This is my personal list of gluten free and celiac-friendly places to eat and shop at while in Maui, Hawaii. While eating gluten free in Maui, you should still exercise caution when choosing restaurants. Speak with a manager to ask questions if needed and discuss how they can accommodate to your dietary needs.
Maui, Hawaii is an incredible place to visit. From beaches to hiking, beautiful sunsets and snorkeling spots, there’s really something for everyone on this island.
We’ve been taking family vacations here since we were born. Each trip would consist of about half the time on the beach and half doing activities. We’ve done everything from see the sunrise at Haleakala to hiking Iao Valley and beyond. As we all got older (the kids), our trips became more about lounging and enjoying unique places to eat – and less about the activities.
For anyone who has Celiac, traveling can be a nightmare. If not prepared, your vacation can easily become more about stressing over safe places to eat than actually relaxing.
Whenever I visit a new place, I always scope out my findmeglutenfree app. I usually spend a good amount of time searching and reading reviews before I even travel, and bring my Nima Sensor just in case I need it, but Maui was different – there were so many safe options that my only dilemma was that I couldn’t possibly try them all!
When it comes to finding gluten free options, this island really does it right. I’m not just talking about gluten free options in general, I mean they truly understand celiac protocols.
At every restaurant we visited, the wait staff (not just managers) was extremely knowledgable. Every person we came in contact with would talk to me about “celiac safe” options… not just gluten free ones. They would ensure me that my food was prepared separately and that there was no risk of cross-contamination. Like I said, they totally get it.
Must-Do Things On Maui
Before I get into where to eat and grocery shop on Maui, I wanted to mention a few of our favorite things to do. We’ve been here so many times that we have pretty much tried it all: parasailing, snorkeling, hiking, surfing, whale watching… you name it. But there are a few things that have always stood out from our trips here:
Sunrise at Haleakala National Park
A bucket list type of experience and absolutely worth the early morning drive. Spend a few hours in the very early hours of the morning driving up to the summit of this volcano, and you will be rewarded with the more beautiful sunrise over the clouds – more than 10,000 ft above sea level.
You now need to make a reservation to view sunrise here, but it’s a must-do. Plan well in advance and bring some snacks with you, as the drive is long and there aren’t many food options around.
It’s also pretty chilly up there in the morning, so I recommend a jacket and some pants or at least a blanket.
Surfing Goat Dairy and Ali’i Kula Lavender
If you’re driving down through Upcountry after the sunrise at Haleakala, or just spending the day up here, these are two great places to stop. Upcountry Maui consists of beautiful gardens and farms on the slopes of the Haleakala and is accompanied by some pretty spectacular views of the island.
Surfing Goat Dairy is a little farm located in Kula that produces some pretty delicious goat cheese. They have 30 minute guided tours you can book that also includes cheese tasting! They do serve some food here as well, including cheese flights, but you will need to bring your own gluten free crackers.
Ali’i Kula Lavender is about 20 minutes from Surfing Goat Dairy. It’s a gorgeous lavender farm and botanical garden with, again, some pretty amazing views of the island. The peak season when the lavender is in full bloom is during the mid-summer months, but they have several varieties in bloom through the year. We visited in December and it was still one of the most beautiful places I’ve been.
Iao Valley State Park
If you like short hikes, this is a great one. Located in Wailuku, this valley is home to the Iao needle and some amazing rainforest-like views. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Wakeboard in the Ocean with Wake Maui
If you like water sports or activities, this is my number one suggestion. Wake Maui is the place to go for wakeboarding, wake surfing, and even tubing. You can’t always find brochures on it at your concierge, but you can book your boat online directly through their website.
Wake Maui is literally one guy and his boat that picks you up at Kaanapali Beach. It’s not a super cheap excursion, but you will have the time of your life on your own private boat for up to 6 people. We have gone a few times now and it’s always the highlight of our trip. I can’t recommend him enough!
Other Favorite Activities
Whale Watching with Pacific Whale Foundation (during whale season)
Dragon’s Teeth rock formation in Kapalua
Now, on to the gluten free food here! Here’s my list of places to eat and grocery shop at while in Maui.
We always stay in a place with a kitchen and it makes eating so much easier. We tend to go out to dinner most nights, so having quick access to food for breakfast and lunch means more time for relaxing at the beach.
I always wash out pans in the room before using them, and I bring a clean sponge and my own spatula. If you can pack a small cutting board, that would also be ideal.
There are also many items that will be much more expensive in Hawaii than on the mainland, so try to pack what you can especially if you don’t have access to a kitchen.
Here are a few things that I like to pack:
- Sunflower butter
- Gluten free oatmeal
- Protein bars
- Protein powder
- Gluten free pasta
- Any other snacks that I can fit!
The flight over can be quite long (at least if you live in the midwest like me), and airport food isn’t always reliable, so having plane snacks is also a must.
Whether you have access to a kitchen or just a mini-fridge, there are many grocery stores on the island with gluten free options.
Costco – Located in Kahului right by the airport, we usually stop here right after we land. Great for snacks like crackers, cheese, fresh fruit (Maui gold pineapple here is so cheap!), and even coffee. They also sell huge boxes of macadamia nuts to bring home!
Whole Foods – Also located in Kahului near the airport! A great place to shop for fresh produce, meats, cheese, and other snacks. Items here are generally more expensive than on the mainland, but it’s a great place to buy local.
