Explore Maui in 3 Days
Maui Three-Day Itinerary Suggestions
At some point in planning your vacation to Maui, it’s probably going to hit you, “Wow, this is a lot harder than I thought it’d be... there’s so much to do.” Welcome to the state where the possibilities for activities and adventures are limitless, to where you’ll likely never find yourself bored unless you refuse to leave your hotel room. This portion of our website is here to help you plan your trip and allow you to organize what you want to do into simple itineraries. With only three full days (four nights) on Maui, you'll need to be prepared and our Maui 3-day itineraries should help you feel ready to tackle the Valley Isle with a solid plan of action. Planning your vacation doesn’t have to be a chore, and hopefully, our recommendations will be of assistance in your preparation for your three-day and a four-night trip to Maui.
We’ve designed our Maui itineraries around a set number of full on-island Maui days: offering one, two, three (this page), four, five, six, and seven-day itineraries for exploring the island, soaking in the best sights, and ensuring your precious time on Maui is utilized 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 Maui trip.
In this three-day Maui itinerary, we've selected West Maui for one full day of sightseeing, including Lahaina and Ka'anapali, East Maui (along the coast) that takes you to the highlights of this famous shoreline along the popular Road to Hana, for the second day, and for the third and final day, we've introduced the highlight reel of Upcountry Maui and Haleakala National Park (including the summit area). We think you'll find all three days full of great activities and sights to see. We've also provided a couple of alternate days to select from if something in one of our three suggested days doesn't fit your fancy. Think of our itineraries as a rough guide, and don't be afraid to switch, swap, and exchange days or stops in our itineraries so that you ultimately build the itinerary YOU want for your trip.
We’ve provided all Maui directions via Google Maps when possible, as Google Maps works on all platforms and across all devices. You should be able to pop the directions into your phone or tablet and go. To help you visualize each day’s itinerary, we’ve also provided overview maps that help you get your bearings.
Our three-day Maui itinerary below attempts to cover the top attractions on Maui over the course of three days. We believe the interests and activities outlined in this Maui itinerary will provide a memorable and enjoyable experience while visiting the ‘Valley Isle.’ Skip ahead to the 3-day itinerary now →
Overview of Maui - the ‘Valley Isle’
Maui is 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.
Maui is composed of two major volcanic areas, the older and extinct West Maui Mountains and a very expansive volcano named Haleakala on the eastern side of Maui. 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 airport.
The island of Maui 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 side of the island. 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 Hana Highway (aka The Road to Hana) as it winds its way along the coast to the sleepy town of Hana in the bay.
Accommodations on Maui & Where to Stay
On Maui, you’re probably staying on either the west side of the island in Lahaina or Ka’anapali, or you’re accommodations are located instead on the south shore, in either Kihei or Wailea. If you haven’t yet decided where to stay on Maui, we can help with that too, be sure to check out our Where to Stay on Maui article for the best tips and suggestions on where to book your stay. Don’t worry if the two locations above aren’t you’re starting point, as there are a number of accommodations, b&bs, inns, etc scattered across the island. Regardless of where you’re staying, we’ll still help you plan accordingly.
Be sure to also read our Best time to Visit Maui article for an in-depth look at which time(s) of the year is best for your travel party on Maui.
Getting Around Maui
On Maui, a rental car is definitely the best option for getting around the island and viewing all the sights we detail in our itineraries. The rental rates in Hawaii are often some of the cheapest anywhere in the world because the competition is fierce.
There is no reliable bus service on the island and taxi services are both expensive and illogical for sight-seeing purposes.
Summary of what to pack on your Maui trip
Regardless of how much you’ve traveled in the past and where you’ve been, there is one good rule to follow when coming to Hawaii, leave as much as you can at home. Seriously, bring only what you’ll need during your stay and nothing more. For starters, schlepping around three suitcases is NOT what you want to be doing after getting off a long plane ride. Next, consider that long pants, dress clothes, and anything else formal really have no use in Hawai‘i (unless you are staying in a very exclusive resort). Chances are a pair of shorts and an old Aloha shirt are all you’ll need for even some fine dining.
As far as clothing goes, that’s usually a few pairs of shorts, several T-shirts, sandals or flip-flops (slippahs as Hawaii residents call them), and a good visor or hat, anything made of a cotton blend is usually good. A light jacket might also be nice for those visits to higher elevations.
With the motto, “less is more” in mind, here are a few other items to bring. Sunblock (the UV on Hawai‘i is typically 10+ in the spring, summer, and fall), a backpack (for any hikes) and a water bottle, slippers (flip flops, shower shoes, zoris), mask, snorkel, and fins (or rent locally instead), two bathing suits (one to wear while the other dries) and a cover-up, your phone or a camera, lightweight raincoat or poncho (for mountain/rain forest hiking), bug spray with DEET (for any forest hikes), flashlight (if the sun goes down before your hike ends or for night walks on the beach), hiking boots and hiking rods, and most importantly a list of all your troubles to leave behind. For more information on what to pack, see our What to Pack When Visiting Hawaii article.
Three Day Itinerary for Maui
3-Day Maui Wayfinder Guide
We'll officially kick off our itinerary suggestions by quickly covering the day you both arrive and at the end of this page, we'll also cover the day you depart. While both days are not completely a wash in terms of planning something to actively do or participate in those days, we like to keep them open and use them for relaxing after we arrive and before we depart.
