Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here.
Maui Travel Updates: November 30th, 2023
Our family visited Maui for seven days in September and returned in early November to visit West Maui. We came with aloha and were greeted with aloha. Visiting Maui feels like a vacation to Maui, except Lahaina is closed.
The crews on the snorkeling boats were thankful to have us visit, and so were the waiters at all the restaurants. People were happy to have us on the island.
How to donate to the Lahaina community. The Lahaina community needs your help. Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires. More charities are listed below. Housing for Survivors: If you know someone with a home or condo on Maui then they can list their rental on Hawai’i Fire Relief Housing Program. This is a direct way to put a fire survivor into a long-term home.
The biggest difference was the lack of crowds. As less than 50% of the daily visitor census is on the island, it was easy to walk into restaurants, book a tour, and drive an empty Road to Hana.
Read our 8 Takeaways on Visiting Maui After the Fires for more information on planning your Maui trip.
There are Maui Strong signs all over the island. The community across the island continues to support those who are grieving and displaced in Lahaina. That is clear from talking to locals and listening to the radio. As the recovery effort continues, workers want to work and businesses are eager to have you wait in line for shave ice.
Maui’s long-term health depends on visitors returning.
“How do you prevent the secondary disaster, which is the economic one later?”Kalani Kaanaana, chief brand officer for the Hawaii Tourism Authority
A great way to support Maui is to visit.
Maui and the other major Hawaiian Islands (Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii Island) are welcoming visitors.
Visit Maui to support local workers, have a wonderful vacation, and see the beautiful island.
- 14 Best Things to Do in Wailea
- 9 Best Vacation Rentals in Kihei
- 7 Best Vacation Rentals in Wailea and Makena
- Don’t Miss These 15 Wailea and Kihei Restaurants
West Maui is Open (Lahaina is Closed)
Our family visited West Maui in early November once the area was officially opened to visitors on November 1st. We stayed at the Ka’anapali Beach Resort by Outrigger (formerly the Kaanapali Beach Hotel).
If you’re debating on staying in Kaanapali or Wailea (West Maui or South Maui), here are some things to know when staying in Ka’anapali.
- Many hotels in Ka’anapali are housing about 6,800 displaced survivors. They are in allotted hotel wings or floors but you will see them during your vacation. We hung out with some at the pool and heard their stories. The survivors may be at hotels for the foreseeable future as the county has not decided on long-term housing options.
- We experienced long lines at popular restaurants in Kaanapali’s Whalers Village shopping center. With Lahaina’s restaurants gone, there are fewer dining options in West Maui, resulting in less seating.
- You may find restaurants in your hotel to be closed or have limited hours due to staffing shortages.
We enjoyed visiting our favorite coffee shops and happy hour spots in West Maui during our stay. It was great to visit and support local businesses that are welcoming visitors.
Staying in a vacation rental may be contentious at this time. Displaced survivors, the Red Cross, and Fishing for Housing are some of the groups asking for a moratorium on short-term rentals to free up homes for long-term rentals. There are about 12,000 short-term rentals on Maui and 12,000 second homes that are not occupied. Governor Green is enticing landlords to turn their properties into long-term housing with tax dollar relief.
The location on Maui that is off-limits to locals and visitors is historic Lahaina Town. The rest of the island is open.
Aid to the Survivors of the Lahaina Fire
We are looking forward to sharing the rebuilding of the town over the years to come on this web page. Local restaurants, shops, and tour companies in Lahaina and across Maui will return and need our support.
If you want to help those devastated by the Maui fires, here is a list of Hawaii-registered charities. On August 10th, we donated to the Hawai’i Salvation Army, Maui Food Bank, Hawai’i Community Foundation, and Maui Humane Society.
Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires. We hear that this organization is doing a great job at getting the money where it needs to go.
The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Alakaina Foundation Family, and Kakoo Haleakala will match up to $1,000,000 in donations for Kakoo Maui. Learn more and donate here: Kako’o Maui.
Hawaii Salvation Army will start providing meals for thousands displaced in Maui emergency shelters. 1,400 are still in shelters as of August 11th. You can donate here – Hawai’i Salvation Army.
The Maui Food Bank was a lifeline for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now seeking monetary donations to help displaced families. They also list supplies they need on their homepage. If you plan to visit Maui, consider packing some of these supplies!
