Maui’s radical beauty feels almost mythic: verdant, rain-carved volcanoes, strings of perfect crescent beaches, and rainbows that seem to flirt with the hood of your car. Though larger and less populous than O‘ahu, Maui can feel even more crowded; its infrastructure was built for 165,000 residents, not the 10 million visitors that flow through the Aloha State each year. Keep that in mind while navigating the traffic on Hāna Highway and the long lines for coconut-passionfruit shave ice. Also remember that the price to live in paradise far exceeds what the average server makes these days, and tip accordingly.
Scores of dining rooms capitalize on the view, offering front-row seats for the nightly pyrotechnic sunset. But increasingly, the best chefs on Maui are migrating away from the tony resorts to their own kitchens, and steep rents prevent them from opening flashy restaurants. Many of the most righteous meals on Maui can be found at plain-faced strip malls, food trucks, and farms. Wherever you choose to eat, you’ll likely see a plethora of Maui-made products on menus and in grocery stores, as the “eat local” trend continues to engender relationships between island chefs and farmers.
This list includes a concise cross section of dining options: a handful of tourist destinations worthy of their popularity, a few neighborhood hangouts for variations on local fare, and a requisite pit stop for pineapple-macadamia nut pie.
Shannon Wianecki writes about food, culture, and native ecosystems for publications including BBC, Smithsonian, and Hana Hou — the Hawaiian Airlines magazine. Growing up in Hawai’i her favorite snack was raw opihi (limpet) fresh off the rocks.Read More