Best Things to Do in Maui - A Maui Itinerary

We want you to love Maui as much as we do, so we partnered with a number of tours and excursions to provide you the best experience. We may make money when you click on the links.
Whether you’re an adventure traveler who gets their kicks from jumping off of waterfalls into deep turquoise pools, or you’re a laid back traveler who’s speed is more along the lines of relaxing for hours on white sand beaches and watching paradise float effortlessly by on the back of a humpback breaching in the distance, Maui, can cater to all your different preferences and then some.

Depending on how many days you’re vacationing on island, and whether you are looking for something exotic or local style, relaxed or adventuresome, we’ve compiled a list of several different Maui itineraries that will help you check off all the top bucket list items the island has to offer.

Heads up: As your number of days on the Valley Isle increases, we will add more suggestions of things to do in that time frame. So, if you’re staying for 7 days, everything we suggested in the 3 and 5 day itineraries can be applied to your trip. Just have fun mixing and matching our suggestions to create the vacation of your dreams!

3 Day Maui Itinerary

While we don't think 3 days in Maui is near enough if you are here for a short time, probably because you're splitting your Hawaiian vacation between the island, there are a few most do things we recommend. 

Explore the Beaches

Maui is one of the premiere beach destinations on the planet, and for good reason! In one day you can dig your toes into a powdery white sand beach, explore tide pools while watching world class windsurfers do mind bending tricks above the waves, or pop on a snorkel and explore the ocean against a Hawaiian historical backdrop. You can literally drive around the entire island and pull over at any number of beautiful beaches, but in our opinion some of the best beaches in Maui would have to be: 

Wailea Beach

If you’re staying in South Maui, the beaches in Wailea are not to be missed. Known for its 5 crescent shaped bays, soft white sand and a total area that is three times the size of Waikiki, Wailea radiates luxury, tranquility and privacy unlike any other location on Maui. The calm waters and scenic views of Molokini, Kaho’olawe and Lana’i make this a wonderful swimming and stand up paddle boarding location for families and couples.

Pro tip: If you are near Wailea and find yourself thirsty, be sure to swing by Maui Brewing Company in Kihei. 

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Located on the north shore of Maui, Ho’okipa is perhaps the most renowned wind surfing spot on earth. Several lookouts above the beach provide amazing vantage points to watch world-class and local surfers display exceptional feats of athleticism. Although swimming areas on the beach are limited due to a strong rip tide and several surf breaks, across the wide stretch of sand lining this beach, you’ll find stunning tide pools that offer calm conditions to safely wade in, or just to walk across and look for different fish and marine life living peacefully in the pools. The tide pools at Ho’okipa are a favorite spot for local families to take their keiki (young children) to swim and play, making this one of the best beaches for kids on Maui. On the east side of the beach is a protected sea turtle nesting area where you can see as many as 50 turtles at a time serenely basking on the warm shores.

Pro tip: Hookipa Beach Park is right past Mamas Fish House, so if you have reservations there it makes sense to plan to do both on the same day.

Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach

Ka’anapali, meaning rolling cliffs, is a 3-mile stretch of white sand that once won the title of “America’s Best Beach.” Located a few miles northwest of Lahaina, Ka’anapali is one of the most stunning beaches in Maui, boasting picturesque views of Lana’i and Molokai, tranquil surf and warm, powdery sand. As this is quite an extensive stretch of shore, we recommend you make your way to the north end of the beach to Black Rock (Pu’u Keka’a), a Hawaiian historic area, where Maui locals flock for the best snorkeling this west Maui gem has to offer.
Other popular beaches include Makena Beach, Big Beach, Honolua Bay, and our favorite for kids, Kapalua Bay.

Attend a Luau

Luaus are one of the best things to do in Maui. In one captivating evening you can experience the tastes of authentic Hawaiian cuisine, learn about the culture, watch exciting performances of hula and Polynesian dance, and listen to the ecstatic beat of hula drums intermingling with wistful ukulele music that you’re unlikely to find at a resort.

One of the best luaus in Maui is the Feast at Lele, for its delicious farm to table Hawaiian and Polynesian cuisine, authentic and exciting demonstrations of hula, and private, romantic table service making it one of the best luaus for couples. If you’re staying on the west side, this is a luau that can’t be missed. Located in Lahaina against the stunning backdrop of the West Maui sunsets, the Feast at Lele offers a five-course meal fit for royalty. Unlike most luaus on Maui with long lines swarming the buffet tables and open family-style seating, Feast at Lele offers private table dining and sit-down service for just you and your party. Award winning executive chef, James McDonald, owns a farm on Maui where all the ingredients used on the menu are fresh and locally grown. The luau’s entertainment consists of hula dancers and knife and fire spinners that highlight the different islands of Polynesia. The entertainment is as diverse as the menu, representing 4 island groups that will truly enrapture you in the cuisine and cultures of Polynesia.

