West Maui is a foodie’s delight with spectacular beachfront dining, cute cafés and tasty food trucks. And some very good coffee.
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love trying new food on my travels and on a recent trip to Maui I sampled as much as one week would allow: I ate at award-winning restaurants and food trucks, at a boathouse suspended above the sea and a famers market. And anything I came across that had passion fruit in it, I tasted. I can honestly say, every single thing I ate was delicious, and so I’ve compiled a guide to the West Maui food I most enjoyed.
One note: Book dinner reservations well ahead of your trip. There are wonderful restaurants in West Maui, throughout Kaanapli and Lahaina, so there is no reason for your meals to be anything other than delicious. But the popular restaurants book up weeks ahead – especially so during Covid due to limited dining capacity.
Maui dining is generally expensive. Be prepared that food and drinks will cost 35%-50% more than comparable dining on the mainland U.S. I ate a lot of fish and other seafood, which is particularly expensive, as it should be. I also found that sustainably harvested fish was often highlighted on websites and menus, which was great to see.
This dining guide focuses on “West Maui”, the northwest coast of the island where many visitors stay. (If you aren’t familiar with Maui, the other popular area is South Maui/Wailea. It’s not covered here.)
Dinner in West Maui - Kaanapali Restaurants
Monkey Pod Kitchen - Whaler's Village. 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy
Whaler’s Village has several wonderful restaurants and it’s within walking distance of many hotels on Kaanapali Beach. On our first night we went to Monkey Pod Kitchen and I had the best Fish Tacos I have ever had. And I’ve eaten a lot of Fish Tacos. They were so good I just stared longingly at the last bite for a while, not wanting to say goodbye. The Fish and Chips also got very high reviews. If you like Mai Tai’s, the classic Hawaiian cocktails, Monkey Pod’s are famous and served with Lilikoi (Passionfruit) foam on top. My biggest drink regret is I didn’t order one – I will blame that mistake on the jet lag.
This is also a great spot for happy hour. And don’t forget to get your parking validated if you drive, as parking in Whalers Village is pricey. Definitely reserve ahead if you can; there is another location in Wailea, if you are staying on the South Coast.
Duke's Beach House Honua Kai Resort, 130 Kai Malina Pkwy
Duke’s Beach House is on the beach in Kannapali, at the Honua Kai resort. It was next to the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas where we stayed, so it was nice to be able to walk to dinner. We loved the beachfront setting, the glow of the tiki torches and the sound of the ocean. The restaurant is an homage to Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian Olympic swimmer who founded the sport of surfing.
The menu is Hawaiian, and the Rib & Chicken plate is a tasty and classic choice. I wanted fish so ordered the Baked Duke’s Fish: Mahi Mahi with garlic, lemon & sweet basil glaze (the fish changes depending on the season.) It was excellent. I also liked the choice of Pupus (appetizers) and the Coconut Shrimp with Lilikoi (passion fruit) Chili Water were perfect for sharing and a yummy way to start the meal.
I started to order a Mai Tai but our server recommended the Lilikoi Martini. If you guessed I wouldn’t say no to a cocktail with passion fruit., you guessed right. And while vodka is not my favourite spirit, this cocktail was delicious. For dessert, there is only one choice offered here; I suppose the people at Duke’s feel that everyone should try their Hula Pie. They might be right. It’s an enormous serving of macadamia nut ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust with fudge topping. It’s perfect for sharing. Unless you are 17. And don’t like to share.
Hoopiilani Food Truck Park, Kaanapali 130 Kai Malina Pkwy
The Hoopiilani Food Truck Park is a fun dinner option and open every night from 4 to about 9 pm. It’s perfect when plans change or you don’t have a dining reservation. And there’s something for everyone. (There doesn’t seem to be a website for it so the above link is to Yelp for more info.)
I had the Poke Bowl which was excellent. We also sampled delicious Fish Tacos. The trucks vary, but the night we visited there was also Vietnamese, Thai and Burgers. Picnic tables are spread around the park so you can eat it there or take it to go. As with everything in Maui, it wasn’t especially cheap. My Poke Bowl for example was around $18, but it was large (enough to take home for my lunch the next day, we had a villa with a kitchen) and there were some less expensive options, closer to $12.
We were able to walk there from our resort, but there is also (limited) free parking and portable bathrooms. Note the wait can be a little long during prime dinner hours. I waited about 15 minutes but have heard of people waiting even longer.
Hula Grill - Whaler's Village. 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy
If you plan to visit Whalers Village, Hula Grill is another popular dining option. I didn’t have a chance to try it this time but am recommending it on the great reviews and the pretty beachfront location which I did visit.
Dinner in West Maui - Lahaina Restaurants
Pacific'o - 505 Front Street, Lahaina
Pacific’o is a beachfront restaurant in the town of Lahaina and had a different feel than some of the others we visited. It felt more like a fine dining experience and the Hawaiian-villa style building is charming. Depending on your timing, you may have the added benefit of hearing the music from the Feast at LeLe Luau show next door.
Pacific’o is a true farm-to-table experience with all of their food coming from either their own farm, known as O’o Farm, or other local growers. Everything we tried was exceptionally fresh and delicious. I had the O’o farm salad of Hawaiian greens and sea asparagus, which was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. And my Marlin poke bowl was also very good. My son thought the Whisky Shoyu Chicken was outstanding. I wanted to try the Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich for dessert but was too full (yep, another regret). It’s a little pricey here but I thought it was worth it – Pacific’o was a special meal and one of our favourite West Maui restaurants.
Reserve ahead and try and time your reservation to enjoy the sunset. There is lots to explore in the town of Lahaina, so it’s a nice place to walk around before dinner.
Kimo's Maui - 845 Front Street, Suite A, Lahaina
Kimo’s Maui is a popular spot with a great casual vibe in a boathouse that seems to be floating atop of the ocean. I had the Fish Tacos which were good, just not as good as the ones at Monkey Pod Kitchen. We were there after dark – the only reservation we could get – but it would be fantastic at sunset. It wasn’t cheap but does have a casual feel and a menu with options well beyond seafood, including ravioli, hamburgers and pork ribs. It would also be great for lunch or happy hour.
This is where the famous Hula Pie originated, so if you’re tempted to try it, this is the place.
Fleetwood's on Front - 744 Front St, Lahaina
My husband Sean is a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, so the chance to visit Mick Fleetwood’s Maui restaurant for happy hour – we lucked out with a last-minute reservation – was too good to pass up. Yes, you can make reservations for happy hour and you should. The gorgeous patio at Fleetwood’s is the perfect place for a drink and some oysters (not Hawaiian, but still delicious and perfect as you gaze out over the stunning Pacific). Or even better, come for dinner and the sunset. If you go for happy hour, we thought the Bruschetta was really something special.
Usually, there is live music here, and Mick Fleetwood does come around quite often apparently, but that’s on hold as of the spring of 2021, due to Covid. Open daily 3-9 pm.
Ono Tacos - 910 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina
This little taco truck in a parking lot in Lahaina is well worth visiting for lunch, a snack, a picnic dinner. Basically, find a reason a go because it’s delish! In fact, Ono is the Hawaiian word for delicious and this truck is known for having some of the best tacos on the island, as well as exceptional homemade salsas and sauces. We tried a bunch of different ones and both the Fish and Al Pastor were favourites.
There are a couple of shaded picnic tables next to the truck or you can get your tacos to go and bring them next door to enjoy with a beer from the Kohola Brewery; they have a “bring your own food” policy. Note that Ono Tacos is cash only. (Thanks to the friendly people who gave us cash so we didn’t have to go to the bank; Venmo digital payments to the rescue.)
Breakfast in West Maui
We were staying in Maui at the Westi Nanea Ocean Villas, a suite-style hotel with a kitchen, so wanted to direct most of our dining budget to dinners out, but we did have a few breakfasts.
Gazebo - Napili Shores Condos, 5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Gazebo is a cute and quirky beachfront restaurant at a condo complex next to Napili Beach, just a few minutes north of Kaanapali. Our charming server had worked here for 30 years which gives you the idea – this place is a West Maui institution. And word has spread beyond the locals. You can’t reserve for breakfast so if you come, be prepared to wait. We went close to noon and our wait was only about 15 minutes, but it’s often up to 45. If you’re an early riser, you might also want to come right when it opens.
The Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Coconut Sauce were like fluffy, pancake heaven. I could have happily drank a cup of that coconut sauce. They are also known for their Fried Rice which we got to go and had for lunch; all tasters thought it was exceptional. Check out the pretty Napili Beach while you are here. Daily 7:30-2 pm.
Choice Health Bar - Whaler's Village 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy
The Choice Health Bar has fabulous Acai bowls and smoothies. I especially loved the KowaPunga which came with extra protein and lots of fruit. It was $14 for the large size but it is really big, enough for my husband and I to share after an early morning surf (him) & snorkel (me) on Kaanapali Beach in front of Whalers Village – the location we went to. (There are two others on Maui.) They validate 3 hours of parking if you spend $20 so this is your spot for a snack-to-go with your beach time. Kaanapali Beach was perfect for us because one area has waves big enough for a newish surfer and a little ways down was calm enough for a professional snorkeler :). You don’t always find both at the same beach.
