Relaxing at Kaanapali Beach is one of the best things to do in Maui!

32 BEST Things to Do in Maui (2024 Bucket List!)

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Looking for the best things to do in Maui, Hawaii? From enjoying sunrise at the top of the Haleakala crater to chasing waterfalls on the scenic drive to Hana and strolling on black sand beaches, Maui offers much to see and do.

Known as the Valley Isle, Maui is the second-largest Hawaiian island, and it’s big compared to neighboring Oahu or the even smaller Kauai.

One of the most popular honeymoon destinations on the planet, Maui is also a beloved getaway for families, with many excellent resorts on its leeward side from which to choose. In fact, Maui has something for everyone.

Snorkel with turtles in Turtle Town. Swim under waterfalls on the Road to Hana. Go whale watching in the winter. Hike through a bamboo forest on the Pipiwai Trail. Stand above the clouds at the top of the Haleakala volcano. Dine on the freshest seafood.

In the tropical paradise of Maui, you can do all these things, and much more!

The Dragon's Teeth rock formation at Makaluapuna Point in Kapalua, Maui
The Dragon’s Teeth rock formation is a must-do detour along the Kapalua Coastal Trail in Maui!

We’ve visited Maui several times now, and it’s our favorite Hawaiian island after Kauai. It also makes for the perfect combination Hawaii trip with Kauai, Oahu, or the Big Island.

In this article, we’ve rounded up the essential things to do in Maui. Know that a few of Maui’s popular destinations now require advance reservations, so plan your itinerary well ahead!

Hey, by the way! Snorkeling is probably at the top of your Maui itinerary — check out our guides to the best tours to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, two of the top snorkel spots on Maui!

And now, let’s get started discovering the best things to do in Maui!

The summit of Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii
Stand atop the 10,000-foot Haleakala volcano on Maui! | Things to Do in Maui

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The Best Things to Do in Maui

Drive the Road to Hana

Possibly the most scenic driving route in Hawaii, the Road to Hana is high on the wish-list of almost every first-time visitor to Maui.

Featuring spectacular views for much of its length, the sinuous Road to Hana winds its way for 64 miles from Kahului to Kipahulu (just beyond Hana Town), with more than 600 switchbacks and close to four dozen one-lane bridges.

The Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii
Driving the Road to Hana is one of the best things to do in Maui!

Along the way, you’ll be treated to expansive views of the captivating coastline, plunging waterfalls, rainbow eucalyptus, and lush rainforest.

Some of the best stops along the Road to Hana include Twin Falls (where one of Maui’s easy hikes leads you to the waterfalls), the black sand Honokalani beach, Upper Waikani Falls, and the Garden of Eden Arboretum.

Waikani Falls on the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii
Waikani Falls, also called the Three Bears Falls, along the Road to Hana

And you have to stop at one of the banana bread stands for the fresh-baked flavorful treat or some local fruit!

While traffic along the popular route (and parking at sights on the way) can often be frustrating, the scenery along the road is well worth the patience required to drive it.

We think a guided Road to Hana tour is the most hassle-free way to experience the drive for the first time. You’ll stop at a few chosen places, and enjoy the views on the drive without stressing about the white-knuckle portions and the need to find parking.

>> Check pricing and availability for this highly-rated Road to Hana tour now!

If you plan to drive the Road to Hana on your own, an audio driving tour is super helpful!

Visit the Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park

Maui has more than one black sand beach, but Pa’iloa Beach, also known as Honokalani Beach, is the most famous black sand beach on Maui.

This beach is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Hawaii.

Located in Wai’anapanapa State Park, Maui’s black sand beach requires advance reservations to visit, unless you plan to join a guided Road to Hana tour.

Black sand beach Maui -- Pailoa Beach also called Honokalani Beach in Waianapanapa State Park near Hana in Maui, Hawaii
Maui’s famous black sand beach in Wai’anapanapa State Park has an epic setting!

The picture postcard beach is small, so you can’t really stroll along the black sand. But it’s large enough to enjoy the sensational setting. There’s also a cool cave to explore, on the right side as you face the ocean.

Formed by the grinding down of volcanic rock by the waves, the black sand Honokalani Beach has a backdrop of lava cliffs and palm trees.

While you’ll likely see folks in the water, know that the currents can be strong and swimming isn’t advised.

Explore the little cave at the black sand beach in Waianapanapa State Park in Maui, Hawaii
Exploring the cave at Maui’s Pailoa black sand beach is fun!

Apart from admiring the beauty of the black sand beach, you can hike the coastal trail above the beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park (the trail extends in both directions, and if you go south, you’ll see one of the best blowholes in Hawaii!)

Plan your visit with our detailed guide to Maui’s black sand beach!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Experience Sunrise at Haleakala

The Haleakala crater stands tall over the island of Maui.

Sunrise at the summit of the 10,023-foot-tall Haleakala is a bucket-list Maui experience that’s worth an incredibly early wake-up call on vacation.

Just after sunrise at Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii
Sunrise at Haleakala is a magical experience! | Best Things to Do in Maui, HI

Whether you drive up to the summit on your own or you join a Haleakala sunrise guided tour, you’ll watch in awe as the golden orb emerges above the clouds and its golden glow spreads across the Martian landscape of the crater.

