I Erased My Maui Bucket List. I was wrong.

We planned a trip for photographer and travel blogger Allie Olsen to Maui, Hawaii. Let her trip inspire you then contact us to create your own Maui Bucket List trip! -Diane

Hawaii was not on my bucket list. Sure, Maui, Hawaii has great beaches… but so does Florida. Hospitality in Hawaii is amazing… but I live in the south and “Southern Hospitality” is pretty amazing, too. I heard Hawaii’s weather is great… but the flight to get there from the East Coast is so long. So I erased Hawaii. There was no Maui Bucket List.

I was wrong.

Maui Bucket List

Hubby and I just spent 10 blissful days exploring the islands of Maui, Hawaii and Oahu, Hawaii {<-link to Oahu post coming soon!!} and I can’t wait to go back! Our days were filled with relaxation on the beach and at the spa, driving around to make off-the-beaten-path Hawaii memories, snorkeling and sightseeing and eating fresh-as-it-gets local food. In case you have a Maui Bucket List started, I’ll share some of our favorites!

Best Way to Fly to Hawaii

First things first… Hawaii is a long flight but getting there doesn’t have to suck. Our Hawaii travel planner, Diane, suggested we overnight in California to give our East Coast bodies a chance to adjust to West Coast time and also to break up the flight.

If I had planned the trip on my own, I wouldn’t have “wasted” a day in California but this suggestion was right on! She sent us to San Francisco where we were served a family style lunch in Chinatown, hiked redwood trails in Muir Woods and drove our upgraded-rental convertible over the Golden Gate Bridge. Working with a travel consultant has its perks!

Maui Bucket List layover in San Francisco
A California layover is NOT a waste of vacation time… it’s a fun addition to a Hawaii itinerary!

But about Hawaii.

It’s so much more than big waves. {Kona coffee, anyone? I’ll just leave this here…}

Maui Bucket List
We fell in love with locally roasted coffee at O’o Farms!

Maui, Hawaii Airport & Transportation

Arrival on Maui, Hawaii was, in a word, simple. The open-air airport was temperate and easy to navigate. We easily found both our luggage and a shuttle to the upgraded rental car Diane arranged for us. We had the option of renting a cushy Cadillac Escalade or a teeny Mercedes convertible that our luggage didn’t quite fit in. I drive a 12 passenger van at home so I was determined we’d fit in that sporty 2 seater… we made it work!

Maui Bucket List

Staying on Maui

From the airport, our resort was an easy 25-minute drive. I expected views like the Florida Keys- flat, water views around every bend, lots of bridges… Instead, we saw lush mountains and caught a glimpse of Haleakala, Maui’s main volcano {which you can bike down at sunrise!}.

But most of our drive was through the wide-open land of defunct sugar plantations.


Maui Bucket List

There are obviously tons of lodging options in Hawaii. It’s hard to decide where to stay in Maui if you’ve never been… it’s one island but there are cities, five-star resorts, quaint seaside towns and more hotels than you can shake a stick at {that’s how my Southern grandma would say it}. And, once again, I was very grateful for our travel planner. Diane asked about our dream vacation and helped us select a resort that was oceanfront, had an adult-only section as well as beach access {believe it or not, there aren’t a lot of beaches in parts of Hawaii!} and was convenient to what we had planned.

We settled in to a cabana and relaxed into island time…

Maui Bucket List

What to do on Maui

When we started planning our Maui Bucket List trip, Diane sent us a list of ideas and then a Hawaii vacation plan. We decided to plan in down time so we picked our favorites from her list of suggestions and she handled booking each activity.

Could we have researched and planned on our own? Sure- but she found gems I never saw online.

Could we have decided to wing it? No. We enjoyed several experiences that were “off the beaten path” and others that would have been too full to book last minute.

So what did we do?

  • Enjoyed a farm-to-table lunch at O’o Farm
  • Sunset Whale-watching Sail
  • Drove the Road to Hana
  • Watched a sunset from the beach (as a photographer, this was thrilling!)
  • Down time for exploring
  • Mama’s Fish House (we ate next to Adam Sandler & his family!)
  • Harvested lavender at a farm
  • Chilled out at the poolside bar

Since we split our time between Maui and Oahu we didn’t try to “do it all”. Maui was the R&R part of the trip. Diane’s suggestions included some more active experiences that I’ll definitely do next time but we forced ourselves to relax this trip and have absolutely no regrets!Maui Bucket List

The one MUST DO on your Maui Bucket List

We were pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the food- whether from a food truck, Nalu’s local restaurant or the impeccable Mama’s Fish House. Our farm-to-table experience at O’o Farm was incredible- if you have one takeaway from this post, let it be to enjoy a meal at the farm!!

Maui Bucket List

Like I said, we could’ve spent the entire trip on Maui but after flying all the way from the East Coast, we wanted to check out 2 islands. We did more “touristy” things in Oahu – read some Oahu vacation ideas here. {link coming soon}

Our travel planner told us NOT to stop over in California on the way home. To maximize our trip, Diane suggested we splurge on a first class upgrade to end our 10 days in Hawaii. It was so worth it! Maui Bucket List

Instead of drudgery, we enjoyed our 11 hour flight home as we ate a first class dinner on china, sipped a nightcap before bed and slept in recline-flat seats. Working with Diane allowed us to spend our vacation dollars where they mattered most for a perfect trip!

A year ago, there was no Maui Bucket List. Now I can’t wait to go back!! I keep a list for my travel planner but I’ll call her again to plan our next trip. The gems I don’t find are what make me excited about returning with Diane’s help!

Until we chat again… happy travels! ~Allie O.