The Very Best Things to do on Maui in 2023
Looking for things to do in Maui? From unique adventures to popular attractions, we share all our favorite activities on Maui to make the most of your Hawaiian vacation. A visit to the Hawaiian Islands is at the top of many people’s bucket lists. Out of the eight major islands, Maui is definitely at the top of our list. We love its laid-back vibe, yet there is enough excitement and energy to give you a well-rounded trip to suit any travel style.
There are so many adventures to be had both on and off the water in Maui. We’ve rounded up the top Maui attractions to give you ideas to make the most of your Hawaiian vacation from enjoying its tropical beaches to driving the epic road to Hana. These are the best things to do in Maui.
Fun Things to do in Maui
Everyone knows that surfing is the Big Kahuna in Hawaii, but you don’t have to hit the waves to have an amazing time on the island. Albeit, you must at least get in or on the water at one point when visiting Maui. These are the top attractions on and off the water that you must not miss when visiting Maui.
Drive the Road to Hana
One of the most famous things to do in Maui is to drive the road to Hana. Starting in the sleepy surf town of Paia, the Road to Hana takes you through 600 curves and 59 bridges. It is one of the most famous scenic roads in the world and is a great way to explore Maui.
The road to Hana is only 45 miles (72 km) to from Paia to Hana but it can take all day. We recommend staying in Paia at The Paia Inn and leaving early to beat the crowds. Traffic can be very backed up on the road to Hana, so if you get out at the crack of dawn, you can enjoy many of the top attractions on your own before the tour buses arrive.
With cascading waterfalls, hiking trails, scenic lookouts, and beautiful beaches leading to Haleakala National Park, driving the road to Hana is our top choice for things to do in Maui. Check out our full guide of the Road to Hana at Driving the Hana Highway
Haleakala National Park is gorgeous and from here you can hike the Pipiwai Trail to some of the most scenic attractions on Maui including the giant Banyan tree that leads to waterfalls and a bamboo forest.
Road To Hana Details
There are only a few hotels in Hana if you decide to stay the night which is a great idea to allow more time to explore. The accommodation on this side of Maui as it is more of rugged and remote, but you can check VRBO for vacation rentals in the area like this lovely stay in Hana.
Before heading out, grab some gourmet picnic lunches to take with you on the Road to Hana. The Hana Picnic Lunch Company puts together lunch and breakfast for your road trip. Order the day before 2pm so that you can set out early in the morning. There are picnic tables along the route where you can stop to enjoy the extraordinary views.
One of the most unique Maui attractions is its bamboo forest. Located at the end of the road to Hana, it is part of the Haleakala National Park. It truly took our breath away and is considered the best bamboo forest outside Japan. Located in East Maui this popular attraction is filled with beautiful walking trails and waterfalls leading out to the forest.
Taking the Pipiwai Trail, we found ourselves within a forest of high bamboo surrounding us at every turn. The sound of the sea gave way to a musical melody of bamboo wind chimes blowing in the breeze. It is one of the most magical things to do in Maui.
Seven Sacred Pools
Located in The Haleakala National Park The Pools at ‘Ohe’o are one of the most popular attractions in the national park. They are located just a short in from the parking lot and many people only go as far as here a half mile in. A hike along the Pipiwae Trail is an amazing day trip, so we suggest you hike out to the end to truly take in everything.
The Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park
It seems that many of the top Maui attractions are located along the road to Hana and the black sand beach is one of them. In a nutshell, Waianapanapa state park is where you get that classic photo of the Hana Highway. With beautiful scenic viewpoints and a black sand beach, it is a must-stop for at least a photograph. There are some trails, caves, and a blowhole to explore here.
Hana Luxury Tour
If you don’t want to self-drive to Hana (and trust me, I completely understand) you may want to book this ultimate Hana tour. It combines two of our favorite Maui tours in one. The Road to Hana and a helicopter tour.
