Maui, also known as ‘The Valley Isle,’ offers so many things to do for adventure seekers, beachgoers, foodies, and explorers. The second-most populated of the Hawaiian islands, I consider Maui to be a fantastic option in between the bustle of Oahu and the calmer, quieter vibe of Kaua’i and the Big Island.
From lush, verdant waterfall hikes, to some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii, to rich history, to 10,000-foot summits and sea-level valleys in between, the abundance of adventures and things to do in Maui is unending.
With so many things to do in Maui, you might find that pinning down an itinerary will be difficult. But don’t worry – check out my 5 Day Maui Itinerary next for inspiration to help you plan your trip!
Read on for my list of Must-Do in Maui adventures, experiences, food, and more.
20+ of the Very Best Things to Do on Maui
1. Visit Haleakala National Park
One of the most unique things Maui has to offer is Haleakala, one of two Hawaii national parks.
Haleakala, which means ‘House of the Sun,’ is a must-do in Maui. Not only is this site mesmerizing, it’s also a place of immense cultural and spiritual significance for Hawaiians.
The best way to experience the power of this place is to make a reservation to see the sunrise at Haleakala, one of the most popular things to do on Maui. Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, the Haleakala summit lets you greet the sun from high above the clouds. Listen close, and you might even hear locals lead a daily ritual chant to welcome the new day.
Because it’s such a popular Maui activity, be sure to make your reservation as far in advance as possible! And, be sure to bundle up. It is very chilly up at the top.
PRO TIP: If you’re up for the adventure, another way to cinch a spot at one of the world’s most famous sunrises is by camping! An overnight camping reservation at Hosmer Grove, in the national park, comes with access to the Summit District. It also means you can sleep in a tinnnny bit more, because you won’t have to drive all the way up from Lahaina, Kihei, or Wailea in the middle of the night to make it to. the sunrise (which can take 1.5 – 2 hours).
Look far in advance because there’s only 6 campsites and they do book up!
During my last visit to Maui, I reserved a car with a rooftop tent using RVshare, so we could easily go from camping to driving all over Maui.
2. Explore Maui Beaches
With over 30 miles of beaches throughout the island, there are countless options for you to choose from. Going to the beach is one of the most popular things to do on Maui.
Here are a couple Maui beaches to keep on your radar!
- West Maui Beaches: Olowalu, Kaanapali Beach, Kahekili Beach Park, Honokowai Beach Park, Napili Bay, Oneloa Beach, DT Fleming Beach Park, Honolua Bay, Slaughterhouse Beach
- South Maui Beaches: Makena Beach, Little Beach, Wailea Beach, Po’olenalena Beach, One’uli Beach
- North and East Maui Beaches: Baldwin Beach, Ho’okipa Beach, Pa’ia Bay, Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach*, Hamoa Beach, Honumanu Beach, Koki Beach
- Good Spots for Snorkeling: Black Rock Beach, Coral Garden, Molokini Crater, Maluaka Beach, Kapalua Beach, Honolua Bay
- My Personal Favorites: Makena Beach, Little Beach, Baldwin Beach, Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach*
PRO TIP: *Wai’napanapa State Park requires advance reservations, which you can make here. Kaihalulu Beach, Maui’s famous red sand beach, is also not on any lists above because I’ve been told it’s currently closed as the trail leading down to the sand has been eroded due to overtourism. As with anywhere, travel with care and be respectful when you visit any Hawaii beach.
3. Get Up Close With Maui’s Marine Life
There are so many different ways to experience Maui’s marine life. From exquisite coral reefs, to the thrilling experience of spotting a sea turtle (honu) or Hawaiian monk seal, Maui is ripe with opportunities to learn more about the marine life that calls Hawaii home.
- Snorkel at Molokini Crater or Coral Gardens to witness some of the most spectacular underwater ecosystems in Maui
- Take a small-group introductory scuba lesson and swim with honu and schools of tropical fish
- Admire humpack whales during the winter months via kayak or with an organized catamaran tour
Not a swimmer, or prefer to appreciate the ocean from land? It’s not unheard of to spot honu or Hawaiian monk seals when you’re just chilling at the beach, so keep an eye out!
