Are you looking for the best things to do on Maui? This guide from a Hawaii local has 50 fantastic recommendations.
Maui is quickly catching up to Oahu for the title of the most visited Hawaiian Island. And with its incredible attractions, like Iao Valley, the Road to Hana, and Haleakala, there’s no question of why. Without further ado, here are 50 awesome things to do on Maui.
Things to Do on the West Side of Maui
This section of Maui includes Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kapalua.
Spend an Evening at Old Lahaina Luau
If you’re looking for some things to do on Maui at night, your first pick should definitely be the Old Lahaina Luau. Described as the best luau on Maui, the Old Lahaina Luau serves up authentic Hawaiian food and puts on a show filled with Hawaiian hula dancers.
Watch the Nakalele Blowhole
A blowhole is an interesting natural phenomenon. On Maui, there is only one: Nakalele Blowhole.
In order for a blowhole to occur, there needs to be a series of events. First, there need to be some pretty big waves. Second, these waves need to crash into some rocks. Third, the rocks will need to have a decent-sized hole on them pretty close to the edge. Then, when the waves hit the rocks, the water will shoot up from the hole in the rocks due to the pressure, creating a sort of eruption-like image.
*Bonus: in this area, there is also Maui’s famous heart-shaped rock.
Take a Ferry Across the Auau Channel to Lanai
Surprisingly, one of the most popular things to do on Maui is visit the nearby island of Lanai. While there are a ton of things to do on Lanai, this post is on Maui. So the only reason this activity made it onto this Maui bucket list of sorts is because of the the ferry ride over.
As you cross across the Auau Channel to get to Lanai, you may see some spinner dolphins! They may be swimming under water near the boat, or they could be jumping out to say hi. How cool is that?
As an alternative, you can take a snorkeling tour to Lanai. While Molokini is definitely the more popular snorkeling spot, Lanai is home to some underwater gems of its own. (You may even get to see the same dolphins from the boat ride over!)
Book Here: Maui to Lanai Snorkeling Tour
Head to Pioneer Mill Co. to Learn About Hawaii’s Sugar Cane Plantation History
Sugar cane plantations are a huge part of Hawaii’s history. Many locals recall times when they could drive through acres and acres of sugar cane fields. When there was a sweet burning smell and smoke in the distance, they knew not to worry, as it was just the processing of the sugar cane.
Take the time to learn about Hawaii’s sugar cane plantations and their impact on the islands with a quick stop at Pioneer Mill Co.
Munch on a Slice of Pie from Leoda’s
Leoda’s is a local favorite for a slice of pie. With sweet flavors like olowalu lime, macadamia nut chocolate, and apple crumb, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re looking for a savory pot pie, they have those too!
Experience the Lighting of the Lahaina Banyan Tree
The large, nearly 150-year-old banyan tree is the most iconic landmark of the town of Lahaina. During the first weekend each December, this banyan tree is lit up with thousands of colored lights. It’s one of the best things to do in Lahaina.
Take a Tour to Hunt for Wild Boar
If you’re looking for one of the more unusual things to do on Maui, this is definitely it. Lopaka’s Aloha Adventures passes down the traditional Hawaiian way of life by showing visitors how to hunt for wild boar. And this tradition is weaved into every element of the tour, as instead of a gun, they only use a knife or a spear! Are you ready for this crazy adventure?
Interested? Make sure you have everything you need (including a Hawaii State hunting license) before you head out!
Things to Do in Central Maui
This section of Maui includes Wailuku and Kahului.
Find the Secret Trails at Iao Valley
The stunning natural landscape of Iao Valley usually makes it onto most tourists’ list of things to do on Maui. However, it usually ends up being quite a quick stop, because they don’t know what do there, besides see the famed Iao Needle. Here’s a hint: find the secret trails.
Grab a Pineapple Fritter from Krispy Kreme
For locals traveling to Maui, the first stop is ALWAYS Krispy Kreme. Not only is this the only Krispy Kreme location on any of the Hawaiian Islands, but, for a long time, it was the only major donut shop in general on any of the Hawaiian Islands!
