Maui Travel Guide
Visitor Info & Top Things to Do on Maui
Often called the "Playground of the Wealthy," Maui definitely caters to those looking for more expensive accommodations, yet is spared the crowds of Oahu. But don't fret if top-notch accommodations aren't in your plans - Maui caters to all types, including the budget-conscious. The island has a reputation for being a playground for all tourists, not just the super-rich. Whether you're looking for the best Maui beach, a great bed & breakfast, or even a bamboo forest hike, we've assembled all the Maui essentials here. Plan, book, pack, and go with HawaiiGuide: Maui.
Everything you need to know about Maui is here in one convenient place:
— article continued below —
Summary of Maui topics covered on this page.
- Maui Current Weather Forecast
- Maui Map Packet
- Maui Regions & Destinations Guide
- Top 10 Maui Attractions to See & Do
- Maui Trip Itineraries for Planning 1-7 Day Trips
- Top Maui Sights
- Top Maui Beaches
- Top Maui Hiking Trails
- Geologic History of 'Maui Nui'
- Maui Popular Tours & Activities
- Maui Visitor Information & Articles
FREE Maui Summary Guidesheet
Updated with a new summary map of Maui with estimated driving times from popular starting points.
Includes the top must-see & do Maui attractions, best times to visit, where to stay briefing, Maui airports detail, a monthly weather summary, and where to find the most noteworthy local ono 'grindz' (best eats) on Maui.
Maui Weather Forecast
Maui Travel Map Packet
Updated to include Maui Beaches + Road to Hana
Updated with a new printable high-resolution map of Maui. Includes most major attractions, all major routes, airports, and a chart with estimated driving times.
PDF packet now additionally includes both a Beaches Map + our Road to Hana Map.
-File is a print-ready PDF document
Popular Destinations on the Valley Isle
Maui has been a favorite tourist destination for decades because it represents the quintessential tropical getaway. With its beautiful coastal views, eclectic volcanoes, wildlife sanctuaries nearby, and a wide majority of the island left wild and free from rampant development, there are countless things to do in Maui that will leave you authentically charmed! With its resorts along the coastline, picturesque beaches, majestic palm trees, and rich agriculture, it's no wonder that people from all over the world flock to this verdant island to get a taste of what Hawaii is really all about.
Wondering which parts of the island to visit? Maui comprises two major volcanic areas, the older and extinct West Maui Mountains and a very expansive volcano named Haleakala on the eastern side of the island. In between the two is a valley filled with deposits. The center of the island is where Maui earns its nickname, the "Valley Isle." The isthmus stretching from Haleakala to the West Maui mountains is likely where you'll begin your journey- at the Kahului airport. No region is quite like another on the Valley Isle. Explore each of Maui's regions below to learn about the many things to do, the sights, and the diverse attractions you'll find in each area.
Maui has a lot going for it, especially for such a small island. It combines some of the best food, shopping, and entertainment choices from several of the other Hawaiian islands while emphasizing outdoor fun rather than late-night party scene, like Oahu, which makes plenty of regular visitors happy. The island has several small towns, especially along the coast, giving much of the island a small but not rural vibe. Maui is not as large or varied in terrain as the Big Island or as weathered and verdant as Kauai. Still, its 10,000+ foot volcano Haleakala, combined with the incredible coastline views along the Road to Hana, and unique places like the 'Iao Valley and Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach make Maui a unique and special place to visit all on its own.
West Maui Destinations
Lahaina & Ka'anapali Region
Front Street, Banyan Tree, Ka'anapali Beach, Whaler's Village, and more
The resort areas of Ka'anapali, famous for three-mile-long Ka'anapali Beach, and historic Lahaina Town grace the shores of the western-most coastline. While both technically inside our West Maui region, we've dedicated a unique section here, for each of the major attractions located within these two popular areas.
With plenty of sunshine and great weather year-round, this stretch of coastline has become the playground of visitors from around the world and is a popular location for taking a snorkel cruise, doing some window shopping, or catching one of the very best Hula shows in all of Hawaii.
West Maui Region
Napili, Kapalua, Nakalele, Waihee Valley, and more
With plenty of sunshine and an abundance of rainfall (as much as 390 inches a year), West Maui was once a major Hawaiian population center and the proverbial playground of royalty (the ali'i) in old Hawaii. Today, West Maui has become the playground of visitors from around the world.
