For two of our seven nights on Maui, we decided to stay in a camper van. I was skeptical at first but it ended up being my favorite part of the trip and I would definitely tell you to go for it if you’re looking for something slightly more “off the beaten path”. (If you know camping is totally not for you, then just skip this first paragraph and head down to the second one where I wrote about the bed and breakfast, it’s much more comfortable there ;)
His name was Willie the van, I booked him on Airbnb and he came equipped with everything we could possibly need for camping; beach chairs, towels, stovetop, kitchen utensils, etc. It even had twinkle lights hanging inside, which I obviously loved. There was a comfortable platform queen bed in the back with storage underneath and battery operated fans above. We stayed at Camp Olowalu and Waiʻānapanapa State Park, both of which charge camping fees ($20-40), have security at night, and felt completely safe. Olowalu has hot showers and wifi, definitely more upscale, while Waiʻānapanapa was more of a rustic site with traditional camp style bathrooms. (important note, make sure to reserve and print your permit before leaving home for Waiʻānapanapa).
We chatted with some other campers during sunset on the beach and had a great time at both. It was so nice to be able to stay at Waiʻānapanapa after being on the road to Hana instead of driving back to town that night. We got to wake up and have the black sand beach all to ourselves, which was amazing since it’s a top tourist destination. Things to pack: an external battery charger and a cheap little headlamp for getting to the bathroom after the sun goes down. The van had flashlights and USB cigarette lighter chargers but these things just made life easier.
After our two nights in Willie the van, we checked in to Moana Lani Bed and Breakfast. It was hands down the cutest Airbnb bed and breakfast we’ve ever stayed in. The owners Gwen and Christian felt like friends and they were full of great Maui tips. Our room was super comfy and cute, the lanai patio was perfect for an evening happy hour (with Christian’s delicious mai tais), Gwen’s breakfast was one of the best meals of the the trip, and they had all of the beach necessities ready to go for us every day- including bikes, which we used to bike around Lahaina and to the Feast at Lele.
I truly can’t recommend this place enough, we stayed two nights and my only regret is that we didn’t stay here longer. PS, you can use my link right here and get $40 off your first Airbnb booking. Maui is expensive so use that extra savings to treat yourself to some more shaved ice. ;)
Our favorite stops on the road to Hana. (If you download the Gypsy Road to Hana app he will point most of these things out. 100% worth it.)
Ho'okipa Beach Park. The turtles hanging out on the beach is probably one of the coolest things we saw. From far away they look like huge rocks until then they start slowly moving towards the ocean. Get here early!
coconut candy from the little fruit stand at the Huelo Lookout. So delicious.
Rainbow Trees at the arboretum
Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears). Our friends highly recommended this stop and I’m glad we went, it was the perfect spot to take a cool swim and lay the rocks in the sun.
Honomanu Bay. We had this place completely to ourselves. If you have time to spend an afternoon here, it would be a great secluded beach to hang out at.
banana bread from Aunt Sandy’s. (if you decide to camp, get an extra loaf and a can of iced coffee at the gas station before you leave Paia to enjoy for your breakfast the next morning!)
Venus Pools. You have to walk through a grass field and climb over a little fence to get there but it’s the spot that made us feel like the long drive was totally worth it. It’s a pool surrounded by lava rocks that opens up to the ocean, has cliffs for jumping and clear water for snorkeling.
Hamoa Beach. So gorgeous. We were tired and didn’t swim or snorkel (but it looked like it would be great) instead we just sat in our beach chairs at the top of the hill, watched the surfers, and drank a cold Maui Brew. It was bliss.
Snorkeling with turtles at Black Rock Beach. It gets crowded so try to get here early, but even if there are a lot of people already there it’s still worth it! We found 3 turtles playing and swam with them for awhile before anyone else came up and joined us. Park for free at Kahekili Beach Park and then walk the beach path all the way to Black Rock.
Hiking the Waihee Ridge Trail. The road along the northwest side of the island is no joke. It was way crazier than the Road to Hana so take the inland route if you’re squeamish, but if you can stomach it then it’s a beautiful drive. We didn’t get to the trail until noon so the clouds rolled in and we got stuck in a rain storm on our hike, so try to get here super early but if it rains on you just embrace it (and don’t bring anything with you that can’t get pretty wet).
Surfing at Thousand Peaks and Ka’anapali. Special shout out to Maui at Maui’s Beach House for being the nicest dude in the world, definitely check out his cute store if you’re in Lahaina. He has shaved ice and souvenirs as well as very reasonably priced surf gear.
It might seem silly to rave about a rental car, but our experience at Kihei Rent a Car was the smoothest we’ve ever had! They pick up/drop off from the airport, offer the cheapest prices, and were genuinely kind people.
Our favorite meals besides the breakfast at Moana BNB were Fish Market Maui tacos, Gazebo macadamia nut pancakes with fried rice (call to go and skip that crazy line), Ululani’s shaved ice of course, and Huli Huli roadside chicken from Maui Rotisserie.. just do it! (but don’t eat it on the beach because sand blowing into your to-go box is less than ideal)