Coming to Maui and need to do a little research? The guidebooks presented here are all fantastic. For some visitors, a general guidebook is perfect, for others a specialized guidebook focusing on hiking or beaches might be better. We’ll include a little of each in this article. At the bottom of the list, we’ll also include a link to an online guide “book” that we think is outstanding. In fact, we use it more than the books currently lining our bookshelves. Just remember, the public libraries on Maui are stocked with guidebooks. For $10, you can get a 3-month visitors card and check out all of these books!
Fodor’s has a long history of producing excellent travel guides. Fodor’s Maui does a great job of covering the basics: where to stay, where to eat, what to do. But the really nice thing about this book is a series of sections that gives historical backgrounds on such things as hulas and luaus, as well a nice fauna guide for plants and a mini-fish guide for what to expect to see while snorkeling. For a complete fish guide, we posted one here. Fodor’s guides always have excellent maps and photos. Fodor’s Maui is no exception.
Our preference for a place like Maui is to have the guidebook broken out first by area/region, for example Lahaina, then show the lodging, restaurants and activities fall in that particular area. Frommer’s Maui, though, divides their book by the activity, meaning you’ll see the header “Lodging,” then under that header it’s broken down by region. Still, everyone has their own preferences. The information Frommer’s does provide is deep. The maps and photos are nice. The section on the history of Maui is excellent, in fact it’s the best of all of the books listed here. The “movies made in Hawaii” is a fun list.
Hiking Maui: The Valley Isle
This one is a classic. If hiking is your sole reason for coming to Maui, it’s a no brainer that Hiking Maui: The Valley Isle should be your book of choice. It’s easily the most in-depth and well researched Maui hiking book. That said, if you use this one, confirm your hike on Google first as it’s been a few years since the last update.
Lonely Planet: Maui / Discover Maui
We always appreciate Lonely Planet guidebooks. To a book, they are easy to follow and the way they break down their sections makes sense. For Maui, they have two distinct guides. First is their complete Maui guidebook simply titled Maui. It covers what you expect in a multi-purpose guidebook… hotels/restaurants/activities. Like all Lonely Planet books, the pictures are vibrant and the content is well written. While their other book, Discover Maui, does cover lodging and restaurants, it’s to a much lesser extent. Instead, it focuses on activities and adventures. If you already know where you’re staying, we recommend this one. You can’t go wrong with either book, though.
For a general “adventure” guide, this is our favorite book. When we first moved to Oahu, the Oahu edition is the book we chose. When we eventually moved here to Maui, it was again the first (and only) book we purchased. Maui Trailblazer is easy to read and well organized. It gives clear directions for hiking, surfing and general road trips. It also includes day-trip guides for Molokai and Lanai.
Easily our favorite online Maui resource, this website is informative, well written and fun. If you’re looking an interesting hike or a “hidden” beach, mauiguidebook.com will point you in the right direction. Being online, it’s able to stay current. The photos are excellent. (MauiGuidebook.com)
You may be asking, “Where is Maui Revealed?” For the uninitiated, Maui Revealed is probably the most popular Maui Guidebook. It IS excellent, to a point. But it does things we just can’t condone. Sure it points to “secret” places, but often at the cost of crossing private and sacred lands. If you use this book, please be respectful of your surroundings.
Did we miss one? Do have a favorite Maui guidebook? Let us know in the comments below. Mahalo!