Relaxed, surfy Paia is the departure point for the lushly scenic Road to Hana drive. It makes sense, then, that one of the best places to fuel up for a big day is here – Paia Bay Coffee and Bar. There are plenty of options for the health conscious, from violet acai bowls topped with a swirl of almond butter to organic eggs scrambled with zingy salsa and a signature herb mix, but it’s hard to go past the freshly baked selection of croissants. Try feta with baby greens and Dijon mustard mayo; bacon and brie; and, for the sweet-tooth, Nutella with strawberries and whipped cream.
For shave ice
These fluffy ice piles may just be sugar and water but at Local Boys Shave Ice even these simple ingredients are sourced with care: the cane sugar and the filtered spring water used are both from Hawaii. And when the basics are taken care of, the rainbow toppings are just a bonus. There are flavours made from real fruit such as mango and papaya, as well as more lethal sugar bombs: pink lemonade, blue bubble gum and wedding cake. Find the west-side favourite at outlets in Lahaina and Kihei.
You could stick to your regular flat white at Maui Coffee Roasters in Kahului but why not branch out? The batch brew at this island stalwart changes daily and even regular lattes can be ordered with a twist: a Honey Latte features espresso infused with the sweet stuff, while a Sledge Hammer will add some serious pep to your day thanks to the four espresso shots in a single cup.
For food truck
You can’t miss the Maui Fresh Streatery. This food truck is tomato-red and the enticing aroma of the Indian spice blend used on the seared ahi tuna and the towering pile of loaded fries will draw you in. Chef Kyle Kawakami has been running the truck since 2013 and uses ingredients grown on the island or sourced from local producers. It’s open Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and you can pinpoint its location by followings its social media accounts [link?].
For beachside bar
Most Maui first-timers stay around the resort area near Ka’anapali Beach. Yes, it’s touristy, but the sunset views from this skinny stretch of sand are hard to go past. For sundowners, head to Hula Grill and Barefoot Bar, set in a low-roofed Plantation-style house mere steps from the shore. It stands out for its dedication to sustainably sourced ingredients and a drinks list that’s pure tropical island: mojitos featuring citrus-spiked vodka, a margarita made with mango puree and a deadly mai tai mixed with two types of rum.
Its locale may not be Instagram-friendly but the super-fresh fish bowls at Like Poke…? on the Haleakala Highway in Kahului more than make up for the view of the petrol station. The unassuming food truck often sells out of its namesake dish fast so go for an early lunch of salmon, ahi or mahi mahi (whatever is caught that day) cubes tossed in a bright mix of onion, watercress and sesame, served alongside a bountiful scoop of white rice.
For a family-friendly feed
Miso-glazed salmon steak with slippery noodles for the adults; a cheeseburger topped with chunks of fresh pineapple for the keiki; a slice of decadent hula pie for all. While you kick back during happy hour on the deck at Leilani’s On the Beach, kids can roam free on the lawn by the beach as the live music keeps them entertained.
At Nuka, you must order the sushi. The line-up of sashimi and sushi at this izakaya in Haiku is inventive and ever-changing. Recent specials include the Angry Tiki Roll, a slice of tempura snapper paired with tuna, crab and eel sauce; and ceviche topped with passionfruit, pickled chilli and cucumber. You can’t make reservations at this calm, small space so prepare for a potential line-up.