Please note that Hawaii’s wildlife is fiercely protected, so be sure to always keep a respectful distance. Don’t touch, don’t feed, and always carry reef-friendly sunscreen only!
4. Take a Surfing Lesson
It’s almost a given – if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, odds are learning how to surf has crossed your mind at least once. Make those thoughts a reality by taking a surfing lesson in Maui!
Even though I grew up on Oahu, I was never really taught how to surf, so I grew up pretty terrified at the thought of trying. I’ve technically surfed several times, but never successfully. And I’ve never managed to stand up once I caught a wave.
That changed on my most recent trip to Maui, when I took a two-hour surfing lesson from Maui Surfer Girls!
This woman-owned company has some of the most easygoing, friendly teachers. Despite my doubts, I was catching waves within the first 45 minutes! Give it a try, and you might surprise yourself.
5. Learn More About Hawaii’s History
Beyond the pretty beaches and lush landscapes, Hawaii is equally rich in history and culture. One of the greatest things you can do in Maui is get acquainted with Hawaii’s history. It’ll help you appreciate Maui and its people even more!
- Visit ‘Iao Valley Sate Park: This site is where the Battle of Kepaniwai was fought, a pivotal battle in King Kamehameha’s quest to unify the Hawaiian islands.
- Stop at the Hana Cultural Center: Often overlooked for Hana’s more picturesque stops, the Hana Cultural Center gives you a chance to learn a bit more about old Hana, including traditional artifacts, photos, and stories.
- Admire the Pi’ilanihale Heiau: A National Historic Landmark, this is Hawaii’s largest ancient stone structure and still serves as a deeply cultural and sacred site (“heiau”) for Hawaiians to this day.
- Learn about Hawaii’s Sugar Era at the Sugar Museum: Hawaii’s sugar industry completely changed the course of Hawaii history in both good and bad ways, and is a fascinating chapter worth learning a bit about. The last remaining sugar mill in Hawaii, located on Maui, closed in 2016.
- Immerse Yourself in Maui History at the Hale Ho’ike’ike: The Hale Ho’ike’ike, or Maui Museum, features a vast collection of pre-western contact artifacts, photographs, documents, and stories.
6. Hike Your Way Around the Island
Hiking is one of the best things to do no matter which Hawaiian island you visit. In Maui, seeing the island on foot allows you to encounter everything from beautiful waterfalls, to volcano craters, to vista points high above the clouds.
Choose a hike that matches your abilities, and where you might be during your Maui itinerary. Always check the weather forecast in advance!
- Easy Maui Hikes: Kaanapali Coastal Walk, Kapalua Coastal Trail, ‘Iao Needle Lookout, Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail, ‘O’heo Gulch (7 Sacred Pools), Leleiwi Overlook Trail
- Moderate Maui Hikes: Pipiwai Trail, Waihe’e Ridge Trail, Twin Falls
- Strenuous / Longer Maui Hikes: Keonehe’he’e (Sliding Sands) Trail, Halemau’u Overlook Trail, Haleakala Crater Trail
7. Savor the Full Spectrum of Maui’s Culinary Scene
To eat in Maui is to have access to a myriad of cuisines, all at once. The infusion of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, and Hawaiian flavors is apparent. But, you’ll also find great Italian, an abundance of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly options, and of course, the freshest seafood.
That being said, dining in Hawaii isn’t the cheapest thing to do. Some of the nicer restaurants can easily blow your budget for the day. If you’re concerned about your Hawaii budget, pick a day or two to splurge on a nice meal. Then, spend the rest of your trip with cheaper eats. Trust me, there are plenty!