Located just outside of the Kahului airport, why not act like a local for a bit and grab a pineapple fritter or two before heading to your hotel?
Strap on Your Hiking Shoes and Tackle the Waihee Ridge Trail
Located in the West Maui Forest Reserve leis the Waihee Ridge Trail. This 4.5-mile hike is a local favorite and tends to be rather uncrowded. When you get to the end, you’ll be able to see a stunning view of a large chunk of Northern Maui, as well as the nearby island of Molokai.
Hoping to do more amazing hikes on this beautiful island? Here are a few more of the best Maui hikes!
Check Out the Olivine Pools
At Maui’s Olivine Pools, lava rock and ocean water come together to create a beautiful natural pool. The greenish color from which these pools get their name is from a natural green crystal produced by lava. (It’s the same green crystal that makes the green sand beach on the Big Island green.)
*Note: do not go to the Olivine Pools during high tide, as this is VERY dangerous! The waves here have been known to sweep unsuspecting visitors off the rocks. So before you go, make sure that the tide is very low.
Things to Do on the South Shore of Maui
This section of Maui includes Kihei and Wailea.
Snorkel at Molokini Crater
Molokini Crater, a little island off the west coast of Maui, is the most popular snorkeling destination on the island. This crater protects the fish from the currents and waves in the area, so that means that there is a lot to see! Maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of the state fish, the humuhumnukunukuapuaa.
*Pro Tip: Be sure to use reef safe sunscreen during your Molokini snorkeling adventure! Here are eight great reef safe Hawaii sunscreen options.
Book Here: Molokini Snorkeling Tour
Dive to St. Anthony’s Shipwreck
Many boats that have been too old to continue have been purposely sunk to create a new reef for the Pacific Ocean’s sea creatures, including St. Anthony’s Shipwreck. This shipwreck is located just off the tourist-filled shores of Wailea, and Makena Coast Dive Charters will take you there.
Hop on the World’s Only Water Elevator
Within the water park-like pool area of the Grand Wailea is the only water elevator in the entire world! Hop on this water elevator to take you up to the top of the pool area before you slide back down all four thrilling slides and repeat the cycle.
Book Here: Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa
Things to Do on the North Shore of Maui
This section of Maui includes Paia and Haiku.
Watch Surfers at Peahi
Peahi is extremely famous in the surf community, although it is probably more well-known by its colloquial name: Jaws. Also known as Maui’s biggest surf break, this is easily the best place on the island to watch local surfers tackle some humongous waves!
*Note: Peahi is only accessible by 4×4.
Get Dressed Up and Head to Mama’s Fish House for Dinner
Located in the North Shore town of Paia, Mama’s Fish House is consistently rated as one of the best restaurants on the island. On the menu, it tells you exactly where the fish came from and who it was caught by, whether it’s from the deep-sea reefs of Lanai, the blue waters of Hilo Bay as caught by Kaeo Stokes, or the Auau channel near Molokai.
Interested? Be sure to make a reservation in advance, because it gets booked up quickly!
If Mama’s Fish House really does seem like your kind of vibe, it also has a small inn that you can stay at.
Find Your Way to Hookipa Beach
Located in the small town of Paia, Hookipa Beach is known for two things: surfers and turtles.
During the winter months, there are huge swells that roll in on the north side of the island, so it’s not uncommon to see locals taking advantage of it! During the summer months, if you’re lucky, you may see more than a dozen turtles just chilling out on the shores of Hookipa Beach.
Wander Around the Surf Town of Paia
Haleiwa on Oahu is kind of like Paia on Maui. This sleepy surfer town is filled with some of the oldest buildings on the island. Wander in and out of the shops, grab a meal to eat, or maybe just sip on a cup of local coffee.
Things to Do in Upcountry Maui
This section of Maui includes Kula and Makawao.
Stop and Smell the Flowers at the Alii Kula Lavender Farm
On the slopes of Haleakala, there are 8.5 acres of lavender plants. At Alii Kula Lavender Farm, take a tour of the property, discover recipes that use lavender, or shop for a variety of lavender products.
