Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island, has earned a world-class reputation for its picture-perfect natural scenery, exhilarating excursions, and unique local attractions. An outdoor adventurer’s paradise, the island is known for some of the best destinations in the world and a breathtaking landscape that everyone should see. Read on for a list of the best things to do in Maui. Whether you’re embarking on a solo adventure, a romantic retreat, or a family-friendly vacation, this incredible island won’t disappoint.
Be Greeted With a Traditional Lei at the Airport
Kick off your vacation with a traditional Hawaiian welcome by booking a lei greeting at Kahului Airport. You can book online with a tour service like GetYourGuide, and a local greeter will meet you at baggage claim with a traditional Hawaiian lei. The greeter can also help you arrange further transportation and take a photo of you and your party.
Take a Trip on the Road to Hana
Also known as Hana Highway, the Road to Hana is the most popular tourist attraction in Maui. The scenic drive spans over 60 miles and connects Kahului to the town of Hana. Whether you book a guided tour or drive yourself, there are several points of interest along the way, including great opportunities for hiking and swimming. As one of the most scenic drives in the world, the route winds through luscious jungles and past gorgeous beaches, offering plenty of opportunities to view waterfalls, gardens, and historic sites.
Attend a Luau
Experience an ancient Hawaiian tradition by attending a luau – a celebratory feast with live music, entertainment, outdoor activities, and traditional cuisine. There are several popular venues across Maui where you can book your seat at a luau. Enjoy hula performances, storytelling, and tropical beverages with this one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
Swim With the Sea Turtles at Turtle Town
Located on Maluaka Beach, Turtle Town Maui offers some of the best snorkeling on the island. The turquoise waters are sparkling, calm, and filled with soft sands, gorgeous coral reefs, and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Visitors can rent a boat or a kayak and go diving or snorkeling among the friendly turtles and diverse marine life.
Snorkeling or Diving at Molokini Crater
If you’re looking for exciting activities to do on Maui, try exploring the partially submerged volcanic crater at Molokini. With 150 feet of visibility and a bustling population of over 250 marine life species, the crater makes a prime spot for snorkeling and diving. The crescent-shaped atoll is home to protected birds, exotic fish, octopus, eels, and sharks. There are several different boats that will take you out to explore the calm waters.
Every year between November and March, the majestic North Pacific humpback whales migrate to Maui’s sparkling shoreline. There are a variety of ways that visitors can experience this magnificent natural wonder, from boat tours and kayak rides to simply peering out from an oceanfront lanai. You can catch a glimpse of the whales at pretty much any time of day during the season, but early morning or sunset is considered prime time for watching.
Visit the Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park
Set along the Hana Highway, Waianapanapa State Park is famous for its fascinating black basalt lava coastline and is an absolute must see in Maui. You’ll need a reservation to enter the park, which will give you 2.5 hours to explore. The small black pebbles that make this unique beach so striking are actually bits of lava and other volcanic debris, and the beach offers several hidden caves and freshwater pools.
Bike Down a Volcano
For an exciting outdoor excursion, consider taking a bike ride down Haleakala Volcano. Spanning over 30 miles, the ride starts in Haleakala National Park and is highly regarded as one of the best excursions on Maui. Adventurous travelers can rent a bike and embark on a self-guided journey or book a tour with a seasoned guide. From mountain to sea, the scenic ride passes several historic sites, local eateries, and fascinating geological features.
Eat Local Hawaiian Dishes
Hawaii’s local cuisine draws influence from its indigenous Polynesian population and various immigrant groups, making for a unique array of mouthwatering dishes. Simple but delectable, Spam is a staple in Hawaiian cuisine. The most popular preparation is Spam musubi, which combines a slice of grilled spam and a block of rice wrapped in nori. Poke bowls are another traditional Hawaiian dish made from diced raw fish combined with rice and vegetables. For some comfort food, be sure to try loco moco, a delicious dish made from a plate of rice under a hamburger patty, an egg, and gravy. Kalua pig and malasada are also popular among the locals and utilize traditional Hawaiian cooking methods.
Try Out Maui’s Famous Food Trucks
For some delectable dishes at an affordable price, food trucks are definitely the way to go. These mobile eateries offer fresh island cuisine and a quintessential Maui experience. They’re also a quick and convenient way to try out some local Hawaiian cuisine, and the food truck chefs of Maui are known for using farm-fresh ingredients and bold flavor combinations.
