There’s a lot of experiences on Maui and after living on the island for two months I’ve narrowed down my favorite activities. If you the adventurous type, then you have come to the right place. These activities are in order of importance in my mind, but you can’t go wrong with anything in Maui.
- Road to Hana
- Pipiwai Trail
- Haleakala National Park Summit at Sunrise or Sunset
- Surf Lessons
- Whale Watching (winter)
- Molokini Cater Snorkeling
- Kapalua Beach and Coastal Trail
- Lavender Fields and Maui Winery
- Old Lahaina Luau
- Ioa State Park
- Mama’s Fish House
Road to Hana
This is the top experience in Maui, hands down. You’ll drive through hundreds of waterfalls, lava formations, black sand beaches, a unique red sand beach, swimming grottos, and the bluest water you’ve ever seen. I recommend planning at least two days and one night for this destination and start your journey as early as possible every day to beat the crowds. Read this blog for tips on how to prepare for this excursion because you’ll need to prep as early as possible.
This moderate trail is at the end of Road to Hana and a part of Haleakala National Park. If you are more adventurous this trail is for you! You’ll pass by multiple waterfalls, a bamboo forest, banyan tree, and ending at an enormous waterfall. It’s a muddy trail and is in the middle of a rain forest so bring bug spray, wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet and bring a light rain jacket. More tips on this trail are located at the end of this blog.
Haleakala National Park Summit for Sunrise or Sunset
Clouds hover below the peak of this dormant volcano giving the sun a palette to dance upon at dusk and dawn. You’ll need to make reservations a week in advance for sunrise. Check the forecast the day of your trip and if there are any signs of clouds above the peak of the mountain postpone the experience. My first time at the summit it was rainy, and I couldn’t see 3 feet in front of me. The second time I went on a clear day and experienced the transformative experience of Haleakala. Pro tip: bring a thick and puffy jacket, blanket, beach chairs and hot cocoa to soak in the beauty of the clouds colliding with light without freezing. It can get below 30 degrees at the summit so wear every layer you brought on the trip.
One of the best parts of our two months in Maui was learning how to surf. You can book private lessons or group lessons at Lahaina Surf Shack. Call to ask if they are running any specials, they may give you a discount. All lessons include a board rental, but you can also skip the lessons and rent boards here if you’re an experienced reef surfer. Surfing in Maui is different than on the mainland because the beaches are surrounded by sharp coral reefs. There are techniques for surfing safely in Maui that you’ll learn during lessons and can carry throughout your surf excursions on the islands. If you are looking for an epic surf experience with professional surfers reach out to Maui Sports Adventures. Surfing with a professional waterman is an incredible experience and you’ll learn more technical skills. Pro tip: surf lessons at sunset are legendary.
Whales migrate to Maui between November and February every year and they begin breaching frequently in January. Winter is the only time to book a tour to see this spectacle. We booked a small Eco Tour on Airbnb and it was an amazing experience because there were only four other people on the boat with us. We were also able to get up and move as we wished to track the whales and take photos. If you are here in winter book the tour, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
Molokini Crater Snorkeling
This is the top snorkeling destination in Maui, but is rare to experience because if the wind or waves pick up the boat can’t reach this volcanic crater off the coast of Maui. I recommend booking a tour a couple of days before you plan to go so you can watch the weather to check for wind, rain or clouds. If any of these conditions are in the forecast re-book for another day. Mornings will give you the best chance to visit the crater. If you are lucky enough to make it to Molokini you’ll be greeted by sea turtles galore, the most colorful coral in Maui, fish, eels, and octopus. The best tip I have for snorkeling is to take your time. The longer you are in one spot the more you’ll see.
Kapalua Beach and Coastal Trail
This was my favorite beach on Maui. It’s located next to The Montage luxury hotel, hiking, and my favorite spot for dinner on the island, Merrimans. The sand at Kapalua feels like a memory foam mattress and you’ll often find sea turtles on the right side of the beach if you are facing towards the water. You can snorkel in the bright blue bay in search of eels, turtles, parrot fish, angel fish and more. The Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy out and back trail that passes through three pristine beaches, including Kapalua. Be sure to back a backpack of beer, towels, and wear your swimsuit. Starting at the Kapalua Beach Parking lot, you’ll find cliff diving, lava formations and stop to relax at the beaches. . Walking through the Montage at sunset is incredible so be sure to finish up the out-and-back trail at dusk. If you go to the Merriman’s outdoor grill for dinner be sure to order the Mai Thai because it’s the best on the island.
Lavender Fields and Maui Winery
The lavender fields include a botanical garden, gift shop, and café. The lavender fields and gardens are a hidden gem in Maui. Spend an hour soaking in the relaxing aroma and wandering the violet fields before grabbing a glass of wine down the road at Maui Winery. I recommend doing the lavender fields first because the afternoon weather in this area of Maui is poor. The Maui Winery is home to pineapple wine and they offer flights of fruit wine, rose, red and white wine all produced by the winery. The grounds of the winery take you back in time and you’ll feel right at home sitting on the mountainside overlooking the oceanside towns. Reservations are recommended for the winery.
These were our must-do activities in Maui, but there are plenty of other favorites such as hiking in Ioa State Park, the Old Lahaina Luau, snorkeling and sunbathing at Black Rock Beach, Mama’s Fish House for dinner, sunrise on the beach, Maui Brewery in Kihei, visiting Big Beach and the clothing optional Little Beach, and hiking Waihee Ridge Trail, boogie boarding at DT Flemming beach in the morning, Lahaina art night on Fridays, and gateway farmer’s market on Wednesdays.
It’s overwhelming planning your Maui itinerary, but rest assured knowing whatever you do it’s going to be magical. I’ll be writing about what to pack for your Maui vacation and my favorite places to eat on the island next week! Comment below if you have any questions or your favorite destinations on Maui. Safe travels fellow wanderers!