Old Lahaina luau, Te Au Moana Luau, Maui Nui Luau, Feast at Mokapu are just a few of the other Maui luaus that topped our list for favorite to attend.

Snorkel at Molokini Crater and Turtle Town

The best snorkeling on Maui is at the spectacular Molokini Crater. Towering 160 feet above the water off the shore of West Maui, it is the remnants of a volcanic eruption from 230,000 years ago. Although it looks sparse and barren from above, once you dip below the water’s surface, you’re in for a treat. The sunken crater provides a protected cove from the open ocean, which houses hundreds of varieties of fish, marine mammals and corals.

Since Molokini is only accessible by boat, you’ll need to book a guided tour to get there. Our favorite snorkel tour company on Maui is Trilogy, a family owned and operated Kama’aina (local) company that delivers a first-class ocean experience, by providing unmatched Hawaiian hospitality combined with superior quality in all areas including food, equipment, boats and safety. The crew exudes care for each other and the guests, while providing local insider tips and ocean education. As you set sail from Ma’alaea Harbor, central Maui, you’ll be treated to a delicious, freshly made breakfast before the crew drops anchor at your own private snorkeling location against the crater. Even though several other snorkel tours will be operating at the same time, you would never know it, as the crew makes sure that you will get to explore a part of the crater that is undisturbed by the other tour groups. After exploring Molokini in peace, the captain will sail to Turtle Town, where you’ll have the chance to see more marine life, and you guessed it, turtles! As you sail back, a fresh barbecue lunch and open bar is served on board to perfectly complete your exotic excursion in utmost comfort and style.

Go Whale Watching (in whale season, of course!)

If you travel to Maui in the winter months between December to March, add whale watching to your list of must-do activities. Up to 12,000 whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to mate, give birth and nurture their babies in the warm waters off of Maui. The Auau channel and the five islands that make up the Maui Nui (Molokai, Lana’i, Maui, Molokini and Kaho’lawe) offer shallow, protected waters that act like a huge, heated swimming pool for the whales to do…well, all their whale things in peace! If you’re staying on the west side, you have a great opportunity to watch the whales from the beach, but nothing compares to getting close to these majestic creatures out on the water on a whale watching excursion.

One of the best whale watching tours is with Pride of Maui. They boast a 65-foot maxi-powered catamaran with 3,000 sq. feet of deck space for unobstructed panoramic views as you comfortably walk around the vessel. Although this is a large boat, Pride of Maui only allows reservations up to 60% of their maximum capacity to ensure your ride is spacious, comfortable and sustainable for the environment. On board, you’ll be treated to impeccable service from the captain and crew while having access to an open bar, freshly prepared breakfast and a barbecue lunch. On the 3.5 hour tour, you’re guaranteed humpback whale sightings or you can go again free.

Heads up: Tours for whale watching go out from Lahaina Harbor and Ma’alaea Harbor daily, and are easy to get a day or two in advance.

Eat Poke and Other Delicious Food

Poke, in Hawaiian, literally means to “cut something.” This raw fish dish, sliced and marinated in umami flavors and vegetables, has transcended popularity in recent years far beyond the Hawaiian shores, but you won’t find a more tasty, and authentic version than right here on Maui. There are several places you can enjoy poke, but one of the best and most affordable places to get a bowl is at the local grocery store chain, Foodland, where they have over 20 different varieties of poke to choose from. If poke piques your interest in local flavors, check out Tin Roof Maui, a lively local lunch spot in Kahului that is famous for delicious Hawaiian comfort food like pork belly bowls, garlic noodles and mochiko chicken.

If food is your love language, Maui has great restaurants that offer a wide variety of options to choose from. 

5 Day Itinerary

Five days in Maui is definitely better than five business days.  If you are staying for a work week, definitely do the activities listed above, but add these in as well. 

Take a Helicopter Tour

70% of Maui is unreachable by car, which means that much of the unique geography of the island, like sheer sea cliffs, towering waterfalls, lush jungles, ancient lava fields and sprawling, green valleys are mainly untouched and preserved as if they’ve been frozen in time. The only way to experience much of this untarnished beauty is from a bird’s eye view in the sky, making a helicopter tour one of the best things to do on Maui and absolutely worth your time here!

Our favorite helicopter tour on Maui is with Sunshine Helicopters. This kama’aina (local) eco-conscious tourism company has been operating their fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly helicopters to the acclaim of more than 900,00 satisfied customers for over 25 years. From the crater at the summit of Mt. Haleakala to the gigantic sea cliffs on the north shore of Molokai, you’ll explore 88 magical miles of undeveloped and remote beauty that can only be seen from an aerial view. Sunshine Helicopters gives you a thrilling way to commune with the aina (land) as they take you past cascading waterfalls and deep green valleys in the rainforest that you’d never experience if you were ground-bound. See more about the Hana & Haleakala tour.  

