Travel Destinations

9 Best Things to do in Maui

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Pros, cons and tips to help you decide if they’re worth it.

You’ve booked your hotel and flight, cleared your calendar and are super excited you’re going to Maui! Now what? There are so many options, it can be hard to decide what the best things to do in Maui are and are they worth it to you.

Part of what makes Maui so magical is that there’s something special there for everyone. It’s the perfect vacation spot!

Like long drives with beautiful views? Got it.

Is beach life the thing for you? You can swim, snorkel and lounge to your heart’s content on some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches.

Want to experience a variety of amazing Hawaiian foods? From world class restaurants to amazing Food Trucks, Maui has it all.

how to plan a perfect Maui itinerary
Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world!

Table of Contents

In this list of 9 best things to do in Maui, I’ve included pros and cons, as well as tips we’ve learned that would be helpful for you to know as you create your Maui itinerary.

Be sure to save this list so you can refer back to it as you continue planning!

9 Best things to do in Maui to plan the ultimate itinerary

1 Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls

If hiking and waterfalls are on your list, you won’t have any trouble. Many of them are along the Road to Hana, so planning both for the same day would be a great option.

You can actually see three waterfalls when you hike the Pipiwai Trail. Two of them are within the first half mile of the hike, but the most stunning waterfall is at the end of the two mile trail.

If you opt to go the distance, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the ocean, a walk through a beautiful bamboo forest, up-close and personal photo ops with a huge banyan tree and the pot of gold at the end of the trail…Waimoku Falls.

Waimoku Falls in Maui
Waimoku Falls

Pros: This is a beautiful four mile (round trip) hike. If you take your time and just enjoy it, it’s a hike you won’t ever forget! 

Cons: Attitude is everything, but you should know it’s hot, muggy, muddy and lots of climbing. In fact, the hike has an elevation of about 800 feet. If you’re not used to that kind of workout, expect your legs to be sore the next day.

Tips: 
*As soon as you exit your car, cover yourself in mosquito spray! 
*The best shoes to wear are non-slip shoes you can get wet and don’t mind if they get muddy.
*Each person should take a bottle of water and be sure to use the rest room located by the parking lot. There are no restrooms or water fountains on the trail.
*If hiking isn’t your thing, you can book a helicopter tour to see the gorgeous waterfalls in the Haleakala National Forest.
*If you’re island hopping and planning to stay on Oahu, you may want to check out this list of the 9 best hikes on that island.

Banyan tree in Maui
Us, trying to take a selfie with the giant Banyan tree.

2 Road to Hana

Although the Road to Hana is actually only around 60 miles or so, you’ll want to set aside most of a day to explore all there is to do along the way.

For one thing, the speed limit is a whopping 25 mph, which is fine because it’s a very curvy road, much of it right up close and personal to some pretty steep cliffs.

There is so much to do along the way, you’ll definitely want to plan your stops ahead of time so you’ll know what to be looking for.

Rocky beach on Road to Hana in Maui
Not all beaches are sandy in Maui.

Here are some of the most popular places people stop along the way:

Garden of Eden Arboretum
Wai’anapanapa State Park – Hana’s Black Sand Beach. 
Hana Cultural Center & Museum
Hana Bay
Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees

The Pools of Oheo (including the Pipiwea Trail mentioned above)
Explore the Lava Tubes

Monica at Planner at Heart shares a great list of things you’ll want to know about the Road to Hana.

Overlooking the coast from the Pipiwea Trail in Maui
View of the coast from the Pipiwea Trail

Pros: If taking in amazing scenery is high on your list, the Road to Hana has you covered. According to some, it’s one of the top five scenic drives in the world.

Cons: The Hana Highway has 620 curves and 59 bridges, many of which are single lane…meaning cars take turns going each direction. If you get car sick easily, take that into consideration (and bring some Dramamine.) 