Along the shores of this region, you'll find the resort area of Kapalua (northwest), Kahana and Honokowai (mid-way), visitor community of Napili, and while technically located within this area, our Lahaina and Kaanapali region (both in the southwest of this region) has been devoted a section unto itself.
Ultimately, this region is one of the more developed portions of the island, with several resorts and small towns. The most north-western portion of this region is almost completely undeveloped and is raw and somewhat barren terrain.
East Maui Destinations
Hana Highway Region
Featuring the Road to Hana
Hana Highway (northeast and parts of southeast Maui), ranges from Pa'ia town to the community of Hana (Haa-na) on the northeastern tip of the island and is renowned for great windsurfing, lush rural scenery, and, of course, the famous Road To Hana (Hana Hwy - 360) drive that curves along the coastline toward Hana town.
Known often as the windward side, it is largely undeveloped, and much of the narrow Hana Highway winds along the island's beautiful northern coastline.
Upcountry Maui & Haleakala Region
Haleakala National Park, Kula, Polipoli area, and more
The term Upcountry Maui refers to the towns, ranches, vineyards, parks, farmlands, and visitor attractions on the upper slopes of Haleakala volcano, including Haleakala National Park. Enchanting and rural, Maui's Upcountry is the heart of the island's agricultural industry, as well as a thriving artists' community.
Many compare the beautiful landscape of Upcountry Maui to the countryside in Scotland. You'll also be sure to discover several unique floral gardens in this part of the island. Plus, some of the best views of the South Pacific anywhere on the island can be found from the high elevations of the upcountry.
Kihei & Wailea Region
South Maui Shoreline, La Perouse Bay, and more
Sheltered on the leeward side of Haleakala volcano, this side of the island is quite drier and sunnier than the rest of the island. South Maui includes the coastal communities of Ma'alaea and Kihei and the growing resort communities of Wailea and Makena. There's also a good deal of Wailea real estate and Wailea condos available on this part of the island.
Central & North Maui Destinations
Central Maui Region
Kahului, 'Iao Valley access, and more
The proverbial 'heart' of the island, Central Maui, is the isthmus that connects the island's two volcanoes. Your visit to the 'Valley Isle' likely began here at the airport in Kahului.
Today, Central Maui includes residential communities, sugar and pineapple plantations, county and state government offices, and various visitor attractions including the Kahului Airport (OGG), the Maui Tropical Plantation, golf courses, parks, shopping areas, and more.
We've also included the 'Iao Valley State Park in this area since it's accessible only through the central region.
Maui Top Attractions
Top 10 Maui Things to See & Do
All of Maui is incredible. However, some attractions are wildly popular because they offer an experience that embodies the essence of the island. Breathtaking, Must-See, Best of... no matter what you call them, you entirely must witness these attractions first-hand. From the West Maui Mountains to the beautiful remote town of Hana, you'll enjoy the many options of things to do on the Valley Isle. Below we've covered some of the top attractions on the island of Maui, click any tile to learn more.
The island of Maui additionally features an abundance of beaches, especially along the West Coast. Sun is abundant here, too, as the volcanoes in the center of the island block the majority of precipitation from ever reaching the leeward sides of the island where the bulk of lodging is located. While portions of Maui's west coast are often dry and barren, the eastern portions of the island are a lush and green paradise boasting waterfalls in numerous valleys. Many visitors enjoy the Road to Hana (aka the Hana Highway) as is winds its way along the cost to the sleepy town of Hana in the bay.
Top 10 Attractions on Maui
Hana Highway - 'Road to Hana'
Hana Highway Region
#1 Rated in Sights to See on Maui
The scenic Road to Hana is the undisputed top attraction on the island. When it comes to driving the Hana Highway on Maui, it's the journey, not the destination, that is the main attraction.
There are few words that can describe the beauty of this drive with its cliffs cloaked in green and lush valleys bursting with waterfalls. Curves hug the coast and gaze over an ocean that stretches uninterrupted all the way to the Alaskan coastline.
Couple that with black, red, and white sand beaches, a multitude of trails, and beautiful gardens and you've discovered the highway to heaven itself.
Haleakala National Park
Upcountry & Haleakala Region
#2 Rated in Sights to See on Maui
To say Haleakala National Park is impressive would do it a great injustice. Spanning a huge swath of land across Maui’s southeastern region, Haleakala is home to the highest peak on Maui, at 10,023 feet. If that weren’t enough, it also holds the world record for climbing to the highest elevation in the shortest distance- a mere 38 miles!
