Maui is one of the most incredible islands, without a doubt. It features some of the most gorgeous waterfalls that you’ll be able to see along the Road to Hana, beautiful sunrises & sunsets 10,000 feet in the clouds at Haleakala, some world-class beaches that you simply can’t miss, and so much more!
In this article, we’ll be leaving no stone left unturned… from what to see, where to stay, what to do, the best activities, and the list goes on.
TIPS WHEN TRAVELING TO MAUI
- You will need a rental car when visiting Maui – unlike Oahu, where the bus system is very developed.
- Pack light. Personally, we didn’t over-pack, but we definitely could have packed less and cleared some stress. The most clothing you will wear on your entire stay will be when you visit Haleakala – other than that, aloha shirts paired with boardshorts will do.
- Plan to have no data or cellular services at certain areas (most specifically the Road to Hana). Most may look at it as a downside, but it actually made the trip so much better and enjoyable. It cleared our minds and allowed us to totally relax and be present in the moment which I really appreciated.
- If you’re driving slow, please pull over and let locals pass.
- Please don’t stop along the Road to Hana, even though how tempting it might be to slow down and look at the waterfalls. Locals go through this road every day and probably get tired of waiting for tourists.
THINGS TO DO/SEE IN MAUI
Maui features so much vastly different landscapes and magic that I cannot put into words. There are so many special and magical things to do, but we narrowed down the essential things to do when visiting Maui.
Maui is famous for its world-class beaches – so this is a definite must when visiting Maui. Relax on some of the most peaceful and sought-after beaches in the world.
Makena Beach State Park: One of the most photographed places on all of Maui. Makena Beach State Park features Big Beach, Little Beach, and even Oneuli Beach. The most popular of the three would be big beach and little beach. If you’re looking to visit Makena Beach State Park, then you definitely need to visit Oneuli Beach. It is a quiet little black sand beach and is not as well known as the previous two, but that’s what makes it so special. When we went, there were only 2 other people there – which shocked us because of how beautiful the beach was!
Baldwin Beach Park: Located right outside Paia, Baldwin Beach Park is a long white-sand beach that is perfect for morning walks – which feels absolutely magical. Also, winter months are perfect for those that love to boogie-board.
Wai’anapanapa State Park: Also known as the Black Sand Beach, Wai’anapanapa State Park is an incredibly popular tourist location. It is located right off of Hana highway and is very unique. Visiting and seeing the contrast between the black sand and the vibrant, glistening blue waters, you will be in love. Featuring caves, hidden blowholes, sea stacks, and other hidden gems that you’ll have to find yourself!
Honolua Bay: Honolua Bay is located on West Maui and is the absolute best beach to snorkel. No fishing is allowed here.
Kaihalulu Beach: Kaihalulu Beach is located in Hana and is a popular red sand beach. We highly recommend you visit during sunrise (refer to the second photo below)
2. THE ROAD TO HANA
Along the Road to Hana is the most beautiful and easily accessible waterfalls out of all the Hawaiian Islands. If you want to fully experience the beauty of Maui, then you definitely have to visit the Road to Hana. There is no gas station along the Road to Hana, so make sure to fill up your gas prior in Paia.
Twin Falls: One of the most popular and well-known waterfalls on the Road to Hana. To avoid crowds, we recommend visiting early from around 7am-830am, where it will be nearly empty. It was so much more special and magical than we anticipated – and we definitely recommend visiting.
Waikamoi Falls: Waikamoi Falls is a beautiful and quick 30-minute hike up a stream to a beautiful waterfall. The shape of the overall waterfall stands out and has a concave to it that makes it so unique.
Upper Waikani Falls: Also known as Three Bears Falls, Upper Waikani Falls is a quick 20-minute hike located roughly an hour into the Road to Hana. I could sit here and listen to the falls all day.
Waimoku Falls: Located at the end of the Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls is a 400-foot waterfall. Hiking through a bamboo forest, across bridges, and through streams, the Pipiwai Trail is one I will never forget.
If you’re looking for more information of the best waterfalls on the Road to Hana, then click here.
Keep in mind: If you want to experience the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, you will need to reserve your spot. It costs $1.50 and that doesn’t include the $25 fee the park charges upon entrance. Reservations open 60 days in advance and they fill up quickly. The state also releases a few more tickets 2 days prior at 4 PM Hawaii-time.
