You could spend lots on Maui hotels, restaurants and entertainment. But some of the best things, such as the Hawaiian island’s beaches and scenic drives, are free.
The perception of Maui as a destination for the rich is only partially true.
Flights and hotels can be pricey. The only down season is for about two weeks at the start of December. But the island has many affordable options for food, lodging and entertainment — and the beaches and scenic drives are free.
Here are a few ways to save on a trip to Maui (see gohawaii.com/en/maui).
Maui is known for its world-class beaches. Enjoying them usually doesn’t cost anything, except for a few in resort areas that have pay parking lots.
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The island has 81 beaches and 120 miles of coastline, with sands of gold, black, green, red and white. Kaanapali and Wailea beaches are in resort towns and tend to be the most popular. Other beaches are less crowded, such as Big Beach in Makena State Park on the south shore. Maui has spectacular snorkeling, filled with colorful tropical fish and majestic sea turtles. Equipment rental for a week is typically around $20 — and some hotels offer free gear when you stay there.
Hawaii is known for luaus, traditional feasts usually accompanied by live entertainment. But those can be expensive, many starting at $90 per person or more.
An easy way to get a taste of Hawaiian culture without paying a big price is to find local performers around hotels and resort areas. The Lahaina Cannery Mall has free hula shows and offers ukulele lessons weekly. Many hotels along Kaanapali Beach have nightly performers in bar areas, including Whaler Village and Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
GO FOR A DRIVE
The road to Hana is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world, a winding 52-mile road along the north shore that has 54 one-lane bridges and is lined with waterfalls, incredible tropical foliage and lava shores.
Another option is to take Highway 340 between Kahului and Kapalua around the rugged northwest end of the island. Drive with caution on the narrow, winding road. The trip is worth it, filled with spectacular views of the coast, a blowhole where water spurts up through rock, and fruit stands set up by locals.
Maui is known for five-star restaurants and for good reason, with some of the best dining anywhere. But there are also plenty of inexpensive, often hole-in-the-wall choices. Kihei Caffe has a nice mix of American and Hawaiian breakfast food. Taqueria Cruz has tasty seafood tacos on its menu. Lahaina has several good, low-priced options, including Ono Tacos, CJ’s Deli and Diner and Star Noodle.
Hotels in Maui can be expensive, with many hotels starting at $300 nightly. Shop around, check out packages, go in the off-season, or consider renting a condo.