If you’re wondering where to eat on Maui, add these suggestions to your list:
- Taste local cuisine and traditional Hawaiian food at Eskimo Candy, Ono Kau Kau Mixed Plate, 808 Grindz Cafe, and Poi by the Pound
- Snag some delicious fresh poke from Foodland (a grocery store chain well-loved by locals for its fresh poke and rice bowls) in Lahaina, Tamura’s in Lahaina, or Tobi’s in Pa’ia
- Sample the food truck scene at Honoapiilani Food Truck Park in Kaanapali, or in Lahaina, where Baya Bowls and TaquerEATa are located
- Grab a sandwich and a pie to go from Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
- Fix up your sweet tooth with local shave ice at Ululani’s (Lahaina, Kihei, Wailuku) or Tobi’s (Pa’ia)
- Or sample a legendary cream puff from Komoda Store and Bakery in Makawao
- Take advantage of happy hour drink specials and tasty eats at Down the Hatch and Maui Brewing Company
- Savor Asian fusion share plates at Star Noodle (advance reservations strongly recommended) and Lineage
- Soak up the great views and wood-fired pizzas at Kula Bistro
- Splurge on a fancy dining experience at Mama’s Fish House (advance recommendations strongly recommended)
- Grab a classic mai tai from Monkeypod Kitchen or Merriman’s
- Get your Italian fix at Taverna or Sale Pepe
- Try Hawaii Regional Cuisine at Gannon’s and Merriman’s
- Grab some famous Maui banana bread on the road to Hana at Halfway to Hana or Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
8. Visit a Maui Farm or Farmers Market
There’s nothing like trying freshly picked strawberries, or having a gourmet farm-to-table meal, immersed in Maui’s beautiful natural surrounds. Support Maui farms and farmers by adding one of these experiences to your list. Either would be a perfect choice after Haleakala sunrise!
- Kula Farms: Hawaii has so much more to offer than bananas and pineapples. Kula Farms has a Farm Stand where you can stop in and purchase everything from locally grown onions and berries to baked goods, jams, and honey. In the spring, you can pick your own strawberries, and in the fall, they set up a seasonal pumpkin patch.
- O’o Farms: Find coffee, fruit trees, veggies, herbs, and more at O’o Farms. You can visit the coffee roastery or gift shop any time during their open hours. But, to tour the farms you’ll need to book a breakfast or lunch tour (food included!).
9. Sample Locally Brewed Maui Beer
If you’re a beer fan or aficionado, odds are you’ve heard of Maui Brewing Company. But even if you aren’t, stopping at a brewery is a fun thing to do in Maui after a day spent out surfing, hiking, and exploring!
I personally love going to local breweries whenever I travel. I enjoy when brewers pull inspiration from local ingredients, landmarks, culture, and slang to create their beers and labels. It’s a cool, unique way to get to know the place you’re visiting even better!
Obviously, go to Maui Brewing Company if you can. Their massive brewery and beer garden in Kihei does daily happy hours and nightly music, and you can buy everything from beer, to seltzers, to mixed spirits in a can from their takeaway shop.
For another local Maui brewery, check out Kohola Brewery. Made in Lahaina, Kohola Brewery’s award-winning craft beers are inspired by the spirit of Hawaii. There’s even some fun pidgin names like Talk Story Pale Ale and Dakine Double IPA.
10. Or, Taste Maui Pineapple Wine
Beer isn’t for everyone. Mai tais aren’t for everyone (shockingly). Fortunately, Hawaii actually has its own stake in the wine game, and you can even visit a vineyard during your trip to Maui!
Located in South Maui, MauiWine has been around since 1974 and makes both classic and unique-to-Hawaii varieties, like their famous pineapple wine. Make a reservation at their tasting room or stop by their retail store to take a bottle home.
11. See Maui from Up High by Helicopter
Those incredible aerial views you’ve likely seen of Hawaii can be yours. All you need to do is take a helicopter tour!
One of the coolest adventures on Maui, taking a helicopter tour allows you to see unmatched panoramic views of the Valley Isle, with its vast valley region flanked on either side by lush mountain ranges and other-worldly volcanic craters.
See all Maui helicopter tours here to choose the one that’s right for you.
12. Attend a Luau
In Hawaiian culture, luau are big gatherings to commemorate special occasions and to welcome visitors.
Though pricey, attending a luau on Maui is regarded as a ‘must’ for first-time Hawaii visitors, and generally comes with an evening of entertainment, tons of local Hawaiian food, and drinks.
