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With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and breathtaking scenery, Maui is often called the “Valley Isle” for good reason. If you’re looking for things to do in Maui, you’ll find endless opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and creating lifelong memories.

If you’re short on time, here are some top things to do in Maui: relax on beautiful beaches like Kaanapali and Kapalua; drive the famous Road to Hana for jaw-dropping scenery; watch the sunrise from atop Haleakala volcano; go snorkeling at Molokini crater; enjoy Hawaiian culture and history in Lahaina town.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide an in-depth look at the very best attractions, activities, sights, and destinations that Maui has to offer. Read on to plan an unforgettable trip!

Scenic Drives

The Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is a 64-mile long stretch along Maui’s northeastern coast, offering jaw-dropping scenery the whole way. This winding road takes you past rainforests, waterfalls, beaches, and scenic overlooks.

Top attractions along the drive include the Twin Falls, where you can take a refreshing dip in the pools below. The Garden of Eden Arboretum features over 500 species of plants and trees. Make sure to stop at Waianapanapa State Park to see the striking black sand beach and sea caves.

The road itself is an attraction, with over 600 twists and turns.

Haleakala Crater

A drive up to the summit of Haleakala Volcano is a can’t-miss experience. The road climbs nearly 10,000 feet in elevation before reaching the crater overlook. Early risers can catch a spectacular sunrise here before the clouds roll in.

The Mars-like terrain and panoramic views make it easy to see why this is such a popular destination. Make sure to layer up before heading up, as temperatures can drop below freezing. Stop at Leleiwi Overlook on your way back down to take in views of the crater, coastline, and neighboring islands.

Just be prepared for windy conditions at the summit.

West Maui Loop

A drive around West Maui offers stunning ocean vistas around every turn. Start by heading north on Honoapiilani Highway and taking it all the way to the seaside village of Kapalua. This resort area has great beaches and trails to explore. As you continue south, you’ll pass D.T.

Fleming Beach, known for excellent conditions for surfing and snorkeling. Stop at scenic lookouts like Wailele Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area and Waihe’e Ridge Trail for awesome elevated views. The loop continues through the bustling towns of Lahaina and Ka’anapali before returning inland.

With the road hugging the coast most of the way, you can’t go wrong choosing any stretch for a leisurely drive.

Beaches

Kaanapali Beach

Stretching for over 3 miles along Maui’s western shore, the golden sands of Kaanapali Beach have made it one of the most popular beaches on the island. Its calm waters and gentle waves create perfect conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding.

One of Kaanapali’s claims to fame is that it was once voted America’s Best Beach by Conde Nast Traveler readers.

The beach walk along Kaanapali offers gorgeous views of the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. It’s lined with resorts, shops, and restaurants, so you’ll never be far from refreshments or entertainment.

Many of the resorts also host free events like lei making classes, ukulele lessons, and Hawaiian cultural activities. With its convenient location and amenities, it’s no wonder Kaanapali Beach draws over 1 million visitors per year.

Kapalua Bay

On Maui’s northwest coast lies the calm, crescent-shaped Kapalua Bay, renowned for its excellent snorkeling and swimming conditions. The bay features an offshore reef that protects it from strong waves and currents, making it suitable for swimmers of all ages and abilities.

Kapalua Bay’s clear waters offer visibility up to 100 feet, allowing snorkelers to take in the reef’s colorful sealife like sea turtles, parrotfish, and eels. Small, tropical fish can even be spotted in the bay’s shallows. On land, shady pine trees offer respite from the Hawaiian sun.

Because protective measures have been taken to prevent overcrowding and coral damage, Kapalua Bay feels peaceful and pristine.

In recent years, Kapalua Bay has been ranked among the world’s top beaches by renowned publications like Conde Nast Traveler. It continues to enchant visitors seeking a beautiful, tranquil setting in which to experience Maui’s natural aquatic wonders.

Wailea Beach

Nestled between two rocky points on Maui’s sun-drenched southern coast, Wailea Beach delights visitors with its golden sand, gentle surf, and upscale amenities. Its crescent shape frames the azure waters of the Pacific, offering picture-perfect views.