And not only is it one of the most popular sights in Hawaii, but it’s also home to five distinctly different climate zones, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, stunning views, otherworldly landscapes, and flora and fauna that are found nowhere else in the world.
Oheo Gulch at Kipahulu
Hana Highway Region
#3 Rated in Sights to See on Maui
The Oheo Gulch, technically part of Haleakala National Park, is located about 15 minutes past Hana town, near mile marker 42 on the Hana Highway (Road to Hana) after it turns into Hwy. 31.
We've split this attraction off from Haleakala National Park because of its geographic location and separation from the Summit portion of the park; what visitors typically think of when they hear 'Haleakala NP.' The Oheo Gulch side, also known as the Kipahulu Area, and can be accessed via Hwy. 360, the Hana Highway or Road to Hana.
The Oheo Gulch region is home to lush green landscapes, waterfalls, pools, and more - it's well worth a visit.
Makena 'Big' Beach
Kihei & Wailea (South Maui) Region
#1 Rated Beach on Maui
Also known as Oneloa Beach (its true Hawaiian name) or Makena Beach*, Big Beach is probably one of the prettiest beaches on the island, and certainly within the south region. It is nearly 2/3 miles long and over 100 feet wide. The gorgeous sand and pristine waters attract snorkelers, swimmers, and sunbathers.
This beach, like many, closes in the evenings and the gate is locked. Makena Beach is accessible via a short road at mile marker 4 on Makena Alanui Road and another access just past mile marker 4 in South Maui. Big Beach is connected on the right by a small path over the hill and lava to Little Beach, which is a favorite spot for 'clothing optional' sunbathers.
Lahaina & Kaanapali Region
#2 Rated Beach on Maui
Nearly all of the seaside resorts in the Kaanapali area back up to Ka'anapali Beach, a three-mile stretch of sand suitable for frolicking with a sidewalk that runs the entire length by the hotels to Black Rock.
Black Rock slices across the beach and is a popular spot for snorkelers and scuba divers. Those in search of their scuba certification on this part of the island will likely do your first dive at Black Rock.
There are also plenty more opportunities to whet your appetite for water sports such as parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skis.
Iao Valley & Needle
Central Maui Region
#4 Rated in Sights to See on Maui
Nestled in the lush greenery of the 'Iao Valley is the natural rock formation called the 'Iao Needle. The green-covered stone protruding from the valley floor is actually an old basaltic core (volcano remnant). The 'Iao Needle is 2,250 feet above sea level, or 1200 feet tall from the valley floor.
The name 'Iao is pronounced "EE-ow." The 'Iao Needle is surrounded by a very lovely walkway and garden of lush tropical plants.
Surrounded on all sides by the Pu'u Kukui Crater, it was the site of one of the most famous battles in Hawaiian history. In 1790 King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army here in his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Napili Bay Beach
West Maui Region
#3 Rated Beach on Maui
Located in the northwest tip of the island, between the towns of Kapalua and Honokowai is Napili Bay and Beach, a beautiful, scenic, and popular beach along this stretch of coastline on Maui. The white sloping sand and turquoise waters of Napili Bay and Beach make it one of the most popular beaches on the island and for good reason.
Typically, Napili Bay has crowded parking along the road, but the beach itself is typically less frequented by beachgoers than some other popular beaches on the Northwest coastline of the island. Napili is regarded as a less crowded and quieter resort-front beach that's suitable for families. The beach and bay can be accessed from the Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30). Visiting early in the day is recommended for the best opportunities for good parking.
Hana Highway Region
#4 Rated Beach on Maui
Hamoa Beach is located about 2.5 miles outside of Hana town traveling south. The access road is located just south of a large cinder cone. There is a small white sign pointing the way to the beaches along this section of the road.
There are several beaches in the area, Hamoa being the safest and most beautiful. Turn down the access road and follow it around until you reach the beaches about 1.5 miles down the road. There's a bus pull off on the seaward side of the road, the beach is just below the overlook.
There is no parking next to the beach, park on the road above and take the stairs down to the shore. Proceed down the walkway steps to the beach.
Hana Highway Region
#6 Rated in Sights to See on Maui
Technically this stop, like a few others, is also on the Hana Highway (which is later on this list). But, in our opinion, it's too good not to include on its own. Just beyond mile marker 45 on the Hana Highway after it turns into Highway 31 you'll reach one of the most gorgeous falls in all of Hawai'i, Wailua Falls.
Wailua Falls gracefully cascades 80 feet through a lush setting in the surrounding vegetation just feet from the road. There is a short path to the base of the falls, but it can be tricky so use caution.