Coffee in West Maui - Drift, 180 Dickenson St #115, Lahaina
Some people care more about their coffee than others. I always think I am in the, “if it’s hot and caffeinated, I am happy camp,”. And then I have a cup of really great coffee and remember the difference.
I had heard that Island Vintage Coffee in Whaler’s Village was very good so we waited in line for 30 minutes one morning. People from the many nearby hotels seem to flock here. And it was good, but not great – not worth 30 minutes of my Hawaii vacation.
Luckily, there are several solid options in Lahaina. We really liked Drift. Both the lattes and cold brow were fantastic. If you go, try a Passion Fruit Glazed Donut. It was perfectly tart and sweet – really outstanding. Also in Lahaina BadAss Coffee and Vigilatte are supposed to have great coffee. I didn’t get a chance to try them.
Hawaii Shave Ice
Ululani - Hyatt Residence Club - 200 Nohea Kai Drive
Shave ice is a must try on any trip to Hawaii. We went to Ululani, which has five locations around Maui so you are always within a short drive of excellent shave ice – whew! (Note: The Lahaina town location is currently closed.)
Ululani shaves the ice so finely, the consistency is creamy, and the tropical fruit syrups are wonderful – there are more than 50 flavours, so the challenge of course is choosing. Luckily you can include up to three in a serving and there are recommended combinations listed. They also give helpful consults, if you can’t decide. I tried Guava, Tamarind and of course, Passion Fruit and loved them all. Make sure to ask for a dollop of ice cream at the bottom – I loved the coconut, perfect with the tropical fruit flavours. As the ice melts you get a delightful creamy, fruity bonus treat at the bottom of your bowl.
Mama's Fish House - 799 Poho Pl, Paia
Although it’s not in West Maui, I have to mention Mama’s Fish House which was our favourite meal in Maui and one of my most memorable dining experiences, anywhere, ever. It’s located about 50 minutes from Lahaina just beyond the town of Paia. The food and setting are both spectacular. It is very expensive and very popular so if you are interested in going, you should try and book at least two months ahead. Otherwise, you can drop by and they may be able to seat you at the bar.
Mama’s is very special. It has been here since Maui was first developed for tourists, in the early 1960’s. As has been the tradition since it opened, the fish dishes on the menu include the name of the fisher(person) and where they were caught.
A full review of my experience at Mama’s Fish House is coming soon.
Where We Stayed in Maui
There are so many accommodation choices in Maui and it tends to be very expensive, so I encourage you to do some research and think about what your ideal holiday involves. Your first decision is whether to stay in Kaanapaali as we did, or Wailea where many of the most upscale resorts are located. Some people also like to stay in Paia which is less developed and located on the rugged north coast. I haven’t stayed in Wailea but it is apparently quieter and very beautiful. We chose Kaanapaali because there is lots to do and it seemed a better option for family travel. You really can’t go wrong anywhere in Maui, but it’s ideal to have a car to explore the island and visit different beaches.
We were travelling with my sons, aged 17 and 20, so stayed at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Kaanapali, a villa-style hotel with 1, 2 and 3-bedroom villas. Traditional hotel rooms just aren’t big enough for us for a week. For a cost similar or lower than booking two rooms, our villa came with a kitchen and a living room with a pullout. The Westin Nanea is expensive; I subsidized the cost of our stay by using Marriott points. (Note: besides using points, I paid the full rate and did not receive any sort of discount related to writing about the Westin).
I would recommend the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas if you need larger accommodation but want the amenities of a hotel, rather than renting an Airbnb. I’ve also written a detailed review of the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas.
The beach is smaller here than some others nearby but it was still beautiful and there was snorkeling right off the beach which I loved. I also liked the beachfront boardwalk, great for morning walks or accessing other hotels and restaurants. The landscaping is very pretty and I liked that it was only 6-stories rather than a high-rise of which there are many in Kaanapali. That said, it was filled with families with young kids. We were fine with it, but it you are looking for a quiet oasis, this is not it.
Our trip to Maui was magical, one of our favourite family vacations. Have you visited Hawaii? Please comment below if you have suggestions regarding Hawaii travel or questions about my experience.
Aloha and happy Hawaii travel planning! 🌺