For the full experience, you should drive up while it’s still dark and be in position at dawn. On a good weather day, the pinks and oranges of the sky just before sunrise make for gorgeous photos.

While the Haleakala Visitor Center is the most coveted spot at the summit at sunrise, you can also enjoy sunrise at Haleakala from other places at the summit.

The Haleakala crater glows at sunrise in Maui, Hawaii
Sunrise casting a golden glow over the Haleakala crater

The Haleakala sunrise experience is so popular that Haleakala National Park now requires you to reserve a parking spot in advance if you plan to drive to the top.

Our Haleakala sunrise guide is the perfect resource to help you plan your visit.

>> Check pricing and availability for a Haleakala sunrise tour now!

Go Whale Watching (in the Winter)!

Planning a winter trip to Maui? Put whale watching on your itinerary for the island!

Every winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to the warm waters on Maui’s leeward side, creating a dense population that makes for epic whale watching. No wonder whale watching in Maui is such a popular winter activity in Hawaii!

A whale watching tour is one of the best things to do in Maui in the winter.
Whale watching is a must if you visit Maui in the winter! | What to Do in Maui

Whales spend the winter months in Maui mating, giving birth, and caring for the young calves.

You can see the majestic creatures spout, fluke, spyhop, or slap their tails or flippers. You may even seen one breach, propelling its gigantic body out of the water. If you are VERY lucky, you may even see a mom and calf breaching the waters together!

November through May is considered whale-watching season in Maui, with the whale population usually peaking in February.

A humpback whale fluking in Maui, Hawaii
A humpback whale fluking in Maui

While you can see whales from the shore in Maui (the McGregor Point lookout is a popular spot), by far the best whale watching experience on Maui is on a boat tour. And if you are up for the adventure, a raft tour allows for eye-level whale watching!

You’ll find many whale-watching excursions on Maui from which to pick.

Whale watching tours currently depart from several locations on Maui’s leeward side, such as Lahaina, Ma’alaea Harbor, or Kaanapali Beach.

>> Check pricing and availability for a Maui whale watching tour now!

Hike the Pipiwai Trail

One of the best Maui hikes to put on your itinerary, the Pipiwai Trail is a big bang-for-your-buck hike in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park.

The moderately difficult trail leads to the dramatic 400-foot Waimoku Falls, one of Maui’s most beautiful waterfalls (and one of the tallest). Framed by black lava rock and lush greenery, the waterfall plunges straight down the rock face into the plunge pool below.

Stunning Waimoku Falls, one of the best Maui waterfalls, at the end of the Pipiwai Trail
Waimoku Falls, at the end of the Pipiwai Trail

But the Pipiwai Trail is as much about the route as it is about the payoff, even though Waimoku Falls by itself is enough reason to undertake the 4-mile round trip hike.

You’ll hike through stunning rainforest and, along the way, pass a gigantic banyan tree, the 200-foot Makahiku Falls, and, best of all, a beautiful bamboo forest.

The bamboo forest along the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park on Maui
Hike the boardwalk trail through the bamboo forest on the Pipiwai Trail in Maui!

Even if you cannot or do not want to hike all the way to Waimoku Falls, the trail is worth doing up to the boardwalk stretch through the towering stalks of bamboo. It’s an experience you’ll remember!

If it’s breezy when you’re hiking the Pipiwai Trail, stop to listen to the bamboo stalks “chime” as they hit up against one another.

Needless to say, the photo ops along the Pipiwai Trail are superb, and you’ll see many Hawaiian plants as you hike.

Wear bug spray and proper hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy and wet.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Snorkel at Molokini Crater

Snorkeling at Molokini, the crescent-shaped islet in the Pacific Ocean lying just offshore, is one of the most exciting things to do in Maui.

The islet is all that remains of a cinder cone that was created when an eruption occurred here thousands of years ago.

Molokini Crater in Maui, Hawaii
Snorkeling Molokini is one of the top things to do in Maui!

Today Molokini is protected as a Marine Life Conservation District, and you can visit on a boat tour.

Snorkeling at Molokini (and Turtle Town) is one of the most fun things to do in Maui with kids.

Snorkeling, snuba diving, and scuba diving are popular Molokini activities. It is also a great place to do some birdwatching.

The waters at Molokini are crystal clear and relatively calm. Visibility can be as deep as 150 feet! Look for sea turtles and a variety of tropical fish.

Scuba divers will be excited to learn that the back of the crater offers a dive that drops several hundred feet. You have to be certified to go scuba diving at Molokini, but snuba diving is an alternative for visitors that are not certified.

>> Check pricing and availability for a Molokini snorkel tour now!

Explore Haleakala National Park

One of only two national parks in Hawaii, Haleakala National Park protects some of the most spectacular parts of the island.

The park is divided into two distinctly different districts: the Summit District protects the area at the top of the Haleakala crater, while the Kipahulu District is located a little ways past Hana Town and features coast and rainforest.

The Martian landscape of the Haleakala crater in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park in Maui
Explore the Martian landscape of the crater in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park!

Each district has to be visited separately, since there is no road that connects the two.