The water flow varies but is usually pretty at any rate throughout the year.
Waianapanapa State Park & Beach
Hana Highway Region
#5 Rated Beach on Maui
A visitors draw ever closer to Hana Town there is one last major stop at mile marker 32 on the Road to Hana. On the makai side of the highway, you should see a gravel road leading down to Wai'anapanapa (Why-Ah-naa-paa-naa-paa) State Park. There should also be a road sign informing you of the location.
Head down the road and look for the main parking area (to the left), near the cabins. From here a trail will lead you down to Honokalani black sand beach, located in Pa'iloa Bay. The black sand beach isn't the only attraction at Wai'anapanapa though. Wai'anapanapa also features sculpted lava rocks, wind twisted foliage, a sea arch, lava caves and tubes, and even a blowhole in the lava rocks near the shoreline.
As of March 1, 2021, reservations (up to two weeks in advance) for all visiting tourists and commercial vehicles will be required for entry to Maui’s Waianapanapa State Park. No same-day reservations will be accepted. Parking for out-of-state visitors will be $10.
Maui Tours & Activities
Popular Tours & Activities on Maui
For many visitors, a Maui tour may be the perfect way to experience parts of Maui that you'd otherwise never get to see. We've hand-selected these top-4 Maui tours below due to their popularity and high ratings with visitors like yourself!
Haleakala Sunrise Tour
Starting at $219.00/person **Get $10 off when you book online
Experience perhaps the most beautiful sunrise on earth with our professional, local guides on Valley Isle Excursions' Haleakalā Sunrise Tour.
- Island-style full breakfast (after sunrise)
- We provide all-weather hooded volcano blankets for use at the summit (please dress for winter weather).
- USB seat ports, Overhead storage, 3 Point seat-belts, ADA options (wheelchair lift)
- Professionally trained, knowledgeable, safe (and fun) guides/drivers)
- Clean & well-maintained bathroom stops
Molokini Snorkel Tour
Starting at $199.00/person **Get $10 off when you book online
On this tour, you'll snorkel in the extinct volcanic crater of Molokini on a thrilling adventure in Maui.
- Be one of the first boats in the morning to snorkel Molokini Crater, where visibility often exceeds 180ft.
- Snorkel the back wall of Molokini, a place very few visitors see.
- Stop at La Perouse Bay to search for the Hawaiian spinner dolphins that call the bay home.
- We conclude our tour with an up close and personal encounter in the water with the protected Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.
- World famous Maui cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit for breakfast.
- Delicious deli sandwiches and pasta salad for lunch.
- Be Prepared for Fun!
Maui Whale Watching Tour
Starting at $99.99/person
Get the Royal treatment on our Ali'i VIP Whale Tour! We limit this tour to a maximum of 12 guests, so you have more opportunities to view the Humpback whales, and other sea life, in the most comfort possible. Our vessels are USCG rated to carry 27 guests, but this tour is all about you and your experience and is limited to 12 guests.
- Our Whale tours average 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- This tour is for ages 4 and older.
- Please arrive 20 minutes before the departure time. Look for crew members with bright blue or red shirts.
Road to Hana Tour
Starting at $180.00-$210.00/person
If driving the Road to Hana doesn't sound like something you'd like to try on your own, but you don't want to miss out on the many amazing sights along the Hana Highway, then this tour is for you. Experience the tropical rainforests, fantastic vistas, and cascading waterfalls of Maui's east coast on a guided sightseeing tour.
- Learn about the history and legends of Hawaii from your local guide
- Go for a swim at a beach or waterfall
- Drive along the winding road to Hana
- See lush rainforests, winding roads, and breathtaking beaches
Maui Itinerary Suggestions
Valley Isle Itineraries
As the second-largest island in Hawaii, Maui is home to many beautiful splendors. Its natural beauties, warm and inviting beaches, and endless activities make it the place to be. Maui is the perfect island to explore if you enjoy snorkeling, hiking, basking in the sun, and observing nature’s handiwork.
Ultimately, we’ve designed our itineraries around a set number of on-island days: offering one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven-day itineraries for exploring the island, soaking in the best sights, and ensuring your precious time (and potentially money) on Maui are used wisely. We’ve tried to balance our itineraries between those who seek adventure and those looking to find a good beach and relax. Overall, we want your experience to be exactly what you’ve dreamed of when planning your trip.
