Maui Things to Do
Tours & Experiences
Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island and is known for its world-famous beaches. A beach holiday is likely the top reason to visit. However, there are many other excellent things to do on Maui aside from soaking in the sun. During the winter months, humpback whales migrate to Maui. During this time, it is almost guaranteed to spot one of these beautiful creatures. Sunrise from the top of Haleakala is a must do on Maui. Epic drives around West Maui and the Road to Hana have classic Hawaii views. From beach lounging, hiking, sunsets, snorkeling, and great food, Maui has it all. Best of all, most of the top attractions on Maui are free. Maui activities are great for those on a budget or with kids. Here are our top 10 things to do on Maui. Aloha!
Towering over the central Maui plains, Haleakala defines the island. One of two National Parks in Hawaii, Haleakala is popular for sunrise. Don't forget a blanket, it gets very cold at 10,000 feet, even during the summer. Sunrise now requires a reservation for parking. Another option is to book a tour with Bike Maui. The tour includes sunrise viewing from the summit followed by a bike ride down Haleakala starting from the park entrance. Several excellent hikes originate from the summit all leading into the crater. Sunset is great from Haleakala for those that did not get a reservation.
Cost: Sunrise reservations are $1.50 per vehicle between 3 AM and 7 AM. Entry is $25 for a 3-day pass to Haleakala National Park which includes the bamboo forest and Haleakala summit.
When to go: Arrive 30 - 40 minutes before sunrise
What to bring: A thermos with hot tea, a blanket, warm clothing (preferably a jacket and gloves), and camera!
Time needed: Two hours. The drive to the summit takes one hour from Paia and two hours from Lahaina.
Check out the Turtles at Ho'okipa
This beautiful little beach is home to resident sea turtles. Ho'okipa is world renowned for windsurfing and surfing during the monster winter swells. It is safe to swim close to the shore and get some pictures in the water with the turtles. Come in the late afternoon as the sea turtles come ashore and watch the sunset with spectacular coastal views.
When to go: Come two hours before sunset. Turtles come ashore during this time, the surfers head out, and stay to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
What to bring: Camera, bathing suit, sarong and a waterproof camera for some turtle pics!
Time needed: Two hours
Road to Hana
Driving the Road to Hana is a must on Maui. Ditch the wide-open roads and endless beaches for the vast rainforests. There are over 50 one-lane bridges and endless hairpin curves. The drive on its own is pretty epic. Along the way are a bunch of waterfalls, black, white, and red sand beaches, postcard views, and plenty of banana bread. Our favorite stops are Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Beach Park, and the Pipiwai Trail.
When to go: Leave shortly after sunset, it will be a long day!
What to bring: Snacks, water, sarong, bathing suit, camera, and some good tunes for the car!
Time needed: 12 - 14 hours
Go to a Famous Beach
Maui is known for beaches, and there are some really good ones. Our favorites are around Makena State Park. Big Beach is a huge beach that will never disappoint, or hike 15 minutes to the end of the beach and over the bluff to the nude optional Little Beach. Secret Beach and Maluaka Beach nearby are other excellent choices. There are many other beaches including D.T. Fleming Beach in West Maui as well as Hana Beach and Hamoa Beach located near Hana.
Cost: Free. Tacos from one of the several beach food trucks cost around $10.
When to go: Any day on Maui! Go early and leave mid-afternoon.
What to bring: Pack a lunch to not interrupt beach time. Bring towels, a sarong, bathing suit, camera, snorkel gear and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Time needed: 4 - 8 hours
Be a Tourist in Lahaina
Lahaina is home to several large hotels and is the largest concentration of tourism on Maui. Black Rock Beach is a big beach with plenty of lounging space, good snorkeling, and a cliff jump for the adventurous. Walk through Lahaina town and check out the enormous Banyan Tree, grab a bite to eat at Honu during their happy hour specials, and then finish off with some dessert at Ono Gelato. During the winter, several whale watch tours originate from Lahaina. The Island Rhythms sunset cocktail cruise has great tunes, a few drinks, and a likely chance to see some humpback whales during the winter.
Cost: Beach is free. Go during happy hour and stick to apps and pizza for a much better value at Honu. The cost will be around $30/person. Ono Gelato cost $5 - $8 for some ono goodness!
When to go: Check out the beach during the day and head to Honu before happy hour ends (usually 6 or 7 pm).
What to bring: Towels, sarong, bathing suit, camera, snorkel gear, water and a change of clothes.
