. It didn’t disappoint! It’s a quaint little roadside cafe – blink and you’ll miss it- type of place, but the food was AMAZING! We were actually meeting up with some friends who were also visiting the island and their daughter ordered the most adorable whale-shaped pancake! How cute is this?!
After our breakfast, Dane and I went and enjoyed the beach across from Kohea Kai a little bit more. It was so nice to be the only two people there!
We were meeting our friends Jennifer and David for lunch back in Paia (can you tell our love affair with that sleepy little beach town?!) at Paia Fish Market, so we went back to our room to get cleaned up for lunch and our helicopter tour later that afternoon! Lunch was amazing and it was great to see our friends. We decided that just lunch was too short, though, so made a date to get drinks after our helicopter ride.
Admittedly, I was shitting my pants over the helicopter ride. I don’t like heights and I’m wary of helicopters, so to say that flying in one made my palms sweat would be putting it lightly. I even considered a couple tequila shots before our flight, but then I got nervous about puking, so I ix-nayed the shots and decided to just suck it up. I am SO glad that I did!
We flew on Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours and did their Maui to Molokai trip. The sea cliffs of Molokai are absolutely breathtaking! There’s no other way to describe it other than – you know that scene in the opening credits of Jurassic Park where they are flying over the lush green hills? That’s it! It was something that’s hard to bring to life with a camera, but I tried my best.
Aside from the gorgeous sea cliffs and reefs, we were able to see the end of the whale migration from above! I have seen a lot of incredible sights here in Hawaii, but this was a top 5 moment FOR SURE!
Whales In Maui
It’s hard to believe these creatures are so big, when they just looks like tiny dots in the ocean from above. So, so beautiful!
Before I even had time to think about how high we were at all, we were coming in for a landing. I have to hand it to Chris, our pilot, who made the whole trip above and beyond my expectations. He lingered over the whales so we could snap more photos and I really appreciate that!
We were so jazzed about our tour that I immediately used my wifi DSLR card to upload photos to my phone and quickly edit! I had promised myself I wouldn’t do that because…vacation! But I couldn’t resist. If you ever get the chance to go up in a helicopter – DO IT! Seriously, I cannot recommend it enough!
After our tour, we headed toward the Andaz Resort in Wailea. We had dinner reservations at Hotel Wailea, but the Andaz is where you always see celebrities hanging out who are vacationing in Maui, so I just wanted to go see it for myself. It absolutely did not disappoint and I’m so glad we got to watch the sunset with tropical drinks in hand!
The sunsets everywhere in Hawaii are gorgeous – that golden glow just doesn’t get old! After watching the sunset, we headed to our reservation at The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea. We had heard amazing things about Chef Sato, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about for myself! It’s important to note here that Dane and I don’t hold back when it comes to treating ourselves while out to eat – if we want it, we get it. That said, about a million courses later, we felt like we should be rolled right out of there. BUT! We wanted to try it all. YOLO, ya know?
We started with a special treat from Chef himself – a piece of rare ahi on a crispy little chip type of thing. It was AMAZING. I ordered a glass (or five) of rosé and the goodness just kept on coming. Porcini mushroom risotto, burrata with fresh tomatoes, short rib bolognese, mac-nut crusted lamb chops, kale salad (not pictured), more fresh ahi with homemade bruschetta (not pictured), coconut soufflé and a signature dessert of orchard fruits.
It was all amazing and I felt like I was at the best (custom ordered) buffet on the whole island. It helped that we were essentially sitting high above the actual resort overlooking the ocean and watching the stars! The Restaurant is a MUST for Maui, particularly if you’re celebrating something special! 🙂
We had grand plans of going out for drinks after dinner, but chose to head back to our hotel instead. It was well past 10:00PM and all that food, sun, alcohol..I was spent!
Sunday we woke up pretty early and really only wanted to grab breakfast before catching our noon flight home. Of course, we went back to our favorite spot – Paia! Cafe Mambo makes the best smoothies and I had been dreaming about them, so it was the first order of business (for me) and a large breakfast sandwich (for Dane).
Some of the shops were starting to open along the Paia strip, so we popped in a couple of those before taking our rental car back, filling it up with gas and heading off to the airport. We debated grabbing a box of Krispy Kremes to take home, but I quickly put the kibosh on it…vacation Kait was DONE.
It’s kind of hard to put into words how much fun Dane and I had on this short weekend getaway together. We just kept looking at one another going…this has been so, so amazing – we don’t want it to end! It seems kind of silly to say those things to your husband. I mean, heck, I see him daily! But, vacations are a great time to really reconnect with one another and this was no exception. It really helped that we were “off the grid” almost all day Friday – no cell reception, no radio – just us and chatting. It was so nice.
So if you’ve been keeping up we ate, hiked, drove around backroads, took a helicopter tour, ate some more, visited multiple towns and walked around, got beach time and managed to squeeze in happy hour at one of the famed Maui resorts…whew! It sounds like a lot, but I never felt like we were doing too much, if that makes sense. In fact, in only two days, I had more fun than I’ve had in a really long time.
Have you been to Maui? How did you spend your time?