Among the many things to do in Haleakala National Park, standing at the very tip of the 10,023-foot summit is a bucket list item for many visitors.

While sunrise at Haleakala is hugely popular, sunset is also a wonderful time to visit, and, if you don’t mind driving down in the dark, you can stay on to stargaze as well.

Also in the Summit District, look for the endangered Hawaiian silversword, take in the views from the Kalahaku and Leleiwi Overlooks, hike into the crater, and stroll though the Hosmer Grove to spot Hawaiian birds like the ‘i’iwi.

Bundle up when you visit the Haleakala summit: the temperature at the top can be 20 to 30 degrees cooler than on the floor of the island.

A banyan tree along the Kuloa Trail in Kipahulu, Maui
Explore the coast and rainforest in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park!ad

In the Kipahulu District, the Pipiwai Trail is the star attraction, but you can also hike the pleasant Kuloa Point Trail to view the Pools of O’heo, also called the Seven Sacred Pools.

Entrance to the park is $30.00 per vehicle, which is valid for three days.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Bike down Haleakala

One of the coolest experiences adventure-loving visitors can have on Maui is a thrilling bike ride down Haleakala.

You are taken up to the start point in a tour vehicle, from where you make your way down the slopes of the volcano at your own pace. The start point is usually a staging area at 6,500 feet above sea level.

Views on the way down from the top of Haleakala in Maui
Views going down Haleakala Highway

You can stop to explore the little town of Makawao. A historic little town in the heart of cowboy country, Makawao has little shops and galleries to browse and eateries where you can get a bite to eat or a drink.

If you are okay with a really early wake-up call, you can combine the downhill Haleakala bike ride with a sunrise at the summit.

>> Check pricing and availability for a Haleakala sunrise and downhill bike ride now!

If you prefer a later wake-up, you can opt for this highly-rated dedicated biking excursion that starts and ends in the delightful town of Paia.

Note that local legislation limits bicycling between mile marker 3 and mile marker 9.5 on the Haleakala Highway, so you will be transported by van through this section, or ride the upper slopes twice, depending on the tour.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Watch Sunset at Kaanapali Beach

You’d be hard pressed to find a prettier beach on Maui than Kaanapali Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Maui!

West-facing Kaanapali Beach is a spectacular sunset-watching spot, and a sunset stroll here is one of the best free things to do in Maui!

Strolling Kaanapali Beach at sunset is also one of the most romantic things to do in Maui for couples.

Sunset at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Enjoy a colorful sunset at Kaanapali Beach! | Must-Do in Maui

With three gorgeous miles of soft golden sand and crystal clear waters, Kaanapali Beach is lined with resorts, making it convenient to get food and drink while you enjoy the beach.

Kaanapali Beach is lifeguarded, and you can swim or snorkel in the clear waters when conditions permit. The sandy beach is perfect for strolling or getting your Hawaii suntan.

At the north end of Kaanapali Beach, Black Rock, a lava cliff, is a popular jumping spot. The area is also great for snorkeling.

Be at the north end of the beach at sunset to experience the traditional Black Rock torch ceremony.

Black Rock Sunset Diving Ceremony at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Sunset torch lighting and cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock

A chant and blowing of the conch heralds the arrival of the diver, who heads up the cliff, lighting torches along the way. At the top, he offers his torch and a lei to the ocean before gracefully plunging into the waters below.

It’s a lovely way to end your evening at Kaanapali Beach!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Snorkel with Turtles at Turtle Town

Turtle Town in Maui is the stretch of coastline between Nahuna Point and Oneuli Beach in the Makena area of southwest Maui.

Between these two spots lies Maluaka Beach, one of the best beaches in South Maui for turtle spotting. The south end of this beach is where you’ll go to find honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Hawaiian green sea turtle at Turtle Town in Maui, Hawaii
A Hawaiian green sea turtle in the water at Turtle Town in Maui

Hawaiian green sea turtles are on the endangered list, but their population has seen a robust growth in recent years, and it is very likely you’ll get to swim with turtles at Turtle Town Maui.

Maluaka Beach is one of the best snorkeling spots on Maui, and you should snorkel here to not only see the green sea turtles, but also a variety of tropical fish, eels, and octopus.

Turtle Town, and Maluaka Beach, are not signed, but we have a detailed guide to snorkeling in Turtle Town Maui that tells you how to get there, where to rent snorkeling gear and more.

Many Maui snorkeling tours also call at Turtle Town. This highly-rated half-day excursion combines Turtle Town Maui with Molokini for the ultimate Maui snorkeling tour.

If you prefer a shorter excursion, consider this 90-minute tour that only goes to Turtle Town. Groups are small, and the gear provided is topnotch.

>> Check price and availability for this Turtle Town snorkeling excursion now!

Enjoy Twin Falls

One of the first stops you’ll make on the drive to Hana, Twin Falls is very popular because it’s the very first set of easy-to-access waterfalls and pools on the famous route.

Head out early in the day to arrive at opening time, or you will not find a parking spot. Or, if you are planning a longer visit to Maui, spend a day in the Paia area, and visit Twin Falls late in the afternoon, when the crowds abate.

