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While Hawaii’s six different islands do offer some similar experiences, they’re probably more diverse than you might imagine. Maui is a favorite – it’s not as small as Lanai, as large as the Big Island, as busy as Oahu, or as quiet as Kauai. For many, it’s just right, with everything from the best whale watching in the U.S. during the winter to some of the best snorkeling, where you can spot up to five different types of sea turtles, idyllic beaches, and epic hikes on Haleakala volcano. While there are plenty of activities you can do on your own, they’re often more enjoyable on a tour or excursion with a guide to provide local insight and more. Here are a few fantastic Maui tour and excursion options.
If you’re visiting Maui during the winter, especially during the peak whale watching period of January and February, you’ll see countless whale spouts and sometimes breaches right from the shore. But for a closer look, it’s well worth taking a whale-watching boat tour in one of the world’s best destinations for whale watching. PacWhale Eco-Adventures has been around for nearly four decades, with trips led by certified Marine Naturalists. They offer both small and large group tours with a variety of options available. If you have any interest in finding out what it’s like to be a whale researcher, you can join a special trip that combines whale watching and photography.
Molokini & Turtle Town Snorkeling Adventure
If you want to discover Maui’s magical underwater world in one of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii, the Molokini & Turtle Town Snorkeling Adventure will bring you to a sunken volcano teeming with colorful fish. You’ll hop in a boat to cruise out to the crater filled with crystal-clear blue waters and a vibrant reef to snorkel, with all your gear included. Afterward, head to Turtle Town or Coral Gardens, where you’ll have a good chance to swim among the sea turtles. A continental breakfast and deli lunch are both included on this five-and-a-half-hour excursion.
West Maui and Molokai Special 45-Minute Helicopter Tour
It’s impossible to take in all of Maui’s beauty from the ground, so one of the best things to do when visiting Maui is to get an aerial view of the stunning landscapes on a 45-minute helicopter tour. The scenic ride soars over hidden waterfalls and lush valleys that can’t be reached by land. You’ll get to hover about the West Maui mountain ridgelines and cross the channel to nearby Molokai Island with its dramatic 4,000-foot-high sea cliffs for close-up views of its nearly untouched nature. While enjoying the jaw-dropping scenery, you’ll have an expert personal guide at your side who reveals Maui’s fascinating history.
Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
Attending a luau is a must for any visitor to Hawaii, and on Maui, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa hosts one of the best. It takes place on a lawn that fronts what’s been called “America’s Best Beach,” Ka’anapali. With gorgeous ocean and island views as the backdrop, the luau kicks off with a torch lighting and a cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock, if conditions permit. This is a heart-pounding thrill, with a diver leaping from the sacred spot Hawaiians call “ka leina a ka ‘uhane,” the place where a soul leaps into eternity. It’s an enchanting experience right along the oceanfront at sunset, including Polynesian dances to the rhythmic beat of the drums. A sunset Lei greeting and an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring traditional Hawaiian dishes are also included.
Maui Atlantis Submarine Adventure
One of the most popular attractions in Maui, a Maui Atlantis Submarine Adventure, will bring you over 100 feet below the sea. Discover the island’s unique underwater paradise without getting wet by boarding the world’s first and most technologically advanced 48-passenger submarine. You’ll see stunning natural coral reefs, fish, and other marine life in an environment that’s safe and air-conditioned. One of the highlights is the chance to view Carthaginian, a sunken ship that serves as an artificial reef to help enhance Maui’s marine environment.
Maui Haleakala Sunrise Downhill Bike Tour
While there are many different ways to explore Haleakala Volcano, one of the most memorable is the Sunrise Downhill Bike Tour. You’ll head to the east side of the island to Haleakala National Park, considered to be one of the best places to visit in the Hawaiian Islands and home to Haleakala Crater, which forms three-quarters of the island. You’ll head to the top of the dormant volcano by vehicle to watch the sunrise from one of Maui’s best vantage points and then continue your tour with a bike ride downhill. There will be stops along the way to capture photos, enjoy a light breakfast and explore the town of Makawao too.
