Table of Contents Show
Visit a lush bamboo forest, hike to a volcanic crater, and swim with sea turtles; here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Maui to help you plan the perfect vacation!
1. Things to Explore in Maui
1.1 Drive on the Road to Hana
A must on your list of things to do in Maui is to drive and journey to Hana. Considered one of the best road trips in Hawaii with 617 curves and 59 one-lane bridges, this 64-mile-long narrow winding stretch on the Hana Highway will take you from the North Shore of Maui to the remote East Coast, going through the lushest parts of the island, including waterfalls and rainforests, gardens, black and golden beaches, dazzling coastal scenery and even a national park.
Driving the entire road to Hana can take several hours. If you are unsure if you can undertake the long drive on a curvy road, you can join a guided tour instead.
Here are several tourist attractions to make a pit stop at on your Road to Hana trip:
1.1.1 Paia Town
You can enjoy a great breakfast and delicious coffee in Paia, the last town before the beginning of the Hana Highway, right before you start your journey. Make sure to check out the Paia fish market for some fresh seafood!
1.1.2. Twin Falls
The first of the many waterfalls on the road to Hana, the picture-perfect scene of Twin Falls is a famous tourist spot for visitors to click photos. Twin Falls also has a beautiful basin where you can swim!
1.1.3. Hana Town
Spend the night in Hana Town, visit the many stores and cozy eateries, and taste the chili rice bowls.
1.2. Take a trip to Haleakala National Park
Spread over an area of more than 30,000 acres of land, the landscapes at Haleakala National Park range from red desert to rock gardens, streams, and waterfalls, as well as panoramic coastal views. You can make a stop here while traversing the Road to Hana.
Laden with countless trails for hiking, Haleakala National Park is the perfect place to spend time exploring nature and endangered species or stargazing at night.
1.2.1. Haleakala Highway
The Haleakala National Park is open 24 hours. You can take a spectacular zig-zagging drive along the scenic Haleakala Highway for about 10 miles to get to the Haleakala Visitor Center.
1.2.2. Haleakala Crater
The Haleakala Crater, rising 10,023 feet above sea level, is the highest point on the island of Maui. With insanely breathtaking views from its summit, the volcano and the park are visible from almost every corner of the island.
1.2.3. Witness the Sunrise
One of the best things to explore in Maui is to witness the morning sun break through the clouds from Haleakala Crater at the top of Haleakala National Park and admire the majestic beauty of nature. You would have to make prior reservations to witness the mesmerizing sunrise view. Make sure to visit the park between 5:30 and 6:30 am.
If the ordeal of waking up before dawn for the sunrise sounds a bit too much for you, you can visit the Haleakala Crater in the evening and take in the fantastic sunset view instead. Moreover, the sunset viewing does not require a prior reservation either!
1.3. Hike the Pipiwai Trail
Did you know? You can visit not one but 2 waterfalls along with string pools, see an enormous banyan tree, and walk through a picturesque bamboo forest all in 1 single hike on the Pipiwai Trail!
As mentioned earlier, this amazing 4-mile out-and-back trail is located in the Kipahulu section of the Haleakala National Park.
Being one of the main visits on the Road to Hana and a tourist favorite, the Pipiwai Trail tends to get crowded. Therefore, planning your excursion to this part of the National Park early in the morning is recommended for the best experience.
1.3.1. Falls at Makahiku
The Pipiwai Trail and bamboo forest entrance is next to the Visitor Center. A short walk from the entrance will take you through the lush bamboo forest and diverse scenery to reach the first stop, the 200-foot Falls at Makahiku, along with its viewpoint.
1.3.2. Giant Banyan Tree
The next stop on the Pipiwai Trail is the gigantic banyan tree with aerial roots extending down from its branches and going in different directions!
1.3.3. Waimoku Falls
After the banyan tree, continuing further through the bamboo forest, the Trail will finally take you to the dramatic 400-foot Waimoku Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in all of Maui!
1.4. See the Seven Sacred Pools
Also located in the Kipahulu part of the Haleakala National Park is one of the top places to visit on the Road to Hana, the Seven Sacred Pools (also known as Oheo Gulch).
Located near the Pipiwai Trail, you can visit the Seven Sacred Pools before hiking. The Pools’ serene waters and calm surroundings are worth spending a couple of hours on!
1.5. Visit the Maui Ocean Center
Opened in 1988, the Maui Ocean Center is a 3-acre aquarium that provides interesting programs and exhibitions to educate visitors and tourists about the local sea life on the Maui island.
No ordinary aquarium, the tropical reef here at the Maui Ocean Center is the largest in the whole Western Hemisphere. If you have children, make sure to prioritize this on your list.
The Maui Ocean Center is home to thousands of fish, rays, sea jellies, and sharks, which are on display for visitors to admire. Here, you can learn about marine life beauties like Hawaiian coral, reef fish, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and hammerhead sharks. Visit the Sphere without fail for a 3D swimming experience with humpback whales!
An apt educational site for people of all age groups, the Maui Ocean Center offers the perfect place to understand better the history of the relationship between Hawaiians and the sea.
