Julie United States 17 Comments

Maui, with its scenic drives, beautiful beaches, and water sports, is a top destination for tourists in Hawaii. In just one place, you can snorkel with sea turtles, learn to surf, visit a national park, watch the sunrise above the clouds, go wine tasting, attend a luau, rappel down a waterfall, and relax on the beach. In this guide, we cover the best things to do in Maui with tips to have the best experience.

So far, we have visited Maui twice. The first time was back in 1999, when Tim and I visited Hawaii on our honeymoon.More recently, we visited Maui the summer of 2021. This time, we had kids with us, if you can still call them that (Tyler was 18 and Kara was one month shy of turning 17). On this trip, we repeated a lot of the same activities and discovered some new places.

Maui is an awesome place to visit. Of the Hawaiian Islands, this one is the “most fun.” With surfing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding, this is a great island to visit if you want to be in the water. You can fill your days with scenic drives, shopping, and perfecting your surfing skills, or you can simply relax in the shade of a palm tree with a tropical drink in your hand.

There are lot of different ways to spend your time here, depending on how busy you want to be. We share a long list of things to do in Maui, but you don’t need to do them all. At the end of this post, we list the top 10 experiences, perfect for the first-time visitor.

Let’s get started.

Overview of Maui

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Maui County is made of up four islands: Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, and Kaho’olawe.

The island of Maui was formed by two volcanoes. The older and smaller western volcano forms the northwest section of Maui (the West Maui Mountains). Younger and larger Haleakala is the volcano that forms the southeast part of Maui.

The climate varies considerably in Maui. Called microclimates, the amount of rainfall and cloud cover can vary quite a bit depending on the location.

The windward side of Maui, which are the eastern coastal sections (Hana and Kipahulu) and the north shore (Paia and Haiku) get the most rain. The leeward side of the island (Wailea, Makena, Lahaina and Ka’anapali) get much less rainfall.

The difference in weather conditions can be dramatic. Whereas most of the Road to Hana winds through lush, tropical vegetation, the western shore of Maui is extremely dry. Hana can get over 100 inches rain per year whereas just 15 inches of rain may fall in Lahaina.

And as you are planning your trip, and when you are here, you will hear the term “upcountry Maui.” This refers to the area on the Haleakala side of Maui that is not located near the shoreline. Upcountry Maui is the hilly slopes of Haleakala, running from Paia in the north to the south coast. 

Maui Map

Map of Maui | Best Things to Do in Maui

Best Things to Do in Maui

Here are the best things to do in Maui. At the end of this section, you can see them all on a map (or skip ahead now).

1. Go to the Beach

A visit to Maui would not be complete without a visit to at least one beach. With 120 miles of coastline, the list of the best beaches in Maui is long. During our time in Maui, we visited a lot of them. Here is a list of our favorites.

Kapalua Bay Beach

Located in northwest Maui, this is a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and stand up paddle boarding. This beach is in a protected cove, so the water is calm.

Kapalua Beach Maui

Kapalua Bay Beach | Best Things to Do in Maui

Tyler and Kara spent several hours here stand up paddle boarding. There is a small shop right on the beach that rents paddle boards and snorkel equipment.

Where to Park: There is a small, free public parking lot just south of the beach but you have to be extremely lucky to get a spot (GPS coordinates: 20.997744, -156.666019). There are also public restrooms next to the parking lot. When we couldn’t get a space here, we parked across the street in the parking lot for the Kapalua golf course and tennis courts for $10 (GPS coordinates: 20°59’53.1″N 156°39’53.6″W).

Ho’okipa Beach

Located on the north coast of Maui, not far from Paia, is Ho’okipa Beach. This is a great spot for surfing and spotting sea turtles.

Hookipa Beach Sea Turtles

Can you spot the sea turtles on the beach?

PRO TRAVEL TIP: You can add Ho’okipa Beach on to the Road to Hana, since it is located on Hana Highway. It’s also located a very short drive from Mama’s Fish House, one of the highest rated restaurants in Maui. During our visit, reservations were mandatory and they completely booked for the next 3 months.

Polo Beach

We visited this beach frequently since it was located next to the Kea Lani, where we stayed in Maui. Tyler and Kara spent a lot of time boogie boarding here and the snorkeling is supposed to be pretty good.

Polo Beach Maui

Polo Beach | Best Things to Do in Maui

Big Beach

This enormous beach is located on southwest Maui, just south of Wailea. It can also go by the names Oneloa Beach (note that there are two beaches on Maui with the name Oneloa Beach…the second Oneloa Beach is located near Kapalua in northwest Maui) and Makena Beach, since it is located in Makena Beach State Park. 

This wide sandy beach has a lifeguard on duty as well as restrooms and food trucks next to the parking lot.

Big Beach Maui

Big Beach | Best Things to Do in Maui

The Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park

You’ll read about this black sand beach later in this post (a visit to Waia’anapanapa State Park is one of the best things to do in Maui) but I couldn’t leave it off this list of beaches.

This beach is small and the water can be rough but the sand is a gorgeous jet black color. Because of the rough water, it usually does not make a good swimming spot, but it is definitely worth the visit. There are a bunch of other fun things to do in the Wai’anapanapa State Park that I cover later in this guide.

More Beaches in Maui

Other popular beaches on Maui include Ka’anapali Beach (north of Lahaina), Wailea Beach (next to the Grand Wailea in Wailea), Slaughterhouse Beach (northeast shore of Maui), and Napili Beach (near Kapalua).

2. Attend a Luau

Going to a luau is an essential experience to have in Hawaii.

Dine on traditional Hawaiian foods, enjoy the live music, and go on a cultural and historical journey through Hawaii. Watching the hula dancers dance to the beat of the Hawaiian drums is an unforgettable experience.

The most popular is the Old Lahaina Luau, which is advertised as the most authentic luau in Maui. We have done this one twice and loved it. Tickets include dinner, open bar, and the performance. The overall experience is wonderful and the sunset can be stunning!

Maui Sunset

Drums of the Pacific features fire dancing and some of the best dancing of the luaus. 

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Book your tickets well in advance. Tickets can sell out as early as 3 months in advance, sometimes even sooner, during peak travel season.

3. Watch the Sunrise above the Clouds

Watching the sunrise above the clouds from the top of Haleakala is one of the best things to do in Maui.

Haleakala Sunrise

Sunrise at Haleakala | Best Things to Do in Maui

To do this, be prepared to wake up extremely early. From most locations on Maui, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to drive to the summit of Haleakala. If sunrise is at 6 am, plan on leaving your hotel before 4 am. I know you are on vacation, but having done this twice, it is worth setting your alarm clock to see this sunrise.

You also need to make your reservation in advance. This is such a popular experience that the National Park Service now requires an advance reservation to avoid overcrowding at the summit.

And be aware that the weather does not always cooperate. Sometimes the entire summit can be clouded in, so that view you woke up so early for just won’t be there. Or, there could be no clouds at all.

If the idea of waking up super early to watch a sunrise is not the way you plan to spend your vacation, sunset is also fantastic. And there is no reservation necessary for this experience.

4. Walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail

This short walk is an underrated experience in Maui. In less than two miles, you will walk past tidepools, several beautiful beaches (including Kapalua Bay Beach, mentioned earlier), past posh resorts, and are treated to some of the most stunning coastal views in Maui.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is 1.76 miles point-to-point. It starts at Kapalua Beach and heads north, ending at D.T. Flemings Beach. The trail alternates between sidewalks, rocky, sandy trails, and boardwalks. You can get by with a pair of flip flops but it might be easier to walk some of the more rugged sections with hiking sandals or sneakers.

Along the walk, you will see Kapalua Beach, the Kapalua tidepools, Oneloa Bay, and the Ritz-Carlton.

Oneloa Bay Maui

Oneloa Bay | Best Things to Do in Maui


Kapalua Coastal Trail

Cliffs along the Kapalua Coastal Trail | Best Things to Do in Maui

If you are short on time, or if you don’t want to walk 4 miles round trip, I recommend walking from Kapalua Bay Beach to Oneloa Bay. A long boardwalk heads alongside Oneloa Beach. Once you get to the far end of the boardwalk, turn around and retrace your steps back to Kapalua Beach (this makes the walk roughly 2 miles round-trip). Beyond the boardwalk at Oneloa Bay, the trail is sidewalk that runs along Lower Honoapiilani Road and through the Ritz Carlton, so the views are not nearly as good as the first mile of sights.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: I recommend adding on the detour to Makalua-puna Point and the Dragon’s Teeth, mentioned next.

Where to Park: The best place to park is the free public parking lot just south of Kapalua Beach (GPS coordinates: 20.997744, -156.666019) but spaces here are extremely limited. When we couldn’t get a space here, we parked across the street in the parking lot for the Kapalua golf course and tennis courts for $10 (GPS coordinates: 20°59’53.1″N 156°39’53.6″W). You can also park at Kapalua Parking, which is located near Oneloa Bay. This is about the midpoint of the Kapalua Coastal Trail. And finally, you can also park at the free public parking for the Dragon’s Teeth.

5. See the Dragon’s Teeth

This quick visit is well worth it if you plan to be in northwest Maui and/or have plans to walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

Located on Makalua-puna Point, trachyte lava has been eroding away, leaving behind pointed spires that line up in a way that they resemble a line of dragon’s teeth (with a little bit of imagination).

Dragons Teeth Best Things to Do in Maui

Dragon’s Teeth | Best Things to Do in Maui

But that is not all there is to see here.

Continue out towards the point and you will come to the labyrinth, a giant, circular maze.

Labyrinth Things to Do in Maui

If you like, you can continue out to Makalua-puna Point, where the surf pounds the rocky volcanic coastline.

GETTING HERE: The closest place to park is at the free public parking lot at the intersection of Lower Honoapiilani Road and Office Road. Follow the signs for Dragon’s Teeth. You will walk on a path next to a golf course to get out to the point. 

This also makes a great addition to the Kapalua Coastal Trail. The Coastal Trail goes right through this parking lot.

A visit to Makalua-puna Point takes 20 to 30 minutes.

6. Visit Lahaina

Lahaina, with its collection of shops and restaurants, is a great place to spend an afternoon on Maui. If you like shopping, you have many boutique shops, art galleries, jewelry stores, and clothing stores to visit, not to mention the typical touristy souvenir shops.

Stop by Ululani for some shave ice. And don’t miss the enormous Banyan Tree. It was planted in 1873 and it is one of the largest Banyan trees in the United States.

Note: Wildfires in Lahaina have devastated most of this city. Currently, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority is asking visitors to refrain from visiting Lahaina and West Maui.

Lahaina Banyan Tree best things to do in Maui

Banyan tree in Lahaina | Best Things to Do in Maui

7. Visit Iao Valley State Park

Located in central Maui, this state park is home to the Iao Needle (Kuka’emoku). In Hawaiian culture, it is the phallic stone of Kanaloa, the god of the ocean. The cliffs of this state park were used as a burial site for Hawaiian royalty.

A visit here is quick. Walk the 0.6 mile trail to a viewpoint of the Needle.

Iao Valley best things to do in Maui

Pierre Leclerc/shutterstock.com

Tim and I did this on our first visit to Hawaii but didn’t have time on our more recent trip. Just note that this part of Maui gets a lot of rain so there is a good chance that you will have some clouds and/or rain during your visit.

8. Go Snorkeling

One of the best things to do on Maui is to go snorkeling. You can do this on a tour or you can visit a beach on your own and snorkel at your leisure, if you have a snorkel.

There are many places to go snorkeling in Maui. Here are some of the best spots.

Molokini Crater

This is one of Maui’s most famous places to go snorkeling. There are many tour operators that offer daily trips out to this quiet cove. Some tours will add on other great snorkeling spots, such as Turtle Town (mentioned next).

We have done this on both of our visits to Maui. It’s a nice experience but there are better snorkeling spots in Hawaii where you don’t have to take a tour (our personal favorite snorkeling spot in Hawaii is at Two Step on the Big Island). You will see a nice variety of fish and Molokini Crater is a great place to snorkel for first-timers, but it’s not the best spot in Hawaii. It’s just one of the most popular because of the numerous tours that make the trip out this way.

We took a half-day tour on the Calypso. This tour included a visit to Turtle Town, which we liked more than Molokini Crater, since we could swim with sea turtles.

Snorkeling in Maui best things to do in Maui

Snorkeling at Molokini Crater | Best Things to Do in Maui

Turtle Town

If you want to swim with sea turtles, this is the place to go. You can visit Turtle Town on a snorkel tour that includes Molokini Crater or you can do this on your own.

Turtle Town is located just off of the coast from Maluaka Beach, which is south of Wailea. Not only will you see sea turtles but there are lots of fish here, too. If you want to do this on your own, you can park next to Maluaka Beach and snorkel in the water here. If you visit between 10 am and 3 pm, there is a good chance that you will see other tour boats in the area, which will help point you in the right direction to see the sea turtles.

Honolua Bay

This quiet cove is located on the northwest coast of Maui, north of Kapalua and Ka’anapali. There is no beach here but the water is calm and the reef is home to a wide variety of fish. Honolua Bay is free to visit but there are no restrooms or lifeguard.

Honolua Bay best things to do in Maui

Honolua Bay | Best Things to Do in Maui

Here’s a tongue twister of a name for you: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. This triggerfish is the state fish of Hawaii. You’ll see it on T-shirts and if you’re lucky, you will see it in the reefs, too. This is what it looks like.

Kapalua Bay

Mentioned earlier as one of the best beaches to visit, this is also one of the best spots in Maui to snorkel. While you are here, you can also go stand up paddle boarding and walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail.



Where to Get a Snorkel

If you plan to do a lot of snorkeling while in Hawaii, you can pack your own snorkel or buy one once you are here.
If you only plan on snorkeling once or twice, your tour company should provide a snorkel (if you are taking a tour) or you can rent one. Snorkel Bob’s rents snorkels and boogie boards on a daily basis. You can even rent a snorkel on Maui and return it at one of their locations on a different island, if you will be island hopping. We used Snorkel Bob’s both for snorkels and boogie boards. Their equipment is very clean and in excellent condition.

9. Go Surfing

From newbie surfers to pros, there are lots of great places in Maui to ride the waves.

For those new to surfing, the coastline from Lahaina south to Ukumehame Beach Park is one of the best places to go, with shallow water and smaller waves.

Ho’okipa Beach is great for those with lots of experience, with its larger waves. There’s a good chance that you will see sea turtles while you are here.

Honolua Bay is a great place to go snorkeling, because of its calm waters. But out beyond the reef is a break point that creates one of the best surfing locations in Hawaii. It has been called the “best wave in the world” by four time world champion Mark Richards.

Finally, “Jaws Beach,” also called Pe’ahi, is the most powerful surf spot on Maui. This is for the pros only.

Note: Surfing conditions change seasonally. From November through March, big swells hit the north shore of Hawaii, making this the best time to surf in Maui, at least for those with experience. From April to October, the northern swells diminish and the waves get larger in the south.

On our most recent visit, Tim and Tyler took a semi-private surfing lesson with Maui Surfer Girls. They had a great experience with one exception. The surf lesson was great, but they paid extra for the photography package and weren’t happy with the photos (they only got a handful of photos and the ones they did get were blurry and low quality). 

Maui Wave Riders and Maui Surf Clinics also get very good reviews.

Tyler Tim Surfing best things to do in Maui

Tyler and Tim Surfing | Best Things to Do in Maui

10. Go Whale Watching

As part of their annual migration route, humpback whales travel to Hawaii during the winter months for mating season. The shallow water between Maui and Moloka’i and Lana’i is a prime location to see humpback whales during the winter season.

Whale watching season runs from November to May. The peak season is January through March.

After mating season, the humpback whales travel north to Alaska and they spend the summer here.

The Pride of Maui offers whale watching tours from December through March. Learn more here. 

11. Hike the Pīpīwai Trail

On one hike, you can visit two waterfalls, see an enormous Banyan tree, and (the best part) walk through a bamboo forest.

Pipiwai Trail

Pīpīwai Trail | Best Things to Do in Maui

The Pīpīwai Trail is a 4 mile out-and-back trail that is located in the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park. This is one of the main stops on the Road to Hana and it does get crowded. For the best experience, plan to get here first thing in the morning (that means driving the Road to Hana as a loop or spending the night in Hana).

12. Drive the Road to Hana

If you read any guidebook or blog about the Road to Hana, you will no doubt hear about the Road to Hana.

We have mixed feelings about our experience(s) on the Road to Hana.

The Road to Hana is a BIG DAY. This drive takes you through the lushest part of Maui. The twisting road takes you to beaches, waterfalls, small towns, gardens, and even a national park. It sounds wonderful, and I’m mentioning it as one of the best things to do in Maui, but there are some things you should know before you plan to put a full day of your vacation into this experience.

This drive includes some beautiful places to visit. But most of the time, you will be navigating very windy, narrow roads and sitting in back-ups, which can be frustrating and rather boring.

The locals are tired of dealing with the influx of tourists and the increased traffic on the road, which is understandable. You will see numerous signs telling tourists to go home and you may even see frustrated locals speeding down the road, honking, and yelling at the long line of cars.

To drive the full Road to Hana in one day, it takes a full 12 hours.

You can either drive the Road to Hana out and back (this is how most people do it) or you can do it as a loop. We have done it both ways. Both routes take about 12 hours and doing it as a loop is more challenging but it is also more interesting, since you are not repeating the drive twice.

The top places to visit on the Road to Hana are Wai’anapanapa State Park, the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park, the Seven Sacred Pools, Hana, and Ho’okipa Beach.

Hamoa Beach best things to do in Maui

Hamoa Beach | Best Things to Do in Maui

On our recent Road to Hana experience, Tyler and Kara said it was boring and not worth the full day, I was relieved when it was over, and Tim said he enjoyed it.

I think the Road to Hana is worth it for most people, but I don’t think it is as thrilling as most guidebooks and blogs make it out to be.

As long as you have the time in your itinerary and like the idea of driving a narrow, twisting road to see a few sights, driving the Road to Hana is worth it. But before doing the Road to Hana, make sure you get in your beach time, your surfing and snorkeling time, and a trip to the crater of Haleakala National Park before adding this on to your trip.

13. Visit Wai’anapanapa State Park

There is more to Wai’anapanapa State Park than its beautiful black sand beach. You can also crawl into a sea cave, hike along the dramatic coastline, and see if you can spot the sea arch.

The highlight of a visit to this state park is the black sand beach. It’s a beautiful, small beach. The water is rough and the waves are strong, and there are numerous signs warning people to stay out of the water, so be careful here.

Best Things to Do in Maui Hana

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach | Best Things to Do in Maui

The sea cave is located on the right side of the beach. Look for a small opening in the rock wall at ground level. You will have to crouch quite low to get into the cave, but once inside, there is plenty of room to stand up and enjoy the view.

Sea Cave best things to do in Maui


On the left side of the beach, you can take the trail along the coastline. It has some ups and downs and even a little bit of rock scrambling, but once you make it to the top of the cliffs you get a great view of the park.

Waianapanapa State Park


If you want to go farther, you can continue along the trail. It takes just 2 minutes to get the viewpoint of the beach below.

Road to Hana Maui


The sea arch is located on the cliffs to the right hand side of the black sand beach. From the beach, head back up the steps and follow the sidewalk out towards the cliffs. To get a view of the arch, you will have walk out onto the rocks.

Sea Arch best things to do in Maui

Sea Arch | Best Things to Do in Maui

A visit to the state park can take an hour, if you just quickly want to see the highlights, or you could spend a lot more time here. There are picnic tables and restrooms, making this a great spot for a picnic lunch as you drive the Road to Hana.

In order to visit Wai’anapanapa State Park, you must make a reservation in advance. Tickets sell out in advance, so I recommend making your reservation when the reservation system opens. At the time that I am writing this, you can reserve your tickets 2 weeks in advance. Learn more here.

14. Eat Hawaiian Shave Ice

Eating shave ice is a must-have experience in Hawaii.

Shave ice originated in Japan and was brought to Hawaii in the early 1900’s. Ice is shaved super fine so that it almost resembles snow and then it is topped with a flavored syrup. Hawaiian shave ice is usually served over a scoop of ice cream. You can also top the shave ice with toasted coconut, sweetened condensed milk, or Li Hing Mui powder.

There are many shave ice stands sprinkled throughout Maui. We were fans of Ululani Shave Ice, which has locations in Lahaina, Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Paia, and the Hyatt Regency in Maui.

Hawaii Travel Guide

15. Visit the Maui Ocean Center

The Maui Ocean Center opened in 1988 and provides educational programs and exhibits to teach visitors about the local sea life. In this small aquarium, you can learn about Hawaiian coral, sea turtles, reef fish, and hammerhead sharks. Don’t miss the Sphere, a 3D experience where you get to swim with humpback whales.

For information on hours and pricing, visit the official website.

16. Hike the Sliding Sands Trail

How often do you get the chance to hike into a volcanic crater?

If you do one hike on Maui, this is the one that we recommend. Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail was one of our favorite things to do in Maui. It’s also one of our favorite hikes in the US national parks.

Best Hike in Maui

Sliding Sands Trail | Best Things to Do in Maui


Halemau'u Trail best things to do in Maui

The view of Haleakala Crater from the top of the Halemau’u Trail | Best Things to Do in Maui

The Sliding Sands trail starts on the rim of Haleakala and descends into the crater. The views of the crater and the cinder cones are phenomenal and it is a very unique experience. You can hike the Sliding Sands Trail out-and-back or combine it with the Halemau’u Trail to form a loop.

17. Go Zip Lining or Rappel Down a Waterfall

If you want to soar over the lush forests and green valleys of Maui, you have several zip lining companies to choose from. Tours typically last 2 to 4 hours and each company offers something unique, whether it is a super long zip line, the ability to race another person, outstanding views, or a hike through a rainforest.

Top zip line companies in Maui include Skyline Hawaii, Maui Zipline, Kapalua Ziplines, Jungle Maui Zipline, and NorthShore Zipline Co.

We chose Kapalua Ziplines, which has some of the longest zip lines on Maui. Unfortunately, on the day we had this scheduled, high winds shut down the zip lines so we were unable to do it.

If you are craving adventure but want to do something other than zip lining, how about rappelling down a waterfall? With Rappel Maui, you can explore freshwater pools and cliffs located in a tropical rainforest, and top it off by rappelling down a waterfall. They are located at the Garden of Eden Arboretum on the Road to Hana.

18. See the Nakalele Blowhole

In northern Maui, along the rugged, volcanic coastline, sits the Nakalele Blowhole. Located on Nakalele Point, this hole in the ground frequently “erupts” as waves pound the shore and sends the water streaming up and out of the hole. It looks a lot like a geyser as the water can shoot many feet into the air.

To get here, park along Highway 340. There are several parking lots and the blowhole is free to visit. From the parking lot, it is a short but very steep downhill walk to get to the blowhole. You can either see it from the top of the cliffs or make the trip down the sandy, slippery path to the coast.

Nakalele Blowhole Maui best things to do in Maui

View of the blowhole and the steep hike down to the coastline


Nakalele Blowhole

Nakalele Blowhole | Best Things to Do in Maui

Keep your distance from the blowhole. If you get too close, you risk being pulled into the blowhole by a wave. It has happened before. I recommend staying on the dry areas and not even walking onto the wetter areas where the waves have washed up on shore. The danger of this place is underestimated by tourists.

19. Go on a Scenic Drive along Highway 340

If you are looking for another scenic drive to do in Maui, visit north Maui. The drive from Kapalua to Nakalele Point is an underrated experience in Maui.

Punalau Beach Maui best things to do in Maui

Punalau Beach | Best Things to Do in Maui


Best Things to do in Maui North

View of the coastline east of Nakalele Point | Best Things to Do in Maui

Highway 340 twists and turns along the northern coastline, similar to the Road to Hana. The scenery is different…it’s not quite as lush here but you still get amazing coastal views. The road is wider and there is less traffic, so in some ways, it can be a more enjoyable experience.

Starting in Kapalua, head north. You will pass Slaughterhouse Beach, Honolua Bay, Punalau Beach, and Nakalele Point. If you continue farther, the road gets windier and the traffic lessens, eventually ending in Kahului.

20. Visit Upcountry Maui

Upcountry Maui has a much different look and feel to it than the coastline of Maui. In the hilly interior Maui, small towns are nestled on the slopes of Haleakala. Winding roads connect these towns and since you are higher in the hills, you get a unique view of Maui and its tropical coastlines.

Visit the towns of Makawao, Pukalani, Kula and Ulupalakua. Go wine tasting at MauiWine and visit the Ali’i Kula Lavender Fields. One thing that came highly recommended to us, but we never had time for, was the farm-to-table breakfast and lunch experiences at O’o Farm. 

Best Things to Do in Maui: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Top 10 Things to Do in Maui

Going to Maui for your first time? Here are 10 things to do in Maui on your first visit:

1. Relax on the beach
2. Visit Haleakala National Park
3. Go to a Lūʻau
4. Go snorkeling
5. Take surfing lessons
6. Eat shave ice
7. Visit Lahaina
8. Walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail
9. Drive the Road to Hana
10. Go whale watching during the winter months

How Many Days Do You Need in Maui?

If you want to do everything on our top 10 list, you will need a minimum of 4 full days on Maui. And it will be a very busy 4 days.

The Road to Hana will take a full day of your time. Haleakala National Park can also take a full day of your time, depending on what you plan to do here. Snorkeling, surfing lessons, zip lining, and the Kapalua Coastal Trail each take about half of a day, once you factor in travel times on the island.

On our more recent visit, we had 6 days on Maui. This was great, although honestly, more time would have been better, since we still didn’t get to everything on this list. We could still see and do a lot, but the extra days gave us some chill time. If you plan to stay at a resort, you will want some extra time, in order to get your money’s worth of what the resort has to offer.

Plan your perfect Maui itinerary with our Maui Itinerary Travel Planner. In this guide, we simplify the travel planning process by providing sample daily itineraries that you can arrange to create the perfect Maui itinerary, based on your interests.

Tours of Maui

Here are more ideas of things to do in Maui, Hawaii.



Where We Stayed

On both visits to Maui, we stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. With multiple swimming pools, beach access, a spa, onsite restaurants, shops, and bars, it can be hard to leave this place to explore Maui. All rooms are suites, so the extra space is great if you are traveling as a family.

Fairmont Kea Lani

Kea Lani | Best Things to Do in Maui

If you have any questions about the best things to do in Maui, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about Hawaii

MAUI ITINERARY: Plan your perfect visit to Maui with our Maui Itinerary Travel Planner.

KAUAI: Plan your visit to Kauai with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Kauai. Learn about how to take a doors off helicopter ride, how to hike the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, and how to hike the Nu’alolo and Awa’awapuhi Trails in Kokee State Park.

OAHU: Top experiences on Oahu include a visit to Pearl Harbor and hiking the Diamond Head Summit Trail.

HAWAI’I VOLCANOES: In our article Best Things to Do in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, we cover the must-have experiences. And don’t miss the Kilauea Iki Trail, one of the best hikes in the park.

TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more travel ideas, here are 10 unique destinations to put on your travel wish list and 15 fairytale destinations from around the world.

Read all of our articles about Hawaii in our Hawaii Travel Guide and the United States in our United States Travel Guide.


Maui Hawaii Best Things To Do

Things to do in Maui Hawaii Bucket List


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Comments 17

  1. Avatar for Jonny Carroll
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Jane

    Can you offer any suggestions as the best way to get around on Maui and Kauai when you are there for overnight stops on a cruise ship?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You could rent a car for the day, get around by the public bus in Maui and Kauai, or look into hiring a driver. The cruise may have options as well. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Nataliya

    Julie, we were in Maui in January with our two kids. We VERY MUCH appreciated your articles, photos and thoughts re the island. The knowledge and experiences you shared helped us narrow our very intense (and full of wonder for Hawaii nature) itinerary. All four of us ended up with different favorite experiences, majority from your articles. Please keep up your awe inspiring work!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  4. Avatar for Megan

    You mention that you liked Two Step more than Molokini, are there any other snorkeling spots you would recommend, and if so, how do they compare to Molokini and Two Step?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Our favorite snorkeling spot is Two Step, which is on the Big Island. We saw so many fish here, plus it is a beautiful spot in a protected cove. Another place we really like is Turtle Town, in Maui. Here we swam with sea turtles. Molokini is just OK, in our opinion. Some tours to Molokini include Turtle Cove. Other than a little snorkeling around the Kea Lani in Maui, this is the extent of our snorkeling experiences in Hawaii. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Scott Hill
  6. Avatar for Megan
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We are working on it but it might still be awhile before we get something published. If you are looking to spend about 10 days in Hawaii, I recommend spending 4 to 5 days in Maui, 1 to 2 days on the Big Island, and 3 to 4 days in Kauai. The order depends on your flights…where it is convenient to fly in and out of, as well as direct flights between islands. On our most recent trip, we did Maui, then the Big Island, then Kauai, then one day on Oahu, because we could get direct flights between the islands in this order. It saved us from connecting through Honolulu, which isn’t a big deal, but it does add some time to the day. So, if you plan to visit multiple islands, you will have to do some flight research first, because flights could change, I would imagine. I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, feel free to write in again. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Lynda Christensen
    Lynda Christensen

    From a local’s perspective to someone who has only visited twice you should remove your suggestions received from “tourist guides”. Liability is a concern. Southern beaches claim lives every year, mostly tourists. The southwest road from Hana is often only passable with 4 wheel drive, there is no cell service and most rental cars prohibit drives on this road. The same is true of the north loop but it adds falling rocks to its list of problems. Finally our hospital only has 10 ICU beds and services all 3 islands of Maui County.

  8. Avatar for Malani

    Please take out the part about Makena, Big Beach, Where you say it is normally clam waters. This is incorrect and in fact it is one of the most dangerous beaches in all of Hawaii. It is known for breaking peoples necks…..it is a nasty shore breaking beach with a super mean undertow that could drag you right out to the ocean if you don’t know what you are doing. I am from Maui, born and raised….you have a lot of misleading info in this article. Also, Hamoa beach in Hana as well as Koki beach are also very dangerous beaches as well. Go to Hana bay in Hana if you want to go to a beach out there. You should also pull over for locals if they get behind you on the way out to Hana, and you should not drive all the way around the back way from Hana, it is not a safe road and not meant for tourist traffic and it is super bumpy and has a lot of one way traffic areas, making it dangerous. Please update your article. It is misleading and people who follow your advice can be put in harms way. Aloha,

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Malani. Thanks for writing in with this info. A lot of the information about the beaches came from the Hawaii tourism website, so you might want to reach out to them too. We drove the back road to Hana and didn’t find it dangerous. The paved road is rough in spots and there are some short one lane stretches, but nothing different from driving the Road to Hana. Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Tracy
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We booked our reservation earlier this year. And then we had a family member try to book the same room just a few weeks later and prices had doubled!!! I think we just booked it at a great time just before the surge of people scheduling trips to Hawaii. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Tracy

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