Decades ago, a special night out in Hawaii meant surf and turf—the seafood frozen and the steak from the mainland. But thanks to the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, founded in 1991, island farmers and ranchers now work with ambitious chefs to provide a dazzling variety of fresh ingredients, from tropical fruits grown near the shore to Upcountry Maui’s cool-weather produce, beef, and lamb. Although many chefs are classically trained, more and more draw from the island’s multicultural heritage and their own families’ roots to create unique menus you’ll find nowhere else. This itinerary samples some of the most distinctive food experiences Maui has to offer at every price range, paired with some exceptional scenery and a few days at the beach.
Day 1: Savor Local Flavor
Upon arrival, fuel up in Kahului like the locals do. Enjoy Filipino-inspired fare at Top Chef favorite Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof, an abundant plate lunch or loco moco (burger, eggs, rice, and gravy) at Da Kitchen, or the ethnic cuisine of the week at the Maui Fresh Streatery food truck. Save room for a hot malasada (Portuguese doughnut) or freshly made peanut butter mochi (sweet rice flour treats) at Home Maid Bakery in Wailuku before checking in at the Inn at Mama’s Fish House in Paia or nearby lodgings. You’ll have made reservations well in advance for dinner at Mama’s Fish House, where you can splurge on exquisitely plated seafood along with gracious Hawaiian hospitality in a gorgeous beachfront setting.
Day 2: Drive the Road to Hana
After rising early, as most do on their first day here, pick up fresh-pressed juice, organic coffee, and a breakfast wrap at the natural food deli in the Kuau Store before hitting the road to Hana. Along the way, you can take a prearranged farm tour by the cascades of Twin Falls, sample fresh banana bread from Aunty Sandy’s on the scenic Keanae Peninsula, stop for artisan coconut ice cream at Coconut Glen’s in Nahiku, and pick up preserves and fresh tropical fruit at the Hana Farms farmstand just outside Hana. Stroll among the collection of breadfruit cultivars at oceanfront Kahanu Garden before dining on Hana-grown produce and other Maui ingredients on the lanai at the Preserve Kitchen + Bar at Travaasa Hana; overnight there or at a vacation rental.
Day 3: Take an Upcountry Farm Tour
If you leave early enough in the morning, you can drive the rugged southern slopes of Haleakala leading to Upcountry Maui and ogle the pools at Oheo Gulch along the way. Or simply retrace your route back to Twin Falls and head up the wriggling roads from there to Haliimaile, where you’ll have lunch at Haliimaile General Store, the rustic flagship of Hawaii Regional Cuisine cofounder Bev Gannon. You’ll need reservations for a tour of one of two farms in Kula after lunch: Surfing Goat Dairy, which makes more than 30 kinds of cheese plus gelato and truffles, or the 80-acre Hawaii Sea Spirits organic farm & distillery, which uses deep ocean water from Hawaii Island and heritage sugarcane to produce Ocean Organic Vodka. (The views of the West Maui Mountains from here are intoxicating, too.) Head down the mountain to check in to your condo or hotel in South Maui in time for sunset dinner, perhaps at Humble Market Kitchin. Chef Roy Yamaguchi, another renowned Hawaii Regional Cuisine cofounder, pays tribute to his island roots at this outpost in the impressively renovated Wailea Beach Resort.
Day 4: Soak Up the Sun & Shave Ice
You’ve earned a day at the beach now, and South Maui offers plenty of options. Speaking of options, you’ll have a tough time choosing from the many flavors and toppings of Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice when you want to cool off; be sure to add a scoop of locally made Roselani’s haupia (coconut pudding) ice cream to the bottom. For lunch, try one of Kihei’s affordable, farm-sourced casual restaurants like Nalu’s South Shore Grill or Threes. You’ll be splurging tonight on either elegant sushi and Japanese cuisine at Morimoto Maui or an innovative chef’s table dinner at Kaana Kitchen, both at the chic Andaz Maui in Wailea.
Day 5: Explore Plantation Heritage
After a morning snorkel, perhaps as part of a boat trip with Kai Kanani to Molokini, head to lushly landscaped Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu for lunch at the creative Mill House, which sources ingredients from the fields and orchards surrounding it. The quirky sculptures of former sugarcane plantation machinery may inspire you to stop at the Alexander Baldwin Sugar Museum in Puunene on the way back. The backbreaking labor by workers from a variety of Asian, European, Pacific Islander, and other ethnicities helped create Hawaii’s iconic plate lunch. For dinner, sample gourmet interpretations of dishes brought to the islands by these laborers at Chef Tylun Pang’s Ko (the Hawaiian name for sugarcane) at Fairmont Kea Lani or Chef Sheldon Simeon’s playful Lineage in the Shops at Wailea.
Day 6: Go West
Head to West Maui for a day at the beach in Kaanapali or Kapalua, stopping in Olowalu along the way to pick up sandwiches and handheld coconut pies at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. For dinner, marvel at the multi-island views as well as the pioneering farm-to-table cuisine at Merriman’s in Kapalua, or go more casual, and a little easier on your budget, at Leilani’s in Whalers Village, which also relies on island farmers and fishermen for its island/American menu.
Day 7: Feast at a Gourmet Luau
After walking off some of the decadent calories on the Wailea Beach Path and going for one last swim in the pool or beach, it’s time to celebrate your last night on Maui. You’ve made reservations well in advance for the Feast at Lele in Lahaina, an upscale luau where the private table service includes multiple courses highlighting the cuisine of the cultures represented onstage: Maori (New Zealand), Samoan, Tongan, and Hawaiian. The excellent wine list, craft beer, and cocktails will also inspire you to toast your culinary journey.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.