Traveling to Maui on a budget? Here's how to have an amazing first day.
We arrived in Lahaina just as the sun was setting. While it was only 7pm or so there, we felt like it was 3am our time! We found our lovely rental apartment easily and took a few minutes to check it out. A previous guest had left behind some local coffee and we brewed it up to get us going.
We spent an extra 20 minutes or so walking through the main part of town, as it was the monthly Friday Arts Night. We picked up a few essentials for the next morning and went back to our new home to enjoy some solid sleep.
The ride to Haleakala may look short on a map, but don’t be deceived. A considerable portion of the drive involves a never-ending series of hairpin switchbacks that are unnerving to say the least. Before entering the park gates, we saw a number of roadside coffee and breakfast stands, which would allow travelers to stock up on hot drinks for the ride – Haleakala can be freezing cold in the morning! We had purchased an American National Parks Pass the previous summer, so we were happy to enjoy free admission.
When we finally exited the park, it wasn't even 9:00 am. We drove – with a few wrong turns – to Grandma’s Coffeehouse in southern Maui. We had a huge breakfast on the balcony, enjoying coffee harvested just feet away, and relaxed as a local guitar player entertained us and the coffeehouse cat slunk around, searching for dropped tidbits. Grabbing some banana nut bread for the road (the first of many loaves), we made our way to our next stop.
We weren't really planning a beach stop just yet, but when we got to the coast, we couldn't resist pulling over and walking out into the scorching sand and dipping our feet into the Pacific. It seems that with each stop we removed a layer of clothing and now finally we were down to bare legs! We could have stayed there forever, but at this point it wasn't even noon and jet leg was starting to take its toll.
Once recovered, we got our act together and set off in search of a beach. A few that were well recommended to us were a bit of a bust – no parking to be had. But we persevered and were thrilled with the Fleming Beach Park. There were just enough waves to have fun with and it felt great to really be in the ocean again. We enjoyed several hours of frolicking before tiring out, heading home to BBQ and relax on the lanai.
Our first day 24 hours in Maui may seem hectic on paper, but it also included a lot of napping, so it didn't feel too rushed. We were wise to take advantage of the jetlag, making the early trip to Haleakala an easy one. We made the best of Haleakala’s location to visit nearby, but more isolated gems. We stopped to take advantage of nice things we saw, and were flexible when things didn't go as planned. We pushed through fatigue to meet with friends – and probably helped kill off some jetlag in the process. We got to experience natural beauty, outdoor fitness, local cuisine, coffee, music – goats! - swimming, socializing, music, culture, and delicious mai-tais in less than 24 hours – a perfect start to a great vacation and a great introduction to life on Maui.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Have you ever experienced a dream first day when you've traveled?
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