Aloha! Welcome to Maui, the second-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Known for its world-class beaches, lush rainforests, and volcanic landscapes, Maui is a true paradise for travelers seeking adventure and relaxation. In this article, we’ll explore TripAdvisor’s top 10 activities and attractions in Maui that you won’t want to miss on your next visit.
Road to Hana
One of Maui’s most famous attractions is the legendary Road to Hana. This winding, scenic drive takes you along the island’s eastern coast, through lush rainforests, past cascading waterfalls, and to panoramic coastal lookouts.
- Waterfalls: Along the journey, you’ll encounter numerous waterfalls, including the popular Twin Falls, Three Bears Falls, and Wailua Falls. Make sure to pack your camera and swimsuit for these refreshing photo opportunities.
- Scenic Lookouts: The road offers several breathtaking viewpoints, such as the Keanae Peninsula and Waianapanapa State Park, home to a beautiful black sand beach and natural sea arch.
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park, home to the dormant Haleakala volcano, is a must-visit destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.
- Watching the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Arrive early to secure a spot and witness the awe-inspiring colors as the sun emerges over the horizon.
- Sliding Sands Trail:
- For a challenging hike, explore the Sliding Sands Trail, which takes you through the volcanic landscape of the Haleakala Crater.
Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater that boasts a spectacular underwater playground. Situated just a few miles off the coast of Maui, this world-renowned destination is a favorite among snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
- With its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, Molokini offers an unparalleled snorkeling experience. As you glide through the warm waters, keep your eyes peeled for vibrant fish, graceful green sea turtles, and the occasional reef shark.
- Scuba Diving:
- If you’re looking for a more immersive adventure, Molokini’s unique underwater landscape is perfect for scuba diving. Dive operators offer various options, from shallow dives for beginners to thrilling wall dives for experienced divers. No matter your skill level, Molokini’s underwater wonderland is sure to leave you in awe.
Iao Valley State Monument
Nestled in the heart of Maui’s lush West Maui Mountains, the Iao Valley State Monument offers visitors a chance to experience the island’s natural beauty and rich cultural history. This verdant valley, steeped in Hawaiian lore, is an essential stop on any Maui itinerary.
- Iao Needle:
- The star attraction of the park is the iconic Iao Needle, a 1,200-foot tall green-mantled rock outcropping that towers above the valley floor. This natural wonder, known as Kukaemoku to the ancient Hawaiians, was once considered a sacred site.
- Hiking Trails:
- The Iao Valley State Monument features several well-maintained hiking trails, allowing visitors to explore the area’s lush vegetation, burbling streams, and fascinating history at their own pace. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a leisurely stroll, the park’s trails offer a serene escape into nature’s embrace.
Lahaina, a bustling historic town on Maui’s west coast, is a delightful blend of old and new. Once a whaling village and the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina now offers a charming mix of art galleries, shops, restaurants, and historical sites, making it a must-visit destination for every Maui traveler.
- Banyan Tree Park:
- At the heart of Lahaina lies the famous Banyan Tree Park, home to one of the largest banyan trees in the United States. Planted in 1873, this colossal tree spans over an acre and offers a shady respite for visitors to relax and soak in the town’s vibrant atmosphere.
- Art Galleries:
- Lahaina’s bustling Front Street is dotted with numerous art galleries, showcasing a diverse array of local and international artists. From traditional Hawaiian art to contemporary masterpieces, there’s something to suit every art lover’s taste. Don’t miss the monthly Lahaina Art Walk, where you can meet local artists and enjoy live music as you peruse the galleries.
Whether you’re wandering the historic streets, admiring the stunning artwork, or simply watching the sunset over the ocean, Lahaina offers an unforgettable experience for every visitor to Maui.
Maui Ocean Center
The Maui Ocean Center, situated in the picturesque town of Maalaea, is a world-class marine park that invites visitors to explore the wonders of Hawaii’s incredible marine life. With a strong focus on conservation and education, the center is a must-visit destination for families and ocean enthusiasts alike.
- Marine Life:
- The Maui Ocean Center is home to a diverse collection of marine species, including sharks, tropical fish, sea turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals. As you wander through the center’s underwater tunnel, you’ll be surrounded by mesmerizing marine creatures, providing an up-close and personal look at the beauty and diversity of Hawaii’s underwater world.
- The center offers a variety of engaging exhibits that cater to visitors of all ages. Learn about the fascinating history of humpback whales in the Humpbacks of Hawaii Exhibit & Sphere, explore the vibrant coral reefs in the Living Reef exhibit, or delve into the mysterious world of sharks at the Hammerhead Harbor exhibit.
From immersive, hands-on experiences to captivating live presentations, the Maui Ocean Center provides a unique opportunity for visitors to deepen their understanding and appreciation of Hawaii’s rich marine ecosystem.
Stretching along Maui’s sun-drenched western shore, Kaanapali Beach is a picture-perfect destination that embodies the essence of a Hawaiian beach getaway. With its soft golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and swaying palm trees, Kaanapali is an idyllic spot for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
- Black Rock:
- The northern end of Kaanapali Beach is marked by the iconic Black Rock, a lava rock formation that serves as a popular spot for snorkeling and cliff diving. The clear waters surrounding Black Rock are teeming with colorful fish and sea turtles, providing excellent opportunities for underwater exploration. If you’re feeling adventurous, join the locals and visitors who leap off the rock into the sparkling waters below.
- Whaler’s Village:
- Just steps away from the beach, Whaler’s Village offers a delightful array of shopping and dining options to suit every taste. Browse the boutique shops for local art, jewelry, and souvenirs, or indulge in a delicious meal at one of the many oceanfront restaurants.
Whether you’re taking a leisurely beach stroll, snorkeling among vibrant marine life, or enjoying a refreshing cocktail as the sun sets over the ocean, Kaanapali Beach promises a memorable Maui experience for all who visit.
Nestled on Maui’s sunny southwestern coast, Wailea Beach is an upscale resort area known for its pristine white-sand beaches, luxurious accommodations, and world-class amenities. With its calm, clear waters and stunning natural beauty, Wailea offers a sophisticated beach experience that caters to travelers seeking a touch of elegance and tranquility.
- Wailea is home to a collection of high-end resorts, each boasting their own stretch of private beach, top-notch dining options, and lavish spas. Whether you’re lounging poolside, sipping a tropical cocktail, or enjoying a rejuvenating massage, Wailea’s resorts provide an exceptional level of service and comfort.
- Golf Courses:
- Golf enthusiasts will be delighted to discover Wailea’s award-winning golf courses, which offer breathtaking ocean views and meticulously manicured greens. With a choice of three championship courses, golfers of all skill levels can enjoy a challenging and picturesque round of golf in paradise.
From its serene beaches to its luxurious amenities, Wailea Beach offers a sophisticated and refined escape for those seeking a more exclusive Maui experience.
Makena State Park
Located on Maui’s southwestern coast, Makena State Park is a stunning natural gem that boasts some of the island’s most spectacular beaches and unspoiled landscapes. With its powdery sand, crystal-clear waters, and striking volcanic rock formations, Makena is the perfect destination for beach lovers seeking a more secluded and serene experience.
- Big Beach:
- Makena’s most famous attraction, Big Beach, is a sprawling stretch of golden sand that offers plenty of space to sunbathe, swim, and relax. The beach’s gentle slope and relatively calm waters make it a popular spot for families, while its breathtaking sunsets provide the perfect backdrop for an evening beach stroll.
- Little Beach:
- Just a short hike over a rocky outcrop from Big Beach lies Little Beach, a smaller, more secluded cove that’s renowned for its laid-back, bohemian atmosphere. Known as a clothing-optional beach, Little Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its Sunday sunset drum circle, where participants gather to dance, play music, and celebrate the beauty of Maui’s natural surroundings.
Makena State Park offers a tranquil retreat from the bustling resort areas, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the pristine beauty and untamed spirit of Maui’s stunning coastline.
Upcountry Maui, situated on the slopes of Haleakala, is a charming region that provides a refreshing contrast to the island’s bustling beach resorts. With its cool, crisp air and stunning panoramic views, Upcountry Maui offers a unique and enchanting experience that showcases the island’s diverse landscapes and rich agricultural heritage.
- Lavender Farm:
- A visit to the enchanting Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is a delightful sensory experience, where you can wander through the fragrant fields of lavender, learn about the farm’s sustainable practices, and indulge in a variety of lavender-infused treats at the onsite gift shop and cafe.
- Surfing Goat Dairy:
- For a taste of Maui’s thriving agritourism scene, stop by the Surfing Goat Dairy, a working goat farm that produces award-winning artisanal cheeses. Take a guided tour to learn about the farm’s sustainable practices, meet the friendly goats, and sample some of their delicious, handcrafted cheeses.
