There are many things to do in Maui and if you’re heading there on vacation soon, then you’ve made a great choice!
Planning what to do in advance can help you to spend more time doing and less time arranging when you’re on-island. To help you with this we wanted to highlight the top 10 things to do in Maui. We’ve chosen to feature the highest-ranked activities (by popularity) on TripAdvisor in 2016. These are what folks like you have reported as being the best things they’ve done here.
1) Haleakala Summit Activities
You couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to. Rising over 10,000 ft above sea level, and making up over 75% of the Island of Maui itself, Mount Haleakala dominants both the East Maui skyline and Trip Advisor’s Top 10 list.
The views from the top of this ancient landmark stretch for over a hundred miles in all directions, and they are breathtaking! There are a number of ways you can experience the summit of Mount Haleakala …
Sunrise Van Tour
If you can bear an early start you will definitely be rewarded as Haleakala’s summit is one of the most glorious places to watch the sunrise. Arrive in darkness with a perfect view of the stars and then watch them slowly fade away as the dark of night gives way to light and the sun emerges atop the clouds. What a way to start a new day.
Take the Roberts Sunrise Van Tour and you can also enjoy coffee and pastries as you hear all about the unique landscape you travel through.
Haleakala Adventure Hike
For the explorers, there is no better way to experience Haleakala than by taking a hike. On the guided Haleakala Adventure Hike you can enjoy the peaceful silence as you follow lava rock trails and come face to face with rare plants and unusual Hawaiian birds. Safe in the knowledgeable hands of your tour guide, you’ll be back in time for dinner.
Check out the official Haleakala State Park summit hiking guide to plan your own adventures too.
Haleakala Bike Tour
Alternatively, why not have the ride of your life taking in the scenery from top to bottom with a Haleakala Bike Tour? Don’t worry you don’t have to cycle up! The van drops you off at the summit where you’re fitted with your bike and gear and then you make your way down the slopes ending up at the beach. What an awesome day.
Hana – Haleakala Helicopter Ride
Of course, there is one other way to see the volcano in all its glory. Much of Maui’s beauty can only be viewed from the air. On a Haleakala helicopter ride you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the crater in all it’s magnificence, as well as flying over the tops of the luscious Hana rainforest and seeing its spectacular waterfalls.
2) Maui Scuba and Snorkeling
It’s hardly surprising for a mid-Pacific island known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor activities that scuba diving and snorkeling come second on the TripAdvisor Top 10 list. The main draw is the incredible sea life you get to encounter when you’re out in the ocean. Swimming through a reef surrounded by colourful fish, spotting turtles and befriending dolphins, it’s a whole other world under the ocean and Maui is most definitely the place from which to explore it.
There are so many good spots where you can snorkel that you could easily hit a new place everyday of your vacation. Molokini, a partially submerged volcanic crater about 2.5 miles from the coast is a popular destination for snorkeling trips. The Quicksilver Molokini/Turtle Town cruise provides all the gear you need, a 101 lesson for beginners and personal attention from the experts when and if you need it. Both breakfast and lunch are provided and once all the snorkeling is done you can sit back and relax with a beer from the bar.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous then why not journey further afield? Perhaps not one of the many things to do in Maui, rather this is one of the top trips from Maui. A voyage on the Ocean Riders Extreme Lanai Dolphin Raft will takes you out to Lanai to snorkel, with a good chance of seeing dolphins on the way.
See our photos from our trip earlier this year around Lanai with the Ocean Riders crew.
Scuba Diving Trips
35 feet below the surface and you can see even more of the underwater world. There are Maui scuba diving trips available for beginner and certified divers alike. If you’ve never been before then this is the perfect way to learn, with a course on how to dive before you dip, you’ll be a pro in no time.
3) Maui Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks
Unlike 1 and 2 on Trip Advisor’s Top 10 list of things to do in Maui, zip lining perhaps isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when planning for your Hawaiian holiday. But with Maui’s beautiful and diverse landscape to be seen as well as a whole lot of sunshine at the ready, it really does make perfect sense to go zip lining. It’s also really fun.
Piiholo Maui Zipline 4-Line Tour
Zipling from the Piiholo Ranch is a truly magical experience. The working ranch is based at Makawao at an elevation of 2000 feet on Mt. Haleakala with bi-coastal Pacific Ocean views. It’s an activity which can be done by all the family, and because they have multiple lines running side by side, you can share the experience as a family too. There is also a 5-line zipline extreme tour for those brave enough to try the highest line on the ranch.
4) Ka’anapali Beach Activities
Forth on the TripAdvisor Top 10 list is the beautiful beach at Ka’anapali on the west coast of Maui. Its 3 mile stretch of golden sands and turquoise waters is the stuff of postcards. It’s also a haven of activity, with beach resorts, plenty of restaurants and a shopping mall (Whaler’s Village). Boarding from the golden sands of Ka’anapali beach, you can enjoy a day visiting the best snorkeling sites around Maui on a catamaran.