The southern end of Wailea Beach features a shallow, sandy-bottomed pool ideal for small children. The middle section appeals to families and recreational swimmers, with calmer waves. At the northernmost end, local surfers can often be spotted riding the reef break.

Well-trained lifeguards staff stations along the entire beach.

Wailea Beach’s lush tropical backdrop includes the Wailea Beach Resort, which has earned five diamond ratings for its luxury accommodations. Guests of the resort enjoy amenities like cabana rentals, frozen treats delivered beachside, and live Hawaiian music performances.

For its combination of natural and manmade beauty, Wailea Beach continues to top lists of Maui’s can’t-miss shorelines year after year.

Outdoor Activities

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

As an island surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and abundant marine life, Maui is a premier destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Top snorkeling spots include Ka’anapali Beach, Kapalua Bay, Ulua Beach, and Ahihi Bay, which offer incredible visibility to see green sea turtles, manta rays, and colorful tropical fish.

For scuba, head to Molokini Crater or the Cathedrals on Lanai island to explore underwater cliffs and caverns teeming with octopuses, eels, and schools of butterflyfish.

There are many reputable companies offering guided snorkeling and diving tours, like Maui Activities, Scuba Maui, and Adventure In Hawaii, which provide all necessary gear and take you to the best locales.

Whether beginner or certified diver, Maui’s pristine waters promise an unforgettable experience.

Surfing

With its perfectly peeling waves and idyllic surf conditions year-round, Maui draws surfers from across the globe looking to ride everything from gentle longboard breaks to powerful barrels reaching 15-20 feet!

From November to March, iconic spots like Honolua Bay and Jaws (Peʻahi) come alive with swell and offer legendary big wave surfing for experts only. Beginners should check out spots like Lahaina Harbor or Charley Young Beach, while intermediate surfers can try Hookipa Beach or 500 Peaks.

You can rent surfboards and take lessons from local instructors at beachfront surf shops all over the island. Watch the annual winter surf competitions unfold at Ho’okipa and find your inner wave-rider in Maui’s surfer’s paradise!

Hiking and Waterfalls

Lush valleys, soaring sea cliffs, and cascading waterfalls make Maui a hiker’s dream. For panoramic ocean views, tackle the Pīpīwai Trail leading up to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls or journey into the moon-like crater at Haleakalā National Park.

Family-friendly treks abound as well, like the bamboo forest walk to Twin Falls or the picturesque Kapalua Coastal Trail hugging golden beaches. Guided hikes can take you off the beaten path to swim beneath lesser-known falls.

Be sure to wear hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and check updated trail conditions for areas affected by past fires and floods. Respect any warning signs and take needed precautions when venturing out into Maui’s natural wonders.

Helicopter Tours

For unparalleled bird’s-eye views of lush valleys, cascading waterfalls and Maui’s entire sun-drenched coastline, seeing this stunning island from a helicopter is an absolute must! Companies like Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Paragon Helicopters and Maui Helicopter Tours offer a variety of tours ranging from 30 minutes to over 2 hours.

Tour Duration Price Range
30-45 minutes $150-$300 per person
60-90 minutes $300-$500 per person
2+ hours (private) $1000+ per person

Major highlights visible from the air include the sea cliffs of Molokai, bamboo forests, the Haleakala crater moonscape, and thundering waterfalls along the Road to Hana. Capture photographic memories sure to last a lifetime!

Towns and Villages

Lahaina

Nestled along Maui’s western shore, Lahaina is one of the most popular towns for visitors. Once serving as Hawaii’s early 19th century capital, Lahaina boasts a rich history and stunning ocean vistas. Take a stroll down Lahaina’s iconic Front Street to discover art galleries, shops, and restaurants set among historical buildings.

Don’t miss the giant Banyan tree in the town square that spans over an acre with its sprawling canopy of branches and roots. Also, be sure to check out top attractions like the ancient royal sites of Mokuʻula and Hale Piula.

Those looking to learn about Lahaina’s whaling past can visit the Whaling Museum of the Pacific. While, ocean lovers will enjoy snorkeling or diving at spots like Kaanapali and Napili Bay. Visitors can even spot humpback whales that frequent Maui’s waters from December to April during their annual migration.