1.6. Enjoy a Beer at Maui Brewing Company
Established in 2005 and based in Maui, the Maui Brewing Company is the biggest craft beer production establishment in Hawaii. They have several restaurants and tasting rooms.
Maui Brewing Company produces 8 varieties of premier island-brewed lagers and ales that have creative names like “Bikini Blonde,” “Big Swell,” “Sunshine Girl,” etc.
You can visit one of the Maui Brewing Company restaurants mentioned below to savor real Maui craft beer and some mouthwatering national dishes:
This MBC restaurant is located in the tourist center area of Kihei, with a loft-style aesthetic and a vast outdoor garden where you can spend a pleasant time sipping beers and relishing Hawaiian cuisine with your friends.
This MBC brewpub delivers incredibly fresh homemade products and traditional beer for visitors to relish.
The Maui Brewing Company also has locations in Oahu, Kailua, and Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.
1.7. Walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail
Probably one of the most underrated experiences out of all is walking on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, which you cannot overlook. A stroll on this gorgeous coastal walk will take you past tidepools, posh resorts, and the most spectacular views of seascape panoramas, lava formations, and tropical beaches.
Starting at Kapalua Beach on the south and going up to D.T. Flemings Beach on the north, the Kapalua Coastal Trail measures about 1.76 miles. The trail comprises sidewalks, rocky, sandy trails, and boardwalks.
Wearing hiking sandals or sneakers is advisable for a more comfortable experience. The Kapalua Coastal Trail is mostly composed of boardwalks or paved paths, making it excellent for those traveling with children!
The optimum time to begin your walk would be early morning or before sunset to avoid the harsh sun. While on your promenade on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, you will see Kapalua Bay Beach, the Kapalua tidepools, Napili Beach, Oneloa Bay and Beach, and the Ritz-Carlton.
Make sure to have some extra time on your hands for snorkeling and basking on the tropical beaches along the way!
If you happen to be visiting during winter, you can join in on the sea turtle and whale watching tours here!
You can make a stop at the following spots along the Kapalua Coastal Trail:
1.7.1. Kapalua Bay Beach
Kapalua Bay Beach is excellent for fun water activities. You can go swimming, snorkeling, or even stand-up paddle boarding.
If you do not have the equipment for water activities, you can rent paddle boards and snorkel equipment for a small fee from a small rental shop on the beach!
If you are looking for peaceful beaches, this is your go-to place. Being in a protected cove, the water at Kapalua Bay Beach is calm.
1.7.2. Dragon’s Teeth
Dragon’s Teeth is located on Makalua-puna Point on the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Here, the eroding shore of trachyte lava has left behind pointed spires that, when looked at from certain angles, resemble a long line of dragon’s teeth!
Apart from the majestic lava formations, if you continue towards the point, this place also offers a giant, circular maze, the Labyrinth.
You can also journey to Makalua-puna Point, where the ocean waves strike the volcanic-origin rocky coastline.
1.8. Stroll in the Iao Valley State Park
Iao Valley State Park has a fascinating history. The valley is sacred to the Hawaiians because the cliffs here were once used as a burial ground for Hawaiian royalty.
It is said that special powers will be endowed to anyone who steals the bones from here. The majestic Iao Needle was an important landmark in the Battle of Kepaniwai, making the park and the landmark a critical part of Hawaiian history.
The Iao Valley State Park is spread across 4,000 acres of land and has a 0.5-mile paved pedestrian trail going up to the Iao Valley Needle, which is undoubtedly the best hiking trail here.
The Iao Needle is the second wettest place in Maui and the Hawaiian Islands, frequently under a huge cloud cover. You should visit the park in the morning to see the full beauty of the park under a clear sky.
Also present here is the Iao Valley State Monument, a lovely place to visit. The dense, green mountains provide a soothing spot to click photos, have lunch, and spend quality time with family!
1.9. Go Whale Watching
As part of their yearly migration route, 1000s humpback whales journey to the Hawaiian Islands from Alaska every winter. The humpback whales migrate here to mate, give birth, and nurse their young ones in warm, protected shallow waters.
If you are a nature enthusiast, whale-watching should be a must on your list of things to do in Maui!
November to May is the whale watching season, with the peak season from January through March. The premium zone for whale-watching tours is the shallow waters between Maui Moloka’i and Lana’i in Hawaii.
Venture out on your whale-watching tour during the gorgeous light of sunrise. You can easily spot many adult and even baby humpback whales in their natural habitat.
Moreover, you might also have the opportunity to hear their mesmerizing whale song through underwater hydrophones available on whale-watching tour boats!
1.10. Explore the many Beaches
Maui has such an abundance of gorgeous beaches that you might not be able to visit all of them in a single trip! Get ready to lengthen your list of things in Maui with the choicest of beaches to pick from.
Here are all the tropical beaches and beach parks in Maui; you can have your pick to create your personalized Maui bucket list of beaches:
1.10.1. Kaanapali beach
The main beach on the West Shore of Maui, Kaanapali Beach, has 3 miles of soft white sand and clear turquoise waters and is considered one of the best for swimming in Maui.