- Old Lahaina Luau: The Old Lahaina Luau is a classic luau experience, with a buffet-style dinner. This option is more conducive to picky eaters and families bringing children, since you can pick what you want to eat.
- The Feast at Lele: Also located in Lahaina, the Feast at Lele is a more upscale dining-oriented luau, and one I’d personally like to experience the next time I’m in Maui. Your dinner and entertainment are organized by Polynesian culture, described as a ‘culinary and musical journey’ through Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa. No buffet here.
Maui luau are popular events. Be sure to book in advance!
13. Enjoy Maui’s First (And Second, And Third…) Fridays
First Fridays are a well-loved pastime for Hawaii locals! And, while the street parties on Maui are a bit smaller than the First Fridays you’ll find on Oahu, these free community gatherings typically always offer some combination of food trucks, music, and local artisans.
While Oahu’s street parties are bigger, the ones in Maui are more frequent – they happen every Friday in a different town around the island (and, even off-island!).
- First Friday of the Month: Wailuku
- Second Friday: Lahaina
- Third Friday: Makawao
- Fourth Friday: Kihei
- Fifth Friday: Lana’i City (with special late-night return ferries!)
*At the time of writing, these events have been temporarily postponed due to COVID. Check back on the Maui Friday Town Parties website here for the latest updates.
14. Take a Day Trip to Lana’iPhoto Credit: Go Hawaii
Speaking of Lana’i, the Pineapple Isle is just nine miles off the coast of Maui, and easily accessible for a day trip! Because of this, Maui is one of the best options if you’re hoping to visit more than one Hawaiian island during your vacation.
15. Find a Maui Waterfall
Hawaii is known for its waterfalls, and Maui is no exception. Whether you want to hike to a waterfall, witness them from up above via helicopter, or simply admire from the side of the road, there’s a bunch of options to take in the beauty of Maui’s waterfalls.
- Twin Falls: This pair of waterfalls can be found on the Hana Highway and has its own a parking lot.
- Pua’a Ka’a Falls: This waterfall is located in Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park, also on the road to Hana.
- Honokohau Falls: The tallest waterfall in Maui, Honokohau Falls is only visible by helicopter.
- Pools of ‘O’heo: Also known as the 7 Sacred Pools or ‘O’heo Gulch, you can find this Maui watefall in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park, past Hana.
- Waimoku Falls: Close to the Pools of ‘O’heo, Waimoku Falls is accessible via a 4-mile out-and-back hike, called the Pipiwai Trail.
- Makahiku Falls: While hiking to Waimoku Falls, you’ll first come upon Makahiku Falls which is a gorgeous shorter waterfall surrounded by rainforest.
- Makamakaole Falls: The Makamakaole Falls can be found while you’re hiking the 4-5 mile round-trip Waihe’e Ridge Trail. The falls will be seen in the distance at the first major lookout point on the trail.
- Wailua Falls: Wailua Falls is another road to Hana waterfall that requires a short hike to access.
- Kopiliula Falls: Yet another road to Hana waterfall, Kopiliula Falls actually cuts directly below a bridge built on the Hana Highway.
16. Spend a Day or Two Adventuring Down the Road to Hana
One of the most popular things to do in Maui, and one of the most popular road trips in the entire USA, is the Road to Hana. Unbelievably beautiful, and flanked by waterfalls, beaches, rainforests, and hiking trails, the Road to Hana is a scenic journey that tops everyone’s Maui wishlists.
All that said, the Road to Hana isn’t necessarily a relaxing drive. With 620 curves and 59 bridges, it’s a bit of a challenge to navigate. But, this road trip is all about the journey, rather than the destination. So, take your time, drive with caution, and enjoy! The road trip will take a full day, or you can break it up by spending a night in Hana or Paia.
PRO TIP: If you don’t feel like driving, and want a more stress-free option, consider taking an organized Hana tour, which has a lighter impact on the local communities that call Hana home.
Any Hawaii visitor planning to explore the road to Hana should practice aloha and be respectful of the local people and environment. I’ve included some etiquette tips for visiting the road to Hana in my 5 Day Maui Itinerary.