The Hoolawa Stream at Twin Falls, Maui
The picturesque Ho’olawa Stream creates the waterfalls and pools at Twin Falls in Maui

The waterfalls are located on private land owned by Wailele Farm. The lower falls are close to the parking area and easy to access.

A hike through the rainforest, mostly along the Ho’olawa Stream, leads to more pretty waterfalls.

The popular Caveman Falls is accessed by taking the left fork at about the half-mile mark on your hike. This waterfall is gorgeous, with the water spilling over a cave fringed with lush greenery, and a lovely plunge pool.

Waterfall called Caveman at Twin Falls, Maui, Hawaii
Caveman is a popular waterfall at Twin Falls

Taking the right fork leads you to even more waterfalls, so if you have the time, you can hike further.

After you are done hiking and swimming, stop by the farm stand to pick up some local fruit!

Note that there’s a $10.00 parking fee if you are not a Hawaii resident. Twin Falls also has some residents-only days, so check their website before you go.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Hike the Sliding Sands Trail at the Summit of Haleakala

While there are several hiking trails in Haleakala National Park, possibly the most epic trail is the Sliding Sands Trail at the summit of the crater.

Also called the Keonehe’ehe’e Trail, this hike takes you down into the heart of the Haleakala Crater.

Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail in Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii
Hiking through Pele’s Paint Pot on the Sliding Sands Trail

You can hike the Sliding Sands Trail as a loop (about 13 miles), or point to point in conjunction with the Halemau’u Trail (about 11 miles). You can also just go down to the first viewpoint, about 0.5 mile down, and back up, for a quick experience.

As you hike, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Martian landscape of Haleakala. Colorful Pele’s Paint Pot, so called because of the multi-colored cinder deposits, is a particularly gorgeous photo spot.

Look for the endangered Haleakala silversword, a plant that only grows here, and the chukar partridge, a bird that was introduced to Hawaii in the 1920s.

Wear sunscreen, and bring plenty of drinking water to stay hydrated.

Take a Helicopter Tour Over Maui

Seeing Maui from the air is a bucket-list experience you’ll treasure!

A whole island helicopter tour covers both east and west Maui, and you’ll see the Haleakala Crater from above, as well as dense tropical forests, waterfalls, and the green West Maui mountains.

The Haleakala Crater from a helicopter tour over Maui
Soar above the Haleakala cinder cones on a Maui helicopter tour!

For a super scenic flight, consider a helicopter tour that combines the west side of Maui with the island of Molokai. This is our favorite Maui helicopter experience!

You’ll fly through the West Maui mountains, going deep over a rugged landscape where there aren’t even any trails. It’s a remote and incredibly scenic part of the island, with jewel-green valleys and waterfalls a-plenty.

Then you’ll cross the channel over to neighboring Molokai, which has a landscape that’s just made to be seen from the air, like Kauai.

The cliffs of Molokai seen from a helicopter tour in Hawaii
Admire the towering cliffs of Molokai from a helicopter!

The vertical green cliffs of Molokai rise 4,000 feet into the air right next to the deep blue ocean, making for picture-postcard views.

>> Check pricing and availability for a West Maui-Molokai helicopter tour now!

Admire the Waves at Ho’okipa Beach Park

Known for its giant waves in the winter, Ho’okipa Beach is a mecca for surfers and windsurfers.

The long white sand beach has a beautiful setting, and you’ll find outdoor showers and restrooms.

Ho'okipa Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Beautiful Ho’okipa Beach!

Even if you aren’t planning to ride the waves, it’s worthwhile visiting just to watch the massive walls of water roll in, and to see pro surfers and windsurfers in action.

An overlook at the upper parking lot that affords a great view over Ho’okipa Beach is a popular stop on the Road to Hana.

But if you plan to spend a day in Paia, you’ll want to drive to Ho’okipa Beach Park, so you can access the beach itself, because this beach is a popular haunt for Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Turtles resting at Hookipa Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Green sea turtles basking in the sun at Ho’okipa Beach!

Evening, around sunset, is the best time of day to see lots of turtles on the beach here, but you will likely see some during the day as well.

If you have binoculars, you can see the turtles from the lookout above, or see them bobbing in the water by the reef. Look carefully, because on the beach they look just like boulders!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Have Dinner at Mama’s Fish House

Arguably the best restaurant on Maui, Mama’s Fish House is on the wish-list of most foodies visiting the island.

Located in Paia, along Maui’s scenic north shore, Mama’s Fish House is worth the drive from the west side if you do snag reservations.

With its own family of fisherfolk, and fresh seasonal bounty from local farmers, the restaurant offers incredibly well-crafted dishes that will delight you.

We’ve had the pan seared ono here, and the grilled ahi, and both dishes were superb. The bouillabaisse is a great choice if you want a mix of fresh seafood.

Be sure to leave room for dessert: for me, it was the best part of the meal both times we’ve dined here. Try the Polynesian Black Pearl if you are enjoy chocolate!

Relax on a Sunset Cruise

One of the most relaxing things to do in Maui is enjoy a sunset cruise on the west side. You can choose a dinner cruise or a cruise with just an open bar.

Cruising the ocean in the evening, with a breeze keeping you cool as you enjoy the sublime views, is heaven.

Sunset over the Pacifoc Ocean
Watch the sun set over the water on a dinner cruise!