Grab Some Cream Puffs from T. Komoda Store
For over 100 years, Maui locals have been going to the T. Komoda Store for some bomb cream puffs. And the donuts on a stick are also delicious. And while you’re there, why not order a guava malasada too? If you want to be sure that you’ll get what you want, try to get there early! (A line starts forming BEFORE they open at 7 a.m.)
Visit the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm
When you think Hawaii, you probably don’t think “goat farm,” but the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm may be worth a visit!
Sample some of their thirty different cheeses, including cheeses with mango, wasabi and soy sauce, Maui lavender, and even 23k gold! They also have a couple of other goat milk-based products, such as goat cheese truffles and soaps. If you like them, buy some to take home with you!
There are also four different tours of the farm that you can enjoy (with advanced reservations) – including one where you can try your hand at goat milking!
Head to Makena Beach, “Big Beach”
Makena Beach, or Big Beach, used to be a local secret for years and years. But now the secret is out! With lava outcroppings on either side, it feels that you are completely immersed in nature.
*Note: don’t wander too far from Big Beach, because you might end up at Little Beach (an unofficial nude beach on Maui).
Pick Your Own Pumpkins or Strawberries at Kula Country Farms
Even though Hawaii is a tropical landscape bursting with flourishing fruit, it is very rare to find a farm that will let you pick your own fruit. So if you find yourself on Maui in the fall, go pick some bright orange pumpkins at Kula Country Farms. If you find yourself on island in the spring, go pick some delicious strawberries at Kula Country Farms.
Sip on Pineapple Wine at Tedeschi Winery
Tedeschi Winery in Kula, Maui figured that if you could make wine out of grapes, why not make it out of pineapples? After all, it’s a lot easier to grow pineapples in Hawaii than it is to grow grapes. Head over and have a few free tastings before you inevitably decide to buy a bottle.
Wander Around Kula Botanical Garden
The slopes of Haleakala are the perfect landscape and temperature for growing various plants, and the Kula Botanical Garden takes advantage of that. This little garden is home to many native Hawaiian plants – and the endangered Hawaii state bird: the nene goose.
Take a Rafting Tour to the Kanaio Coast
Maui’s South shore (which is part of Maui’s Upcountry and East side), the Kanaio Coast, is largely inaccessible by car (because of difficult, unpaved roads). Instead, take a snorkeling tour with Blue Water Rafting to discover this undiscovered coast!
With grottos, reefs, and caverns, there is a ton of marine life for you to experience, including colorful fish, turtles, and potentially even manta rays, dolphins, and whales!
Catch the Haleakala Sunrise
The sunrise from Maui’s highest peak is absolutely stunning. Pinks, oranges, yellows, and even blues and purples paint the morning sky. But getting to the summit on time can be a bit difficult if you don’t plan it right. Here’s everything you need to know to catch the Haleakala sunrise.
Book Here: Haleakala Sunrise Tour
And Then Bike All the Way Down the Mountain
That’s right. You can bike down the entire 10,000-foot mountain! While you can do this just after sunrise, you can do it at any time of day with companies like Bike Maui, Skyline Hawaii, and Maui Bombers Bike Tours.
Buy a Bottle of Sustainably-Made OCEAN Vodka
We’ve already heard about Maui’s pineapple wine on this list, but we haven’t yet written about Maui’s sustainably-made vodka. Sold in a round, light blue bottle with a cork, OCEAN vodka gives off a letter-in-a-bottle sort of vibe – but this time, the treasure is organic, Hawaii-made vodka. Tours are available at the distillery and farm in Kula every day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Experience Paniolo Life at the Makawao Rodeo on the Fourth of July
Many people don’t know that Hawaii has their own version of cowboys called paniolos. While the Big Island has the biggest community at Parker Ranch, Maui has their fair share of them as well. See them in action at the Makawao Rodeo at the Oskie Rice Arena on the Fourth of July.
Things to Do on the East Side of Maui
This section of Maui includes Hana.
Do the Road to Hana
One of the most popular things to do on Maui is the road to Hana. But there is a lot of planning that goes into this whopper of an adventure. Will you make it one or two days? Where will you stop? Where will you get food? Do you know where the bathrooms are?
