Mommy Needs A Mai Tai

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by Florabeth Coble

Camp Olowalu Maui Sunset before the Maui fire in Lahaina.

Deadly wildfires began ravaging Maui on August 8, 2023, devastatingly losing Maui’s historic Lahaina Town. However, the fires left many of Maui’s beloved destinations untouched. You may be wondering, “Is traveling to Maui right now a good idea?”

I have lived on Maui since 2016, and the following is my perspective on if you should travel to the beautiful island of Maui during this delicate time.

Traveling to Maui Right Now

Governor Josh Green reopened Maui’s Westside on October 8, 2023, including hotels and vacation rentals in Ka’anapali, Napili, and Kapalua. For the time being, Lahaina Town and other affected areas will remain closed.

The community of Maui is very much divided when it comes to visitors returning to this side of the island. Many people are still displaced and grieving, with a significant concern that opening this side of the island to tourism will do more harm than good.

However, Maui’s economy relies heavily on tourism (accounting for a whopping 75%). The sudden halt has forced many people out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

If you want to support Maui, I encourage you to come stay on the southside! Popular vacation spots, like Wailea and Kihei, are as beautiful as ever and continue to provide a dream vacation.

A large percentage of Maui’s community begs for people to return. I have yet to meet a business owner on the southside who isn’t grateful for every visitor who books a room, makes a dinner reservation, or waits in line for shave ice.

Be as considerate as possible during this delicate time and shop local by supporting small businesses. Maui is open and grateful for your support.

Visiting the WestSide of Maui

While it’s too soon to say how the reopening of Maui’s westside (Ka’anapali, Napili, and Kapalua) will affect the island, it’s clear that many residents are not happy about the decision to reopen so soon. 10,000 people signed a petition urging the governor to delay.

The resistance comes mainly from a concern around resources that are already limited, primarily long-term housing, being stretched even further. Many Westside residents complain that basic needs are still not being met and fear that the return of tourism on this side of the island will do more harm than good.

For now, I advise keeping your Maui travel plans for 2023, supporting as many small businesses as possible (skip the run to Costco and eat out!), and staying on the island’s Southside (Wailea/Kihei).

Our Ultimate Guide to Maui can help you determine the best fit for your family.

Kids playing in Lahaina town before the Maui fire.
Lahaina Town Before the Fire

How to Support Maui Fire Survivors

Many of you have asked how you can help, and I want to say a heartfelt thank you, as our community can feel it! While there are many reputable places to donate, the Maui Strong Fund has a reputation for ensuring that your money goes where it is most needed.

I highly recommend volunteering while visiting Hawaii. While on Maui, consider giving a few hours of your day to Common Ground Collective, who have been helping to feed those affected by the wildfires. Another great volunteer opportunity is at the Pacific Birth Collective, which has been working around the clock to get supplies to pregnant and postpartum victims.

The community of Maui has done a beautiful job of caring for each other. A few things are certain. Maui is strong. People are good. Aloha prevails.

I will continue to update this page accordingly.

Picture of Aloha, I'm Florabeth Coble

Aloha, I'm Florabeth Coble

Most people call me Flo. I'm a busy mama raising two young boys in Hawaii. We share our adventures, travel tips, itineraries, and honest reviews so that you can plan your own family-friendly trip to Hawaii.