Look for the nearby islands of Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe from your boat, and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins cavorting in the water.

This popular sunset cruise leaves from Kaanapali Beach and offers an open bar so you can watch an epic Maui sunset whilst sipping a handcrafted cocktail. The catamaran loads right on the beach.

>> Check price and availability for this Maui sunset cruise from Kaanapali Beach now!

There’s also a dinner cruise you can take from Kaanapali Beach.

If you’d rather board at a harbor, consider this luau dinner sunset cruise that departs from Ma’alaea Harbor. The 2-hour excursion includes an open bar and a buffet dinner.

Snap a Photo of the Iao Needle

Visiting the ʻIao Valley State Monument to take in the lush scenery is one of the best things to do in Maui, but if you are an out-of-state visitor, you need to make reservations in advance.

A paved path leads from the parking area to a viewpoint where you can enjoy views of the magnificent ‘Iao Needle, a natural rock formation that juts up 1,200 feet into the sky.

The iao Needle in Maui, Hawaii
A view of the ‘Iao Needle

You can also wander a planted area to learn about the plants brought by the Hawaiians that settled the ‘Iao Valley long ago.

The valley is not only beautiful, it is also a place of historical significance: it was here that the battle of Kepaniwai occurred in 1790, where the army of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui forces.

Entry costs $5.00 per person and parking $10.00 per vehicle for visitors that are not residents of Hawaii.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail

One of the most popular hikes on Maui, the Kapalua Coastal Trail connects Kapalua Bay with D. T. Fleming Beach. There’s parking at both ends, plus you can access the trail at points en route as well.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the best free things to do in Maui for active families.

Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach), Maui, accessible from the Kapalua Coastal Trail
Oneloa Beach, accessible from the Kapalua Coastal Trail

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is classed as easy, and is perfect for families. It runs along the waterfront at the Ritz-Carlton Resort and the Montage Kapalua Bay.

Although you’ll get spectacular water views for much of the route, our favorite part is Makaluapuna Point, where you can see the Dragon’s Teeth rock formation. You’ll also find the Kapalua Labyrinth here.

Hawea Point is another especially scenic section, where you can explore tidepools and look for seabirds.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is particularly scenic at sunset, although we’ve seen some colorful sunrise skies here as well.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Drive the Kahekili Highway

If you are an experienced driver and an adventure-loving visitor, the Kahekili Highway is a somewhat hair-raising but scenic drive in the north of the island.

Honolua Bay in Maui, Hawaii
Scenic Honolua Bay

In its narrowest parts, the narrow one-lane road hugs the cliff on one side and featutres sheer drop-offs on the other, with no guard rail.

The drive features many lookouts with spectacular ocean views. We suggest driving clockwise from Kapalua to Wailuku, so you are hugging the cliff as you drive. watch for falling rocks, though.

Stop to watch surfers ride the waves at Honolua Bay. Be sure to also stop at the Nakalele Blowhole, where the water spurts dozens of feet into the air.

Nakalele Blowhole in Maui, Hawaii
The Nakalele Blowhole is spectacular if you catch it in action!

The Ohai Loop Trail is a short walk at the coast through native vegetation. Get some tasty banana bread at Julia’s, and shop for art at the Kaukini Gallery.

Do the drive in daylight on a clear bright day, start with a full tank of gas, and go slow. Let faster drivers pass when you can.

You’ll find the narrow parts easier in a smaller car. If you’d rather not do the white-knuckle portion, go until the end of the two-line highway and then turn back.

Learn to Surf in Maui!

If you are a beginner surfer, Maui is a great place to take lessons.

Of all the Hawaii islands, Maui is best for beginners in that the waves don’t generally get huge like on the north shore of Oahu or the north shore of Kauai.

Surfers in Maui, Hawaii
Surfing in Maui

The vibe in the water is also not as competitive or “local,” especially if you head for known beginner spots, of which there are many.

The Cove, at Kalama Beach in Kihei, is a super popular learners’ area. Kaanapali Beach, Puamana Beach Park, Olowalu, and Paia Bay are other good spots.

You can take private or group lessons to get started.

Consider this highly-rated 2-hour group lesson in Kihei (each group is limited to just six students), or this private 2-hour surfing lesson in Lahaina.

Enjoy a Family Beach Day at Napili Beach

A gorgeous crescent-shaped beach in northwest Maui, Napili Bay Beach is a splendid spot for a family beach day on Maui.

The swathe of golden sloping sand is large, and fringed at the back by palms. From the beach, you can see the offshore islands of Lanai and Molokai.

Spending time at a Beach like Napili Beach is one of the top Maui activities to consider if you are on a budget.

Napili Bay Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Beautiful Napili Bay Beach!

Napili Bay is great for swimming and snorkeling, with usually calm conditions. It’s considered one of the calmest beaches in West Maui. There isn’t a lifeguard on duty, though, so always assess the risk before getting into the water.

Stroll the sandy beach, or lay down your towel and work on your Hawaii sun tan.

There’s street parking, but you have to arrive early to find a spot. The beach is popular with residents as well as visitors!

