25 Best Things to Do in Maui for an Unforgettable Trip

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There are so many amazing things to do in Maui, Hawaii whether you are looking for relaxation or adventure.

Drive the famous Road to Hana, hike through bamboo forest, cycle down a volcano, swim under a waterfall, learn to surf, or just laze on the many golden and black sand beaches.

The island is rich with wildlife—you can snorkel with turtles in colourful reefs, discover monk seals lounging on beaches, and enjoy a boat trip for some of the best whale watching in the world (we couldn’t believe how many humpbacks we saw!).

In this post, we share our top things to do in Maui as well as suggestions from other travel bloggers.

These Maui activities are listed in clockwise geographical order starting in East Maui.

You’ll find a Maui map with all these recommendations near the end of the post.

Note: This post is for future planning/dreaming only. The Hawaii governor is asking visitors to avoid non-essential travel to Hawaii until at least the end of October 2021.

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Maui Travel Restrictions 2021

From September 15 until at least October 15, 2021, proof of vaccination is required to dine indoors at Maui restaurants.

Visitors to Hawaii who have been vaccinated in the US do not need to get a pre-travel COVID test.

Non-vaccinated visitors from mainland USA and all visitors from Canada and a few other countries can travel to Hawaii if they show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of departure as part of the Safe Travels program.

For more details, see my post on planning a trip to Hawaii.

Restaurants and tours in Maui are currently operating at limited capacity to allow for social distancing. Make sure to book as far in advance as possible.

You need to download the mandatory contact tracing app, AlohaSafe, before you arrive in Maui.

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Video: What to Do in Maui, Hawaii

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Where to Stay on Maui

The best area to stay in Maui for a beach vacation is South Maui (Kihei or Wailea) or West Maui (Kaanapali or Napili).

We spent most of our time in Kahana on the West Coast. It’s a quieter and more affordable area a 10-minute drive north of popular Kaanapali Beach.

We stayed in a condo at Kahana Reef, which is great value for oceanfront accommodation. We saw whales and turtles from our lanai and the sunsets are stunning.

The island is small enough that you can explore all these Maui attractions from one base. It’s about an hour’s drive between West and South Maui.

If you have time, though, it’s worth spending a few nights in less-visited East Maui or Upcountry.

The view from our bed at sunrise at Hana Kai condos in Hana, Maui
The view from our bed at sunrise at Hana Kai

We loved Hana Kai Condos overlooking an empty black sand beach in Hana. Staying here for a night or two is the best way to experience the Road to Hana as you can visit the busiest sights before the day-trippers arrive.

See our Maui itinerary for more suggestions of places to stay in Maui.

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Responsible Travel in Maui

Visitor numbers to Maui have soared since Hawaii reopened. Please do your part to be a responsible and respectful guest on the island. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep Maui safe by wearing a mask indoors and in crowded places and keeping your distance from others.
  • Obey signs such as “no trespassing” and “no parking”.
  • Don’t stop on the road however good the photo opportunity—always find a safe place to pull over.
  • Don’t touch, feed or get too close to turtles, seals or other wildlife.
  • Don’t litter or take any sand or rocks with you.

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Best Things to Do in East Maui

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1) Drive the Spectacular Road to Hana

Simon and Erin at the rainbow eucalyptus trees on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii
At the rainbow eucalyptus trees on the Road to Hana

Driving the Road to Hana is a Maui must do. This 64-mile narrow winding road takes you from the North Shore to the remote East Coast via rainforests and waterfalls, black and golden beaches, and stunning coastal scenery.

There is plenty to see close to the road or you can do longer hikes for more adventure. Don’t miss delicious homemade banana bread from the snack stands (Hana Farms is our favourite).

If you aren’t confident driving on curving roads with many one-lane bridges, join a guided tour instead. This will save your energy for the sights as it’s a tiring 10-hour return trip (with plenty of stops). You’ll also learn about Hawaiian culture and history from your local guide.

This small group Road to Hana tour looks ideal. You’ll visit all the highlights and it includes pick up from your hotel, breakfast and BBQ lunch, and time to swim at a beach or waterfall. It costs $186.

Or if you want to customise your own itinerary, check out this private Road to Hana tour.

If you want to drive yourself for the most flexibility, I recommend staying in Hana for a night or two. This way you can visit the most popular attractions in the morning before they get crowded.

We adored our beachfront condo at Hana Kai Maui—watching the sunrise over the ocean from our bed was magical.

Read our guide to the best road to Hana stops for more tips.

The Road to Hana has become very busy since Hawaii reopened and locals have been upset by the behaviour of some tourists. Please act respectfully, let locals driving faster pass you, don’t illegally park on the roadside, and don’t enter private property.

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2) Jump into Natural Pools at Twin Falls

Contributed by Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

Jumping into the pools at Twin Falls, one of the best things to do in Maui
Aquamarine pool at Twin Falls

A great early stop (Mile Marker 2) on the famed Road To Hana is Twin Falls.

You can visit one of the waterfalls independently or choose a guided three-mile hike, which is one of the most fun things to do in Maui.

On a guided trip you get exclusive access to several beautiful private waterfalls and discover special features of the Valley Isle.

Our family loved this half-day Waterfall and Rainforest Hiking Tour with Hike Maui.

We were led to private falls, where we enjoyed swimming and jumping safely into the pools from rocks, directed by our guide’s expertise.

Our guide also showed us unique plants (some edible) that grow on the island and special features like a miniature bamboo forest.

The hike is modest, so kids 6+ can do it if they are active and able to swim.

The waterfalls hiking tour costs $161 per person including transport and lunch. Check availability here.

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3) Visit the Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park

Sea stacks at Wai‘anapanapa State Park near Hana in Maui
Sea stacks at Wai‘anapanapa State Park

Wai‘anapanapa State Park is a Maui highlight and one of the most popular stops on the Road to Hana. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

After staying in Hana, we visited the park at 8.30am to bask in the beautiful light and enjoyed an hour walking along the stunning Pa‘iloa black sand beach and coastal trails, past a sea cave and blowhole. You can do longer hikes along the lava coast.

Reservations are now required for the park—book on the Go Wai‘anapanapa website up to two weeks in advance. You must buy an entrance ticket ($5 per person) and a parking voucher ($10 per vehicle).

Camping here is an affordable way to stay on this side of the island—permits are required.

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4) Hike Through Bamboo on the Pipiwai Trail

The bamboo forest on the Pipiwai Trail on the Road to Hana is one of the best places to visit in Maui
Standing under the shade of the bamboo forest on the Pipiwai Trail

One of the best things to do on Maui is hike the Pipiwai Trail through rainforest and an impressive bamboo grove to the dramatic 400-foot Waimoku Falls.

The out and back hike is four miles and took us about two hours. We didn’t find it too challenging but there are uneven, muddy and uphill sections.

Wear decent shoes (hiking sandals were fine for us) and take insect repellent and plenty of water—it’s hot and humid.

If you don’t have time for the whole trail, you can reach the beautiful bamboo forest after a 30-minute walk.

The Pipiwai Trail is located in the Kipahulu section of Haleakalā National Park. Entrance is $30 per vehicle (pay by credit card at the self-pay machine), but it’s valid for three days so you can use it for Haleakalā Summit too.

This is often the final stop for Road to Hana drives (it’s actually 35 minutes past Hana), but it’s worth coming early after an overnight stay in Hana to avoid the crowds. It’s open from 9am – 5pm.

You can also visit the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools) near the start of the trail.

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Best Things to Do in South Maui

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5) Snorkel the Molokini Crater

Snorkelling at the Molokini Crater in Maui, Hawaii is one of the best Maui activities
Stunning view of Molokini Crater from above, one of the best things to do in Maui, photo by Farid Askerov

Snorkelling in the extinct volcanic crater of Molokini is a must do in Maui for many visitors.

It’s a unique spot with excellent marine life on a coral reef—we saw parrotfish, pipefish, bannerfish, and a white-tipped reef shark. We even heard haunting whale songs when we were under the water.

Most trips combine the crater with snorkelling at Turtle Town to see Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu). If you get lucky, you might also see dolphins and whales.

Molokini Crater attracts up to 1000 visitors a day. In order to arrive before most boats, we visited with Redline Rafting ($199) who leave at 7am with a maximum of 20 people.

We enjoyed our trip, but their rafts are quite bumpy and wet, and there’s no toilet. If you’d prefer a larger, more stable boat, check out this Molokini snorkel tour with Malolo Molokini Snorkeling Charters ($120).

The trip includes breakfast and lunch and the catamaran has restrooms, a freshwater shower, an easy stairway into the water, and plenty of shade.

Boats to Molokini Crater depart from Kihei or Maalaea Harbor. Bad weather can cause cancellations so be sure to schedule this trip early.