There honestly isn’t one guide out there that does this drive justice (perhaps I’ll write one in the future), so you’ll have to do a lot of Googling and pinning to find the activities that you’ll like to do. To get you started, check out our guide to the worst road to Hana mistakes.
If you want a local to show you the sites instead of trying to plan it yourself, there are quite a few road to Hana tours out there.
Pro Tip: For the ideal day to do the road to Hana, try to pick a day after it has rained in Hana. That way, the waterfalls will be nice and full! And ideally, this day would be nice and sunny, or at least overcast. (In other words, it should not be raining the day of the adventure, but it should rain the day before the adventure.)
Book Here: Road to Hana Tour
Do the Shortest Hike of Your Life to Twin Falls
I always make fun of Waimea Falls on Oahu for being more of a stroll than a “hike.” Twin Falls on Maui might actually beat out Waimea Falls for the award for the easiest “hike” in the Hawaiian Islands.
Just two miles into the road to Hana, you’ll see the dirt parking area for Twin Falls. Be prepared for a five- to ten-minute walk before you see this stunning pair of waterfalls, flowing side by side.
Discover Maui’s Only Lava Tube
Finding a lava tube that is NOT on the Big Island of Hawaii is a rare feat. Maui boasts just one lava tube, which is located in Ka Eleku Quarry (which of course is on the road to Hana). Self-guided tours are available every day, but the hours are rather limited (10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.
(By now a pattern should be forming. There are many amazing things to see and do on the road to Hana! Don’t miss out on it!)
Get Transported to the Biblical Garden of Eden
On the road to Hana, there is an arboretum called the Garden of Eden. This garden has a combination of walking and driving sections. See stunning native plants (including several varieties of bamboo), feed ducks and geese, and get an amazing view of a waterfall down below.
Make a Pit Stop at Waikamoi Falls
Despite the fact that there are dozens of waterfalls on the road to Hana, my personal favorite Maui waterfall was Waikamoi Falls (just before mile marker 10).
There is no designated parking area for Waikamoi Falls, and nothing to indicate that it is the right waterfall. (It actually took me quite a lot of asking to figure out what the waterfall was called.)
To see Waikamoi Falls, you’ll have to pull over on the side of the road (there is a bit of extra space to park one or two cars before the turn over the bridge). That means, that very few people will be there. Then, after walking for a minute or two, you’ll basically be at the foot of the waterfall!
Take a Dip in Oheo Gulch
Past the town of Hana is Oheo Gulch (also known as Seven Sacred Pools). As implied by the name, there are several pools and waterfalls to discover! While you can see the first couple without much effort, in order to see all seven, there is a two-mile hike known as the Pipiwai Trail that can be quite difficult after a good rainfall.
Because this is technically located in Haleakala National Park, a $25 ticket per car is required, but this ticket is good for three days. So plan your visits to Oheo Gulch and Haleakala within a couple days of each other.
*Note: Most car rental companies do not technically allow you to drive your rental car here, because the road is no longer paved after Hana (and this is about eight miles past Hana).
Experience the East Maui Taro Festival
Each spring, Maui locals celebrate the taro plant during the East Maui Taro Festival. Take a tour of Mahele Farm, discover a hidden heiau (a sacred Hawaiian site), and watch the taro get pounded into traditional Hawaiian purple poi.
Visit Maui’s Only Black Sand Beach
Despite the fact that there are quite a few black sand beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, there is only one on Maui. Honokalani Beach in Waianapanapa State Park is also located on the road to Hana (just past mile marker 32).
Visit Hawaii’s Only Red Sand Beach – ILLEGAL
Not only is Maui home to one of Hawaii’s rare black sand beaches, but it is also home to Hawaii’s ONLY Red Sand Beach. Kaihalulu Beach also requires a drive on the road to Hana, because this treasure is actually in Hana!
Just as a warning, getting to the Kaihalulu Beach is quite difficult, and, consequently, many visitors end up injuring themselves. For this reason, visiting Kaihalulu Beach is sometimes illegal (the law changes rather frequently), so be sure to do your research before trying to get to the elusive red sand beach.
