***Please keep in mind that things change. The prices and info below were accurate when we were on Maui in 2008. Be sure to get me your feedback so that I can continue to update this information and share it with other people.
Milagaro: Yes, you have to drive across the island to Paia to get there, but it’s only 45 minutes, the food is great, and Paia has a very funky vibe. Go early and take some time to stroll around. Located at 3 Baldwin Avenue. Parking is tough to find in Paia, so be patient. Very unpretentious place. It can get hot inside, so opt for the deck if seating is available. Our waitress was sort of an Eva-Longoria-gone-bad woman, which made things even more entertaining. Margaritas were great and the seafood burrito was the best I’ve ever had. Fresh fish and outstanding sauces. Average prices only around $15.
BEST HAPPY HOUR
Aloha Mixed Plate: Old school place located right on the water on the north end of Lahaina. You can park at the Lahaina Cannery Mall and walk over. They are really crowded in the evening because they have good food and reasonable prices. All of their mixed plates are good and their coconut prawns get a lot of good review, but we think their happy hour is the best reason to go there. It runs from 2-6. The mai-tai’s are good and they’re cheap! Info at http://www.alohamixedplate.com/.
Moose McGillycuddys: Top-rated happy hour spot on Maui. They have happy hour daily from 3-6. Located in Lahaina. Prices are reasonable, which were around $3 apiece, were absurdly low, and you have a great view of the street below. Try their Cadillac margarita. Most nights, there is no cover charge in their club. They have DJs and dancing, with numerous drink specials. Info at http://www.mooserestaurantgroup.com/moose_mc/branch2/.
Maui Tacos: All of the tourist sites give this place good reviews among the “best cheap eats” on the island. Several locations. One is in Lahaina. Menu at http://www.mauitacos.com/menu.htm.
Comfort Zone: Popular place with the locals, located just a five-minute walk from Whaler’s Village. Paper plates, plastic forks, great prices, and excellent food. Breakfasts from around $6. Dinner combination plates for around $13. No views but a good place to grace a bite without getting burned.
Okazuya: This place gets real good reviews for their takeout. Located eight minutes north of Kaanapali in a strip mall at 3600 Honoapiilani Road. No website but a little info at http://www.mauihawaii.org/restaurants/okazuya.htm.
JUST PLAIN FUN
Barefoot Bar at the Hula Grill: One of our favorites. You can’t go wrong with the mahi mahi or ono fish & chips. Great atmosphere, with a chance to sink your toes into the sand, and it’s right near where you’re staying if you’re at Kaanapali. Info at http://www.hulagrill.com/static/index.cfm?contentID=60.
Leilani’s: Good reputation for appetizers and drinks. Like the Barefoot Bar, it is located right at the hub of things at Kaanapali. They also have good fish and chips and hula pie. Info at http://www.leilanis.com/.
Kimo’s: Located on the main drag in Lahaina with nice views. Much more open air feel than Cheeseburger and much better service. Lunches there are very reasonable at $10-$13. Info at http://www.kimosmaui.com/.
Plantation House Restaurant: Great views of the Plantation Golf Course and the ocean. Located north of Kaanapali at Kapalua. Surprisingly reasonable breakfasts served from 8-3. They serve excellent eggs benedict for $10. Info at http://www.theplantationhouse.com/.
Gazebo: This place at Napili Shores has a cult following and constantly gets great reviews for breakfasts and great views. Specialities include Macadamia nut pancakes, the fried rice plate and the Kahuna omlette. Expect a wait. Opens at 7:30. Info at http://www.mauihawaii.org/restaurants/gazebo.htm.
Cheeseburger in Paradise: This is a reluctant recommendation because I think the place is over-hyped. That said, it has a pretty good vibe and is a must-see for a lot of people. If you go, leave your name and walk around, instead of standing in line. Also, stick to burgers and onion rings. Located right on the water on the main drag in Lahaina. Info at http://www.cheeseburgerland.com/Cheeseburgerland/Landing_Page.html.
BEST SPECIAL PLACE
Io: One of Maui’s hippest and best restaurants. Romantic and right on the water with phenomenal views at sunset. Spendy but if you’re going to splurge, this is a good place to do it. 505 Front Street in Lahaina. Info at http://www.iomaui.com/.
Mala Ocean Tavern: Good reputation as a place for small plates. Also has a “tavern menu” that is limited but appealing (Kobi beef cheeseburger, ahi burger, ahi burger) Happy hour 3-4:30. Good mojitos and lunches. One reviewer liked the Kobi burger ($15) along with drinks and the Quartet appetizer ($16.50 – included humus, feta spread and one other with pita bread). Located at 1307 Front Street in Lahaina. Info at http://malaoceantavern.com/.
Mulligan’s on the Blue: Happy hour from 4-6 daily. Third appetizer free if you purchase two. Good ratings. Their Cajun seared ahi is supposed to be outstanding. Located at Wailea across from Kea Lani Resort, so if we decided to go shopping down that way it might be a good choice. Info at http://www.mulligansontheblue.com/.
Sir Wilbert’s: $2 for a large take-out coffee at the kiosk at Whaler’s Village. Also the people there are very helpful in providing advice about the best place to go.
Maui Brewing: The beer scene on Maui is weak, but these guys do a decent job. They remodeled their brew pub in Kahana – just north of Kaanapali – in 2008. Pub food and pretty reasonable prices. Info at http://mauibrewingco.com/mbc/index.php.
Equipment: You can rent at a number of places right at Kaanapali. Go for the week-long rate.
Black Rock: Beautiful cove on the north end of the beach always draws big crowds of snorkelers. Lots of fish on most days.
Under the Radar: Because there are usually quite a few people at Black Rock, I like to explore a small reef just south of the Whaler and north of the Westin. Hardly anyone hangs our there, but I’ve seen all kinds of fish and several sea turtles.
The Gemini: Sher and I highly recommend this as a splurge (Actually, at about $100 per person, it’s not overpriced at all). The trip takes you up to the marine preserve at Honolua, which is a world-class place to snorkel. On the way back, the captain runs up the sails and takes you out into some of the big swells for the ride home. They provide all your gear, lunch, drinks, and cookies. You can book at their kiosk right at Kaanapali. We talked to several people who booked snorkel tours across the straight at Molokina. Two problems – often the ride over is very rough and the submerged crater where you snorkel makes for deeper diving. Info at http://www.geminicharters.com/snorkel.htm.
• Things get real crowded at Kaanapali in the evenings, so if you wait until prime-time to go out to eat, expect lines. We usually opted for late lunches.
• There’s a Safeway in Lahaina that has plenty of supplies.
• Most hotels have barbecues right on the beach that guests can use. Take a bottle of wine and side dish down, toss something on the barbie.
• Check reviews at www.tripadvisor.com and www.fodors.com.