Arrival Day on Maui
Let the first day you arrive be a day to adjust to the islands. Grab a bite to eat, pick up your rental vehicle, gather supplies and/or groceries from near your hotel, enjoy your first Hawaiian sunset that evening, and get to bed early as it has likely been a long day. If you’re flying in from another island, as we often do, then some light sightseeing probably won’t be a problem once you’re set up with your new rental, etc. But generally, we advise people to take it easy the first day, soak in their local surroundings, and acclimate to Hawaiian time.
Day #1 - West Maui Highlights
This day's Maui itinerary explores the incredible sights, attractions, and beaches of West Maui. 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 Hawai'i.
Today, west Maui has become the playground of visitors from around the world.
Along the shores of West Maui, you'll find the resort area of Kapalua (northwest), Kahana and Honokowai (mid-way), the visitor community of Napili, and of course, the bustling towns of Lahaina and Ka'anapali.
Day #2 - East Maui Coast
This day's Maui itinerary explores the incredible sights, attractions, and beaches of East Maui, including the world-famous Road to Hana. Because this region prominently features the Hana Highway (a.k.a 'Road to Hana'), we often refer to it as the 'Hana Highway' region of Maui.
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.
Day #3 - Haleakala & Upcountry Maui
This day's Maui itinerary explores the breathtaking sights, overlooks, gardens, and trails of Upcountry Maui and Haleakala, including the Haleakala National Park summit area.
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 Maui. Plus, some of the best views of the South Pacific anywhere on the island can be found from the high elevations of the upcountry.
Departure Day from Maui
Like your arrival day, this day is meant to wind down from your trip and prepare for your jump to another island or for the journey home. We suggest grabbing a bite to eat from one of your favorite local restaurants near your accommodation and maybe some final souvenir shopping at some of the many stores and local shops around the island. Undoubtedly, the local community would appreciate your business. In Hawaii there are no “Goodbye’s” - so we’ll say A Hui Hou, which in Hawaiian means ‘Until we meet again.’ Aloha!
Alternative Itinerary Options for Maui
3-Day Alternate Maui Itineraries
If something in the three days we've selected doesn't quite feel right to you, we've provided alternate day itineraries below. Just swap the day below with the one you don't like from above. Our itineraries are meant to mix, swap, and shuffle as needed to create the perfect trip for your travel party.
Alternate Day: East Maui 2-Day Adventure
This day's Maui itinerary replaces TWO days above (including any day you select + the one-day East Maui itinerary). This two-day East Maui itinerary explores the incredible sights, attractions, and beaches along the world-famous Road to Hana and the Pi'ilani Highway beyond; over the course of two days instead of just one.
This two-day East Maui itinerary permits you to see additional attractions, spend more time at your favorite stops, and more thoroughly explore the Ohe'o Gulch in the Kipahulu portion of Haleakala National Park. Not to mention, we've got an excellent trail recommendation along the Pipiwai Trail for this two-day itinerary.
Remember, you'll need to use this itinerary to replace both the East Maui One-Day Itinerary PLUS one additional day (your choice) from above! If you were looking for a way to see more of the Road to Hana & Beyond, this itinerary is designed precisely for that purpose.
Alternate Day: South Maui
This day's Maui itinerary explores the incredible sights, attractions, beaches, and hiking trails of South Maui. South Maui is best known for its miles of white sandy beaches, spectacular coastal areas, snorkeling on its reefs, and expansive lava fields like La Perouse Bay.
Sheltered on the leeward side of Haleakala volcano, this side of Maui is quite drier and sunnier than the rest of the island. This side of the island additionally provides spectacular views of the islands of Lanai, Molokini, and Kahoolawe offshore. There is world-class golfing available in Wailea, and some of the finest restaurants and dining in all of Maui can be found in this region. South Maui includes the coastal communities of Ma'alaea and Kihei and the growing resort communities of Wailea and Makena.
In South Maui, travelers can discover the true warmth of Aloha and genuine Hawaiian hospitality.
Alternate Day: Central & North Maui
This day's Maui itinerary explores the remarkable hiking trails, state monuments, and attractions located in Central & North Maui. Central Maui is best known for the Iao Valley, which is technically in West Maui, but access is via central Maui. The Waihee Ridge Trail is also technically in northwest Maui, but because you'll also access it from central Maui, we've included it here.
The proverbial 'heart' of Maui, Central Maui, is the isthmus that connects Maui's two volcanoes. Your visit to Maui likely began here at the airport in Kahului. 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.
Alternate Day: Maui Tour & Activity Day
This day's Maui itinerary provides an overview of our recommended Maui Tours & Activities. For visitors who have five or more days on the island, a Maui tour may be the perfect way to experience parts of Maui that you'd otherwise never get to see.
Select from one or more of the tours we've listed on this page, and we're sure you'll have an incredible time. We've hand-selected these Maui tours due to their popularity and high ratings with visitors like yourself!
Here you'll find an incredible assortment of tours and activities to enjoy: whale watching, a Road to Hana tour, ziplining, boat & sailing tours, and Molokini snorkel trips are just a few of the many amazing adventures available on Maui.