There’s no vacation we love more than trekking to Maui when bitter cold hits the Northwest–as much for the inspired desserts as for the amazing beaches, divine sight seeing, and glorious sunshine.
For the past couple of winters, when we weren’t snorkeling, body surfing, swimming, or whale spotting along Keawakapu beach and Elua beach, we focused on exploring the wide array of tropical desserts and sweets featured at the island’s finest restaurants, cafes, and ice cream shops.
As anticipated, the restaurant desserts of Maui feature tropical island signature ingredients, such as pineapple, macadamia nuts, lime, coconut, rum, caramelized sugar, mango, berries, vanilla bean, lilikoi (Hawaiian passion fruit), Kona coffee, blood orange, bananas, and chocolate.
But hey, where’s the fresh ginger root, avocado, sweetpotato, orange, guava, lychee, kiwi, star fruit (carambola), persimmon, dates, figs, kaffir lime, lemon, and tangerine? Should we start a petition?
Nah, just kidding–sort of. But it really would be fun to be a pastry chef on Maui and to creatively fill a few of these seeming gaps. I would go crazy with ginger root, lemon, and kaffir lime, just for starters.
But who’s complaining when there’s so much to enjoy?
The following list contains dessert highlights from many of the best restaurants on the island. The list is meant for inspiration and general comparison across restaurants for themes and variations.
If you have your heart set on experiencing a particular dessert, be sure to call ahead to make sure it’s currently available.
For your convenience, I arranged the chocolate desserts at the top of each restaurant’s list. Just sayin’.
NOTE The Maui desserts we enjoyed over the past two visits are indicated in orange text and many of these are pictured. We’ll add more entries and pictures as this tropical culinary adventure continues.
- Couverture Chocolate & Fresh Cherry Sundae
- Housemade Caramel Sundae
Hali’imaile General Store (Upcountry)
- Chocolate Truffle Cake with Whipped Dark Ganache, Raspberry Jam & Caramelized Blackberry Coulis
- Hali’imaile Caramelized Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Whipped Cream
- Lilikoi Brûlée And Almond Brittle Cup with Fresh Berries & Raspberry Coulis
- Caramelized Baked Plum in a Phyllo Shell & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- Mango-Glazed Cheesecake with Mango Purée & Raspberry Coulis
Hula Grill (Lahaina, Whaler’s Village)
- Flourless Chocolate Cake with Kona Espresso Ice Cream, & Maui Vanilla Creme Anglaise
- Kona Coffee Cheesecake Topped with Toasted Coconut & Macadamia Nuts
- Baked Hawaii with Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Tahitian vanilla Ice Cream, Meringue & Caramel Rum Sauce
- Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
- Coconut Creme Brûlée
Lahaina Grill (Lahaina)
- Road to Hana: Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Sour Cream Mousse, & Macadamia Nut Caramel
- Kauai Pie: Oreo Crusted Kona Coffee Ice Cream Pie with Rich Chocolate Fudge, Coconut Flakes & Macadamia Nuts
- Sunken Chocolate Cake with Kona Coffee Ice Cream
- Raspberry, Blueberry, & Black Currant Pie with Whipped Cream
- Iao Valley Lime Tart in a Macadamia Nut Graham Cracker Crust
- Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with Fresh Berries & Homemade Cookie
- The Lava Tube: Macadamia Nut Ice Cream, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce, Hot Fudge Sauce, Macadamia Nuts, & Whipped Cream
- Kaau Crater Hot Fudge Sundae: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Hot Fudge Sauce, Whipped Cream & Macadamia Nuts
- Kimo’s Pau Hana Banana Split: Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, and Strawberry Ice Creams, Crushed Pineapple, Strawberry Syrup, Chocolate Syrup, Fresh Banana, Whipped Cream & Macadamia Nuts
Leilani’s (Lahaina, Whaler’s Village)
- Chocolate Decadence
- Kimo’s Original Hula Pie: Oreo Cookie Crust, Macadamia Nut Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate Shavings, Whipped Cream & Macadamia Nuts
- Messy Apple Crisp with Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
- Tropical Cheesecake
- Hot Belgium Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream
- Hot Macadamia Nut Pie with Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream
- Double Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, White & Dark Chocolate Ganache & Raspberry Coulis
- White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust & Lemon Crème Fraîche
- Coconut Cream Pie with Chocolate Macadamia Nut Crust
- Upside-Down Apple Pie with Pecans, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Nutmeg
- Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Strawberries & Strawberry Puree
- Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with Tropical Fresh Fruit
Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina)
- Caramel Miranda
Mama’s Fish House (Paia)
- Mama’s Chocolate Kuau Pie in a Caramel Cookie Crust
- Polynesian Black Pearl: Chocolate Mousse & Passion Fruit Cream in a “Seashell” (pictured above)
- Liliko’i Creme Brûlée
- Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream
- Coconut Cheesecake with Pineapple-Mango Compote
- Chocolate Pate with Passion Fruit Anglaise & Fresh Island Berries
- Bittersweet Mousse with Seasonal Berry Sauces
- Banana Pineapple Lumpia with Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
Plantation House (Kapalua)
- Da Kine Brownie
- Pot de Crème au Chocolat
- Bob’s Homemade Key Lime Pie
- Bananas Foster
- Roy’s Famous Dark Chocolate Soufflé
- Flourless Molten Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis & Vanilla Ice Cream
- Hawaiian S’mores: Puff Pastry with Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Bananas, Marshmallows & Heavenly Hana Ice Cream
- Banana Cream Crisp Topped with Oatmeal Cookie Crumble & White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
- Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries
- Sugar Loaf Pineapple cake with Lilikoi & Guava sauce and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
- Warm Macadamia Nut Tart with Lappert’s Ice Cream and Green Tea Wafers
Spago (Wailea, Four Seasons Resort)
- Kula Strawberry Kaiserschmarren: Austrian Pancake Soufflé with Raspberries and Local Star Fruit
- Hawaiian Style Malasado Trio: Passion Fruit Curd, Apple Caramel & Vanilla Anglaise
- Fuji Apple & Maui Pineapple Crumble Pie with Brown Butter Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
- Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake with “Ten Year” Chocolate Sauce & Hawaiian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- Kona Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust & Caramel Sauce
- Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake with White Chocolate Crème Anglaise
Tommy Bahama’s Café (Wailea)
- Chocolate-Coconut Fudge Brownie with Chocolate & Caramel Sauces & Vanilla Ice Cream
- Pina Colada Cake with Myers Dark Rum, Pineapple, White Chocolate Mousse & Toasted Coconut
- Caramelized Pineapple Upside-Down Vanilla Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
- Butterscotch with Scotch Whiskey, Chocolate Ganache, Caramel Sauce & Whipped Cream
- Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream