Why I Don’t Like Maui That Much

I was there for a conference. By and large it’s a nice place for a conference. It’s like being at work, but with nicer weather. And yeah, I know, I can find a problem with anything. But that’s because there are, in fact, problems with everything.

I am nevertheless comfortable in asserting that Maui is the least interesting of the Hawaiian islands with which I’m familiar. I can see why someone would like it, but those antecedents of “like” would correlate strongly with that someone and I being generally incompatible as co-vacationers. FWIW. Maui would be great for someone who wants nice weather, a mega-resort, a mall with expensive boutiques and galleries, sub-par restaurants, and resort-style golfing.

Here’s a photo of sunset from the hotel pool:

I think it’s a nice photo and all, maybe even enticing. But what amount of time on your Maui vacation could staring at sunsets across pools productively take up? I’m going with eight. The second sunset you stare at is cliché, and by the third one you’re just desperate for meaning. Um, IMHO. So then what are you going to do for the other 6 days, 23 hours, and 52 minutes?

Well, there are a couple things. Maybe even three:

  • The Hana area is genuinely nice. It’s slower paced and not dominated by mega-resorts. It seems like a place you would find on Kauai. Except that: (a) it’s a pain to get to — you can romanticize that drive all you want, but at the end of the day it’s arduous and there are only four or five places worth stopping, and (b) since it’s the only place on the island that looks anything like that, it’s necessarily crawling with escapees from all the mega-resorts. Who aren’t necessarily fun to hang out with.
  • The drive around the northern part of the western lobe is kind of nice. It’s not all that crowded, not quite as arduous as the Hana drive (I mean, it’s arduous, just not wish-I-was-dead arduous), and has at least one nice little church and a little tidal swimming pool among the rocks in one spot.
  • Haleakala is something that’s probably worth doing once, although it’s a long ways up there for maybe a couple of hours of entertainment (with thousands of your co-tourists).

So it’s got that going for it.

Here’s a photo of a bird taken from the lanai of the hotel room at the mega resort that we stayed at (because it was close to the conference):

See that little black bird in the tree? Awcute, right? Except that it’s loud, it’s everywhere, and it’s a non-native species. In a sense, it’s a type for the real problem with Maui:

*Tourists*. And there’s nothing for them to do. No way to disperse. Just sitting around the pool mutually reassuring themselves that they’re doing something interesting.

The place is dominated by the mega-resort whether in Kihei-Wailea, or the whole Lahaina-Kaanapali mega-hotel-opolis. It’s hard to break free from these places and there aren’t a lot of reasons to do so (other than the three above and to buy groceries at Wal-Mart). Maui ends up feeling like the Las Vegas strip, but without all the stuff to do.

If you have to go to a conference and cost has no meaning, it’s a nice place to have a conference. Between sessions you can hang out outside, in January, and it’s warm. Nice. OTOH, you’re still at a conference and, for the most part, there’s not a lot different about a conference session room at the Grand Wailea on Maui and a conference session room at the Will Rogers Airport Embassy Suites in Tulsa.

Then with the opportunity cost. It costs the same to go to Honolulu, only that place has better food, more stores, a “scene”, and several regions to consider exploring. It costs the same to go to Kauai, which has rivers everywhere, waterfalls everywhere, easy-in snorkeling, world-class hiking, fewer crowds, etc. It costs the same to go to the Big Island, which — I haven’t been to. I’m guessing I’d like it better so long as I wasn’t stuck in Kona.

Long story short, I’d like to go to this conference again, but probably when it’s on some other island.

Here’s a picture of water:



  • Bee

    Hahaha.. funny and very true..
    I recently moved here with my family for my husbands job,.. and we always ‘smile and wave’ when people tell us they moved here 20 years ago cus its the best place on earth.. they obviously havent been around much!!
    We have been here 3 months now and hope to be gone in less than 2 years before the insanity kicks in!

    I was laughing out loud with ‘heres a picture of water’ ..hilarious!!

    • Mindy

      Are you still here Bee, I just got here 3 months ago and I’m tired of people asking me how I like it. Cuz I can’t b honest that I don’t like it immensely. I’m going crazy for good Mexican food. We moved cuz of my husbands job too

  • Mike

    Maui was my first trip to Hawaii, and I left feeling really underwhelmed. It’s dominated by:
    – walled resorts that take up much of the coastline and beach access
    – mediocre, overpriced restaurants
    – shopping centers that feel like strip malls

    I just finished my second trip to Hawaii, this time to Kauai. Kauai is everything Maui is not:
    – many vibrant downtown areas and markets
    – vast amounts of coastline and beaches that are open to everyone
    – excellent restaurants, many of which are very reasonably priced
    – plus it’s got feral chickens everywhere, which are great fun

    • bkdunn

      Couldn’t agree more. Another thing that bothers me about Maui is the fact that for the same price and flying time you could have been on Kauai instead.