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6) Relax in the Scenic Makena Cove

Contributed by Kristine from Wanderlust Designers

Secret Beach, Makena Cove is one of the best beaches in Maui
Sunset at Makena Cove

Hidden away on Maui’s South Shore is the little stunner called Makena Cove, also known as the Secret Beach and Paako Cove.

Despite the name, the Secret Beach is rightly popular because it is simply spectacular with the black lava rocks, white sand, crystal clear water, and swaying palm trees making for that picture-perfect Hawaiian view.

The ideal time to visit is around the sunset when it gets illuminated by a fiery light. With the islands of Kahoolawe and Molokini on the horizon, it’s hard to find a more stunning scene.

During the day, if the weather and waves permit, you can even try snorkelling amid beautiful reef formations, colourful tropical fish, and vibrant sea beds.

However, take care, don’t go into the water if the conditions do not look safe since there are no lifeguards.

Be sure to pack everything you might need, including food and water, as there are no facilities, bars, or restaurants within walking distance.

Drive along the rock walls in the upscale neighbourhood and look for the “beach access” sign to get to the Makena Cove. The path is a narrow opening between two lava-rock walls.

There is no designated parking, so give yourself plenty of time when coming to the beach.

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7) Stroll Along the Sands of Big Beach

Contributed by Jess from I’m Jess Traveling

Golden sands of Big Beach, one of the top Maui attractions
The golden sands of Big Beach

You will arrive at Big Beach a bit further north, also known as Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach.

One of the best beaches in Maui, Big Beach is a beautiful, wide sandy beach that offers impressive views and a long shoreline.

The main draw is the undeveloped beauty and wide-open spaces, so you will find space and privacy regardless of how busy the beach is.

You will often find boogie boarders at Big Beach as it has a powerful shore break.

When the surf is high, it is challenging to get in and out of the water. Inexperienced swimmers can get severely injured as the waves can be powerful, so always treat the ocean with caution.

Climbing up the rocks on the north side of the beach gives you epic views of the massive beach below.

Continuing down the other side of the rocks leads you to Little Beach—Maui’s most famous nude beach!

A few food trucks operate in the parking area if you’ve worked up an appetite after a long day of sunbathing and playing in the water.

As of March 2021, it now costs visitors $10 to park at the entrance, but there will be no fee if you park outside the gates and walk in.

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8) Hop the Kamaole Beaches in Kihei

Contributed by Noel from This Hawaii Life

Beach hop along Kamaole Beaches on Maui, Hawaii
The rocky outcrops separating the beaches are ideal for snorkelling

A short drive up the coastline along South Kihei Road will take you to more popular stunning beaches known as Kamaole Beaches One to Three (Kam I to III). The word kamaole in Hawaiian means barren, for the once dry coastlines of South Maui.

Nowadays you will find luxury resorts, shopping centres, and restaurants because of the sun and beautiful beaches.

The three beaches all line up next to each other, separated by rocky outcrops fantastic for snorkelling and spotting tropical fish.

Mornings at Kamaole are popular because of calm winds and surf and the conditions are better for snorkelling. Trade winds and surf kick up a notch in the afternoon, which is more popular with body surfers and boogie boarders.

All the Kamaole beaches offer parking, amenities like picnic areas, restrooms and showers, and lifeguards to patrol for safety in the area.

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9) Take Surf Lessons in Kihei

Contributed by Monica from Planner at Heart

Surf lessons in Kihei is one of the top Maui activities
Beginner surfers will appreciate the calm waters at Cove Beach Park

Kihei in South Maui is known as one of the best spots for beginner surfers, explaining the abundance of surf schools.

Located next to Kalama Park is Cove Beach Park where the surf break has tiny, gentle waves perfect for beginners.

Even with plenty of surf schools to choose from, it’s best to book and reserve your lesson in advance.

Most range in price from $60 to $100 for an hour’s lesson, with private lessons ranging from $150 to $200. If you’re travelling with a group, call around and ask what options (and discounts) are available for group bookings.

During our last Maui trip, we rented a house in a Kihei neighbourhood with friends that happened to be within walking distance to Kalama Park.

We booked a surfing lesson, and while walking back to our house, we learned that our instructor lived directly across the street. He came over on the night we rented karaoke equipment and sang songs with us.

That’s the beauty of Kihei, Maui, and the Aloha spirit!

Book yourself onto this great surfing lesson for small groups with Maui Waveriders.

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Best Things to Do in West Maui

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10) Go Whale Watching

Whale breaching in Maui on our Makai Adventures boat trip. Photo by Jill Niederberger.
Photo by Jill Niederberger

Our most cherished memory from visiting Maui was taking a whale watching boat trip from Lahaina.

During winter thousands of humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to mate, give birth, and nurse their young in the warm, shallow waters. Maui is the ideal place to spot them.

We loved our tour with Makai Adventures so much that we did the trip twice. They run small boats and offer 20% off for repeat trips.

Setting out during the beautiful light of sunrise is the perfect time for the trip.

We easily saw dozens of whales including many baby whales (not so small), as well as adults breaching and slapping their tails, and we had the privilege of hearing their otherworldly singing through a hydrophone. They are magnificent creatures and it was an absolute thrill to be so close to them.

If you’re visiting from December to March, a whale watching trip is one of the absolute top things to do on Maui.

If you’d prefer a larger boat with indoor and outdoor seating, check out this whale watching cruise from Lahaina.

In South Maui, you can go one step further with this unique experience whale watching from a kayak with South Pacific Kayaks Maui.

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11) See the Banyan Tree in Lahaina

Banyan tree in Lahaina, one of the best places to visit in Maui
Amazingly this is a single connected tree, planted in 1873

Lahaina is a charming small town with lots of historical character. Aspects of its past may be problematic but inarguably fascinating.

It’s an excellent place for strolling along streets with buildings dating back to the nineteenth century and a popular harbour.

Lahaina is one of the best places in Maui for shopping with lots of independent boutiques to pick up that perfect souvenir.

The town’s highlight is the incredible banyan tree that dominates the Courthouse Square. It looks like it is many trees, but it is actually one huge connected one. It has the honour of being the largest of its kind in the US and is over 150 years old.

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12) Submerge Yourself with a Lahaina Submarine Tour

Contributed by Casandra from Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family

Lahaina Submarine Tour, Maui
A diver displaying a sea urchin to the submarine tour

Many people visit Maui every year, but many don’t explore the Maui that lies underneath the ocean. In the bustling town of Lahaina, you can take a 60 or 90 minute underwater viewing adventure aboard a submarine.

You can sit in front of the vast windows in the underwater viewing cabin for a close-up look at the reef.

Divers then enter the sea, search the bottom for rare creatures, and bring them right to your window, making for a fantastic photo opportunity.

You’ll see a variety of coral as well as reef fish, such as the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Hawaii’s state fish.

Bring a sweater or a thin layer as it was chilly in the submarine during the tour, even though it was scorching hot outside.

The submarine tour makes for a lovely addition to a day spent exploring Lahaina.

There are several tours available, including one that offers the chance to see a sunken ship called the Carthaginian in addition to exploring the reef.

Costs depend on the length and tour type you choose and range from $45 to $151. Booking online in advance is recommended.

Check availability here to explore the ocean floor with Atlantis Adventures Hawaii.

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13) Attend a Luau for an Unforgettable Evening

Contributed by Theresa from Fueled By Wanderlust

Lahaina Luau, Maui
Tables are set for the feast and festivities

A popular Maui activity is attending a luau. This lively cultural experience makes for a fun evening, whether for a couple, family, or group of friends.

Attending a luau gives you an intimate look at a beloved Hawaiian tradition as you discover local legends and cuisine.

Booking a luau with a reputable company, like Old Lahaina Luau, will ensure you receive an authentic experience.

The luau begins close to sunset, where you will be presented with a fresh lei when you arrive. You can choose to sit at a traditional low table with cushions for seating or a regular dining table and chairs.

As golden hour sets in, you will have the opportunity to take photos as you sip drinks and listen to local island music. Then, as the sun disappears over the horizon, dinner is typically served buffet style.

There will be an abundance of traditional Hawaiian dishes, with the star being pork that is roasted on hot stones underground.

The night will close with an enthralling show that combines hula dancing, traditional costumes, and storytelling.

You are guaranteed to have an unforgettable evening where you will leave with a better understanding of Hawaiian history and customs.

Tickets cost from $135 per person, and reservations book up months in advance. The duration of the luau is typically three hours. Be sure to bring your appetite for the copious amounts of food!

Immerse yourself in the Myths of Maui Luau at the Royal Lahaina Resort on Kaanapali Beach.

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14) Take it Easy on Kaanapali and Airport Beaches

Airport Beach in West Maui is one of the best places to go in Maui for a relaxing day.
Airport Beach

Kaanapali is the main beach on Maui’s West Shore, with an intriguing landmark (see below). It’s very popular and parking is expensive here.

It has three miles of soft sand and turquoise waters and multiple hotel resorts lining its front.

For a quieter beach day, we say head for Airport Beach (aka Kahekili Beach) on the other side of the Sheraton.

This beach is just as long and stunning with calmer waters, easier (and free) parking at Kahekili Beach Park (where there are toilets and other facilities). All this and it’s a whole lot more peaceful.

We spent a few blissful afternoons here and even saw whales.

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15) Watch a Sacred Ritual at Black Rock

Contributed by Sarah Vanheel from CosmopoliClan

Watch a sacred ceremony at Black Rock on Kaanapali beach in Maui
Black Rock from a distance along Kaanapali beach

Halfway along the Kaanapali shoreline, adjacent to the Sheraton Maui resort, lies an intriguing geographical landmark called Black Rock or Pu’u Keka’a.

While this headland may look like just another part of the coastal landscape, it’s of great significance in Hawaiian culture.

Black Rock is a sacred site where the souls of those who die vault into the spirit world. Many battles were fought in the proximity of Black Rock so that when death occurred, the fallen warriors would be at the right spot.

To this day, there’s a daily sunset ceremony at Black Rock that begins with the blowing of a conch shell and tiki torches lighted to honour the importance of this landmark.

The person performing the ritual offers a torch and lei to the ocean, then dives off the cliff. Everyone can watch this ceremony free of charge.

During the day, Black Rock is popular for snorkelling. The reef is accessible right off Black Rock beach, so there’s no need to venture out into deep water, and it is known for its optimal clarity.

You can encounter parrotfish, butterflyfish, cornetfish, Hawaiian triggerfish, and many more colourful creatures.

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16) Walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail

Kapalua Coastal Trail, one of the best activities in Maui
Spectacular views along the Kapalua Coastal Trail

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a gorgeous short coastal walk. The trail has mostly accessible boardwalks or paved smooth paths, with only some rocky parts and sand, so it would be brilliant for those with little ones.

Start at Kapalua Beach car park and follow the trail to DT Fleming Beach and back. It’s a 3.5 mile round trip and took us 1 hour 20 mins, but I recommend allowing extra time for snorkelling and basking on the beaches along the way.

For early morning runners this route is ideal.

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17) Have the Perfect Family Beach Day at Napili Bay

Kapalua Bay in West Maui
Kapalua Bay

For families, especially those with small children, this beach will tick all your boxes.

Here you’ll find a curve of golden sand, turtles, and most importantly, calm clear waters for swimming or paddling.

As a bonus it also has the advantage of being low key without the big budget resorts that round out the marquee beaches.

A visit to Napili Bay could be combined with nearby Kapalua Beach (another great snorkelling spot) and the coastal trail that starts there.

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18) Snorkel at Honolua Bay

Contributed by Candace from A Journey Inspired

Turtles in Honolua Bay, Maui
Exploring the marine life of Honolua Bay is one of the best things to do in Maui

As part of a conservation district, Honolua Bay is protected from fishing, making it one of the best beaches to snorkel in Maui and experience diverse marine life.

You’re guaranteed to be surrounded by large schools of colourful fish, and if you swim far out enough, you’ll likely see turtles and other sea life too.

The water is calm (on non-rainy summer days between May and September), making for high visibility and a decent swim spot for beginners.

Visiting Honolua Bay is free, and no reservations are required, but amenities aren’t available on-site, so you’ll need to bring your own gear.

Your adventure will begin after finding free parking at one of two trailheads atop a cliff above the bay if you are driving. Make sure you remove your valuables from your car, as break-ins are not uncommon in the area.

You’ll then take a short but beautiful walk through the tropical forest (sandals are fine, but don’t go barefooted).

Honolua is mainly rocky, so you’ll want to start snorkelling by the rocks on the right-hand (north) side of the shore, where the reef is more concentrated.

If you’re able, swim out to the tour boats as that’s where the most healthy reefs are and prepare to have your breath taken away by the beauty of the underwater world!

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19) Drive to the Nakalele Blowhole

Contributed by Daria from The Discovery Nut

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui
Make sure to stand well back from the blowhole!

Located at Nakalele Point, Nakalele Blowhole is one of the top attractions on Maui’s often overlooked West Maui Highway that stretches for 60 miles through the rugged backcountry.

Unlike Road to Hana, West Maui Highway isn’t crowded with tourists.

Be careful as you drive as portions of the road are unpaved with narrow passages where you need to manoeuvre your vehicle to let other cars pass. It’s a good idea to drive the highway clockwise if you are in Lahaina or Kapalua.

The Nakalele Blowhole is a stunning natural phenomenon created by rogue ocean waters shooting through a small opening connected to the underground.

In many ways, Nakalele Blowhole is similar to a geyser. The relatively small opening allows the rising ocean water to get through, releasing the quick stream of water through the hole.

Make sure to keep your distance from the blowhole as there have been deaths near it over the years, so your best bet is to admire this gorgeous place from a safe distance.

The jet of water shooting through the hole can be unpredictable and violent, sometimes approaching 50 feet and over.

Also, never turn your back to the water, as there’s always a danger of rogue waves that could cause injury.

The Nakalele Blowhole trail is about 1.2 miles long and located near Wailuku. Don’t forget to look out for the Heart Shaped Rock too!

The path is relatively easy and accessible from the parking lot which is located just past Mile Marker 38 on the Kahekili Highway. If you’re lucky there will be a stand selling refreshing coconut water.

20) Hike in ‘Iao Valley State Park

Contributed by Gabby Abbott from Journey to the Destination

Hiking in 'Iao Valley on Maui, Hawaii
Lush, green mountains of ‘Iao Valley State Park

‘Iao Valley State Park is a great place to hike, one of the wettest places in the entire world, and has a fascinating history.

The park once was used as burial grounds for the royals. It is a tradition that if someone steals the bones, they get special powers.

Besides the curious history, ‘Iao Valley State Park is a beautiful spot in Maui to visit. The lush, green mountains provide a relaxing place to take photos, eat lunch, and spend time with family.

The best hiking trail at ‘Iao Valley State Park is the 0.5-mile paved trail up to the ‘Iao Valley Needle. The path is paved and accessible for all and doesn’t have much elevation gain.

While there aren’t many hiking options besides the trail to the ‘Iao Valley Needle, there are some side trails. Some trails are open for you to explore, but others have signs not to enter.

Once you finish the walk up to the needle, hike on the nature trail near the parking lot where you can find side trails, watch locals swim, and enjoy the park.

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Best Things to Do in Maui: North Shore and Upcountry

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21) See Maui from Above on a Helicopter Tour

After our incredible doors-off helicopter tour over Kaui, we are eager to see the best of Maui from above when we next return.

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as seeing an island from above with an experienced pilot as your guide.

As well as getting a bird’s eye view, your pilot has the advantage of flying you over parts of the island that are usually inaccessible from land.

You can expect dramatic views of cascading waterfalls, rainforest, and the mighty Haleakalā volcano.

Maui helicopter tours depart from Kahului Airport and cost $359—it’s worth saving up for!

Check availability with the highly-rated Maverick Helicopters Hawaii here.

With this tour, you will be able to fly over Maui’s neighbouring island, Molokai. One review of the trip says that the “…scenery was breathtaking…the pilot was knowledgeable on the history and geology of both islands and made it an unforgettable experience.”

22) Visit Paia, Maui’s Hippie Surf Town

Contributed by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes

Ho’okipa Beach, Paia in Maui
Take a break on Ho’okipa Beach

Paia is a laidback town on the North Shore and one of the best places to visit in Maui to avoid the huge resorts.

It’s perfect for a day of exploring with trendy boutiques, a local food scene, and nearby beaches excellent for watching pro surfers ride the waves.

Begin your day at Paia Bowls for a healthy breakfast. The cute outdoor cafe serves açaí bowls topped with your choice of fresh fruit, botanicals and dry toppings, such as granola, bee pollen and hemp seeds.

Afterwards, walk through the quirky town to discover the unique boutique stores. Don’t miss Wings, an eco-minded shop selling handmade jewellery and bohemian clothing, and Imrie, a boutique selling chic beach staples and swimsuit attire.

After shopping, watch experienced surfers in action at Ho’okipa Beach. During winter you will see huge waves.

Finish your day with a late lunch or early dinner at Paia’s Fish Market, known for its fresh catch plates.

For fine dining, visit Mama’s Fish House, an open-air restaurant located in a coconut grove. It’s one of Maui’s most famous restaurants, so reservations are recommended far in advance.

To get to Paia, take Highway 36 past the international airport. The town is a 20-minute drive from Kihei and a 45-minute drive from Lahaina. It’s also the start of the Hana Highway.

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23) Explore Upcountry

Buddha state overlooking lavender fields at Alii Lavender Farm in Maui Upcountry
Buddha overlooking lavender fields at Ali’i Lavender Farm

​The main reason for venturing to Upcountry is to visit Haleakalā National Park, especially to see the sunrise at the volcano crater (read more below).

There is so much more to experience in this region that it is well worth spending a night or two here en-route to the West coast as we did onwards from the Road to Hana.

MauiWine (open 11am – 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, bookings recommended) is a lovely winery with views and an outdoor tasting area. We shared the tropical tasting ($12), which intriguingly included three sweet pineapple wines.

​​Visit Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm ($3 entry, open 10am – 4pm Friday to Monday), which has pretty grounds lined with 45 varieties of lavender and views down to the ocean. This is a fantastic spot to destress and hang out. You can also buy souvenirs, tasty lavender scones, and tea in the shop.

Arrive hungry at the Upcountry Farmers Market just off the Kula Highway on Saturday mornings. It was the biggest market we visited in Hawaii with lots of fresh produce, tempting sweet treats, and prepared food stalls with delicious food offerings, including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

We stayed in Makawao, a cute little Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) town with some early 20th-century shop fronts. Of course, you won’t see many cowboys around anymore, but it does have a very local feel with lots of unique shops and art galleries.

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24) See the Sunrise at Haleakalā National Park

Watching the sunrise above the clouds at Haleakalā on Maui
Above the clouds at Haleakalā

Towering above its surroundings in the National Park stands Haleakalā volcano at 10,023 feet. It’s a must see in Maui.

Many people venture here to see the sunrise over the crater, even travelling from South and West Maui, but it requires a very early start around 2am.

It is less tiring to stay in Upcountry beforehand. Kula Lodge is the closest hotel to the summit.

Reservations for sunrise are required and cost $1 per vehicle. They can be made 60 days in advance, and if you miss out, another batch is released two days in advance at 7am HST.

When you arrive it’s a slow, windy drive up the mountain. By the time we reached the summit at 6.30am the car park was full and they had closed the road, so be sure to leave plenty of time.

Once up there at elevation the temperature is below freezing with a harsh wind. Take more layers, hats, gloves, scarves and blankets than you’ll think you’ll need.

As the sun began to creep up it was a surreal feeling to be above the clouds, and the sunrise was beautiful.

If you don’t want to drive yourself, Polynesian Adventure offers a Sunrise and Breakfast tour and can pick up from selected Maui hotels. Check here for details.

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25) Cycle Down Haleakalā Volcano

Contributed by Nikki from She Saves She Travels

Cycling down Haleakala Crater, a Maui highlight
The landscape changing as you speed down a volcano on your bike is one of the best experiences in Maui

Another way to explore Haleakalā, warm up AND get your adrenaline pumping, is to hop on a bike and ride your way down the volcano.

After visiting the crater, Haleakalā National Park Visitor Centre and all there is to do at the summit, grab a bike and start navigating your way down the mountain.

It’s an exhilarating ride from thousands of feet in elevation on a dormant volcano to sea level.

With special bikes specifically made for fast, downhill travel, this activity is for anyone in decent athletic shape. You don’t have to pedal much at all – most of the ride is braking!

Watching the landscape change as you bike down is a phenomenal experience, and you will see Maui’s Upcountry too.

When considering what to pack for Hawaii, plan if you’ll be doing this activity with a sunrise tour or another time in the day. Remember to wear plenty of layers at the top.

Biking Haleakalā is an activity that fills up, so book it well in advance to get your desired day and time. Tours start at about $65 and go up to $240, depending on what it’s bundled with.

Reserve your bike now on this Haleakala Express Self-Guided Bike Tour with Bike Maui.

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Map of Maui Activities

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Summary

Whether you like to be spoiled for choice for sun-kissed beaches to relax on, or you like your travels to be on the adventurous side, Maui has something to offer everyone.

There may be too many must dos in Maui on this list for one trip, but that just gives you an excuse to return time and time again to this beautiful island.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m impressed with your excellent blog on Maui. We go there every other year for the past 8 years and you’ve covered everything! Well done!

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