Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian chain, with the second largest population. However, it’s #1 for many, as evidenced by the high number of repeat visitors who return again and again. There’s a perfect balance on Maui – enough to keep you busy but not quite as “bustling” as the city life you’ll find in Honolulu. Come find your happy place and explore the sights and activities of Maui.
Top Sights & Attractions in Maui
- Haleakala National Park – Many who come to Maui consider watching sunrise or sunset at Haleakala a “must do” for their visit. Where else can you hike in the crater of a dormant volcano?
- Hana & The Road to Hana – Sometimes it’s not about the destination, but the journey. The Road to Hana, with its many hairpin turns beckons visitors with the beautiful waterfalls and lookouts all along the way. Whether you stop in Hana town for a few hours or a few days, it’s like a step back in time.
- Iao Valley – Beautiful Iao Valley with its streams and the 2250 ft Iao Needle is a lush oasis in the middle of central Maui. Stop at the park for a picnic or take a refreshing dip in the chilly streams that flow through the valley.
- Maui’s Winery, Tedeschi
Vineyards – An out of the way stop unless you’re taking the back road from Hana, Maui’s Winery (Tedeschi Vineyards) is famous for one thing – pineapple wine. There are other varietals and the friendly staff can help you to pick your favorite.
- Ulalena – This award winning show is part mythology, part theater, part cirque-du-soleil style entertainment. Hailed as one of the best shows on Maui, it draws crowds of both locals and visitors alike.
Day Trips on Maui
The following are assuming that you’re staying in one of the two major resort areas – West Maui (Lahaina/Kaanapali) or South Maui (Kihei/Wailea).
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- The Road to Hana – The drive to Hana can take as little as 3 hours or so, but be generous when planning your time to allow for lots of stops along the way.
- Haleakala National Park – Haleakala’s sunrise has been described as a lunar-like landscape of cinder cones and misty clouds above 10,000 ft elevation. Drive up for sunrise, sunset, or to stay for any of the hiking trails through the crater.
- Upcountry Maui – The tiny towns that make up Upcountry Maui – Makawao, Pukalani, and Kula – are a world away from the resorts that dot the west and south Maui coasts. Here cowboy culture rules and charming small-town feel will reward those who stop for lunch, a farm tour, or even a turn at the zipline.
- Island of Lanai – Because the islands in Maui county are close enough to be connected by ferry, a day trip to the island of Lanai can be a unique way to experience another island, plus if you’re lucky you may even spot some whales or dolphins while crossing the channel!
- Island of Molokai – Molokai is an island rich in history with strong ties to the past. Take a mule ride down to Kalaupapa or explore the remote beaches and hikes scattered around the Friendly Isle.
- Maui Ocean Center – In the windswept town of Maalaea, the Maui Ocean Center houses hundreds of types of fish along with sharks, turtles, and other sea creatures native to the waters of Hawaii. This is a great option if you encounter a rainy day during your visit, where you’ll be able to escape under the sea while staying dry.
Top Water Activities on Maui
- Snorkeling – Maui has some of the best and most diverse snorkeling in the state. The islet of Molokini is a great choice to experience this first-hand.
- Surfing – It’s one of those things that people hold on their bucket lists – learning surfing in the place where the sport was invented. Take a surf lesson or even sign yourself up for a surf camp while you’re visiting the islands.
- Whale Watching – Lahaina was once known as the whaling capital of the world. It makes sense that visitors flock to spot these majestic giants during their annual migration to warm Hawaiian waters. The whales can often be spotted, even from land, during December through March, but a whale watch cruise is your best bet for getting up close and personal.
- Kiteboarding or Windsurfing – With strong trade winds that blow across the isthmus of Maui, kiteboarding or windsurfing is a daring way to harness the power of wind to help ride the ocean waves.
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding – Stand up paddle boarding has gained in popularity in recent years. Take a lesson or rent a board to get yourself up onto the waves. On a calm day, you may even get to see turtles and fish below, plus you are guaranteed a great core workout!
Top Land Activities on Maui
- Ride a Zipline – Maui has a few options for ziplines – some you can ride in tandem, often soaring above the trees.
- Attend a Luau – Dinner and a show takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to experiencing a luau in Hawaii. Although authenticity can sometimes hotly debated, you will always be entertained. Why not see for yourself?
- Play a Round of Golf – With a handful of choices, Maui is a great destination for golf with spectacular views and challenging design. Try to get an early or late tee time to avoid the strong trade winds at most courses.
- Mountain Biking – Biking down the volcano is one of the most popular tourist activities on the island. While the view is gorgeous, the road can be quite dangerous. Check into this and other options for biking in Maui.
- Horseback Riding – You may be surprised to know that there is quite a bit of cowboy culture alive and well on Maui, including the famous 4th of July Rodeo. Channel your inner paniolo at one of Maui’s ranches for a horseback ride.