For each island we’ve attempted to split up the itinerary days by sorting attractions according to their geographic proximity; i.e., on West Maui day, you’d explore the best of the island's western region attractions, beaches, and activities. Our itineraries are not meant to be followed consecutively necessarily, which would probably be exhausting, but instead as a grab-and-go resource for ‘mapping’ your trip - think of us as a Wayfinder’s guide to Maui.
For nearly 20 years now, we've been visiting the 'Valley Isle' and making detailed notes about what Maui's highlights are and what visitors like yourself simply must-see based on the limited time you've allocated for each Hawaiian Island.
It isn't easy and can even be overwhelming to start planning a trip to Hawaii. One quick look on our website, and you'll soon discover there are hundreds of possibilities; a variety of sights to see, a plethora of beautiful beaches to choose from, and a diverse set of incredible trails that criss-cross each of the islands. Honestly, you could spend months on the island and not see and do it all. Having a reliable guide, that's key. We'd genuinely love to be your guide to the island of Maui during your stay, and we hope you find our itineraries resourceful while planning your trip.
Best Beaches on Maui
Valley Isle Beach Guide
Maui has some of the best beaches in all of Hawaii, as well as some of the most diverse. In this section, we'll cover each of the island's best beaches.
Whether you're looking for a romantic stroll for two, a family-friendly day in the sun, or the ideal snorkeling location, the 'Valley Isle' has the spot for you.
Snorkeling, swimming, and other water activities are always popular at Maui's top beaches. Check out our Maui Beach Guide for more information about all of the island's top beaches.
Best Things to See on Maui
Valley Isle Sights Guide
The island has some of the most diverse scenery and attractions in the world. Our Maui Things to See Guide will help you identify which attractions to visit and which to skip.
It's also home to the most scenic road in all of Hawaii- the Hana Highway. Beyond Hana, there is the gorgeous Oheo Gulch (also known as the 7 Sacred Pools).
Upcountry, Haleakala awaits you as one of the largest dormant volcanoes in the world. In the western & central region, there is the mysterious Iao Valley nestled among the rugged West Maui Mountains.
Best Hikes on Maui
Valley Isle Hiking Trails Guide
Maui hiking is a popular activity when visiting the island.
In fact hiking on the island is a great family activity plus an excellent way to spend the day regardless of whether you're hiking with a group or by yourself.
The 'Valley Isle' has some absolutely fantastic trails - hikers surely won't be disappointed. In our Maui Hiking Guide, we'll cover some of the best hikes you can find on the island.
Geologic History of 'Maui Nui'
Maui Nui or 'Greater Maui' is the geologic name given to a prehistoric Hawaiian Island built from seven shield volcanoes. Nui means "great/large" in the Hawaiian language.
A little over a million years ago, the island was significantly large than the island we think of as Maui today. They didn't separate until around 200,000 years ago, partially due to sea levels rising due to glacial melting. Once encompassing the islands of modern-day Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe the ancient shield volcanoes slowly settled into the Pacific Ocean seafloor by subsidence, and the volcanoes were additionally weathered by erosion to slowly separate into the distinctly different islands as they appear today.
At their largest, the islands of Maui Nui were a combined 5,600 square miles in size (14,600 sq km) - giving them a land area over 40% larger than the Big Island today.
On the corresponding graphic, 'Ma' is an abbreviation for mega-anna, millions of years ago. The light and dark shading show the extent of land during low and high sea stands of glacial cycles.
Maui Visitor Information
Our Top Valley Isle Travel Tips
Maui is the second-most-visited island in Hawaii with around 2.3 to 2.5 million visitors each year. Tourism greatly affects the character of the island and it boasts a very wide assortment of accommodation & activity choices available across the island.
Maui is also the second-largest landmass in the Hawaiian island chain, which consists of eight major islands and 124 islets. The archipelago is made up of numerous volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean stretching in a 1,500-mile crescent from Kure Island in the northwest to the Big Island of Hawaii in the east, encompassing an area of 6,459 square miles. The eight major islands at the eastern end of the chain are, from west to east, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii.
Popular Maui Travel Articles
Maui Vacation Guide
Explore the Valley Isle by Topic
The 'Valley Isle,' is an incredible place for a Hawaiian vacation. There aren't a whole lot of places in the world you can go and experience all you can on the small island of Maui.
Here we'll cover the best beaches, things to do, the top trails, and offer plenty of local insider information and advice to make your Hawaiian vacation wonderful- from first-time vacationers to Valley Isle veterans.