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Port Review: Maui, Hawaii, USA

Joanna Hall

Maui is the Hawaiian archipelago’s second largest island, blessed with spectacular golden beaches, world class waves, and plenty of natural and man-made sights for cruise guests to enjoy. 

The Facts

Location: The South Pacific.

Language: English.

Currency: US dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: Ships dock either at Kahului Harbor in the north or anchor off Lahaina on the west side of the island.

Transport: Kahului Harbor is a working and industrial area only, so to get around you will need to take a tour, use any shuttles on offer to Lahaina, rent a car (take the free shuttle to the nearby airport), or you can walk on the path which leads out of the port to Maui Mall where you may be able to pick up a taxi. If you’re anchored of Lahaina, the tender pier is right in the heart of town which is easy to explore on foot.  


Part of Maui’s legendary allure is the anticipation; just say the name and you’re thinking about an exotic Hawaiian paradise famous for surf, beaches and endless summer. When you see it in the flesh, the thrill becomes all the more real, leaving cruise passengers with the dilemma of what to do if their ship is only in port for a single day. Maui is blessed with spectacular golden beaches in the west coupled with world class waves, and it is also home to the world’s largest dormant volcano, the soaring Haleakala. That’s not mention some of its other many alluring attractions beyond the “aloha” spirit, including waterfalls and swimming holes, and a slew of five-star resorts. 

Don’t Miss

There are many beaches to choose from, even for a day trip, depending on what you want to do. If you’re a family looking for swimming with plenty of shade, head for D.T. Fleming Park in Paia, which has lifeguards and a lagoon, and if you fancy celebrity spotting with luxury resorts as a backdrop, try Wailea Beach on the southwestern coast. For surfing, Ho’okipa Beach Park has heavy surf with viewing areas should you prefer to stay on dry land.

Whale watching is an option if you cruise here at the right time of year. Humpback whales spend the months between November and May in Maui, often coming quite close to the shoreline, but best way to see them is on a whale watching tour, or a sunset boat trip.

If attending a luau is offered on land, do it. It is a lively combination of colourfully dressed Polynesian dancers, island cuisine, cocktails, and beach locations; a Hawaiian party fusing the modern with the traditional. 

If you don’t snorkel or go diving, the Maui Ocean Centre is a great place to learn about local marine life including fish, stingrays, turtles, sharks and more, and view them in the flesh.

Best Photo Op

Maui is an island with many photogenic gems from waterfalls to beaches. The view from atop Haleakala is breathtaking particularly at sunrise, although you have get up in the middle of the night to ascend the peak to see it. At the other end of the day, sunset on Ka’anapali Beach is famous among romantics, and if you’re into surfing, snap some of the surfers at Ho’okipa Beach on the North Shore off the famous Hana Highway.


Most visitors say the best shopping is to be had in small boutiques scattered around the island, in particular in Makawao and Paia, but there are two upmarket malls, the Shops at Wailea in the south of the island, and Whalers Village in Kaanapali, which have designer brands from Coach to Louis Vuitton. Farmers markets can be great sources of souvenirs such as locally produced coffee, vodka and pineapple in many ways, just be sure to check if your ship allows you to bring spirits back on board, and remember you have to declare all foodstuffs upon re-entering Australia.

Food And Drink

Maui has plenty to offer when it comes to diverse cuisine, including Asian and French-inspired restaurants which can be pricey, and typical North American fare including hamburgers, ribs and seafood. There’s also a food truck scene near Kahului Harbor opposite where cruise ships dock.

Pick Of The Excursions

The Road to Hana is the most famous and most beautiful drive in Hawaii, offering a photo op at every turn and spectacular scenery without interruption. The road winds between jungle valleys and towering cliffs, crossing over 50 one-way bridges, passing waterfalls, and more. If you’re driving you miss much of it, so this is the number one tour for many first-time visitors especially if your ship is docking overnight.

There are several ways to “do” Haleakala. One is to hike up the mountain in time for sunrise, another is to take at tour which drives you up to the top, and allows you to ride a bike down. The easy way, however, is to “bus” it both ways, while listening to the narration about the volcano’s history; be warned, though, it is a steep and winding ascent, and take a jacket as it can be very chilly at the top!


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  1. Posted by on 28th Oct 2019 Verified Customer

    Best Island 5 Star Review

    Went there on a cruise last year, by far the beset island ticks all the boxes!

  2. Posted by on 28th Oct 2019 Verified Customer

    Overrated 3 Star Review

    Went to Maui once on the recommendation of american friends but thought it was too commercial and overrated. Another friend from Melbourne - an american originally - said Kauai was much nicer but with the exchange rate its too pricey right now. Maybe one day in the future :)

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