Sea House Restaurant is a great place to eat with a view of the water.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Visit the Maui Ocean Center

The Maui Ocean Center is the definitive place to go to learn more about Hawaii’s marine life. Visiting the center is a must-do Maui activity if you want to learn more about the marine life here.

The multi-sensory aquarium features a living reef, where you can see more than three dozen species of live Pacific corals. The corals provide a habitat for many species of colorful fish.

At the Turtle Lagoon, you can see Hawaiian green sea turtles. They are received as little babies and nurtured here until ready to be released into the wild.

A Hawaiian green sea turtle at the Maui Ocean Center in Maui, Hawaii
An up-close look at a Hawaiian green sea turtle at the Maui Ocean Center

The Open Ocean exhibit lets you walk through a tunnel as sharks and stingrays swim in the waters above.

Other exhibits offer more fascinating insights into Hawaiian marine life and marine plants.

The center is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and general adult admission is $44.95 per person for non-residents, with discounts for seniors and kids. Hawaii residents and US military personnel get substantial discounts. Buy tickets online.

Take in the Scenery at Big Beach (Makena Beach)

Maui has many beautiful beaches, and soaking in the sun on a sandy beach is one of the best things to do in Maui.

But many of Maui’s beaches are developed, with resorts or condos at the back.

To experience a large undeveloped beach in Maui, head to the southwest part of the island, where Makena Beach is a must visit for its spectacular setting.

Big Beach or Makena Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Big Beach in Maui has a spectacular setting!

Makena Beach State Park is actually home to three beaches, Big Beach, Little Beach, and Oneuli Beach. Big Beach features a vast expanse of golden sand, but even so, it can get crowded on the weekends.

With lava outcroppings on both ends, picturesque Big Beach offers great views of Kahoʻolawe.

Sunbathing and strolling on the beach are popular activities. There are lifeguards on duty, but the shorebreak can be rough and currents dangerous, so if in doubt, do not enter the water.

Makena State Park charges an entrance fee of $5.00 per person and a parking fee of $10.00 per vehicle for visitors that aren’t Hawaii residents.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Enjoy Sunset at the Black Sand Oneuli Beach

To the north of Big Beach and Little Beach in Makena State Park you will find Oneuli Beach, one of Maui’s black sand beaches.

Oneuli actually means “dark sand” in Hawaiian, so it’s an apt name.

Oneuli Beach in Makena State Park in Maui, Hawaii
Catch sunset at Oneuli Black Sand Beach!

Oneuli Black Sand Beach is known for its snorkeling and diving, but it isn’t the ideal swimming beach, because while the beach is black sand, the sand gives way to a lava rock reef where it meets the water.

Look for Hawaiian green sea turtles and many varieties of colorful tropical fish if you choose to snorkel at Oneuli Beach.

This beautiful beach is a great place to be at sunset! The reflection of the sky colors in the pools on the lava reef makes for spectacular sunset photos.

Explore Upcountry Maui

If you are planning a longer trip to the island, one of the relaxing things to do on Maui, away from the beaches, is exploring Upcountry Maui.

Kula is an agricultural community in upcountry Maui, with fertile fields. Here you can visit Kula Botanical Garden, a small garden with a surprising variety of tropical plants like proteas and birds of paradise.

Kula Botanical Garden in Maui, Hawaii
A magnificent specimen at the Kula Botanical Garden!

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is a must-visit if you are here during lavender bloom season, but we had a fun time even on a December visit. The shop here sells lots of items featuring fragrant lavender.

Shim Farm in Kula offers spectacular views. They grow coffee, aromatherapy plants, and other Hawaiian plants.

Maui Pineapple in Makawao offers tours of their pineapple plantation! This very popular upcountry excursion allows you to sample the fruit at various stages and includes one sweet Maui Gold pineapple to take way!

>> Check pricing and availability for the Maui Pineapple Tour now!

Take a Day Trip to Lanai

One of the islands you see from Maui is the small island of Lanai, which is just a 45-minute ferry ride from Lahaina Harbor in Maui.

Called the Pineapple Island, Lanai is largely owned by Larry Ellison, the Oracle tech billionaire, but the public is welcome to visit.

In fact, Lanai is home to more than one resort, making it a multi-day Hawaiian destination for some visitors.

Hulopoe Bay Overlook in Lanai, Hawaii
Hike to the overlook at Hulopoe Bay in Lanai to see Sweetheart Rock!

If you are planning a longer visit to Maui, it’s worth taking a day to explore Lanai on a day trip! Its beautiful beaches and rugged landscapes will delight you.

Once on Lanai, you’ll need a rental car to explore the island, or you can join a guided tour. Get a 4WD if you want to go offroading, and book well ahead of your visit.

Visit Hulopoe Bay, where you can hike to the Puupehe Overlook to see Sweetheart Rock, a famous offshore islet. Lanai Adventure Park, in Lanai City, offers a zipline and e-bike tours.

Keahiakawelo is a must-visit offroad site. Also called Garden of the Gods, this area features a Martian red landscape strewn with boulders. Great for photography!

If you can’t do a day trip to Lanai, consider a snorkel excursion that doesn’t land on the island but takes you close, with a good chance of seeing dolphins!

>> Check pricing and availability for the Lanai dolphin and snorkel excursion now!