This Hana Luxury Tour takes you out to Hana via a private limo van where you’ll stop at the top attractions such as Ke’anae, waterfalls, and the black sand beach of Wai’anapanapa State Park. You’ll then board a helicopter back where you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the Haleakala Crater and Maui’s rugged coast. Get more details here.
Hike to Waterfalls – East Maui
Maui has spectacular waterfalls and one of the best we saw was in Haleakala National Park when hiking pass the bamboo forest. But therea re other places to see waterfalls on Maui. Take a tour with Hike Maui to explore the rainforest and discover waterfalls reaching 40 feet up in the air where you can go swimming in the pools and even under the cascades. Hike Maui Tour.
We took this waterfall hike with Hike Maui. The hike took us into the rainforest of East Maui where we explored the waterfalls of Maui with our naturalist guide. We swam in the crystal clear pools and had a shower under a cascading fall. It’s a fun adventure for the whole family.
Snorkel with Sea Turtles
The best place we have ever snorkeled with sea turtles is on Maui. So many sea turtles call Maui home that sightings are almost guaranteed when you go snorkeling in Maui. The waters of Maui are crystal clear and warm. It is such a magical experience, it is up there as one of the top things to do in Maui.
One of the best places to swim with sea turtles is Maluaka Beach. The waters here are known for their high concentration of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. The population is so dense that it is known as Turtle Town.
This highly rated tour takes you on a snorkeling trip to Turtle Town Lahaina which is home to dozens of sea turtles. You’ll sail from Lahaina Harbor to Mala Whark (AKA Turtle Town) as you take in the views of the west Maui Mountains, Lanai, and Molokai. When you get to Turtle Town your don your snorkel gear and hop into the crystal clear waters to see reef fish and other marine life as well as the turtles of Turtle Town. During the months of December to April, you’ll be able to do some whale watching as humpback whales winter in the warm Hawaiian waters.
If you are a certified diver you’ll want to go scuba diving in Maui. The waters of Maui are teeming with marine life and a few interesting dive sites that include underwater arches and the Molokini Crater.
Even if you are not certified, its warm and inviting waters make for an excellent place to get your scuba certification. Or you can take an introductory lesson to scuba diving. This scuba diving lesson in South Maui was made for complete beginners. After you become comfortable in the water, you’ll head out to open water to enjoy the sea life and beauty of the open water.
Go Outrigger Canoeing
For a unique cultural experience on Maui, try your hand at outrigger canoeing. It not only is a great way to explore the coast, but it is also a way to learn about an ancient tradition in Maui. Early explorers crossed the seas navigating by stars on outrigger canoes. Learn how to paddle one of these and then get out and explore the marine life.
Check out Hawaiian Paddle Sports for Outrigger Canoe tours. We took the South Maui Turtle Town Outrigger Sailing Canoe Tour from Makena and it was excellent. It included snorkel gear, outrigger canoe lessons and a Hawaiian cultural tour learning about the islands fishing and farming history.
Take in the Sunrise at Haleakala Crater
One of the best things to do in Maui is to catch the sunrise at the summit of the volcanic crater overlooking the island. Standing at 10, 023 feet, you’ll have views in all directions. Haleakala National Park is huge at 30,183 acres. While the Pipiwai trail is near the coast, the Haleakala crater takes you upcountry to see an entirely different Maui.
This sunrise tour is always a top seller – it begins with a drive to the top of the Haleakala Volcano where you’ll watch the sunrise over Maui. After sunrise, it’s a downhill bike ride from the top of Haleakala with stops for breakfast and photographs. This is definitely a Maui bucket list adventure.
As you descend, you’ll be able to explore Upcountry Maui which is located on the slopes of Haleakak?. This is a quieter Maui with farmers plating sweet potatoes and taro in the rich volcanic soil. You can book farm tours to see a different side of Maui. Plus there are distilleries and wineries to visit as well.
This luxury private tour is a full-day upcountry tour to the Iao Valley and Farm Tour. Up to six people can enjoy this experience to swim in waterfalls, go shopping at farmers markets, see authentic Maui arts and crafts and enjoy a farm visit to the Surfing Goat Dairy. You’ll also taste local spirits at the vodka distillery all in the luxury and comfort of a Cadillac escalade.