Maui United Way is accepting donations to its Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Fund.
The Maui Humane Society is also in desperate need of support.
The state Attorney General’s office is urging residents to use caution when choosing where to send their money and donations. Verify that the charity is legitimate. Any charity that solicits donations in Hawaii must be registered with the Department of the Attorney General, and its status can be verified here.
Volunteer on Maui
As the emergency response turns into a marathon, Maui needs help with food distribution, land reclamation, mental health support, and so much more.
If you are interested in volunteering when on vacation, see our list of Maui Volunteer on Vacation Signups. We volunteered with Hungry Heroes Hawaii one day during our stay. Sign-up was simple and the event was well organized. They are a terrific group of people providing meals on Maui!
While many look at Lahaina as a tourist destination, the town has a strong community. One could feel the civic pride at the annual Lahaina Halloween Parade, Christmas under the Banyan Tree, or school pick-up outside Kamehameha III Elementary School.
Hawaii Travel Update
Travel to Maui is no longer contentious. The messaging from locals, government officials, and even celebrities are endorsing a visit to the Aloha State.
Governor Green is working with the local community to ensure those displaced by the fires are comfortable and not made homeless when West Maui reopens to visitors on October 8th.
Discussions with hotels and short-term rental owners continue in order to address long-term housing needs, as hotels cannot house the survivors indefinitely. More than 1,400 displaced residents have been placed in vacation rentals in addition to thousands of hotel rooms and several hundred in Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. units.
“People are not going to be displaced from hotels into a homeless state,” Governor Green said while stressing that tourism and recovery “go hand in hand.”
If we don’t have enough tourism, we don’t have enough services for people to have school or food sources.Governor Green on September 21st, 2023
For more information, including what you can do if you decide to visit Maui, see our Can You Visit Maui Right Now? article.
To help support local businesses on Maui, see our video below to help with your Maui Trip Planning.
Can You Travel to the Other Hawaiian Islands?
Yes, travel to the other islands has not been impacted. Due to the fires on Maui and the resulting news coverage, many have canceled their trips to the other Hawaiian Islands.
If you have a trip planned to Oahu, Kauai, or the Island of Hawaii, we recommend you keep your plans.
Join Our Newsletter for Hawaii Travel Updates
Join our Hawaii travel newsletter for ongoing updates on traveling to Maui, the recovery effort in Lahaina, and travel to the other major Hawaiian Islands.
We were a steady resource on factual Hawaii COVID Travel Restrictions during the pandemic. We plan to support Maui and Hawaii in the same way during this tragedy.
Travel information is rapidly changing and we want to do our best to support workers on the Hawaiian Islands and the survivors. Our newsletter is the best way to stay informed.
Lahaina was our home but as we shared in our newsletter and on our site, we recently relocated to the mainland for a family need. We are devastated by the loss our friends and neighbors on Maui are experiencing. We can see where their houses stood in satellite images from August 9th.
We are remembering Lahaina for the town and the community that it always will be. Below is our tribute video to them.
Erica’s grandparent’s townhome burned down in the fire. We moved there in the fall of 2019 to remodel the home and make a new life on Maui. We are so glad we had the opportunity. Erica has been visiting Maui and that home since she was a little girl. We are glad to have so many memories of time well spent there. We are grateful our friends and family are safe.
From Puamana on the south end of Front Street to past the Cannery Mall on the north end of Front Street, makai (ocean side) of the highway has burned down or is heavily damaged.
The helicopter video below was the first image we got at daybreak of the extent of the damage. One can see the clubhouse in Puamana has burned down, with many of the homes. Puamana Nui, Shark Pit, Lahaina Shores, and 505 Shopping Center are burning or gone.
The Old Lahaina Courthouse, the Pioneer Inn, and all the way down historic Front Street are destroyed. The fire came so fast that many people jumped into Lahaina Harbor to escape the flames. The Coast Guard pulled many from the water.
Front Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town center dates to the 1700s and was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
It looks like the 1.9-acre Banyan Tree survived, albeit heavily damaged.
We will continue to update this page on the Lahaina Fire as updates are made available. As our website is a guide on vacationing in Hawaii, we will focus on traveling to Maui, traveling with thought to those who live there, and supporting local businesses.