Go Ziplining in Maui!

Ziplining over Maui’s tropical landscapes is an exhilarating experience if you’re up for the adventure!

There are zipline adventures to be had all over Maui, so whether you want to soar over the lush jungles of Hana, the coastal landscape of Kaanapali, or near the Haleakala volcano, you’ll find a guided tour to suit.

We enjoyed this popular experience at Camp Maui, a historic WWII base on the north shore of the island. There are several ziplines of varying lengths, allowing you to try “obstacle” challenges.

You’ll glide over the treetops for amazing views of the forests and the Pacific Ocean, and learn about local history and culture from your guide.

>> Check pricing and availability for this Maui zipline adventure now!

Hike the Waihee Ridge Trail

One of Maui’s most epic hikes, the Waihee Ridge Trail allows you to explore the lush West Maui mountains.

Featuring spectacular views (think mist-laden mountains, deep mysterious valleys, and lush green forests, and of course the ocean!), the ridge-line Waihee hike is considered a challenging route.

Look for waterfalls and enjoy the native plants and birds along the way.

Beautiful tropical rainforest mountains and valleys from the Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui
Beautiful tropical rainforest mountains and valleys seen from the Waihee Ridge Trail

Four miles out and back, the Waihee Ridge Trail is steep, gaining close to 1.500 feet in elevation.

You can hike a part of the trail if you wish: we’ve sometimes hiked the first mile or so and then turned around. You’ll still get some great views.

The trail tends to be muddy, especially after rains. Wear hiking shoes. Trekking poles are great to bring along as well.

Plan to do this scenic hike? Be sure to read our complete guide to the Waihee Ridge Trail!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Enjoy a Thrilling ATV Adventure

Want to hit some of the more rugged landscapes on Maui in an offroading adventure?

This popular excursion from Lahaina offers two itinerary options: a beachside trail or a ride through a wetland preserve.

A view of the Maui west coastline
Enjoy coast views on the beach ATV itinerary

You’ll go on an exhilarating tour along winding trails. You may even get to plant a tree to rejuvenate a rainforest, depending on the tour you choose.

The vehicles are four-seaters, so this is a great family activity to enjoy in Maui! The two-hour excursion is easy to fit into even shorter Maui itineraries.

You may get muddy, so wear clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.

>> Check pricing and availability for the Maui ATV adventure now!

Eat!

Eating is one of the best things to do in Maui, and you will find great restaurants all over the island.

We’ve already talked about Mama’s Fish House as a Maui must-have dining experience, but there are plenty of other eateries to try as well.

We love eating at Merriman restaurants in Hawaii, and Monkeypod Kitchen in Maui is one of our favorites. We’ve eaten at both the Wailea and the Kaanapali locations several times!

The casual eatery is a great option for lunch or dinner. You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas and their mai tais are famous.

Merriman’s Kapalua has great seafood — the wok-charred ahi is wonderful — but the vegetarian main dish of taro cakes is also delicious. Save room for the pineapple-macadamia nut bread pudding!

If you’re like us and “will drive for food,” then make the drive from your base in West Maui to the upscale Hali’imaile General Store restaurant in Makawao, or cap off a day in Upcountry Maui with dinner here.

Their Sashimi Napoleon is magnificent, and we love the coconut seafood curry.

Sashimi Napoleon at the Hallimaile General Store in Maui, Hawaii
The Sashimi Napoleon at Hallimaile General Store

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop is a great place for lunch, with loads of sandwich options. And the pies are to-die-for good! Try the coconut cream pie or the chocolate mac nut pie: they are both addictive.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Enjoy Ululani’s Shave Ice

Ululani’s Shave Ice is arguably the most popular shave ice in Maui. The first Ululani’s on Maui opened in Lahaina in 2008. Sadly, the Lahaina location was lost in the devastating 2023 fire that decimated the town.

You can still enjoy Ululani’s Shave Ice at other locations in Maui: Kihei, Kahului, Maui Lani, or Paia.

Ululani Shave Ice in Maui, Hawaii
Ululani’s Shave Ice is a cold refreshing treat you have to enjoy in Maui!

Ululani’s Shave Ice comes in many flavors, and our favorite flavors include passion fruit, mango, and pineapple. Top your shave ice with a snow cap and toasted coconut: delicious!

Other popular Maui shave ice places include Surfing Monkey Hawaiian Shave Ice and Gus’ Hawaiian Shave Ice.

Attend a Luau

Attending a Hawaiian luau is one of the most fun things to do in Maui, with many options from which to choose.

Tiki torches at oceanfront luau in Maui at sunset
Eat dinner with a view at a sunset luau as the tiki torches come on

Apart from sampling traditional Hawaiian delicacies from kalua pork to huli huli chicken and poi, you will also be treated to a Hawaiian music, dance, and storytelling show, often ending in an exciting display of fire knife dancing.

The Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton Resort has an oceanfront setting in Kaanapali. The 3-hour experience includes a buffet at sunset and a Polynesian dance show.

>> Check price and availability for the Maui Nui Luau now!

The Te Au Moana Luau at the Wailea Marriott is also hugely popular. You’ll enjoy Hawaiian dishes at a buffet, followed by a music and dance show that includes a fire knife show!