Attend a Luau
It is the quintessential thing to do in Maui. We’ve all fantasized about attending a Luau since watching Brady Bunch reruns as kids. This traditional feast on the beach with dancing and tiki torches is a must for anyone going to Hawaii. On Maui, Old Lahaina Luau and Wailea Luau are great choices. But there are Luaus all around the island. Just ask your resort where to go!
This highly rated luau at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort takes you on a journey to watch dancers tell the stories of their ancestors and Hawaiian culture. It includes a fire knife performance, dancing, and cultural performances as you enjoy a Hawaiian buffet.
Lahaina Banyan Tree Park
Another impressive Banyan Tree is at the courthouse in Lahaina. It is one of the largest in the entire United States spanning an entire city blog and standing 60 feet tall. There are many events that take place under the shade of the tree including art in the park. If you find yourself in Lahaina or are staying in Lahaina, go to the Old Lahaina Luau for an authentic and traditional Luau.
If a beautiful sunrise is on your list of things to do in Maui, an early morning wake-up call to the top of Haleakala Crater Volcano for a birds-eye view of the island. Be sure to pack a winter jacket, (it gets cold up there in the am) leave early (we’re talking 3 am to be at the top parking lot), and pack water and snacks.
West Maui Beaches
West Maui is a popular place to stay in Maui with Lahaina being a major tourist destination, and there are plenty of beaches here. Besides all the striking sights and the sounds of the crashing waves, you will also have direct access to Fleming Beach and Kapalua Beach. Other popular beaches in West Maui are Honolua Bay, Ka’anapali Beach, and the more secluded Olowalu Beach.
There are numerous hiking trails around Maui, read our full breakdown of the best hikes in Maui at Top 12 Hikes in Maui to Take your Breath Away
Try Kite Boarding
If you are looking for a different activity in Maui give kiteboarding a try. While staying in the town of Paia we had the opportunity to take a course with Kiteboarding School Maui. It ended up being one of the most fun things to do in Maui and it was definitely the best time we’ve ever had in the surf.
You can sign up for a taste of kiteboarding for a day or enroll to become a qualified weekend warrior. It only takes a few days to learn, and by the time you are halfway through your vacation, you’ll be up and kite boarding all on your own! We booked our kite boarding lessons at the Neil Pride location at 400 Hana Highway in Kahului.
Chances are your hotel on Maui will have a beach, but some of the best beaches on Maui to check out on the north shore are Ho?okipa Beach, Baldwin Beach Park, Honomanu Bay, P?i?a beaches and the black sand beaches of Wai’anapanapa State Park. There?s also Kanaha closer to Kahului Airport.
Kapalua Coastal Trail
One of the best hikes in Maui is the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Located in West Maui the Kapalua Coastal Trail is a great hike along the island’s rugged coast. On the Kapalua Coastal Trail, not only will you enjoy close-up views of the Pacific Ocean, but several side trails are on offer to add length and variety to your day hike.
The mostly flat trail mixes paved, boardwalk, and volcanic rock paths but remains a fairly casual trek. As you walk around the coastline, you will be able to see the West Maui Mountains along with views towards several world-class resorts and vacation homes.
The trail leads out to Kapalua Bay which is another great spot on Maui for stand up paddle boarding and snorkeling. Ka’anapali Beach, and Ho’okipa Lookout.
Learn to Make Hawaiian Poke
One of the funnest things to do in Maui is to learn how to make the local cuisine. We always love taking a cooking class, but we had never come away with a recipe so easy and delicious. Poke is a raw fish salad mixed with fresh herbs and spice. It is the most refreshing dish and you’ll be able to impress your friends at home on a hot day. Watch our video: How to Make Hawaiian Poke
Maui Brewing Company
A great companion to Hawaiian Poke is a good beer and if you are looking for a brew put, make your way to the Maui Brewing Company. Like many places around the world, Maui has joined the craft brewing scene with the Maui Brewing Company leading the pack. It’s Hawaii’s largest brewing company with restaurants on Kailua and Waikiki Beach in Oahu and two locations on Maui in Lahaina and you can tour the Kihei Tasting Room where Brewery Tours & Beer Tastings are offered.