7-Line Maui Zipline Tour on the North Shore
A zipline ride is always a good time, but this Maui tour will bring you to the Hawaiian rainforest along the north shore so you can see it from above, all while enjoying a thrilling ride at high speeds on seven different lines. You’ll soar from one platform to another as you take in those incredible views, including the treetops and the ocean. There’s also a high-altitude suspension bridge to cross and other obstacle challenges.
Lahaina UTV Adventure
Lahaina is one of the most amazing off-road destinations in the U.S. This UTV adventure will bring you across miles of trails on 1,400 acres, exploring areas few visitors get to see and complete with ocean views. There are two different options: the beachside East Side trail, a coastal excursion, or the West Side Adventure, a wetland itinerary through Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve. You can get behind the wheel or just enjoy the ride, immersed in pristine nature and Hawaiian culture.
West Maui Mountain Waterfall and Ocean Tour via Horseback
Horseback riding is another great way to explore Maui and its greener, rural side. This tour will bring you into the valleys and mountains of West Maui with magnificent waterfall views as you travel down to the coast, where you’ll ride along the Pacific. A stop at a petting zoo is included that’s sure to thrill the kids (and many adults, too), with mini horses, rabbits, and sheep. It’s suitable for all levels, from beginners to the advanced, but experienced riders will have opportunities to canter or gallop if the weather allows. Your guide will match you with a suitable horse and provide insight into the landscapes and culture.
Small Group Road to Hana Tour
Often landing on lists of the world’s most scenic drives, the Road to Hana will bring you through the lush tropical landscape with cascading waterfalls, basalt-lined emerald pools, and idyllic beaches while enjoying the aroma of ginger and guava in the air. The road can be a bit harrowing with many curves and one-lane bridges, and while you could drive yourself, you won’t be able to enjoy as much of the scenery. That makes this tour arguably the best way to explore, with multiple stops and things to do along the way, including Ho’okipa Park with its pristine white sandy beach, Hanawi Falls (a series of waterfalls that tumble over forested rocks into a pool), Hana Bay, Haleakala Volcano, and more. Your guide will provide interesting insight into Hawaiian history, heritage, and culture, with breakfast, lunch, and snacks all included.
Original Sunset Cruise with Open Bar from Ka’anapali Beach
The perfect grand finale to any day on Maui is a sunset, and one while out on the water? Even better. You’ll get an incredible perspective for enjoying the island’s epic sunsets while cruising on a catamaran. Departing from Ka’anapali Beach, one of Hawaii’s best beaches, you’ll take in the scenery that includes views of Kahoolawe, Molokai, and Lanai with a cocktail and food in hand. Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included, along with snacks. You’ll be in the perfect place for watching dolphins, and if you’re here in the winter, plenty of humpback whales.
Maui Pineapple Tour
Hawaii is famous for its pineapples, and this tour in Upcountry Maui will bring you to the Maui Gold Plantation to see where they’re grown, how they’re harvested, and more. Plus, everyone who participates gets their own pineapple. The staff will share the hard work that goes into producing the fruit along with the history and culture behind it in an entertaining way that makes it fun for all ages. If you’re interested in pineapple spirits, you can combine the farm tour with a tour of a distillery.
Clear Kayak Tour with Pontoonss
Another fun way to view the underwater world and what’s above the surface, is by paddling out into the Alalakeiki Channel via a kayak with a clear bottom. Like a big snorkeling mask, it magnifies the reef below, providing the chance to view all sorts of fish, including Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, sea turtles, manta rays, octopus, seals, and more. You’ll be provided with everything you need, including reef-safe sunscreen, long sleeve rashguards, a dry bag, and a refillable water bottle with ice-cold water. Enjoy bananas and granola to snack on during the tour, and once you get back to shore, juicy, fresh-cut local pineapple. The pontoon attachments make the kayaks impossible to tip. So this tour is suitable for all experience levels.