While this blog is dedicated more toward outdoor recreation, the vigorous lifestyle, and the various sports I enjoy like hiking, biking, skiing, kitesurfing, I thought to take a post in order to shed some light on Maui dining options or at least what I have learned of dining on the island over my travels. I am the first to admit I am not much of a foodie but am certainly always on the lookout for good healthy food that is also filling and flavorful. I am generally not very price sensitive but am looking for quality ingredients that are fresh and if possible vegetarian based. There is no shortage of these options on Maui. Most travelers to the island come prepared to spend quite a bit of money and indulge at some of the marquee restaurants that are concentrated around the hotels and resorts in Hawaii. The west and south side of Maui have no shortage of such options. Be forewarned, however, that Maui is one of the most expensive places for fine dining in the United States. These menus can be extremely pricey and not for every traveler. Moreover, dining at the hotels themselves (i.e. room service, cafes, or casual dining options) offer very unremarkable food at high prices.
First, let me say I think the best option for travelers is to resist the temptation and eat in. There are quite a few short term vacation rental options all over the island and the vast majority of these come equipped with full kitchens so one can cook and dine at the rental. There are a slew of great grocery stores on Maui including natural options like Whole Foods. There is also a Costco a few hundred feet from the airport in Kahului that has a wide selection of grocery products at the equivalent of mainland prices. You can also find many local items they have included to their inventory with fresh fish options like Opah and Ono. I have seen dragon fruit, rambutan, and various other fresh fruit options as well. I would encourage travelers to stop in upon arrival and load up on provision for their trip. Certainly things like snacks for the car rides as well as breakfast and lunch items can be purchased at the Costco and for many traveling the Maui on a budget this will be a significant cost reducer. (As an aside, the Costco is also the only one I have seen in the chain that includes a ahi tuna bar in the store.)
For those intent on eating out, what I generally suggest is for travelers to spend some time traveling to the North Shore in order to experience some of the restaurants and dining options. These restaurants will be substantially less expensive and offer some incredible culinary options. In fact there is a food culture rapidly growing on the North Shore with smaller, more intimate restaurants that are generally owner operated that offer some amazing dishes.
One enclave of great restaurants is in the Haiku Marketplace. My favorites includes Colleens which offers a variety of options at reasonable prices. The menu can be described as American fare, and the options range from $15 upcountry beef burgers to $30 fish specials. I would strongly suggest looking at the daily special options as the difference in price is negligible but my feeling is they provide daily specials as good as many of the entrees one would find at the trendy resort restaurants.
The Haiku Marketplace is also blooming its own outdoor food scene with food trucks and kiosks that offer some great options as well. Prices are very down to earth and outdoor seating is offered so one can dine al fresco. I suggest this options for folks looking for good food without spending a lot of time on their meal.
The other North Shore options you don’t want to miss is Maui Kombucha, a small hole in the wall eatery that offers raw food options that are true culinary ambrosia. While they are famed for the probiotic drink they brew at their location (claimed to have essential amino acids and possibly even anit cancer properties) I would strongly suggest looking at their food options as well. Look for their Hawaiian Toast and the salads they offer with fresh local ingredients. You also can’t miss with their hearty filling soup options as well.
I also suggest exploring the many dining options that are centered in Paia. This spans the range – from great pizza to locally made gelato to Mexican and Mediterranean food. It is always fun to go explore these options and one typically can’t go wrong as the competition in this small town to attract diners can be fierce. Happy Hawaiian dining!