15+ Best Things to do in Maui: What to See, Do, and Eat

15+ Best Things to do in Maui: What to See, Do, and Eat

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Looking for things to do in Maui?! You’ve come to the right place!

I seriously love Hawaii.  Every single thing about it.  And since moving to the West Coast from NYC, I’m constantly looking up flights to the islands.  We visited Maui and Kauai a few years back, Oahu a few months ago for my 30th birthday (30 wasn’t so dreaded spending it in paradise), and now that we’re that much closer to the islands, I’m secretly planning a second trip to Hawaii this year.

Things to do in Maui

Since I haven’t been to Maui in a few years, I’ve asked Paroma from yrofthemonkey.com to share her favorite things to do in Maui since she’s been there quite recently!  Like myself, she lives in San Francisco, and has a separate day job besides running her blog (a smartie pants scientist)!

Enjoy her take on the best things to do in Maui.  If you’ve got any to share, let us know in the comments!

But first things first: Where to Stay in Maui

First time to Maui?

Consider staying in West Maui (Kaanapali or Lahaina), which is the more populated, tourist-friendly area of the island.  You’ll be close to restaurants, some of the best beaches on the island, shopping, nightlife, and grocery stores.

$ – The Tiki Beach Hostel is a wonderful choice to stay for those on a strict budget, and boasts free wifi, free parking, and air-con and a kitchen in all rooms. The location is walking distance to everything and the backyard area is beautiful and relaxing.

$$  We chose to stay at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, which was directly on Black Rock Beach with wonderful snorkeling and a nightly cliff jumping ceremony. We were able to walk to tons of shopping and restaurants, and the hotel has lots of free activities all day!

$$$ – Looking to spoil yourself? The Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua has 6 restaurants, a full service spa, and the most beautiful outdoor pool you’ve ever seen.

Back again?

I recommend staying on another part of the island in order to have a different experience.  The southern part of the island has some beautiful accommodation options, and will be a huge hit for nature lovers and those who want some privacy.

$ – On a budget?  It doesn’t get much better than this.  The Days Inn Maui Oceanfront Hotel has beach access, free parking and wifi, plus ocean-view dining.

$$ – Two wonderful options in the moderate price range: Grand Wailea or Andaz Maui at Wailea.  Both are beachfront resorts sporting high-end rooms, numerous pools, and fine dining. Bonus – the Andaz has 4 infinity pools (swoon!)

$$$ – Looking for a little luxury on your trip to Maui?  The Four Seasons Resort at Wailea will surely not disappoint.  With it’s tropical island resort-style hotel, you’re only a few minutes walk to the beach and the spa – absolutely top notch.

Maui, one of the prettiest islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, was our last vacation destination. Although tiny, there are attractions abound on this island as well as lots of delicious places to sample some local fare. Some of those must do/visit/chow down items that you need to get on your Maui checklist are listed below. :)

Things to do in Maui

1.Watch the Sunrise atop Haleakala

haleakala-2Bsunrise-2B6

One of the most beautiful sunrises from the summit of a dormant volcano is something that you should not miss.  It is by far one of the best things to do in Maui, and you simply cannot leave the island before experiencing a sunrise above the clouds.  The Haleakala mountain, a now dormant volcano, lies in the center of the island and provides a spectacular sunrise venue which can be enjoyed from four locations at elevations ranging from 7000-10000 feet in it’s National Park. You have to make reservations beforehand (do so here) since park rangers now regulate the crowd that arrives for sunrise. Start early to get a parking spot at the summit, wear very warm clothes (since the temperature drops considerably at such a high altitude), and do not forget that telephoto camera! An absolute must-d0 thing in Maui!

Don’t feel like navigating so early in the morning? Consider a tour to Haleakala to watch the sunrise and more!

2. Black Rock Beach Cliff Dive Ceremony

Black Rock Beach Cliff Dive Ceremony

Black Rock Beach at Kaanapali is not only famous for its soft sand and beautiful sunset, but also the diving ceremony that occurs off the cliff every evening by a Hawaiian diver to pay homage to his ancestors!  This event, organized by the Sheraton hotel, is free to the public and can be viewed from the beach at sunset.  Psst- the snorkeling here is rather spectacular as well.