Enjoy the World’s Best Banana Bread at Aunty Sandy’s
Maui’s best banana bread takes a lot of effort to get to. Aunty Sandy’s is located about 16 miles in on the windy road to Hana on the Keanae Peninsula. The secret to this amazing banana bread (or at least one of the secrets – honestly, it’s so good that there are probably multiple secrets) is the fact that it contains apple bananas rather than regular bananas. This local variety adds more sweetness and more banana flavor to the loaf.
If this is high up on your list of things to do on Maui, you’ll want to start your drive on the road to Hana rather early, because they are only open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Soak in Upper Waikani Falls
Upper Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears is another stunning waterfall on the road to Hana. Located between mile markers 19 and 20, this specific waterfall is a little bit different. If you park just before the bridge and look over the edge of the bridge, you’ll actually be able to see Upper Waikani Falls from the top! How cool is that?
Things to Do Anywhere on Maui
Stop by a Farmers’ Market
Maui has some pretty cool farmers’ markets. Not only do we have exotic fruits like rambutan, yellow dragon fruit, lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, and so much more readily available, but there are also locally produced treats like honey, fish, and flowers available for purchase at some of the largest farmers’ markets.
If you’re looking for the best farmers’ market of all, many would recommend the Upcountry Farmers’ Market.
Take a Whale Watching Tour
Whales migrate down to Hawaii in the winter, because the rest of the world is too cold for them. That means there are tons of whales hanging out in our oceans, making it the perfect time to see them. To really get to watch them, you’ll want to take a whale watching tour, because watching from the shore just isn’t the same experience.
*Note: the easiest way to know where the whales are is to look for their spouts!
Book Here: Maui Whale Watching Tour
Spot Some Turtles
Turtle-spotting is a favorite thing to do in Hawaii in general. After all, that’s why I wrote a whole guide about spotting turtles on Oahu. But if you want to spot some turtles on Maui, head to Keawakapu Beach, Ulua Beach, Poolenalena Beach Park, Hookipa Beach, or Maluaka Beach.
Savor Hawaii’s Most Delicious Shave Ice at Ululani’s
The shave ice at Ululani’s is the best shave ice I’ve ever had. And if you’ve spent some time reading the fantastic Hawaii tips I’ve written on Borders & Bucket Lists, you’ll know this isn’t the first time I’ve sung them praises. As a matter of fact, they made it onto my list of 50 things to do in all of Hawaii for their natural syrups and fluffy ice consistency!
Find a Hidden Beach
As the second largest island in the Hawaiian Island chain, Maui has quite a lot of untouched coastline. So why not try to find your own hidden beach? (Tip: check along the South shore or behind Kahului Airport.)
Rappel Down One of Maui’s Many Waterfalls
There are a couple of companies on Maui, including Rappel Maui and Adventure Maui, that take you on a waterfall rappelling tour on Maui’s east side. These waterfalls are actually reserved for rappelers, so you’ll be able to experience some of the most hidden waterfalls on the island.
If you have a group that wants to go on this waterfall rappelling adventure, but you’re not quite up for it, the companies sometimes offer an “observer” option at a discounted price.
Buy Fruit from One of the Honor System Fruit Stands
As you drive around Maui, particularly in the Haleakala and Kula areas, you’ll notice that there are unattended fruit stands on the side of the road. Each of these stands will have a price for the fruit and a little container for the money. So why not pick up some locally-grown fruit to enjoy later?
Try a Spam Musubi
Eating a spam musubi should definitely be on your list of things to do in Hawaii. After all, it was the inspiration behind the Hawaii Food Bucket List. This rectangle of rice topped with a slice of spam and wrapped in seaweed is a local treat that is surprisingly delicious!
Do a Hike or Beach Clean-Up
Hopefully this list will inspire you to do quite a few things on Maui, so don’t forget to thank the island for the wonderful time you had on it! To pay it back, consider doing a hike or beach clean-up. It’s rather simple really. Just grab a trash bag and perhaps some gloves and pick up anything that isn’t supposed to be there. Thank you in advance!
What is your favorite things to do on Maui? Tell me about it in the comments!
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