Also, you’ll be giving up pretty much an entire day at the beach, so if that’s more important to you, you might want to skip this one.

Tips:
*Take snacks! Although there are a few stops along the way (make sure you stop for the banana bread!) they aren’t many.
*Also, be sure to gas up your vehicle before leaving town.
*If you really want to see the Road to Hana, but aren’t up for driving, there are reputable tours you can book instead.
*Short on time, but still want to go? Some tours include a helicopter ride back, which is not only awesome, but you’ll save several hours in travel time for the return trip!
*Take your patience and a good attitude. (FYI, the Road to Hana is also known as the Divorce Highway!)

Don’t forget to reserve your rental car early! Did you know you can reserve a car in advance and if the price goes down, you can cancel and rebook for the lower price?


3 Haleakala at Sunrise or Sunset

This is one I really hope you’ll consider making part of your perfect Maui itinerary! 

I absolutely loved seeing the sunset from Haleakala Summit and it’s a memory I hope to never forget. You can read my review of it, including all the things you need to know before you go.

Best things to do in Maui for ultimate itinerary including Haleakala Summit at sunset
Haleakala Summit at Sunset

Pros:
Breathtaking views! Plus, how often do you get a chance to stand on top of a volcano? 

Cons:
Depending on when you go, you’ll either need to get up by 3:00 am or give up an afternoon/evening to be at the summit. If time is short, you may decide to fill your agenda with things closer to home base.

Tips
*Bring warm clothes! (See my tips for ideas on this.)
*You’ll need reservations for sunrise, but not sunset.
*Even if you go for sunset, get there early to get a parking spot!

ultimate Maui itinerary Haleakala summit
Looking across the crater at Haleakala Summit

Read Next: Your Ultimate Hawaii Packing List

4 Nakalele Blow Hole & Heart Rock

This wasn’t originally in our plans, but I’m so glad we went! We ended up with several hours to kill and got out the map to see what we could explore. Since we were staying in Ka’anapali, it was an easy drive to Nakalele Point.

First, the coast line is gorgeous. Even if you don’t hike down to the blow hole, just standing at the top and looking out across the blue waters is stunning. 

Nakalele Blow Hole in Maui
Nakalele Blow Hole

If you’re up for it though, take your time climbing down so you can experience the blow hole up close. (Not too close, though. You’re safe as long as you don’t get right up near it.)

When you’re there, be sure to turn around and directly behind you, you’ll see another world famous landmark called Heart Rock. I mention this because I was surprised how many people never seemed to notice it!

Heart Rock at Nakalele Point in Maui
Heart Rock at Nakalele Point

Pros: How often do you get to see an actual blow hole? It’s fascinating to watch and it’s far more predictable than Old Faithful, so there’s that. Also, if you’re looking for Instagram worthy photo opportunities, Heart Rock is a must see!

UPDATE: Shortly after our visit, bad weather broke part of the famous Heart Rock, so it no longer looks like a heart. Bummer!

Cons: It can be hot and muggy climbing up and down. The rocks are slippery and there’s no actual path to take, so everyone navigates what looks like the best option for them. It’s a lot of climbing, but if you take it slow it’s definitely manageable.

Tips:
*Wear good shoes, especially if you’re not one to bounce back quickly after a fall on a rocky trail. (I’m raising my own hand here.) 
*There are two parking lots. If you’re coming from the south, here’s what you do: Stop at the first one to buy banana bread. It’s amazing! Then, continue a short distance on the road until you come to another parking lot. That’s the one you want.
*If it’s close to lunch or dinner time when you’ll be heading back, call in an order to Mama’s Ribs & Barbecue. You won’t be disappointed! 

Related: 16 Amazing Things to do in Oahu with Kids

5 Go Snorkeling in Maui

Not everyone is comfortable snorkeling, but I hope to encourage you to at least try it. Standing on the shore looking out across the beautiful water is one thing, but looking down into it is like viewing a whole new world.