Foodland – We frequent the one in Lahaina. This store has some great options at reasonable prices and lots of local produce.
Safeway – There are multiple locations on Maui and they have lots of gluten free food at great prices!
Other stores with gluten free options: Down To Earth and Times Supermarket.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Maui
Maui Brick Oven – Kihei
This place is first on my list because it’s 100% gluten free! Their menu even states that there is no risk of cross-contamination here because the owners have celiac disease. My family are very big food critics when it comes to gluten free food, and they loved this place… we went twice and it was even named Food Network’s Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives best fish and chips! The staff is so friendly and we had an amazing conversation with them while we ate. It’s so nice to finally go to a place and have all my favored red food that I haven’t been able to have. We had coconut shrimp, quesadillas, pizza, and of course fish and chips with the freshest sweet potato fries ever. I even had dessert, which is something I rarely do when eating out. Everything is so fresh here and not too heavy tasting, and even the salads are amazing!
Leilani’s on the Beach – Kaanapali Beach
Dining here is wonderful if you have Celiac. They have an outdoor beach seating area with more casual food options, and an indoor dining area that is a little more formal. Both spots have very knowledgable staff and their policy is to immediately communicate with both the chef and the manager. I’ve eaten here several times and every time I order they use the language “celiac safe” instead of just gluten free. My fish was always pan seared instead of grilled (just be sure to double check with the wait staff or otherwise request it), and the kitchen has a celiac procedure to eliminate cross-contamination. They even have a dedicated gluten free fryer for celiac-safe french fries (they even passed my Nima Sensor test)!
Coconut’s Fish Cafe – Kihei
Fantastic spot for gluten free tacos. The owner has a daughter (or that’s what I believe they said) that has celiac, and they have a sign at the front stating that they take allergies seriously. A great fast-casual spot for some great fish tacos!
Hula Grill – Kaanapali Beach
Another great spot on the Kaanapali Beach boardwalk near Whaler’s Village shopping center. Their outdoor barefoot bar doesn’t have much for gluten free options, but their indoor dining menu has a few great dishes. The wait staff and managers are very accommodating and understanding of celiac and cross-contamination procedures. I had a huge bowl of their seafood chowder with a delicious coconut broth. The wait staff kept acknowledging my meal as being celiac safe rather than just gluten free – always something I love!
Kimo’s Maui – Lahaina
Kimo’s has always been a family favorite of ours. Located in Lahaina next to all the shopping on Front Street, this restaurant not only has amazing food but also beautiful ocean views. Our waitress was very informed and understood celiac and cross-contamination. I was assured they had a separate gluten free prep area, and all their baked fish items are baked in their own individual pans. Not many gluten free menu items, but our server also discussed what additional items could be made gluten free. I had the Kimo’s style baked fish and subbed mashed potatoes for my side.
The Mill House – Waikapū
If anyone understands celiac, it’s The Mill House. A lovely farm-to-table restaurant located at the Maui Tropical Plantation with some very pretty views, this is a must-try during any stay in Maui. No separate gluten free menu but our waiter immediately came over to discuss which items on their menu were celiac-safe. Also another great place that chose the language “celiac-safe” rather than “gluten free.”
Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar – Kapalua
Sansei actually has two locations on Maui, although I only went to the Kapalua location. It’s also right next to Dragon’s Teeth rock formation if you’re looking for a quick walk before-hand!
This is a great place to go if you are looking for fresh sushi, and they have a pretty extensive gluten free menu. I ate here before having celiac and can say their sushi is probably the best I’ve had.
I did order fish from their gluten free menu had seemed to have a mix-up with the chef. My fish did test positive for gluten with my Nima Sensor (I’m assuming it was because they put it on the grill even thought they said they would pan sear it) but the staff and manager were very understanding and took care of it. I still ended up having a wonderful meal, including a rich and delicious chocolate cake for dessert.
Regardless of the mix-up, this place still deserves a spot on my list – especially if you are a sushi lover!
Pacific’O – Lahaina
Wonderful restaurant right on the water and a perfect sunset-watching location! No separate gluten free menu here but our waitress was wonderful and very knowledgable. I ended up having the coconut crusted fish, but since their breading was not gluten free they used a gluten free pinko instead. An absolutely delicious meal and it tested safe with my Nima Sensor!
Ululani’s Shaved Ice – Lahaina (multiple other locations)
Who doesn’t loved getting shaved ice when it’s hot outside?! Ululani’s has the best shaved ice and excellent service, and a few different locations throughout the island. All syrups are gluten free! I was informed, however, that their snow cap (sweetened condensed milk) was not gluten free. If that’s your thing, try their haupia cream instead!
Another few restaurant suggestions that I haven’t been able to try yet:
Cafe O’Lei – This was always a family favorite of ours before I was diagnosed with celiac. It did show up on my findmeglutenfree app and I would definitely try it next time.
Maui Gelato – the owner at Maui Brick Oven told me they have gluten free belgian waffles for breakfast that are made in their own dedicated gluten free waffle iron. I will absolutely be going there next time I visit!
Thai Mee Up – this is a little food truck over in Kahalui that the Maui Brick Oven owner also told me about. They apparently have amazing Pad Thai that is celiac safe, and he says that he has eaten there quite a lot (he also has celiac and is very sensitive).
As you can see, eating gluten free in Maui isn’t something to stress about when you visit. With so many gluten free choices on the island, it’s hard to try them all when you come here. Just more reason to come back again!
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