Jet Ski Rental
One of our favourite activities to do at Ka’anapali is jet ski! There is nothing quite like zooming around the crystal waters at speed. Powered by a jet of water with no propeller to worry about, jet skis are easy to steer and stop automatically in case you fall off! You can ride solo, or with a friend.
5) Maui Boat Tours
Taking the fifth spot on the Top 10 ‘Things To Do In Maui’ list, boat tours from Maui are a memorable experience. Most cruises take you to snorkeling and scuba diving destinations so you have both the fun of being in the water as well as the chance to sit back and take in the scenery as you travel to and from your destinations.
Sunset Dinner Cruises
We recommend taking a sunset dinner cruise as an alternative way to spend an evening. What better way to end the day than by dining on the ocean as you watch the sun set across the water? They’ll be fabulous food, drinks and Hawaiian music as you sit back and enjoy this relaxing boat cruise.
6) Haleakala National Park
We’re back up the volcano for number six. That’s right, it features not once but twice on the top 10 list. However Haleakala National Park isn’t just home to Maui’s famous volcano. The park covers a vast area of the Maui landscape. Once you’ve paid entry to the park it is valid for three days, so why not explore some of the other areas?
The most popular area of the park after the summit itself is Kipahulu. Unlike the barrenness of the volcano summit, the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park is lush, green and on the coast. Here you’ll find Oheo Gulch, otherwise known as the Seven Sacred Pools, where cascading waterfalls pour between the different fresh water pools, feeding themselves from the rainforest above. The beauty of these pools makes them a popular spot for swimming in, but be sure to check for warnings for flash flooding first.
7) Wai’anapanapa State Park
Situated at the end of the famous road to Hana, number seven on the list, is the Wai’anapanapa State Park, a place of beauty. Wai’anapanapa means “glistening fresh water” in Hawaiian, and it refers to the plethora of streams and pools located in the area. The park itself is located on the coast and boasts a stunning black sand beach, which was created by a lava flow several hundred years ago.
However with a trip to Wai’anapanapa, half the fun is in the journey. The road to Hana is one serious road trip. Its beautiful winding road takes you through the lush green rainforest, along the cliff steering you around beautiful waterfalls, and past secluded beaches.
It’s not easy to take in the view and watch the road on this 52 mile drive, so why not take one of the many Road to Hana sight seeing tours? You’ll make stops at all the best places and be pampered with food and facts as you take this road trip of a life time.
8) Surfing, Windsurfing and Kitesurfing on Maui
Number eight on the top list of things to do in Maui is all forms of surfing. This ancient Hawaiian sport is a huge part of the culture and history of Hawaii, making it a must-do activity to engage with whilst on the island. The water’s always warm in Maui; so why not give it a try?
If you’re a beginner in the area of surfing then try a surf lesson. You’ll get the most out of your surfing experience, if you are taught how to do it properly, and with all the right kit. Surf lessons happen all around the island and typically last 1.5-2 hours.
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) lessons are also available and can be a fun way to get into water sports.
Windsurfing and Kite surfing
Maui is known as the windy island in Hawaii, which makes it an excellent place for windsurfing and kite surfing. Ho’okipa Beach park is the favourite place to windsurf with its white sand beach and some of the best waves on Maui. You’ll spot the pros out here when the conditions are right.
A little way along the coast is Kanaha Beach Park, another favourite windy spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Even if you don’t try the sport, we recommend stopping here at twilight to take in the breathtaking sight of a multitude of kites reflecting the sky’s soft glowing light as their surfers skim across the water.
9) Napili Beach
Like Ka’anapali Beach (number 4), Napili beach is known for its idyllic white sand and shimmering blue water. Napili beach is located on the north-western coast of Maui, just a bit further up the coast from Ka’anapali, and is also home to many hotels and vacation rentals.
Napili is appreciated for its great sand, swimming, snorkelling and sealife and epitomises everything a Maui beach should be. However, being perfect, can make Napili Beach a crowded spot. It doesn’t have much parking so be prepared to plan your day accordingly.
10) Pipiwai Trail
Finally, number ten on the Top Ten TripAdvisor List of activities to do on Maui is the Pipiwai Trail. The trail is actually located in the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park (see number six), but is special enough to have its only place in the top ten list.
The hiking trail is about 2 miles long (4 mile round trip) up a clearly marked path, and can be completed in around 2 hours. There is a lot to marvel at on the way! You’ll pass a majestic old banyan tree, cross-over waterfalls, pause for breathtaking views over the gulch and then follow a boardwalk path twisting through a magical bamboo forest. The path then comes to a spectacular end, leaving you staring up at Waimoku falls, which pours down from 400 feet. This is definitely worth the trip. Take a camera, there is a lot to see!
[Ed. – take sturdy shoes for this one, flip-flops are tough going!]
More Things To Do In Maui
We hope this is a good starting point for you to begin to plan an itinerary and activity schedule for your time on island. We’d love to hear your thoughts too! Have you been to Maui before? Do you have any ‘must do’ activities? Leave a note in the comment.
If you’re looking for even more Maui activity inspiration, then check out this list of 50 things to do in Maui …