3. Nakalele Blow Hole and Heart Rock

Nakalele Blow Hole

The Nakalele blow hole and heart rock are two other must visit spots in Maui. The blow hole is created by sea water being trapped in an underground lava tube and in an effort to be released, it gushes out with tremendous force! The heart rock, essentially a rock with a heart shaped opening in it, is close by. The path to the blow hole and rock is steep and stony, therefore wearing sturdy footwear is highly recommended.

4. Stroll down Lahaina

Lahaina Main Street

Lahaina is a bustling town in west Maui and as is typical of a port town. You can wander down Front street, bustling with shops and restaurants. Unlike other beach towns, Lahaina does have remnants of its past with several historic buildings such as the Chinese Wo Hing Museum or the sprawling banyan tree in the Old Lahaina courthouse. You can download a map of the Historic Lahaina walking tour to peek into this town’s colorful history.

5. Eat Fish Tacos

fish tacos maui

While in Lahaina, do not forget to grab some fish tacos (the best I’ve ever had) at Lahaina Luna cafe. Fresh and tasty all the way!

Read Next: Where to Eat in Maui Part 1 | Where to Eat in Maui Part 2

6. Breakfast at Kihei Caffe

Kihei Caffe

Arrive early, for this place is super tiny and even more popular. One of the best breakfast spots in Hawaii, their loco moco is to die for! If you are not a big meat eater, then go for their chocolate chip pancakes like me and you will not be disappointed. Get a side of fresh papaya to perk up your breakfast and give it that Hawaiian touch.

7. Shave Ice

shave ice

Shave ice is a simple Hawaiian pleasure consisting of a big bowl of what else but thinly shaved ice drenched in real fruit syrup of your choice (you can choose up to three flavors). Whalers Village in Kaanapali or shops in Lahaina have yummy shave ice which is not to be missed. Make sure not to call it shaved ice – avoid sounding like a tourist – it’s called shave ice without the d.

8. Juice Stands

smoothie stand the marks the Twin Falls hike on Road to Hana

Hawaiian juice stands are perfect for quenching your thirst from a fresh coconut or a smoothie or simply munching away on those famous Maui gold pineapples (#yum). Some of them may also sell banana or guava breads on the side. Perfect for snacks and pick me ups.  You’ll also find a bunch of fruit and juice stands on the Road to Hana.

Read Next: 10 Foods to Taste in Hawaii

9. Hula Dance

feast at lele maui

When in Hawaii, catching a traditional hula dance or a Luau is a cultural experience one needs to have. Whalers village in Kaanapali has free Hula shows and if you are a guest of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (as we were), the staff arranges for a fantastic cultural show for its guests in the evening which includes beautiful Hula dances. [Editors note: we stayed at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel as well, and they offered free hula dance classes – check them out!]

10. Sunsets in South Maui

Maluaka Beach

South Maui is where all the grand resorts and secluded beaches are. Although you can never go wrong with beach sunsets in Hawaii, Maluaka Beach in Wailea is a tiny beach minus the crowds where we witnessed an out of the world sunset. Do give it a try!

11. Mama’s Fish House

mamasfishhouse

The tiny town of Paia is where one of Maui’s most popular restaurant is, i.e. Mama’s Fish House. Extremely pricy but worth every morsel if you are a seafood lover!  Hawaii is where you get the catch as fresh as they come (any fresher and you will have to do the fishing yourself)! Reservations are highly recommended at this extremely popular spot.

12. Hookipa Beach

Hookipa Beach Maui Hawaii

Hookipa beach is a stone’s throw from Mama’s and the one beach where you can easily access to catch crazy surfing action as well as snoozing Hawaiian turtles (but please – do not disturb them in any way). This is also the first stop on the Hana Highway that takes you to the eastern and southern part of the island around the Haleakala volcano.

