Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world, and Maui is a must-visit island that everyone should see at least once. That’s because some of the most swimmable beaches are located here, as well as some of the most dramatic landscapes in the Pacific. Foodies love Maui because this is an epicenter of Hawaiian cuisine that’s leading the way with regional culinary trends. Maui is also a haven for wildlife lovers because whale sightings are common between the months of December and April.
When you visit the island it’s easy to have a relaxing vacation, be ultra-active in the water, indulge in amazing food and drinks, or learn all about local culture and history. But whatever you decide, the scenery, laid-back vibe, and weather can’t be beaten! These are some of our favorite things to do on the island of Maui.
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Visit the World’s Largest Dormant Volcano at Haleakala National Park
Haleakala is an inactive volcano that’s perfect for climbing to the top to watch the sunrise. This is the highest point on the island of Maui and offers incredible views. If you can manage waking up early, start your hike to the top before the sun comes up for a truly magical experience. You may also want to consider taking a guided tour that spans four miles and lasts about seven hours to learn about the terrain and meet other travelers. The summit here is over 10,000 feet above sea level, so bring a jacket because the temperatures get chilly compared to the rest of the island.
Drive the Scenic Road to Hana
The road to Hana is one of the most talked-about things to do on the island of Maui. But to really experience it, take a full day to make stops and to soak up the scenery. The road is a scenic drive that travels along the coast and past amazingly beautiful beaches, lava cliffs, waterfalls, and more. There are over 600 switchbacks on this road, as well as single-lane bridges, so be prepared for a driving adventure! One recommendation is to keep going past Hana to check out the Kipahulu area inside Haleakala National Park. This is a great place to go hiking and check out the Oheo Gulch. If you make a stop at Hookipa Beach Park east of Paia, you may be able to watch some windsurfers showcasing their impressive skills along the way.
Relax on Ka'anapali Beach
Ka’anapali Beach spans three miles on Maui’s northwest coast and is ideal for sunbathing and surfing. You’ll also find nice hotels, restaurants, golf courses, and an open-air shopping center here. The waters are shallow and a favorite place of snorkelers. Also, Maui is an ideal place to give water sports a try, so get adventurous if you’re feeling up to the challenge. Kitesurfing, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing are also at your fingertips when you arrive on the island.
Get a Better Perspective on a Helicopter Tour
There are tons of things you can see and do on land and in the water when you visit Maui. But the best way to get a “lay of the land” and a better perspective of the island as a whole is to take a helicopter tour at the beginning of your visit. This is a great way to see the cliffs of Molokai, the mountains and waterfalls of West Maui, and the Haleakala. The ride can also provide you with a little inspiration for the other places you want to visit on your trip.
Sample Local Spirits at Hali'imaile Distilling Company
Established in 2010, the Hali’imaile Distilling Company is located in the sugar cane fields and slopes of Haleakala. This distilling company has created the only vodka in the world that is made from pineapples. The super sweet flavor of Maui pineapples give the distillers a perfect start for the fermentation process because of the high sugar content. Flavored vodkas are also produced here in fun blends like pineapple-orange-guava and chocolate-macadamia nut. It also has a whiskey made with brown sugar, coffee, and chocolate, as well as a rum developed for rocker Sammy Hagar. You can take a tour of the distillery by either reserving online or simply walking in. Tours last about 30-45 minutes, cost $10 per adult, and operate Monday through Friday.
Catch a Show at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center
The Maui Arts and Cultural Center has been entertaining locals and visitors since 1994 and is considered to be the artistic and educational heart of the community. Here you can catch concerts performed by big-name artists and diverse shows that range from dance, jazz, and authentic Hawaiian experiences. There is also a gallery here that is an exhibition space for visual arts and a cinema for a family film screenings. The free Ki Ho‘alu Guitar Festival and Maui ‘Ukulele Festival are fun events that take place here each year. You can check the center’s website to see what events are happening during your travel dates. Other great places to learn about the history and culture of Maui is the Bailey House Museum and the Lahaina’s Baldwin Home Museum. A visit to Hale Pa‘I and a Friends of Moku‘ula tour are also fun ways to get a deeper and more fascinating experience in Maui.
Hike the Maunalei Arboretum Trails
For a different kind of Maui experience that really allows you to appreciate the diversity of nature here, head to the Maunalei Arboretum Trails. Some of the plants here are native and others have been collected from all over the world. You can access the hiking trail from DT Fleming Beach and travel over 11 miles round-trip if you’re up for a challenge. The first several miles travel along an area that’s often boggy and overgrown. You can also take a guided tour that includes a shuttle to the trailhead. This is a part of West Maui that most tourists don’t bother to see. So, if it’s your second or third time visiting the island, definitely check out the arboretum for a refreshing and less-touristy change of pace. The views across the Pailolo Channel are incredibly peaceful.
Go Diving or Snorkeling at Molokini
Molokini is one of the very top snorkeling and diving spots in all of Hawaii and a crescent top of an extinct volcano. Today it serves as a marine and bird sanctuary as well. You may see some whales on the boat ride that takes you out to Molokini depending on the season, and then the marine life under the water’s surface is nothing short of impressive.
Watch Dancers at the Old Lahaina Luau
The luau dance is practically synonymous with the Hawaiian Islands, and Maui is a wonderful place to experience this beautiful tradition. The hand movements that correspond with hip movements represent chant lyrics to accompany the dance. Throughout Maui, you can find local hula schools that offer demonstrations and performances. One of the most recommended places to go for first-time Maui visitors is the Old Lahaina Luau because the dancers are very skilled and stick to traditional styles. You’ll enjoy watching the dancers, listening to the Hawaiian music, gawking at the fire-dancers, and dining on local specialties like roasted pork and mashed taro plant. The performances last about three hours and book up well in advance. But be prepared to pay because regular adult tickets are around $115.
Take a Pineapple Farm and Factory Tour
Pineapple is often considered to be the official food of Hawaii, and you can learn more about this iconic fruit when you visit Maui. This is one of the best tours you can take on the island because you’ll see the harvesting pineapple fields, tour the packing facility, and get to taste pineapple at various stages of the tour. The tour lasts an hour and a half, and you can reserve your preferred date and time online in advance. The basic pineapple tours start at $65 per adult or $55 per child, and a free pineapple is included with every tour. Another tour option includes lunch at the Hali’imaile General Store. Adults aged 21 or older can even combine a pineapple tour with a tour of the Hali’imaile Distilling Company because these businesses have a unique partnership.