Word of Mouth: Maui

Adventures, farm-to-table dining and more on the idyllic Valley Isle

Presented by KAYAK

The idyllic and magical island of Maui is #1 this year on KAYAK’s 2018 Trending Destinations List—made up of the destinations seeing the biggest search increases year over year. Certainly a favorite with CH, Hawaii‘s archipelago offers stunning views, majestic national parks, some of the best surfing in the world and so much more. Known as the Valley Isle, Maui is the second-biggest Hawaiian island and while it continues to evolve as a vacation destination—thanks to farm-to-table dining, gorgeous hotels, cafes and plenty of adventures—its laid-back vibe remains the same.

If you’re planning to visit Maui, check out KAYAK’s Travel Hacker Guide, an interactive resource full of data-driven insights that’s full of helpful tips and tricks. When exploring the guide, we found the least expensive time to visit is September, which also happens to be one of the warmest months—with temperatures in the high 70s—and when hotel stays are most affordable. From our own experience, there’s no bad time to visit Maui, and here are some of our favorite spots to visit when vacationing on the majestic island.

Paia Inn Cafe

With more to offer than just hotel accommodations, Paia Inn boasts a cafe that serves a wide selection of juices and smoothies—and brunch, which is a bit of an anomaly on an island that rises with the sun. We recommend trying the Breakfast Board—pork belly, lox and a boiled egg—after a few hours swimming, surfing or hiking. Our favorite juice is the beet, chard, apple and hibiscus blend, but it’s worth tasting one of the shrub sparklers too. The cafe also plays host to live music on the weekends.

Travaasa Resort

Located on the eastern tip of Maui, Travaasa Resort is the first property on the island to see the sun rise and offers plenty of ideal outdoor spaces to watch the sky change. Luxurious but low-key, the hotel sports bungalows complete with private lanais and ocean views; as well as junior suites and family suites that sleep up to six people. The spa offers treatments using only organic and bioenergetic products to naturally treat, heal and revitalize. While the resort features outdoor pools, trail rides, pole fishing and more, Haleakalā National Park is just a 32-minute drive away and well worth a visit.

Puka Puka

Specializing in local products from Hawaii and the Polynesian islands, with occasional finds from the West Coast and Tahiti, Puka Puka is part shop, part gallery. The space upstairs is open for exhibitions, while downstairs is full of hand-picked clothing, accessories, art, books and more. Don’t miss the classic 1960s style Birdwell swim shorts for men in a new edition, and crystal jewelry that’s made exclusively for Puka Puka by Tom Binns. For those who want to bring home some souvenirs but have already filled their bags, the shop is just opening up online as well.

O’o Farm

Upon arrival at O’o Farm, a guide shows visitors the fields where the ingredients for the Pacific’O restaurant are sourced. Your guide is also a farmer, so they can answer any questions you might have as you smell and taste your way through the 80 kinds of vegetables growing on the farm. The tour culminates with a three-course meal prepared by farm chef Daniel Eskelsen—with salad hand-picked by the visitors. A true farm-to-table experience, the farm is entirely sustainably maintained and biodynamically cultivated. The meal is served family style with meat and fish, but vegan and allergy-friendly options are available by request. If you want to have an alcoholic drink you’re welcome to bring your own wine or beer. They also just launched a morning seed-to-cup tour, in which visitors can learn about reducing ripe coffee cherries to seeds, roasting and more.

Goofy Foot Surf School

It’s almost sacrilege to visit Maui and not take at least one surfing lesson. For 25 years, Goofy Foot Surf School (located in Lahaina) has offered classes, with experience ranging from complete beginners to professionals and differently abled individuals. For the beginner who is wave-curious the first lesson ($65 for group lessons) is around two hours, during which the first half hour is based on land. Once in the ocean, if students don’t stand up and ride a wave during the first lesson, the class is free. The school also offers surf camps and stand-up paddle-board lessons. While in the town, don’t miss the outdoor artisan market. It’s also a great spot for whale watching; rafts go out into the humpback sanctuary where the animals hang out to mate from December to April.


Celebrating the simplicity and complex flavors of Japanese cuisine, Nuka is a popular hangout for visitors and locals alike. Minimalist ingredients and good vibes fill the restaurant, which focuses on fresh, locally sourced produce and affordable prices. Try the thick and sweet miso butterfish and the gobo chips (burdock root sliced thinly and fried with sea salt) for starters. The homemade black sesame ice cream is nutty, and not too sweet—the perfect end to your meal. Nuka doesn’t take reservations, so make sure you stop by before hunger hits too hard.

Images courtesy of respective venues