When the sun sets, enjoy Lahaina’s lively nightlife with Hawaiian luaus and fun bars hosting live music.

Paia

The surfing town of Paia buzzes with an eclectic, bohemian vibe. Situated along Maui’s north shore with prime access to famous surf spots, Paia seduces wave riders and beach lovers. Yet, Paia also captures visitors with its quirky personality flaunting unusual boutiques, art galleries, and hip cafes lining Baldwin Avenue.

Be sure to pop into Paia Fish Market to try their famous fish tacos and indulge in Mandara gelato’s divine tropical flavors.

Paia serves as the gateway to the famed Road to Hana, a scenic coastal drive that snakes along towering sea cliffs and cascading waterfalls. The drive culminates at Waiʻānapanapa State Park, touting striking black sand beaches, freshwater caves to explore, and camping spots to overnight under the stars.

Paia also neighbors the historic town of Makawao, which lies upcountry and flaunts paniolo cowboy roots blended with new age artistry and yoga retreats.

Makawao

With ranch lands cradling its outskirts and artsy boutiques at its core, Makawao charms visitors with its fusion of Hawaiian paniolo heritage and haute couture hub. Wander down Makawao’s main thoroughfare lined with upscale art galleries, jewelry stores, and clothing shops presenting the latest island fashions.

Make sure to also explore offshoot streets where you can discover glassblowing workshops, chocolate factories, and holistic spas.

Adventure seekers should visit Haleakalā National Park looming above Makawao. Here one can hike along volcanic crater trails, ride horseback through purple lupine fields, or even bike down the 10,000-foot summit.

Those craving to connect deeper with the land and its people can partake in volunteering programs at farms practicing ancient Hawaiian agricultural wisdom. From avantgarde artistry to off-the-grid sustainability, Makawao offers endless discoveries.

Luau and Hawaiian Culture

One of the best ways to experience authentic Hawaiian culture in Maui is by attending a luau. Luaus are traditional Hawaiian feasts featuring delicious local foods, captivating hula dances, and fun activities like lei making demonstrations. Here’s an overview of what to expect at a Maui luau:

Food

Luaus showcase the diverse cuisines of the Hawaiian Islands. Expect to feast on dishes like:

  • Kālua pig – pork traditionally cooked in an underground oven
  • Poke – raw tuna salad
  • Lomi salmon – a tomato and salmon salad
  • Poi – a paste made from taro root
  • Haupia – a creamy coconut pudding

Washing it all down with some refreshing mai tais and Hawaiian beers, you’ll leave with a very happy belly!

Entertainment

In addition to the food, luaus feature captivating displays of Hawaiian culture through hula and music. Talented performers will regale you with various hula dances ranging from gentle, swaying motions to thrilling fire dances.

You’ll also be treated to live music featuring native Hawaiian instruments like the ipu drum, nose flute, and ukulele.

Activities

Luaus often include fun activity stations as well. At these stations, you can:

  • Learn to make flower leis and Hawaiian bracelets
  • Have temporary tribal tattoos painted on
  • See demos of how to open coconuts, climb palm trees, and more

Some luaus even offer additional entertainment like a show reenacting native Hawaiian games and traditions. With so much to see and do, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable cultural experience.

Popular Luaus in Maui

Maui offers luau options across the island to suit different tastes and budgets. Some top recommendations include:

  • Old Lahaina Luau – An award-winning luau praised for top-notch hula dances, lush oceanfront setting, and excellent food.
  • Feast at Lele – An intimate luau offering gourmet food stations and Polynesian entertainment from islands across the South Pacific.
  • Makao by Te Au Moana – A new oceanview luau with an open bar, Hawaiian feast, activities for kids and electric entertainment.

With celebrations steeped in lively music, dance, food and more, luaus let you connect with the heart of Hawaiian culture. Attending one promises an unforgettable night during your Maui vacation!

Conclusion

With its postcard-perfect beaches, dramatic landscapes, and wealth of activities, Maui truly offers something for every type of traveler. From surfing world-class waves to learning about Hawaiian history and culture, a trip to Maui is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

We hope this guide has given you plenty of inspiration to fill your itinerary for your upcoming Maui vacation. Now it’s time to start planning your trip and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime on the Valley Isle!

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