Devour Fresh Seafood at Mama’s Fish House
More mouthwatering dishes can be found at Mama’s Fish House, a world-famous seafood restaurant nestled in a coconut grove on Maui’s North Shore. Local fishermen deliver fresh fish to the restaurant daily, and all extra produce is sourced from local farms. Since 1973, Mama’s has served fresh fish dishes with unique flavor combinations to locals and tourists alike.
Learn to Hula
Hula is a traditional island dance that tells the stories of Hawaii through movement, and for anyone who likes to dance, learning to Hula is a must do in Maui. There are many companies that offer professional lessons across the island, so you can learn the basics of this beautiful and time-honored tradition.
Take a Helicopter Tour of the Island
What better way to experience Maui’s breathtaking natural scenery than with a bird’s-eye view? The island is filled with helicopter companies that will fly you over tropical rainforests, deep valleys, awe-inspiring coastlines, and cascading waterfalls. Companies such as GetYourGuide offer cliffside landings, and thrill-seekers can even opt for a doors-off tour. There are endless things to see in Maui, and the panoramic views offered by a helicopter tour will give you a glimpse of the island’s most remote areas.
Snorkel Coral Reefs
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Maui that appeal to all age groups and ability levels, snorkeling might be the perfect option for you. Maui is home to some gorgeous coral reefs that make excellent snorkeling destinations. Located in the middle of the West Maui shoreline, Coral Gardens is one of the most popular, boasting bright-colored fish, unique reef formations, and green sea turtles. With 40 feet of visibility and surrounding cliffs to protect the area from harsh winds, the waters are clear, calm, and perfect for a snorkeling excursion. Olowalu Reef is another great snorkeling spot with mellow waters, an abundance of marine life, and 120 feet of visibility.
Rappel Down a Waterfall
For another thrilling adventure, book a rappelling tour with Rappel Maui. Tours take place in a private waterfall valley where you’ll rappel down jungle cliffs, past cascading waters, and through the lush jungles of Maui. Located halfway down the Road to Hana, the scenic valley offers an astonishingly beautiful and peaceful setting. Beginners are welcome, and no experience is required to enjoy this safe, scenic, and one-of-a-kind experience.
Learn to Surf
If you’ve ever thought about learning to surf, there is no better place to start than Maui. The island is known to offer some of the best surfing worldwide, and the beaches of Kihei promise reliable surf conditions all year long. Various companies such as GetYourGuide offer private instruction for beginner and intermediate surfers of all ages.
Golf on World-Renowned Courses
There are 14 different golf courses on Maui, some of which are among the best in the world. While the courses themselves feature some gorgeous greenery and impressive architecture, it is the majestic natural scenery of the island that makes golfing one of the top things to do in Maui. The courses are so impressive that the PGA TOUR holds their annual tournament of champions here.
See the Banyan Tree in Lahaina
Banyan trees are Indian fig trees with aerial roots that form new trunks, giving them a unique and majestic appearance. The trees hold spiritual and historic significance in India, and the Lahaina banyan tree is the oldest in Maui and one of the largest in the world. It was imported from India in 1873 and now spans an entire city block in front of the Lahaina courthouse. Local events and exhibits are regularly held underneath and around the impressive landmark.
Celebrate Halloween in Lahaina
If you happen to be in Maui on Halloween, you definitely don’t want to miss the annual party in Lahaina Town. Every year, Front Street closes off for a massive block party where the public meets in costume for children’s parades, festive events, costume parties, and live entertainment. Bars and restaurants host special parties and events, and the street stays alive and bustling into the late hours of the night. The Lahaina party is the largest Halloween celebration in Hawaii and one of the best things to do in Maui if your trip coincides with the spooky season.
The area known as Upcountry Maui is composed of the rural towns on the Haleakala side of the island. Upcountry is very different from the coastal cities, as there are no beaches and far fewer tourists. With gorgeous lavender fields, farmers markets, and gorgeous agricultural scenery, this lesser known section of Maui is well worth a visit. Upcountry is also home to the island’s only winery, MauiWine, where various tropical and traditional wines are produced and bottled. For a unique farm-to-table experience, be sure to check out O’o Farms, where you can enjoy fresh food and friendly hospitality in an incredibly beautiful setting.
