Sunrise at Haleakala Crater

7 Days on Maui, Hawaii with a Volkswagon Van

When I found out I was going to Hawaii for seven days, I thought “wow, that’s a long time on a small island.” I had been to Maui before, and found the relaxed lifestyle, beautiful beaches and friendly locals enough to satisfy the traveler in me.

But that was before I did Maui in a Volkswagon Van.

This time, having the freedom to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted, without needing to return to a specific location for lodging each night inspired the adventurous souls in us. And adventure we found.

Here’s what we did in seven days on Maui, and it’s an itinerary I’d recommend to you, too!

Day 1:

  • Pick up your VW Westfalia Van from Aloha Campers in Kihei.
  • Promptly head north to give yourself a tour of the island’s western side of the figure 8 (if you look at the island road it is essentially a figure 8).
  • Stop in Lahaina for a very memorable lunch at Star Noodle.
  • Visit cool beaches along the way.
  • Pull over just past the Nakalele Blowhole with your rear end overlooking the seashore below.

 

camping mauiDay 2:

  • Make breakfast and coffee from your Cliffside mansion with a view. Enjoy it slowly.
  • Continue your loop around the west side, stopping at beautiful beaches along the way.

Day 3:

  • Watch the sunrise at Haleakala Crater in Haleakala National Park. It’s 150% worth waking up early.
    • Note: Your VW Westy cannot go to the top of the crater, since it cannot handle the 0 – 10,000-foot elevation gain. You’ll need to hitchhike, take a cab, temporarily exchange it for a Honda CRV at Aloha Campers, or take a bike tour where you can ride bikes back down the mountain.
  • Get breakfast and coffee to warm up.
  • Head to a beach and nap the afternoon away, or read a good book. If you had Aloha Campers throw surf boards in like we did, seek out some good waves.
  • Camp at Ho’okipa Beach Park (not technically legal. Read here for legal camping on Maui).
7 days on maui

Sunrise at Haleakala Crater on Maui, Hawaii

Day 4:

  • Download the Road to Hana app on your smartphone.
  • Drive to Hana. Take your time. Stop along the way at the beautiful waterfalls. Go swimming. Go hiking. It’s the journey, not the destination (Hana isn’t really that cool). One of my favorite pit stops along the way was at Hana Harvest, a new coffee shop and café that is all locally sourced and delicious. I had the coffee float with vegan ice cream and it was the perfect treat on a summer afternoon!
  • Camp just past Hana, at Kipahulu in Haleakala National Park to watch the Milky Way.
7 days on maui

The Seven Sacred Pools near Kipahulu Campground in Haleakala National Park.

Day 5:

  • Your map and your rental car agency will tell you to turn around here and head back the way you came. This is the end of the road for you, because up ahead are landslides and pot holes. You could spend Day 5 catching all the stops you didn’t see on your way up (listen to the app for different suggestions on the way back down!). OR, if you’re one of those rebel souls, you could adventure all around the island. If you do this, I recommend checking with the visitor center or talking to locals to ask about the current road conditions. I’m a rule follower, of course, so I can’t tell you how beautiful the far east side of the island is, or that the landscape changes completely into something resembling images of the Australian Outback, or that you’ll either encounter lots of other rental cars on the way to make you feel better about your decision (yes, there are other good rebels in the world!), or relatively nobody, depending on the time of day.
  • Camp at one of the beaches off Honoapiilani Hwy not too far fro the Pier at Maalaea Bay.

7 days on maui

Day 6:

  • Go scuba diving. Try to go to Molikini since it’s supposed to be the best diving around the island, though it’s rare the boats actually make it out there due to wind. If that’s the case, you stay closer to shore and still see some cool things (so I hear; I’m not big on diving).
  • Take a sunset cruise on the Alii Nui where dinner and drinks are all inclusive, and the whale watching is phenomenal. It’s the nicest boat in the harbor, and you can afford it because you just saved money on your lodging and rental car in one 🙂

Day 7:

  • Return your VW Westy and relax on the beach until it’s time to go to the airport.

Have you spent seven days on Maui? If so, how did you do it? Are you planning to go and have questions? Let me know in the comments! 


7 Days on Maui, Hawaii with a Volkswagon Van
Written by:Jessica J. Hill

 

10 Comments

  1. The sunrise at Haleakala Crater is so lovely, Jessica. It looks like a peaceful and beautiful place.
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  2. Christy says:

    Even though its illegal to sleep in your vehicle on the island, did you have any issues parking at beaches or on the side of the road? i’m going in 2 months and renting a van to sleep in, so any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated! 🙂 Thanks

    • jessicajhill says:

      We had zero issues! One night we parked in a gated beach lot and a security guard honked at us but we were laying down and I think he thought we weren’t in the vehicle so he left and never returned. Another time we parked, unknowingly, in a popular night fishing spot o we made friends with the local fisherman and they steered us toward another spot. The other times we never got bothered. I’m so excited for your trip, Christy! You’re going to love it.

      • Christy says:

        Thank you so much! I’m really looking forward to it. My bf and i just did a van trip in our Sienna from Denver, to Pagosa Springs, Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and Las Vegas over the Christmas/new years holiday and just fell in love. I think its a great bonding experience as well. 🙂 I just rented a mini-van for this trip last week. All we’ll have to do is buy a few things at wal mart like a stove top cooker and food. We’ll most likely bring our sleeping bags as they are pretty compact. Any other tips or tricks you have, i’d love to hear! Thank you!!

        • jessicajhill says:

          Sounds like you’re set! I’m not sure if you got a killer deal, but I’m curious why you wouldn’t choose to rent a Westy instead? It comes equipped with a comfortable bed and bedding, plus all the kitchen you need! Definitely go to Hana, and download the Road to Hana app so you don’t miss anything. Stop at Venus Pools (amazing!). Eat at Star Noodle. Make sure you make time for the beach!

  3. Christy says:

    Ya I only paid $215 for a week. 🙂 plus we are used to traveling in our minivan here with just cushions, sleeping bags, a $40 Coleman double stovetop, and a backpack each. We are super simple and cheap. The van rentals I saw were like $120+ a night.

  4. Tara says:

    Oh Jessica, you had me at coffee! The last time I was in Hawaii I went on 2 plantation tours. I can’t even describe how incredible it was. If you haven’t been, I definitely recommend it!

    Thanks for the travel inspiration!

    • jessicajhill says:

      I have done a couple coffee tours and they are fabulous! I haven’t done them on Hawaii though. I think I did one in Colombia and another in Costa Rica. Such a fascinating plant and even better cup of joe 🙂

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