>> Check price and availability for the Te Au Moana Luau now!

Lahaina

The historic town of Lahaina, located on the west side of Maui and arguably the most popular tourist destination on the island, was destroyed in a devastating fire in 2023.

It will be a while before it is rebuilt, but we hope that it will rise from the ashes into a strong community again.

Front Street Lahaina in Maui, Hawaii
Front Street in Lahaina before the 2023 fire

Until then, some of the most popular things to do in Maui, such as walking the historic trail in Lahaina town, shopping at the many stores and galleries on Front Street, and dining in Lahaina, will not be available.

The Lahaina Banyan Tree has already put out an impressive amount of new growth, so it’s likely to be a great photo opportunity again!

The Old Lahaina Luau is now open, as are a couple of eateries. So if you were looking forward to booking this famous Maui luau, go for it!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

The Best Maui Tours

Have you booked these top-rated Maui guided adventures yet?

Small-group Road to Hana tour so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views without worrying about negotiating hairpin bends or finding parking at popular stops!

A Haleakala sunrise tour so you can experience the bucket-list sunrise atop the volcano without the need to reserve a parking spot or drive up in the dark!

A Maui whale watching raft tour, which will let you see the massive humpback whales at eye level! (You can also opt for a more sedate boat whale watching tour.) A MUST winter Maui activity!

A Maui snorkeling excursion that combines the Molokini Crater with Turtle Town, the two most epic snorkeling destinations on the island!

A 7-line Maui zipline experience where you can glide over the forests on the north shore of Maui. Enjoy ocean views and navigate obstacle course challenges!

An oceanfront luau in Wailea where you can enjoy a sunset buffet and traditional Polynesian entertainment. You can also opt for a Kaanapali oceanfront luau.

Renting a Car in Maui

The best things to do in Maui are located all over the island.

Public transport options on Maui are minimal to non-existent, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Maui trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Maui car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Maui car rentals now!

Where to Stay in Maui

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Maui you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

By far the majority of visitors to Maui choose to base on the west side, where there is a large selection of accommodations available, from resorts and hotels to vacation rentals.

We suggest starting your search for Maui accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO. You can filter to choose a specific area, such as Kihei, Kapalua, or Wailea.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Kihei and Kapalua and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Maui vacation rental on VRBO now!

A sunset on a Maui Beach in Hawaii
A Maui beach sunset

More Maui Travel Inspiration

If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!

If you are a first-time visitor to Maui, start by reading our article on the best things to do in Maui. From beautiful beaches and lush rainforest to Maui’s volcanic crater, our round-up captures the most iconic Maui experiences and activities.

If you are dreaming of a winter getaway to a tropical paradise, read our guide on why you should visit Maui in winter!

If you are planning a brief first visit to Maui, here’s our 3-day Maui itinerary to help you flesh out your own trip! And if you are considering a couples getaway to Maui, read about the top romantic things to do in Maui!

Driving the Road to Hana is one of Maui’s bucket-list experiences. We have a comprehensive guide to the best stops on the Road to Hana, including waterfalls and short hikes on the way.

One of the top stops on the route is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which requires reservations. Read our full guide to Maui’s black sand beach in this popular state park!

Maui boasts one of only two national parks in Hawaii. Read our round-up of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park. We also have the ultimate guide to sunrise at Haleakala.

We also have a guide to the best hikes in Haleakala National Park, and in-depth hiking guides to the two most epic hikes in the park: the Sliding Sands Trail and the Pipiwai Trail.

Speaking of hiking, also be sure to check out our round-up of the best Maui hikes, from easy to challenging. Plus, peruse our complete guides to hiking the popular Kapalua Coastal Trail in northwest Maui, and the Waihee Ridge Trail for astounding views!

We also have a round-up of the best waterfalls in Maui, from the 400-foot Waimoku Falls to Upper Waikani Falls near Hana. Some Maui waterfalls can be seen from viewpoints whereas others require hiking.

Water activities are plentiful in Maui! Check out our epic guide to whale watching in Maui, and our guide to the best Molokini snorkeling tours and the best Turtle Town snorkeling.

If you’d rather snorkel from shore, read our round-up of the best snorkel spots in West Maui.

Every Maui itinerary should have plenty of beach time: there are so many beautiful beaches in Maui that you are spoiled for choice. We have a round-up of the best beaches in South Maui, plus a detailed guide to Wailea Beach in southwest Maui, and one for Maluaka Beach along the Turtle Town stretch of coast.

We also have articles on the much-visited Kaanapali Beach, the popular Napili Beach and local favorite Keawakapu Beach. Along the northwest side, Honolua Bay is a famous surfing spot, and Ho’okipa Beach, near Paia, is a windsurfing mecca.

If you are looking to experience a different side of Maui, plan a visit to the Iao Valley State Monument. The lush landscapes and serene ambience will wow you! Also read our guide to Maui’s state parks, which include popular Makena State Park, home to Big Beach and Little Beach.

Spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include touring farms and gardens. Help milk goats, tour a tea farm, go wine tasting and much more.

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Discover the best things to do in Maui, Hawaii, from sunrise at the top of Haleakala to driving the Road to Hana and much more.

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