Do I Need to Rent a Car...?
YES if you will be staying in a remote location like Hana, upcountry or in a residential neighborhood away from the beach or resort areas. A car is useful if you like to explore, plan to surf or want to be independent.
Most car rental lots are at the Kahului airport. Make reservations in advance, especially for Lana`i or Moloka`i. Car and flight packages may be less expensive than a plane ticket a la carte. For a splurge, consider renting a convertible since Maui's warm air and delicious floral and fruity smells make it a real treat.
NO, don't rent a car if you will be spending most of your leisure hours on or near a resort property. Not only do most resorts provide a full range of amenities from sundry stores to boogie board rentals, resorts are often along shuttle routes geared toward visitors. Plus there are plenty of sightseeing tours that will show you the island and pick you up at your hotel.
Once you arrive a car will just rack up overnight parking fees in the resort garage. Instead ask your hotel if they offer complimentary shuttle service from the airport. Independent shuttle service can also be pre-arranged and is less expensive than a taxi.
Is the Trip to the Top of Haleakala for Sunrise Worth It?
YES: a spectacular sunrise cannot be guaranteed, but the adventure of the journey and the beauty of the mountain makes it a "must do." To see the sunrise you will have to awake pre-dawn. It is very cold on Haleakala so dress in warm layers. Check the weather reports for visibility but don't be discouraged by a blanket of fog halfway up, as the top may be clear. Just like the road to Hana, this drive will be full of twists and turns, so be prepared if you are prone to carsickness.
NO: sunrise at the summit is very cold and often crowded. Driving two hours in the dark on strange roads when everyone else in the car is asleep won't be the highlight of your vacation, and after getting up at three in the morning, you'll probably be wiped out for the rest of the day. Try going up in the afternoon instead, when the angle of light really brings out the colors in the crater. Call ahead to make sure the weather is good, and enjoy!
Is the trip to Hana worth it?
Emphatically YES. But its all in how you do it. The drive is long and difficult with many twists, turns, one lane bridges and blind corners requiring a patient driver. Yet driving too slowly upsets the locals, so be courteous and pull over so they may pass. Be prepared if you are prone to car sickness and don't rush the trip. The joy is in the scenery along the way: waterfalls, flowers, roadside booths, and ocean vistas. At the minimum make a full day's trip out of Hana and don't book strenuous activities the day prior or the day after. We recommend staying overnight in Hana. The Hotel Hana is top notch but you can also find a diverse selection of rental homes and cottages online. Once you are in Hana there is great boutique shopping, historical interest, hiking, dining and swimming.
Is Maui safe?
Maui has relatively little crime but smart travelers will always take precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.
- Don't leave valuables on the beach or in your car.
- Use the hotel room safe instead of carrying large amounts of cash.
- Be alert at night: walk where it is lighted and stick with a companion.
- Always swim and hike with a buddy. Obey lifeguards, posted warning signs and hotel security.
- Once a month the island emergency system is tested. Ask what to do in the event of an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or fire. Have drinking water and emergency supplies on hand.
- Never drink and drive. Maui has had too many highway fatalities and strictly enforces responsible driving and seatbelt laws.
- If you are offered marijuana don't buy it. Not only is it illegal, it may also be fake. Unfortunately "ice" or methamphetamine is a problem here as well. If any accommodation smells like urine or chemicals please report it immediately.
- Remember to demonstrate respect as a visitor, since this island is sacred to Hawaiians. Never litter and always be polite. If you are harassed or feel uncomfortable, contact the local authorities.
Maui's warm aloha spirit does not provide immunity from crime. To minimize the chance of an accident, theft or assault use common sense precautions.
Will I be able to access my checking account in Maui?
YES, there are ATM's in most large hotels and in many shopping centers. Usage fees may vary by bank and machine. Check with your home bank to see if they have branches or banking partners on Maui. If you don't want to carry a lot of cash, consider purchasing traveler's checks or using a credit card for larger expenses.
Is there any nightlife where I can dance?
YES: While Maui does not offer the nightlife you'd find on Oahu or in larger cities, we do have dance clubs and live music. The hours are typically from 9:00 pm until 2:00 am any night of the week. In fact, Maui is a great place for hearing world class musicians. Check at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center for visiting or local performances. The south side showcases Mulligan's on the Blue in Wailea and Bada-Bing! in Kihei. Upcountry visit Casanova's in Makawao or Charley's in Paia. On the west side try Lahaina's Moose McGillycuddy's, Paradice Bluz or Spats at the Hyatt Regency. For club-style dancing your best bet would be Paradice Bluz.
Is it safe to swim in the ocean?
Swimming in the ocean is enjoyable but does require some caution.
- Despite publicity, shark attacks are rare. If this concerns you, avoid swimming in the dawn or dusk hours or in murky water.
- Always obey lifeguards, warning flags and postings.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Never touch, harass or feed any sea life.
- Never turn your back to the ocean as waves may surprise you.