Kaanapali Beach is a famous retreat with developed tourist infrastructure, housing 7 resorts, restaurants, and numerous shops. However, the major appeal of Kaanapali is the immaculate beach with an unlimited number of water activities.
18.104.22.168. Black Rock Beach
An excellent place for activities like cliff-jumping and snorkeling, Black Rock Beach is formed from lava flows! It is located to the north of Kaanapali Beach.
22.214.171.124. Whalers Village
If you are looking to go on a shopping spree, make sure to visit Whalers Village. It is a world-class shopping complex with shops and restaurants, a whaling museum, and other entertainment.
126.96.36.199. Golf Courses
For golf enthusiasts, Kaanapali Beach has 2 golf clubs, the Royal Kaanapali and the Kaanapali Kai, which have some stunning oceanfront golf courses.
1.10.2. Wailea Beach
Located on the southern side of the island of Maui, Wailea Beach has over 1500 acres of palm tree-lined, picture-perfect beaches, with sandy shores, turquoise waters, and an abundance of colorful marine life underneath the surface.
When there are no winds, and the ocean is calm, the clear waters of Wailea Beach make for an ideal location for snorkeling at the rocky outcroppings.
If you are looking for an exceptional underwater experience, you can grab a sea scooter and explore the waters in the mornings right before the winds pick up the pace. Apart from that, if you want to go boogie boarding or body surfing, be on the lookout for small waves.
1.10.3. Maluaka Beach
Who wouldn’t like to swim with sea turtles? Yes, you heard right; that is also one of the many things to explore in Maui. Bring along your swim gear and dive with gorgeous Hawaiian green sea turtles!
188.8.131.52. Turtle Town
Turtle Town is situated just off the coast of Maluaka Beach, south of Wailea. Along with majestic sea turtles, you will also be able to spot lots of fish here.
To explore the coral reefs at Turtle Town and swim around with the sea turtles, you can either join a tour group or snorkel alone.
1.10.4. Napili Beach
With a curve of golden sand, crystal clear turquoise waters, and a picturesque coastline, Napili Beach is often rated as the most-visited beach on the island of Maui! While on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, you can easily combine your visit to Napili Bay with that of Kapalua Bay Beach.
The calm waters provide an excellent site for numerous water activities like swimming and paddling, making Napili Beach the optimum place for families, especially if you have small children.
Napili Beach has no shortage of sea turtles, coral reefs, and other marine life. You can go snorkeling and even watch whales during the breeding season!
1.10.5. Makena Beach State Park
Makena Beach State Park is a panoramic wildland beach spread across 165 acres of sandy land.
Being one of the most well-known and secluded places in Maui, Makena Beach State Park offers an area to relish swimming and other fun water activities like board surfing, bodysurfing, and shore fishing.
The Makena Beach State Park is divided into two parts:
184.108.40.206. Big Beach
Big Beach is an enormous and beautiful beach with vast sandy shores that offer amazing views and a long shoreline. This Beach is also known as Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach (though it differs from Oneloa Beach on the Kapalua Coastal Trail).
The primary attraction point for Big Beach is its undeveloped aesthetic and wide-open spaces. No matter how crowded the beach is, you will always find space and privacy to spend quality time! To see epic views of the huge beach below, climb up the rocks on the north side of the beach.
You can also kayak from Big Beach to Turtle Town as a bonus!
220.127.116.11. Little Beach
Also known as Puu Olai, Little Beach is Maui’s most famous nude beach, often serving as a hotspot for nude sunbathing.
Continue down to the other side of the rocks north of Big Beach, and you will reach Little Beach.
1.10.6. Kahekili Beach Park
If you are looking for a quiet beach day, Kahekili Beach Park, or Airport Beach, is your go-to beach.
The beach here is as long and stunning as other Maui beaches, with calmer waters and easier and free-of-cost parking. All this plus it is plenty more peaceful!
1.10.7. Ho’okipa Beach Park
Ho’okipa Beach is located on the north coast of Maui. A host to many professional competitions and its spectators, Ho’okipa Beach is a world-renowned spot for windsurfing.
Although not the best place to swim, Ho’okipa Beach is splendid if you want to enjoy huge sea waves crashing against rocky cliffs.
Look out for scattered boulders in the water, and you might spot some sea turtles popping up to enjoy the sunset!
You can stop at Ho’okipa Beach Park on your drive on the Road to Hana since it is on the Hana Highway.
1.10.8. Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park
Ensure you do not miss Wai’anapanapa State Park when touring on the road to Hana. In this state park, you will find a black sand beach, one of the only few in the Hawaiian islands!
The black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park is a beautiful, small beach. The gorgeous jet-black color of the sand makes for an extraordinarily scenic coastline.
A word of caution when visiting Wai’anapanapa State Park’s black sand beach: the water here can be rough, with strong waves coursing the shore. Numerous signs around the beach warn people to stay out of the water.
This black sand beach also makes for a great picnic spot, with picnic tables and restrooms available.
Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty