Maui is a picture perfect paradise. Filled with golden sand beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and flowing waterfalls, there are so many things to do in Maui that a visit to this Hawaiian Island will leave you with an everlasting imprint on your soul.
Maui is the second largest Hawaiian Island and nearly 2.3 million people visited the Valley Isle last year. Most people travel to Maui searching for romance, relaxation, and adventure.
Swim under a waterfall by day and sip Mai Tais’ by night as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean turning the sky into a work of art. Now let’s get into the juicy details of 10 things to do on Maui for an unforgettable Hawaiian vacation.
Snorkel with Sea Turtles at Molokini Crater
If you think Maui is lovely from the coast, wait until you see her from beneath the water. One of the best things to do in Kihei is to visit the crescent-shaped Molokini Crater, which lies just off the coast of South Maui.
Since Molokini Crater is a marine sanctuary in Hawaii, fishing is prohibited there. This ensures the presence of sea turtles, coral reefs, and hundreds of diverse species of aquatic life.
The only method to get to Molokini is via a snorkeling tour, which are provided by a number of different businesses every day. The trade winds increase up by midday, so early outings are recommended.
Drive the road to Hana
The road to Hana is one of Maui’s top attractions and one of the best things to do in Maui for the whole family. The road to Hana is 52 miles of winding road that takes you from the town of Kahului to Hana town in East Maui.
Along the way, you’ll see countless roadside waterfalls, have amazing seascape views, and pass by some of the best and most exotic beaches that Maui has to offer.
Although the road is only 52 miles, this is an all-day event. It is recommended to stay a night or two in Hana to give yourself time to drive the road to Hana and explore all the fun things to do in Hana. Make sure you fuel up for gas and stock up on snacks as this will be the last place for fuel until you reach the town of Hana.
Hike to a 400 Foot Waterfall
If you don’t mind hiking and you packed a sturdy pair of shoes, one of the best things to do in Maui is hiking the Pipiwai Trail. The Pipiwai Trail is located inside Maui’s only National Park – Haleakala N.P.
Haleakala National Park has 2 separate entrances, the Kipahulu District and the Summit. The Kipahulu District can be found on the remote side of Maui, 10 miles past the town of Hana in East Maui which is where this hike begins.
The infamous trail is a 4-mile out-and-back hike that takes you past distant waterfalls, through a whispering bamboo forest, and eventually to the gigantic 400-foot Waimoku Falls.
This is not a swimmable waterfall and the National Park Service has since disallowed access to get up close to the falls as a few deaths have occurred. But the impressive waterfall is a beautiful site and is still worth the trek.
Make sure to check out the Oheo Pools commonly known as the Seven Sacred Pools which are also inside the Kipahulu District.
Watch the Sunrise above the Clouds on top of a Dormant Volcano
The Summit of Haleakala sits above the clouds at 10,023 feet and one of the best ways to experience the summit is at sunrise. There are not many places in the world you can watch the sun rise from below the clouds with a volcano crater and all its cinder cones as your backdrop.
You must make a reservation in advance for $1 if you plan on watching the sunrise. Watching sunset does not require reservations. It gets very cold at the summit so dress warmly to watch the sunrise or sunset above the clouds.
It will take a couple of hours to reach the summit if you are coming from the popular resort areas of South Maui or West Maui. If you’re not keen on long, early morning drives, opt for staying at the Kula Lodge at the base of the volcano.
Another epic way to explore the summit of Haleakala is by hiking through this dormant volcano. The entire trek in and out is around 12 miles long and takes 5-7 hours depending on your physical fitness.
If you’re not up for hiking the entirety, opt for hiking down and back up Sliding Sands Trail. You’ll still be hiking inside a dormant volcano and feel as if you are traversing the surface of Mars.
Explore Maui’s North Shore
Make your way to Maui’s North shore if you like a less chaotic, slower pace. Compared to the well-known destinations of Lahaina and Kihei, this area of the island is less populated, a tad less developed, and much cooler.
The best things to do in Paia include some boutique shopping and delectable dining. Not only is Paia town the unofficial gateway to the road to Hana, but you can also watch world-class kite-boarding, wind-boarding, and surf-surfing here.
Explore Exotic Beaches
Maui has no shortage of beaches, with over 120 miles of coastline there is a perfect beach for everyone. Whether you are looking for a beach perfect for swimming or something a little more exotic, Maui has it all.
- Best Swimming Beaches – Airport Beach, Big Beach, Wailea Beach, Polo Beach, and Kaanapali Beach.
- Best Snorkeling Beaches – Kapalua Bay, Kamaole Beach Park, Napili Bay, Honolua Bay, Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach, and Turtle Town.
- Best Beaches for Surfing – Ho’okipa Beach Park, Honolua Bay, Koki beach, 505 Beach, and Launiupoko.
- Best Beaches for Sun Bathing – Big Beach, Hamoa Beach, Secrets Beach, and Baldwin Beach.
- Exotic Beaches on Maui – black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park and Hana Bay.
Go on a Whale Watch
Every year, in order to give birth to their young, North Pacific humpback whales migrate from the icy waters of Alaska to the tropical waters of Hawaii. Although this is a seasonal activity, if you are visiting Maui during the official whale season from mid-November through mid-May, make sure you go whale watching.
Multiple boat companies provide whale-watching cruises several times each day. Additionally, the majority of tours offer snacks and beverages.
The naturalists onboard are quite informed, and you will learn a lot about these magnificent animals in their natural habitat in addition to getting a closer look at the whales. You don’t get the chance to see the largest mammals breach and teach their young how to basically grow up. It’s by far one of the best things to do on Maui for an unforgettable experience.
Enjoy a Sunset Sail
One of the best things to do in Maui is watching the sunset and there’s no better way to enjoy this activity than on a sunset cruise. Watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon as you sail across the ocean is a memorable experience to say the least.
Just like whale watches, there are several boat companies that provide sunset tours around the island.
Not only will you get the warm salty breeze blowing against your face and the colors of the sky during sunset, but the views of the West Maui Mountains and coastline are nothing short of amazing. Whether you are sailing solo or with a group of friends, this is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Cheers to the good life.
Swim under a Waterfall
The Hawaiian dream could be to swim beneath a waterfall. On Maui, there are multiple waterfalls that cascade down into a picture-perfect swimming pool. The majority of these can be found on Maui’s North Shore, specifically along the Hana Highway.
Twin Falls is a well-known waterfall that is ideal for swimming. Since it just takes a short 5–10 minute hike to reach the two running waterfalls, this is a fantastic activity for the whole family. Arrive early because once the parking lot fills up, they don’t allow anyone else.
Learn to Surf
If you don’t already know, Hawaii is the Mecca of surfing. There’s no better place to attempt to hang than on the islands. Maui is full of beginning surf spots ideal for first-time surf lessons.
The greatest spots for beginning surfers on Maui include Launiopoko, Breakwall, Ukemehame, and the Cove. Your time and money are well spent if you take the time to complete a lesson. You will pick up the fundamental knowledge, safety, and surf etiquette required in Hawaiian waters.
I hope you enjoyed reading about 10 unforgettable things to do in Maui. Whether you’re searching for rest and relaxation or a tropical adventure, there is something for everyone on Maui.
Jess is a bikini wearing, coffee loving, sunset watching, temple chasing explorer. When she’s not galavanting around the world you can find her on Maui, working on her blog I’m Jess Traveling and building the life of her dreams.