Maui is known for it’s fantastic snorkeling and the colors of the fish are simply remarkable. God was definitely in a Picasso kind of mood when He created tropical fish!

If swimming with the sea turtles is on your Maui bucket list, there are plenty of beaches where you’re almost certain to spot them. Here’s a great list of some of the best beaches in Maui to snorkel. We enjoyed as many as we had time for and saw at least one sea turtle at each beach we explored.

Best things to do in Maui beautiful beach
One of Maui’s many beautiful beaches.

Pros: Once you have your snorkel gear, you can snorkel all over the island for free. Stay close to the shore and you don’t need to be a super strong swimmer to enjoy this sport. With the snorkel tube in your mouth, you’ll float the entire time and the flippers make it easy to get around so even beginners can enjoy snorkeling.

Cons: If you’re afraid of being in the open water, don’t think you’re a strong enough swimmer or don’t feel you can manage getting the flippers on while standing in waist high water, snorkeling can be intimidating to try.

Honolua Bay snorkeling in Maui
Honolua Bay is spectacular for snorkeling, but difficult to actually get in the water.
Honolua Bay snorkeling in Maui
Snorkeling Tours make it easy to get in and out of the water.

Tips (I have several!):
*If getting off the beach and into the water is a concern, you may have a better experience by booking a boat tour that takes you out somewhere like Molokini Crater. That way you can climb in and out of a boat instead.

*If you know you’re going to be snorkeling every day, it may be worth it to bring your own equipment, or at least your own mask. This one gets great reviews and is on my list to get before we go again!

*If you don’t bring your own, do a quick check online for pricing. We found Snorkel Bob’s to be the best and their customer service was terrific.

*Go early in the morning for calmer waters and to avoid full parking lots if you’re driving there.

6 Hawaiian Luau

If a Hawaiian Luau isn’t already on your list, you’re probably at least considering it and rightly so. If this is your first trip, I highly recommend that you find one that sounds good to you and book it! 

Some of the more popular luaus like Feast of LeLe and Old Lahaina Luau can sell out weeks in advance, so this is something you’ll want to think about before you get to Maui. 

There are about a dozen different luaus available in Maui, ranging in price and quality of show. We’ve been to the Feast of Lele Luau twice and can recommend that as a great option. (You can read my quick review of it here.)

Here’s a great list of several of the most popular options.

Maui Feast of LeLe Luau
Feast of LeLe Luau

Pros: You can’t get much more of an authentic experience in Hawaii than going to a luau! Getting to experience the food, culture and beautiful surroundings makes for an unforgettable evening.

Cons: Depending on which one you choose, luaus can be pretty expensive (some are over $250/couple) and some are already sold out by the time you get to Maui, limiting your choices.

Tips:
*If a luau is out of your budget and you have more time than money, try booking through a vendor that offers steep discounts on activities in exchange for you sitting through a timeshare presentation. You’ll be under no obligation to buy anything from them and can leave as soon as the 90-120 minute presentation is over. Some will knock $200+ dollars off the first activity you book with them, so keep that in mind if a luau is otherwise out of your budget. (We did this to get a free three night stay at Tahiti Village in Las Vegas!)

*Go hungry! We left the Feast of Lele Luau so full they practically had to roll us out of there!

Maui Feast of Lele Luau
We left so stuffed we had to loosen our belts!

7 Shop in Lahaina

Pretty much everyone who goes to Maui ends up in the town of Lahaina at least once, if not more.

Lahaina is a tourist destination, complete with more than a few souvenir shops, lots of restaurants to choose from, history and museums to explore, and my favorite…Ululani’s Shave Ice. It’s situated right on the water so you can walk the boardwalk and spend a lovely evening watching the sunset.

Lahaina, Maui Ululani's shave ice

If you’re looking for some nightlife, you’ll find that in Lahaina as well. 