13. Road to Hana

No visit to Maui is complete without this epic road trip where the fun lies in the unfolding of the journey and not in the destination itself (Hana is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town with zero attractions). The road has over 600 (yes you read it right) bends and over 58 one lane bridges, so driving can be an ordeal, but I promise you that once you get behind that steering wheel, the beauty of this journey will melt away those driving blues. This part of Maui gets more than 300 inches of rain every year and is resplendent with natural attractions and greenery. There are several sights and stops worth exploring and so the drive can be a long one.  Make it easier by downloading the Maui Gypsy guide app that will guide you turn by turn for every stop (it runs on GPS) or make it even easier on yourself by joining a tour on the Road to Hana. I highly recommend staying for the night in Hana and making the return trip in daylight.

Read Next: 14 Best Stops on the Road to Hana

blacksandbeach1

A bit more about the Road to Hana because it’s just that spectacular:

A sampling of the Road to Hana attractions: The Maui Gypsy Guide makes it very easy for you to pick and choose the spots on the drive that you’d like to visit. A few favorites include:

  • Twin falls
  • Kaumahina State Wayside (for restroom break and wonderful view of the Maui coastline)
  • Ke’anae arboretum (free for the public and home to giant Eucalyptus trees with painted barks)
  • Ke’anae peninsula and lookout point (a must visit detour for its tiny beach)
  • Bear claw falls
  • Waianapanapa State Park (excellent black sand beach)
  • Koki and Hamoa beaches (past Hana)
  • Wailua Falls (best viewed in the monsoon season when it is in full force)
  • Oheo Gulch and sacred pools in the Haleakala National Park in Kipahulu

Sacred Pools: Note that the pools are closed indefinitely due to rock slides but you can take the short trail and see the waterfall that feeds them or the longer two mile Pipiwai trail that leads to the majestic Waimoku falls. Handy tip here for newbie travelers- retain your Haleakala park receipt (you have to pay for your vehicle when you enter the park and it is good for three days) to be used when you reenter the park at Kipahulu to see the pools.

Huleo juice stand and Nahiku marketplace: These are two good spots on the Hana highway to get a bite to eat. You can fuel up at Huleo juice stand since there are literally no options for a long time till you hit Nahiku, where there are quite a few food trucks. Do not forget to sample some fish tacos as well as dried coconut candy here.

Hana: Nothing much going on in Hana but if you do stay overnight (I highly recommend that you do), please do me a favor and have breakfast at Barefoot cafe, right next to the shimmering waters of Hana bay. You cannot get a better view for your breakfast than this.

And two of my (Jess’s) all-time favorites:

14. Snorkeling with Sea Turtles

One of the biggest things that keeps drawing me back to Hawaii, and Maui in general, is the absolutely wonderful snorkeling in the area.  Two of the best places to snorkel in Maui are at Molokini, a huge sunken volcanic crater, and what is commonly known as Turtle Town, where you guessed it, the turtles hang out on a regular basis!  Be sure to bring a gopro or other waterproof camera to capture all the underwater sea life you’re bound to encounter!  If you don’t have a boat, the only way to take advantage of this wonderful snorkeling is by joining a tour to Molokini and Turtle Town.  We took a very similar tour a few years ago and loved it so!

5 QUICK Underwater Photography Tips to Get Better Photos When Snorkeling! | www.apassionandapassport.com

Read Next: Snorkeling at Molokini and Turtle Town

Read Next: 5 Easy Underwater Photography Tips

15. See a Luau!

feast at lele maui

Your trip to Maui really isn’t complete without attending a luau – the ultimate hawaiian experience!  There are two main shows on the island – The Old Lahaina Luau or Feast at Lele, and I highly recommend either one!  While I’ve personally only seen the show at the Feast at Lele, I can vouch for The Old Lahaina Luau as well as I’ve had countless friends gush at this experience as well.  Both offer remarkable Hawaiian food, super hot Hawaiian dancers with out-of-this-world belly shaking moves, and drinks to your hearts content.

Read Next: The Feast at Lele: An Upscale Hawaiian Luau

Have you been to Hawaii?!  What are some of your favorite things to do in Maui?!

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