- Do not dive into waves or body surf if you do not know what you are doing.
- Drinking and swimming do not mix.
- Keep an eye on your children.
- If you are caught in a current, relax and swim with the current parallel to the shore. It will lessen eventually and then you can head to shore.
- Swim in an area separate from surfers, kite boarders and other ocean craft.
- Be careful of sharp coral beneath the surface. If you are cut, clean it well to avoid infection.
- Take your cues from others. If no one is swimming, there may be a reason.
- Have fun and wear sunscreen!
I've never snorkeled. Is it hard to learn?
NO: Snorkeling is a lot of fun and easy to do! When you come to Maui you can rent flippers, mask and snorkel from any dive shop or beach kiosk. They will provide you with the minimal instruction required and direct you to popular snorkeling locations. If you are more comfortable, you may chose to use a floatation device in combination with snorkeling. Always snorkel with a buddy, its safer and more fun!
Boat companies offer snorkel, snuba or scuba diving tours. For the ambitious visitor dive certification programs are also offered. Inquire with a dive shop as certain guidelines will apply. For the timid, a good start is a walk through Maui's aquarium.
Is there wireless connectivity for my laptop?
YES: Most resort properties include complimentary or pay-as-you-go high-speed internet access in the guest rooms or business lounge. Starbucks coffee shops have T-mobile hotspots in most of its stores. Check out independent internet cafes in Lahaina, Ka`anapali, Paia, Kihei and Wailea that offer computer terminals and wireless service.
How much does it cost to mail from Hawai`i?
The U.S. Postal Service operates throughout the island just like on the mainland with standard postage rates. Mail may be a little slower here because everything is routed through Oahu. This means that all "overnight" mail actually takes two days. If you have questions regarding delivery times and costs, check with a local postmaster at any location.
Does everyone speak English?
YES, English is the official language here just like anywhere in the United States. However, Hawaiian is prominent in street names, locations and everyday usages. You will also hear pidgin, the local Creole language; Japanese; Spanish; Chinese; Filipino; and Portuguese. While attempts to speak pidgin may be viewed as insulting to local residents, pronouncing Hawaiian place names correctly is impetrative and polite. Pick up a language guide and practice.
Do I need to worry about sunburns?
Emphatically YES! It is possible to burn within twenty minutes so all visitors are advised to ease into sun exposure with sunblock, hats and shade. Precautions early on will make your trip more enjoyable than if you spend the trip nursing a bright red and unhealthy sunburn from the first day.
Will I be able to find my favorite stores with mainland merchandise?
YES, Maui has some retail chain stores located mostly at the larger shopping malls (Whalers Village, The Shops at Wailea, Maui Marketplace and Queen Ka`ahumanu Center). However, use your vacation to shop island style shops such as Cinnamon Girl, Blue Ginger, Serendipity and the many local boutiques.
Will I have to dress up for dinner and bring a suit or fancy dress?
NO: Not in Maui! Dress codes are relaxed throughout the island. A nice polo shirt or Aloha shirt will get you into any venue and is perfectly appropriate for business meetings. While men wear slippers even to formal functions, closed toe leather shoes for gentlemen or nice sandals for ladies may be required in some clubs. Swimsuit cover ups, slippers and shirts are required in any eating establishment.
Are there any snakes or dangerous creatures?
NO, there are no snakes. Hawai`i is known for mostly benign pests. Mosquitoes may be a nuisance, so use repellent when needed (lavender makes a natural and lovely repellent). Put food away to discourage cockroaches and small ants. Securely close screens to keep out small rodents like mice and rats. Centipedes and wild boars are rarely encountered; you are more likely to see a stray chicken. Geckos are harmless; they just make little sounds and poop a lot. By the way, we would like to stay snake-free, so if you see anything suspicious please contact the invasive species department.
Are there taxes in Maui?
YES, Hawai`i has a 4.16% sales tax on purchases and services. This tax is typically passed on to the buyer, although paid to the state by the seller or service provider. Transient accommodation tax is 9.25%. Oahu has additional taxes.
Am I expected to tip?
YES, Maui is a service-based economy and many workers rely on gratuities. Tip a bellhop, porter or cab driver a minimum of $1 per bag. Housekeepers can be tipped a couple dollars a day or cumulatively at the end of your stay. Servers usually receive 15-20% of the bill and massage therapists and stylists receive 10-15%. Concierge, hosts, tour guides, shuttle drivers, boat crew and instructors can be tipped according to service level from $2 into the hundreds. While management typically declines tips, offer one if you feel service warrants it. If an employee cannot accept they will say so politely.
Can I bring home fruits and vegetables?
Strict regulations prohibit the movement of fruits, flowers, vegetables, meat and fish between the island and the mainland. If you want to bring something home, check with the vendor to see if it can be shipped "agriculturally approved."
When can I see whales?
Humpback whale season is December through April. During that time whales can be seen from shore and on boat tours.