Learn to Surf
I know we said there are many things to do in Maui besides surfing but how can you come to Hawaii and not hit the waves? Even if you don’t have the experience you can take surfing lessons in Maui. It’s known for its big breaks attracting professional surfers from around the world, but there are beginner breaks too.
Check out Paia Bay, Kaanapali Beach or The Cove at Kalama Beach Park in South Maui for beginner surf spots. Or just ask your hotel where to take surfing lessons. Chances are, if you have beach access, you’ll be able to try your hand at surfing at your resort.
When learning to surf, we recommend private surf lessons. You’ll want the instructor’s full attention. This highly rated lesson takes place near Lahaina. The lesson for two offers individual attention from an experienced instructor where you’ll learn how to paddle and catch a wave. It’s the ultimate Maui Bucket List activity to learn to Hang 10 with the best of them.
Honolua Bay is part of the Marine Life Conservation District and is a popular place for snorkeling. Since Honolua Bay is protected, there is an abundance of sea life. The beach here is rocky, so it isn’t a place to go basking in the sun, but for snorkeling or scuba diving it is great.
Honolua Bay is also very popular for surfing during the winter months when storms bring big waves. Beginners beware, this is a place for experienced surfers, so instead pull up a seat to watch them at work.
Take a Helicopter Tour
Nothing beats seeing Maui’s high sea cliffs from the air. When you take a helicopter tour with Air Maui, you really get a sense of the wild beauty of the island.
Air Maui took us all along the coast of Maui and into the interior where we soared over the West Maui Mountains, waterfalls, beautiful beaches, and the pineapple plantation. We even made our way out to see the coast of Molokai and Lanai. Enjoy our video of this scenic tour of Maui – Maui Helicopter Tour
Go Whale Watching
One of the best things to do in Maui is to go whale watching. Whales migrate through Maui from November to May as they make their way from Alaska. December to April is the humpback whale season and you are nearly guaranteed to spot humpback whales in the waters off the coast. Maui is home to the densest whale population on earth at this time 10,000 Humpbacks frolicking in its shallow warm waters.
This highly rated tour is a unique whale watching experience that takes you out on a small raft for an intimate whale-watching experience. Be at eye level as you search for humpback whales in Lahaina Harbour. The small vessels move quickly and let you spend more time with the whales than the larger tour boats.
SUP at Napali Beach
If you are looking for adventures in Maui that you also can try when you get home give stand-up paddleboarding (or “SUP,” as it’s known) a try. It seemed that every beach we went to on Maui had people Supping. It’s a bit like surfing mixed with a touch of canoeing.
We learned to SUP in Maui in the calm waters of Napili Bay off the shores of the golden sand on Napali Beach with Tikiman Stand Up Paddle. When you learn to paddle in Maui, you can paddle anywhere.
If you are looking for a bit of excitement, canyoning mixes a bit of rock climbing with hiking and swimming. Maui Canyoning takes you rappelling over waterfalls and plunging into pools. Don’t worry you don’t need any climbing experience to go canyoning and once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to do it again and again. Check out Maui Canyoning for details.
Imagine the feeling of flying in silence through the air as you take in the tropical views below. Paragliding is the perfect way to experience the thrill of skydiving without having to jump out of a plane. On Maui, Proflyght Paragliding takes you to Upcountry Maui for adventurers off the slopes of Mount Haleakala for spectacular views. You fly in tandem with skilled instructors so you don’t have to do anything but simply enjoy the ride.
Eat Hawaiian Shave Ice
No trip to Maui would be complete without trying the signature dessert, Shave Ice. Hawaiian Shave Ice has strong roots in Maui as Japanese plantation workers brought their tradition to the pineapple and sugar cane plantations. These giant desserts are created by blocks of ice shaved to create light snow and topped with delicious fruit flavors.
