So, your long-awaited tropical vacation to Maui has almost arrived. You’ve made it through the dreary days at work by daydreaming about soaking up the sun, watching for whales, exploring every nook and cranny on the road to Hana, and basking in the beauty of the Valley Isle– you hope everything will be perfect.
Unfortunately, the expectation of ‘perfect’ can leave some visitors feeling disappointed. Maybe it rained on their trip, they didn’t see any whales, etc. The only way to truly make your trip to Maui perfect is to adjust your expectations, know that any day spent on Maui is better than a day spent on the mainland, and simply enjoy your time! So, let’s debunk some of the most common visitor assumptions with 13 expectations vs reality:
Maui has perfect weather every day.
Reality: This might be the number one assumption about Maui. After all, Maui is touted as a warm and sunny paradise. But without rain, there are no rainbows, no waterfalls, no rainforest, and the island becomes a lot less appealing. November-April is Hawaii’s rainy season, and you can expect some showers during this time, especially on the road to Hana (hello, waterfalls!).
But hey, it’s the tropics, which by definition means rainfall is abundant. So if you do see a rainy day or two, grab some friends and spend an evening getting creative at Island Art Party.
You’ll be in the sun, all day, every day.
Reality: Unless you’re from somewhere like Cancun and thoroughly familiar with the power of the sun, you won’t be soaking in those UV rays every day. You just won’t. You can try, but unless you’re extremely careful, a sunburn is bound to sneak up on you. But don’t sweat it; there are plenty of other things to do on Maui that don’t involve that harsh star of ours. For instance, you could spend a day wandering the dark hallways of the Maui Ocean Center or head up to the Upcountry town of Makawao to watch some glass blowing, do some shopping, and grab a bite to eat.
Everyone and everything on Maui will be punctual.
Reality: Maui time, brah. Ever heard of it? Things move a little slower out here in the Pacific. It’s all good; just roll with it.
You’ll spot whales breaching left and right, even in June.
Reality: If you’re visiting in February or March, this expectation could be a reality. However, whales don’t start showing up until about October/November-earliest. Even then, they’re few and far between and not super active after their long journey from Alaska. However, once January rolls around, you’ll see plenty on the island’s south and west side. The humpbacks seem to like the shallow channels in these areas. You can get some great views of the whales in their natural habitat aboard a top-rated whale watch with Kai Kanani.
You can mosey up to Haleakala sunrise without a reservation.
Reality: Sadly, the days of deciding to see the Haleakala sunrise on a whim the night before are gone. Reservations are required to enter Haleakala National Park between three and seven a.m., and boy, are the sunrise reservations a hot commodity. It’s close to impossible to snag one unless the universe smiles upon you. There are other options, however. Take Haleakala EcoTours, for example. You can still enjoy the sunrise, and better yet, someone else drives you through the dark to the summit.
You can rock up to any beach willy-nilly.
Reality: Times are-a-changin’, and some beaches around the state require entry fees and reservations. Reservations are needed to visit Waianapanapa State Park in Hana, and there is a fee to enter Makena State Park, Big Beach. Although, since the money goes back into preserving the aina for future generations, I can get behind it.
You have to drive to get to Hana.
Reality: Ah Hana, one of Maui’s most notorious drives- thrilling for some, harrowing for others. But did you know you could skip the drive entirely? Hana is home to a teeny airport, and there are several daily flights to Hana from OGG with Mokulele Airlines.
But perhaps you are one of those people who find the drive thrilling and are looking to up the ante. Would you consider flying yourself to Hana? I’m here to tell you that it’s possible with Fly Maui. You can take a discovery flight, essentially your first flight school lesson, and learn to fly in the skies above East Maui. You’ll also still be able to take in all of Hana’s best sites, including Waianapanapa State Park, located adjacent to the airport- no reservations required.
You’ll be ticking off every item on your overloaded itinerary.
Reality: Didn’t you come to Maui to relax? Take a day off, sheesh. If you don’t see everything, you’ll just have to come back.
You have to spend an entire day on a crowded tour boat to visit Molokini.
Reality: Not true at all these days. Thanks to Redline Rafting, you can nix the crowded boat and six-hour day on the water. Redline Rafting gets snorkelers from Kihei Boat Ramp to Molokini in 15 minutes flat. Here, you can snorkel for a while, see all the sights, then head back for lunch back on dry land. Not to mention, Redline’s speedy raft can only hold a handful of people.
The only place worth snorkeling is Molokini.
Reality: While Molokini is a sight to behold, the crater isn’t Maui’s exclusive snorkeling site. The reefs around Lahaina are home to a bounty of colorful reefs, and lucky for you, Trilogy offers several sailing tours that head directly to the best spots. Across the pond, the neighboring island of Lanai also boasts a network of reefs and a thriving dolphin population.
Additionally, there is a collection of crystalline coves at the base of the ‘Pali’ well worth checking out. The only catch? These reefs are exclusively accessed by boats. However, Maui Custom Charters is in the business of exclusiveness, offering ultra-private snorkeling tours to the sequestered coves and other nearby snorkel sites. While snorkeling at a secluded reef is excellent to begin with, the service provided by the Nova crew takes the experience to the next level.
You’ll forge your own path and find a million secret spots on the road to Hana.
Reality: POV: You were told about this super sweet secret waterfall, but you find a fence and a no trespassing sign once you get there. What do you do?
Hopefully, you don’t hop the fence. People, in general, don’t particularly like it when strangers come wandering through their backyard, through their farm, or worse, through their ancestor’s iwi (sacred burial grounds). However, East Maui is huge, and there are still plenty of safe, legal places where you can get off the beaten track. You just gotta know where to go and go with permitted guides. That’s where Hana and Beyond comes in. Their owners and guides ARE Hana locals. These are the trusted guides you want to share about their home.
The ocean is no more powerful than back home.
Reality: No chance um! Maui is surrounded by thousands of miles of open ocean, and the seas here are more powerful than they look. So pay attention to the warning signs, and don’t swim at places like Big Beach, DT Fleming, and the North Shore.
If you want to hit the waves, go with a Maui surf instructor. They’ll take you to the safest spots and teach you what to look for in the currents and tides. If you’re a little more advanced, most surf schools offer personalized lessons too.
Everywhere on Maui is warm.
Reality: It can get cold, even in the tropics. Haleakala often sees below-freezing temperatures, and the Upcountry area regularly sees temps in the 60s down to the 40s in select areas.
omg i love this. We had a blast on Maui. Everything you said was so true. LOLO. Reservations were always about 30 minutes late but who cares. lovely to just hang out. yes the temp changed around 4 pm. got a little chilly . like the idea about the smaller boat for snorkeling. gonna try that the next time. Road to Hana been there done that. so many wonderful things to see and experience. making my list for the next time BUT important to just go with the flow. Cannot wait to come back
Good Info. We have been three times now. Two before Covid and once afterwards. We always schedule some must do’s but leave days open for adjustments. We have always gone in the first part of the year. Primarily to see whales and get away from Winter. We did not see as many whales as we had previously though. We snorkeled Napili and the Airport Beach. That name may be incorrect? My daughter and her boyfriend were not that keen on snorkeling but after the first time they wanted more. This was a personal victory for us to see. Three of us coasted down Haleakala. It was fun and I would do it again. I think everyone should do “The Road To Hana” at least once but there are plenty of other great things to do and see. We could be there in seven or eight months or maybe later.