Go Zip Lining
What better place for an exciting zip line adventure than a gorgeous tropical island? Companies such as GetYourGuide offer family-friendly courses with experienced guides and unbeatable scenery. Thrill-seekers will relish the opportunity to soar over lush gardens, tropical lagoons, deep valleys, and rugged mountains from hundreds of feet in the air.
Take a Sunset Cruise
Embark on a leisurely excursion with one of Maui’s incredible sunset cruises. There are a ton of different boats and experiences to choose from, whether you’re interested in a romantic evening or some family-friendly fun. Various cruises offer luxurious dinners, open bars, and live entertainment. Some are known for offering incredible whale-watching opportunities and others include stargazing tours for those interested in checking out the unmatched views of Maui’s night sky.
Go on a Hike
Maui is known for offering some of the most impressive and scenic hikes in Hawaii and even the world. From the Mars-like terrain of the Sliding Sands Trail to lush rainforest routes leading to cascading waterfalls, there is certainly no shortage of diverse hikeable terrain in Maui. Hikers can venture through bamboo forests and across fascinating lava fields, and hikes range from easy kid-friendly strolls to strenuous day-long treks. If you would prefer to hike with a naturalist guide, check out GetYourGuide to sign up for this awesome rainforest tour with a picnic lunch.
Visit Haleakala National Park
Named after the Haleakala Volcano, this national park spans over 30,000 acres and promises some of the best tourist attractions in Maui. The diverse landscape offers incredible hikes through red deserts and rainforests and is home to various species of wildlife. Also known as the House of the Sun, the park is one of the most popular Maui attractions for catching the sunrise and sunset. Watch the vibrant colors dance above a bed of clouds at one of the most beautiful vantage points in the world. A reservation is required to watch the sunrise but not the sunset, and guests must purchase a park pass which is valid for three days.
Visit the Nakalele Blowhole
This natural wonder is located near Lahaina where every few minutes, 50 feet of water shoots up through a lava bed. The incredible geological formation can be viewed from the safety of an overhead ledge, or visitors can hike down to the opening for a closer look. Visiting the blowhole is another awesome free thing to do in Maui.
Go Cliff Diving at Black Rock
Located on the north end of Ka’anapali Beach, Black Rock is the perfect spot to make a splash. Adventurous beachgoers cliff dive off of the hardened lava flows, and the area is great for snorkeling and diving. The scenic cliffside also boasts an interesting spiritual history, with Hawaiian legend stating that spirits jump off of Black Rock to join their ancestors in the afterlife.
Take a Scenic Drive Down Highway 340
Wrapped around West Maui, the Kahekili Highway offers a scenic drive that is lesser known but just as impressive as the Road to Hana. While the towering sea cliffs offer some incredible scenery, the narrow and winding roads have no guardrails and make for a daring and hazardous journey. If you’re comfortable taking on an intense drive in a remote setting, Highway 340 will reward you with tourist-free lookouts and incredible natural wonders. You’ll even find the Nakalele Blowhole around mile marker 38.
Explore Maui’s Rugged Terrain on an ATV
Maui’s diverse and rugged terrain makes it the perfect place for an exciting off-road adventure. ATV riding is one of the most popular things to do in Maui, and you’ll find scenic ATV tours all across the island. As you ride across mountains, you’ll be amazed by the panoramic views and varied terrain ranging from wet and muddy to dry and dusty.
Walk Through a Lava Tube
For a unique adventure through a fascinating natural formation, stop off at the Hana Lava Tube along the Road to Hana. The tube is one of the largest in the world and was formed about 960 years ago when lava from an erupting volcano slowly cooled as it flowed toward the ocean. Tours that take you through the tube are appropriate for all ages and offer visitors the chance to spot some fascinating natural formations and interesting historic structures.
Relax on Maui’s Famous Beaches
No list of the best things to do in Maui would be complete without mention of the relaxation that awaits on the island’s world-renowned beaches. Maui offers some of the most incredible beaches in the world, perfect for laying back and soaking in the sunshine. From soft sandy shores with calm, kid-friendly waters to state park beaches with exciting waves, Maui’s 30 miles of beaches are perfect for your seaside stay. The majority of the island’s beaches are open to the public at no cost, making a trip to the shore one of the best free things to do in Maui.
With a seemingly endless selection of attractions and excursions to choose from, this beloved Hawaiian island makes it extremely difficult to narrow down your itinerary. Hopefully, this list helps you choose what to do in Maui and you’re almost ready for a one-of-a-kind island adventure.