We loved Ululani’s Shave Ice in Maui. They have seven locations around the island including Lahaina, and Paia.
See the Rainbow Trees of Maui
One of the most peculiar things to see in Maui are the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. These colorful trees look like paintings as the colors of the rainbow reach up their trunks. Also known as Mindanao Gum or the Rainbow Gum trees, these rainbow trees can be found on the road to Hana.
Walk the Waterfront at Wailea Beach
When staying at the Fairmont Kea Lani, we had access to the most beautiful waterfront on Maui at Wailea Beach. Connecting the Four Seasons, Wailea Beach Resort and the Fairmont, this is one of the most prestigious stretches of waterfront on the island.
There are plenty of watersports, shopping, and dining along the beach. Be sure to pop into the shops of Wailea to pick kup some t-shirts and souvenires.
Check out the Fairmont Kea Lani
No trip to any island would be complete without going sailing. There are plenty of sailing adventures to be had in Maui. A Lahaina Sunset Sail is not to be missed. And there are even snorkeling tours that will take you to the neighboring island of Lanai.
Hit the Links
Maui is famous for its golf courses and many people fly to Maui to hit the links. There are plenty of golf courses all around the island with hotels offering golf packages. Some places to consider golfing in Maui are Ka’anapali Golf Resort, Wailea Golf Club, M?kena Golf Course and the Kapalua Golf Club.
We are not big golfers but if you are looking for something unique to do in Maui you can try your hand at FootGolf for just $15. FootGolf takes place on a golf course, but you use soccer balls instead of clubs and golf balls.
Where to Eat in Maui
Paia Fish Market
For fish on the run, Paia Fish Market is a great stop for lunch. Grab a plate of Mahi Mahi and sit shoulder to shoulder with island goers. Cool fact, we sat beside Luke Wilson when we were in Maui. It was so cool to see a celebrity enjoying life on Maui. Check out their website and stock up before hitting the road to Hana.
Seafood at Mama’s Fish House
Mama’s fish house is world-famous and is located just outside of Paia on the Road to Hana. Fresh catches are caught offshore daily and are served fresh within 24 hours of being caught. This is a great place to stop on your way back from Hana to enjoy a cocktail and sunset.
Tin Roof Maui
Tin Roof Maui is a farm to table restaurant run by Chef Sheldon Simeon and his wife Janice. Born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii this is a restaurant where you will find the locals enjoying authentic cuisine.
What Maui Likes to Eat
If you want to enjoy some local Maui recipes at home, we love this cookbook by Chef Tylun Pang who has curated the top Maui recipes from Maui’s top chefs and restaurants. There are 140 recipes in all. Yum! Buy it on Amazon here.
Slack Key Show
A unique tradition on Maui is to play the slack key guitar. One of our favorite shows on Maui was watching the fast fingers of the Slack Key Show at Napili Kai Beach Resort.
We loved staying at Napali Kai Beach resort on Napili Beach. Napili Beach is a small crescent beach that is perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, and body surfing. This resort truly felt like a little slice of old Hawaii.
Watch the Surfers at Ho’okipa Lookout
Ho’okipa Beach Park is not a place we recommend getting in the water if you are not an expert surfer, but it is the coolest place in Maui to sit and watch surfers ride the waves from the safety and comfort of the beach. Ho’okipa Beach Park is a the place to watch world-class surfers and windsurfers do their thing. This is also a beautiful view to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Nearby is Baldwin Beach is a beautiful long sandy beach that is also a must visit must visit.
Kaanapali Beach, Kaanapali
Speaking of beaches, one of the best beaches on Maui is Kaanapali Beach. Kaanapali Beach is a swimming heaven. The sand is soft, the sea is shallow, and even the occasional sea turtle drops by. If you are looking to combine a relaxing day with some swimming, Kaanapali is definitely one of the best beaches to visit.