Whether you’re exploring the region’s lush botanical gardens, savoring farm-to-table cuisine at a local eatery, or simply taking in the breathtaking views, Upcountry Maui offers a captivating and authentic taste of the island’s natural beauty and rural charm.
Maui is one of the best places in the world to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of humpback whales during their annual migration. Between December and April, these gentle giants travel from Alaska to Hawaii to mate, give birth, and nurse their young in the warm, sheltered waters surrounding the island.
- The peak whale watching season runs from January to March, when the waters off Maui’s coast teem with thousands of humpback whales. During this time, it’s not uncommon to spot whales breaching, tail slapping, or spyhopping from the shore or during a boat tour.
- Numerous tour operators offer whale watching excursions that provide an up-close and personal encounter with these magnificent creatures. Knowledgeable guides share fascinating insights about humpback whale behavior, biology, and conservation efforts, ensuring an educational and unforgettable experience. Some tours even offer hydrophones, allowing you to listen to the enchanting songs of the whales as they communicate with one another beneath the surface.
Whether you’re observing these majestic animals from the shore or embarking on a guided boat tour, whale watching in Maui is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the natural world.
No visit to Maui would be complete without experiencing a traditional Hawaiian luau. A luau is a festive gathering that combines delicious Polynesian cuisine, captivating cultural performances, and warm Hawaiian hospitality, making it a must-attend event for visitors seeking an authentic taste of island culture.
- At the heart of every luau is a sumptuous feast, showcasing a variety of traditional Hawaiian dishes. Guests are treated to mouth-watering delicacies such as kalua pig, cooked in an underground oven called an imu, poi, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia, a coconut milk-based dessert. Many luaus also offer modern island favorites and vegetarian options to cater to diverse tastes.
- As you savor your meal, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing display of traditional Polynesian music, dance, and storytelling. From the graceful hula dancers to the thrilling fire knife performers, the vibrant and colorful entertainment immerses you in the rich history and culture of Hawaii and the greater Polynesian region.
Attending a traditional luau is a memorable and enchanting experience that allows visitors to embrace the spirit of Aloha and immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Hawaii’s unique cultural heritage.
Maui Zipline Tours
For adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts alike, Maui’s zipline tours offer an exhilarating way to explore the island’s lush landscapes from a thrilling, bird’s-eye perspective. With a variety of courses that cater to all ages and skill levels, ziplining in Maui promises an unforgettable adventure for the entire family.
- Scenic Locations:
- Maui’s zipline tours take you soaring through some of the island’s most breathtaking scenery, from lush tropical rainforests and cascading waterfalls to sweeping ocean vistas and verdant valleys. As you glide through the treetops, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that are sure to leave you in awe.
- Safety and Accessibility:
- Professional and experienced guides ensure that safety is a top priority during your zipline adventure. Participants are outfitted with top-of-the-line safety equipment and provided with thorough instructions before embarking on the tour. Many zipline operators also offer tandem ziplines and accommodate guests with mobility challenges, making the experience accessible and enjoyable for all.
Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline-pumping thrill or a unique way to immerse yourself in Maui’s natural beauty, zipline tours provide an unforgettable adventure that promises to be a highlight of your island getaway.
From its sun-kissed beaches and lush rainforests to its vibrant cultural experiences and thrilling adventures, Maui offers a diverse array of attractions and activities that cater to every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re exploring the island’s pristine coastline, delving into its rich history, or simply soaking up the Aloha spirit at a traditional luau, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy in this enchanting island paradise. Embark on your Maui adventure today and create memories that will last a lifetime.
- What is the best time of year to visit Maui? While Maui enjoys pleasant weather year-round, the peak travel season runs from December to April. For fewer crowds and more affordable accommodations, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May to June or September to November.
- Is it necessary to rent a car while visiting Maui? While public transportation and tour operators are available, renting a car offers greater flexibility and convenience for exploring the island at your own pace.
- How long should I plan to stay in Maui to experience all the top attractions? A minimum stay of one week is recommended to fully experience Maui’s diverse offerings. However, longer stays allow for a more leisurely and immersive exploration of the island.
- Are there any safety precautions I should take while exploring Maui’s natural attractions? Always adhere to posted signs and warnings, stay on designated trails, and avoid entering the water during high surf or strong currents. It’s also a good idea to pack sunscreen, water, and appropriate footwear for outdoor activities.
- Do I need a permit or reservation for any of the attractions and activities in Maui? Some attractions, such as visiting Haleakala National Park for sunrise, require advance reservations or permits. Be sure to check the requirements for each activity in advance to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.