Time needed: 6-8 hours
Hang Out Like a Local in Paia
Paia is a cute town with an incredibly funky and hippy vibe. Cute shops, organic food, and beachwear stores line up side-by-side on Baldwin Avenue. There are great coffee shops and breakfast spots. For excellent takeout or DIY meals, head to Mana Foods, a natural/organic grocery store. Our two favorite things to do in Paia are hanging out at Baldwin Beach and grabbing some excellent grub. Our two favorite spots on Maui are the Fish Market, which has an incredible ono burger with home fries, and the Flatbread Company is an excellent choice for thin crust pizzas. If you have small children, Baby Beach is the best beach in Hawaii for kids. Offshore rocks protect the beach from waves creating a small ocean lagoon perfect for children.
Cost: Beach is free. Coffee is $5. A meal at Mana Foods is $7 - $12 (depending on the weight), a burger with homefries cost $12 from Ono Burger, and a 16-inch pizza from Flatbreads costs $18 - $24.
When to go: We love Paia for the afternoons. Head to the beach after grabbing lunch to relax.
What to bring: Towels, sarong, bathing suit, camera, and water.
Time needed: Half day
Explore the Bamboo Forest
Part of Haleakala National Park, the bamboo forest is 30 minutes past Hana and should be combined with a trip on the Road to Hana. There is a hike to see the seven sacred pools (one hour) and a longer hike on the Pipiwai Trail (3 hours). The Pipiwai Trail wanders through an enchanted bamboo forest on the way to see the massive Waimoku Falls. Swimming in the seven sacred pools has not been allowed since January 2017 due to landslides.
Cost: Entry is $25 for a 3-day pass to Haleakala National Park which includes the bamboo forest and Haleakala summit.
When to go: Likely this will be combined with a Road to Hana trip. This should be the last stop, so in the afternoon.
What to bring: Comfy sneakers, bug spray, and a camera
Time needed: Full day
Go on a Hike
While hiking options are not as plentiful as some of the other islands in Hawaii, there are still some really good ones. Our favorite hikes are in the Haleakala Crater. There are day hikes ranging from 2 to 8 hours as well as multi-day hikes for those with a tent. The Waihe'e Ridge Trail is another one of our favorites with panoramic views, stunning ridgeline, waterfalls, and gorges. For an easy hike check out the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
Cost: Entry is $25 for a 3-day pass to Haleakala National Park which includes the bamboo forest and Haleakala summit. All other hikes are free.
When to go: Go for sunrise then start a hike right after. Otherwise, try to start early in the day.
What to bring: Small day pack, water, snacks or lunch depending on the length of hike, hat, sunscreen, layers of clothes.
Time needed: 2 - 8 hours
Go to a Luau
Going to a Luau at least once while in Hawaii is a right of passage. It is a fun-filled night with drinks, typical Hawaiian buffet meals, and an entertaining show. We have been to several luaus in different countries, and Hawaii knows how to do the best. For a family-friendly show and excellent entertainment including a fire dance, the Drums of the Pacific is best. For a more adult-focused and traditional show with table seating, we recommend the Old Lahaina Luau. If you are really on a budget, activity stands in Lahaina offer cheap or free Luaus by going on a 2-3 hour timeshare spiel by the large resorts (not too pushy and no requirement to pay anything).
When to go: There is only one show every evening, usually starting between 5 - 6 PM.
What to bring: A designated driver and empty stomach!
Time needed: 3 hours
Drive Around West Maui
West Maui is home to dramatic mountains and several wonderful beaches. A road encircles West Maui and is one of the best driving roads in Hawaii. With hairpin turns, one lane coastal roads along cliff edges, and stunning coastal views, this is an awesome road trip to take while on Maui. There are a few good stops along the way including Napili Bay Beach, D.T. Fleming Beach, Ka'anapali Beach, and the love rock and Nakalele blowhole.
When to go: Leave early in the day to give time to make all the stop, it takes several hours to get all the way around West Maui.
What to bring: Towels, bathing suit, sarong, snacks/lunch, and tunes for the car ride!
Time needed: 4 - 6 hours
About the Author
Timon Peskin is a photographer and travel writer currently traveling the globe. Timon and his wife Yana quit their jobs in 2015 and have not looked back since. From Africa, the Middle East, New Zealand, Australia, and Asia, they continue to publish articles on their backpacking experience. When they aren’t venturing off to new countries, they are with family on Maui and exploring the Hawaii Islands. For more articles on Hawaii and their travels around the globe, read more on their blog Beard and Curly. You can follow them on Instagram @beard_and_curly or Facebook @beardandcurlyadventures.