This big beach is three miles long and has a small community atmosphere. This atmosphere becomes electric at sunset when the daily diving ceremony takes place at Black Rock. If you wait until sunset, you’ll be able to watch the professional cliff divers put on an impressive performance.
One of the best places to stay here is at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel. It is Hawaii’s most Hawaiian Hotel!
Iao Valley State Monument
Iao Valley State Monument is scheduled to reopen in January 2023 and a visit to the Iao Valley State Park is a must. Located in Central Maui, the Iao Valley State Park is home to one of the most iconic natural formations on Maui. Starting at Iao Needle State Monument trailhead, this easy hike takes you to the Iao Needle lookout trail – a natural rock formation that stands at 1200ft tall and from the top, it is 2250ft above sea level. You can walk around the Needle mixing the sight of tropical plants with views of the peak.
The park is also an important part of Hawaiian culture, being the location of one of the most well-known battles in Hawaii’s history, the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790.
Makena Beach State Park
When we first visited Maui, we had the chance to stay at M?kena Beach & Golf Resort in South Maui where we could easily walk to Makena Beach State Park. That has now been turned into private residences, but you can still visit Makena Beach State Park on your own.
This beautiful park is located south of Wailea and has the pristine beaches of Oneloa Beach and Big Beach stretching 1.5 miles long making it one of the largest undeveloped stretches of beaches in Maui. Just north of Makena Beach is Pu?u Olai Beach also known as Little Beach.
La Perouse Bay Coastal Hike
One of our favorite things to do anywhere is to walk along the coast. La Perouse Bay Coastal Hike at Makena offers beautiful views of Maui’s lava flows. Located in the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, this wild coastal hike takes you past the wild waters of the coast, blow holes and lava rocks. It is truly beautiful.
Enjoy a Mai Tai
Mai Tai’s are synonymous with the island and no visit to Maui would be complete with sipping this Tiki-themed cocktail while listening to soft Hawaiian music. Monkey Pod Kitchen in Wailea makes a found Mai Tai and Mama’s Fish House on the North Shore serves up signature Mai Tais as well. But don’t worry, you’ll be able to try one no matter where you are on the island.
Maui Ocean Center
We are not huge fans of aquariums but we know that they play an important role in conservation and education. The Maui Ocean Center does claim “The animals in our exhibits are carefully collected from the surrounding waters, nurtured in our facility, and returned to the ocean.” That is truly something great to hear as aquariums around the world could follow this lead. The take an active role in environmental conservation and beach clean-ups.
When visiting an aquarium, funds go to help these initiatives. This is certainly something I can get behind. There are several displays including The Living Reef filled with reef fish and living coral, Kaho‘olawe: History and Healing, Turtle Lagoon and Open Ocean. You can watch their live webcam online
Where to stay in Maui
Luxury – Fairmont Kea Lani
Located on Maui’s West Coast at Wailea’s Polo Beach, this all suites luxury hotel was divine. Located in Wailea it is a central location close to shopping, dining, and other five-star resorts. It has beach access and is a quiet sanctuary surrounded by swaying palm trees, and five star luxury. See more of the Fairmont for rates and availability.
Authentic – Napali Kai Beach Resort
Old school Hawaiian Charm with luxury suites. This resort makes you feel like you are in the real Maui. Located on the beautiful Napali Bay in Lahaina. This little beach is the perfect crescent shape made for families and people looking for a relaxing time on the water. There are plenty of watersports and activities. Find Rates and Availability.
Laid Back – Paia Inn
Located on Maui’s North Shore, Paia Inn is a place you can chill out, and enjoy yoga classes on the beach and chic boutique hotel rooms located directly on the beach. The wide sandy beach at Paia is perfect for early morning walks and relaxation. Check out this hip boutique hotel on the North Shore of Maui.
Maui is a dream destination with tropical beaches, gorgeous rainforests, rich Polynesian culture and a ton of adventure. When planning your winter vacation make sure to put Maui at the top of your list. You won’t regreat it.