Take your time and explore the stores, get your free cookie samples at Hawaiian Cookie Company, take pictures by the giant Banyan tree that dates back to 1873. Lahaina is a lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening. This is also where cruise ships drop their passengers off for a day to explore a bit of Maui. A cruise around the Hawaiian islands sounds like an amazing vacation to me!

Lahaina, Maui Banyan tree
Lahaina Banyan Tree

Pros: 
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, so if you don’t have plans, just drive into Lahaina and pick one. (Here’s our list of the seven best places to eat in Maui and why you need to get there!)

If you’re looking for a keepsake piece of jewelry to remember your trip to Maui, there are lots of jewelry shops to browse until you find just the piece you’re after.

Cons: 
Street parking can be a problem. (Try the square around the Banyan tree.) Cruise ships bring their passengers here, so just know that on those days the sidewalks are going to be a little more crowded. If the tourist scene isn’t your thing, you may want to make this a quick trip.

Tips:
The afternoon sun gets hot, so stay hydrated, duck in the air conditioned stores often and consider going later in the afternoon when it’s cooler. (Of course, eating shave ice while you walk around can solve that problem, too!)

8 Annebelle & Warren’s Magic Show

I know what you’re thinking…who goes to Maui to watch a magic show? Lots of people and this isn’t your average magic show! 

When I first saw this listed on Trip Advisor as one of the top rated things to do in Maui, I was skeptical and it took a bit of convincing for Rodney to buy into it, but we’re both glad we went!

The magicians are top notch (check out their website for bios), and you will laugh the night away.

Best things to do in Maui Annabelle & Warren's Magic Show
John George performing at Annabelle & Warren’s Magic Show

Pros:
What a great way to spend an evening! They have a couple of options for their pre-show dinner and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the setting is pretty unique. When it’s show time, you’re ushered into a small theater and the magic happens there. Such fun!

Cons: 
It can be pretty hard to justify giving up a gorgeous Maui sunset to be inside. They do have two show times though, so you can book the later one and hopefully see both the sunset and the show.

Tips:
*You don’t have to purchase the dinner package. We opted not to and came 30 minutes before the show started. That way, we got to eat at one of the restaurants on our list and still made it to the show on time. If your budget is tight, consider skipping their dinner to eat elsewhere.

*Book early. This is a very popular attraction and almost always sells out.

9 Lahaina Swap Meet in Maui

The Lahaina swap meet is the best place to get all your Maui souvenirs. You’ll find local craftsman selling their unique products there, as well as t-shirts, magnets and all the other souvenir stuff you’d expect to see.

It’s .50 cents per person to get in, so bring some change with you. Although some vendors do take cards, some don’t, so make sure to bring cash to shop with.

Maui swap meet
(Photo credit: Maui Swap Meet Facebook page)

Pros:
Great prices and enough variety to find something for everyone. Trip Advisor has a ton of reviews that are helpful.

Cons:
It gets hot and walking around on pavement doesn’t help. Take a water bottle and find some shade as often as you need to.

Tips:
*Break out the sunscreen as soon as you get there.

*Go early! Not only to beat the heat, but some of the vendors sell out and you won’t find as good a selection later in the morning.

*If you can’t go on Saturday, many of the same vendors meet in the parking lot across from the Lahaina mall on Sunday afternoon.

Maui Sunset
Hawaiian Sunset

Hopefully, this list of things to do helps as you’re planning your ultimate Maui itinerary and are trying to decide if Maui is worth it. One last thing! We’re big fans of Southwest Airline’s Companion Pass and want to be sure you know how to get it. It’s the key to getting free flights for two full years!

Is there something else that should be on the list? Please tell us in the comments!

Aloha,
Karee

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I’m Karee—traveling and travel planning make my heart sing! Thanks for coming along for the ride with me here at OWJ. I’ll be sharing valuable info on how to travel like a Queen without a Royal Budget, how to take amazing trips using points and miles, and plenty more!

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