17. Soak Up Maui’s Small Town Vibes
One of the great things about a trip to Maui is that this island has so much small town charm! Spend an afternoon wandering around these historic town centers to get a taste of old-meets-new Maui.
- Pa’ia: Pa’ia is a remnant of Maui’s old sugarcane industry, and today is known as one of Maui’s more ‘hippie’ towns to visit. An art-focused community with lots of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, you could easily spend a whole day here and at the beach down the street.
- Makawao: Tucked away in upcountry Maui, Makawao is a good stop before or after a trip to Haleakala. This town is known as cowboy country, and cowboys (known locally as paniolo), have had a rich, centuries-old history here that you can still experience today. Makawao also has its own thriving art community, and you can often spot glassblowers and painters hard at work.
- Hana: Considered one of the ‘last unspoiled frontiers’ in Hawaii due to its extreme remoteness, Hana is home to local eats, shops, and phenomenal beaches.
- Lahaina: Though not considered a ‘small town’ by Maui standards, Lahaina has a very laidback feel and holds so much historical significance for Hawaii. At one point in time, it was even the state of Hawaii’s capital city before it moved to Honolulu!
- Wailuku: This is an easy stop to combine with a day at ‘Iao Valley, or as a quick detour before or after you arrive at the Maui airport in Kahului. With charming boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants, there’s a laidback vibe to Wailuku that’s a refreshing switch-up from the more tourist-filled streets of Lahaina.
18. Go Glamping in Maui’s West Side
Maui offers one of the only opportunities to glamp in all of Hawaii! If you want to try glamping yourself, look no further than Camp Olowalu. This part-glamping, part-camping accommodation features a series of ‘tentalows’ (tent bungalows), cabins, and campsites with shared amenities including fire pits, grills, snack machines, showers, private beach access, and daily kayaking tours.
I didn’t expect this island to be such a perfect place for stargazing, but it is! I could clearly see the Milky Way with my own eyes when I was camping overnight in Haleakala!
To give yourself the best chance of seeing stars on Maui, plan for an evening away from larger towns and cities to minimize light pollution. Camp Olowalu and Haleakala National Park were my two best stargazing experiences, personally.
If you don’t feel like camping, glamping, or waking up early to see the Haleakala sunrise, you can book a guided Maui Stargazing tour.
20. Admire Hawaii’s Unique Plant Life at a Botanical Garden
Hawaii’s lush rainforests and unique flora are just as special as its pretty beaches! Visit a botanical garden in Maui and plan to be wowed. Many of Hawaii’s plants can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Some Botanical Gardens and Farms to Check Out:
- Maui Garden of Eden ($20)
- Kula Botanical Garden ($10) At the time of writing, this family-owned garden was pretty badly damaged from a 2021 storm. They have recently reopened!
- Ali’i Kula Lavender ($3) This garden was impacted by the 2021 storm, but they’ve also recently reopened to the public.
- Kahanu Garden ($16)
- Maui Country Farm Tours ($300)
21. Give Back By Volunteering on MauiPhoto Credit: Kipuka Olowalu
It would be impossible for me to write a whole post about the best things to do in Maui without mentioning the impact tourism has on the Hawaiian islands.
To combat that, and help preserve this beautiful state for future generations, I highly recommend dedicating a morning of your visit to giving back! From beach clean-ups to learning more about native Hawaiian land practices, there are endless volunteering options you can get involved with.
In fact, at the time of writing this post, some participating accommodations on Maui (like Camp Olowalu, the Four Seasons, the Fairmont Kea Lani, and the Hana-Maui Resort) will even give you a discount or free night’s stay if you volunteer! It’s all a part of Hawaii’s Malama Hawaii Program, which encourages visitors to connect with the ‘aina (land) in a deeper way, and leave the islands better than they were when you arrived.
There you have it! Of the 20+ best things to do on Maui that made this list, which are you most excited to do? Be sure to check out my Hawaii Trip Planning Guide and the rest of my Hawaii series next!
Book Activities in Maui Here:
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