Watching the clouds clear and reveal the most beautiful colors in both the sky and crater is an experience I will never forget. Experiencing the sunrise from the Haleakala National Park is something so special and magical that you have to experience yourself to truly understand. I’ve read many reviews and stories of Haleakala, but never truly understood how special of a place it truly is. Before visiting the park, I read lots of other articles on people saying it doesn’t matter whether you visit for sunrise or sunset and never described the difference between the two. Essentially, if you want to see the sunshine above the crater – you need to visit for sunrise (which is what I would recommend). Otherwise, you should visit for sunset – which is much less crowded and you won’t have to wake up at 3 am.
We recently took a 6-day trip to Maui and visited the Haleakala National Park three times. Two of the three times, we went for the sunset – which was beautiful. The third time, we decided we had to go for the sunrise and it was so different. The sun peaked out and cleared the clouds to show this beautiful glow onto the crater which made for the most magical display I’ve ever seen in my life.
Note: I’ve lived in Hawaii for my whole life and underestimated how cold it would be – especially for sunrise. I packed a coat, long sleeve, flannel, pants, high socks, and shoes and still froze. I would definitely recommend bringing gloves and possibly even a warm blanket!
5. HELICOPTER TOURS
Experience Maui through a new and different perspective – take a helicopter tour. Helicopter tours are some of the most exhilarating things to do and is something I cannot recommend enough – especially in the beautiful Maui. Being able to take a tour of both Maui and Molokai is something so special.
If you’re looking for my favorite Helicopter tour, then check out the West Maui and Molokai 60-minute Helicopter Tour.
6. UNDERWATER ACTIVITIES
There are so many things to do that will make your trip to Maui so special. Snorkeling specifically is an absolute necessity when visiting. Places like Honolua Bay are perfect places to snorkel at, but if you want to join a large group of other people and experience the underwaters of Maui together – then check out the activities below.
West Maui Snorkeling Adventure: Have a chance to swim with dolphins, spot turtles, and during winter months: humpback whales. Includes breakfast, lunch, drinks, and snorkeling equipment.
Lanai Island Dolphin and Snorkel Cruise from Maui: Four-hour adventure in the beautiful island of Lanai. Includes breakfast, BBQ lunch, unlimited water and assorted juices, and snorkeling equipment.
Small-Group Molokini Snorkel and Green Sea Turtle Adventure from Maui: Leave Maui behind and head to the Molokini Crater where you spend the day snorkeling and finding all kinds of underwater wildlife. Includes breakfast, lunch, and use of snorkel equipment.
Whale Watching Cruise in Maui: 2-hour whale cruise along the coast of Maui. We took a whale watching cruise and it was something special being able to see the whales so up-close. The captain and crew were incredibly helpful and informed us a lot about the whales and their patterns. The ideal choice for families. Includes professional captain and crew, soda products and juices, and table seating.
Maui Atlantis Submarine Adventure: An incredible submarine tour through the Maui Coast and during winter months, you will be able to spot humpback whales.
WHERE TO STAY
The perfect places to stay after a long drive on the Road to Hana.
Travaasa Hana: Located only a few minutes away from Kaihalulu Beach (the Red Sand Beach), Travaasa Hana is the best place to stay if you want to truly relax and have a beautiful overlook of the ocean.
Kailani Suite at Hana Kai Resort: Only a 4-minute walk from the Hana Cultural Center and Museum and less than a mile from the Red Sand Beach. The more affordable option when compared to the Travaasa Hana.
Grand Wailea: A stunning beachfront resort featuring 9 sparkling pools, a lazy river, spa, and exceptional dining. Rated 4-stars.
Four Seasons Resort at Wailea: A five-star resort located in Wailea. The most beautiful place to stay in all of Wailea.
Maui Coast Hotel: Located directly across from Kamaole Beach Park. Features an outdoor pool, hot bathtubs, an on-site restaurant and poolside dining. Located only 3-miles from beautiful Wailea.
Aston at the Maui Banyan: Beautiful beachfront hotel. Located directly across from the beautiful Kamaole Beach Park.
WHERE TO EAT
The Mill House: Some of the best food and views on the island. Beautiful restaurant and incredible staff.
Kinaole Grill Food Truck: Great seafood at a reasonable price. They give very generous portions. My personal favorite was the coconut shrimp.
Aunty Sandy’s: Known for their famous banana bread along the road to Hana, Aunty Sandy’s is the perfect place to stop a little under halfway into Hana. We grabbed hot dogs and banana bread – it was delicious!
South Maui Fish Company: Famous for having some of the best Poke on Maui. Get there early because they run out quick!
Mama’s Fish House: Known for its incredible seafood. We did not eat here – but have heard nothing but awesome things about this place.
Geste Shrimp Truck: Incredible shrimp plates for a pretty affordable price. Lines can get packed during lunch hours.