Drive the Road to Hana

If you’re looking to travel back in time and experience old-school Hawaii, the town of Hana is a cultural treasure not to be missed. Located in both north and east Maui, Hana is considered one of the last bastions of unspoilt Hawaii. However, just like all great adventures, driving the Road to Hana is not about arriving at your destination, it is literally about the journey getting there. Although your GPS will tell you that taking the Hana Highway is approximately 52 miles from Kahului to Hana, don’t assume this drive will take around one hour. In fact, you can expect to spend 2-4 hours driving to reach the town as you navigate hairpin turns, narrow one-lane bridges and plenty of temptation to stop and take in stunning views of the island. The Road to Hana is peppered with amazing hikes including Pipiwai Trail, majestic waterfalls, such as Waimoku Falls, deep plunge pools, sea arches and farm stands selling juicy cuts of pineapple and the most delectable banana bread you’ve ever tasted. Amidst all this beauty, this is a route that must be respected, as it can prove to be quite dangerous with 100 feet tall sheer cliff drop offs, 617 hairpin turns, 59 one-lane bridges and a ton of blindspots. With all these harrowing obstacles, it’s not called “the divorce highway” for nothing. For this reason, it’s recommended to sojourn this magical highway in the comforts of a guided tour, where you’ll not only receive an educational historic and geographical narration of what you’re seeing, but you’ll be guided to premiere stop-overs that you otherwise would have needed a permit to see, or worse yet, may have passed over simply because you didn’t know about them (or you were too busy nervously sweating and arguing with your partner to pull over).

We recommend booking your Road to Hana tour with Robert’s Heavenly Hana. On this full-day tour, not only will you receive a complimentary hotel pick up and drop off, but you’ll have ample time to sit back and relax as you are taken on an epic journey to sublime waterfalls, magnificent state parks, sparkling black sand beaches, lush rainforests, fresh water streams, and of course, Heavenly Hana town.

Take a Surf Lesson

If you’ve never tried the “sport of Kings,” taking a surf lesson on Maui is an epic experience. Because of the island’s unique position in the archipelago, where Lana’i, Molokai and Big Island block the waves from ever getting too big, Maui has more beginner surf breaks than any other Hawaiian island. Between catching crystalline waves and the chill, friendly vibes in the water, you’ll feel like you’re surfing in an aquarium with your buddies. As inviting as these beginner breaks may seem, they can quickly turn nerve-wracking depending on weather conditions, powerful riptides and large reefs. To learn proper surf etiquette, technique and to ensure you’re in a safe and accessible break, we recommend you book either a private or group surf lesson.

Our favorite surf lesson company is Maui Wave riders. With surf schools in Kihei and Lahaina, they provide you with all the gear, technical on-land skills practice and ocean safety training before spending an ample amount of time ripping it up in the water. They’ll make sure you have a safe, fun and exciting day to remember.

7 Day Itinerary

Now we are talking about a true Maui vacation.  Add these Maui activities to your list of things to do. 

Take a Dinner Cruise

A dinner cruise is one of the most relaxing and romantic excursions you can book on in Maui. There’s hardly anything more romantic than you and your honey wrapped in the technicolor hues of the sky as you watch a striking sunset on the Pacific horizon. With delicious food and hand crafted cocktails, you’ll be awed by the beauty of Maui’s coastal shoreline and the not-so-distant neighbor islands floating peacefully nearby. If you happen to book a dinner cruise between December to March, you may even be blessed with a few magnificent whale sightings. A dinner cruise on Maui is certain to become an enduring memory of your vacation that you can hold close to your heart for years to come.

We recommend booking Alii Nui’s Royal Sunset Sail. Your 2.5 hour sail on a luxurious and spacious catamaran promises exceptional service, a bountiful buffet dinner and a full bar with premium drinks, all against the backdrop of the breathtaking Maui shoreline and the vibrant sun setting into the ocean.

See Haleakala Sunrise

Rising approximately 10,000 feet above sea level, Maui’s highest peak in Haleakala National Park is a place like nowhere else on earth. This dormant volcano is home to several species of endemic plants and animals that are only found on that mountain top in Maui. The “crater” at the summit is actually a valley carved out by years of erosion, and is often described as walking amidst a magical moonscape on earth. Bearing witness to sunrise at the summit of the mountain has been a tourist attraction on Maui for over a century, when Samuel Clemens wrote, “It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always." The summit’s high elevation, lack of light and air pollution, and its frequently changing weather conditions make it an ideal place to view millions of twinkling stars hanging from a pitch black sky shift into the golden, shimmering hues of a dramatic sunrise over the island. Due to the popularity of viewing sunrise on Haleakala, the National Park requires reservations for each vehicle entering before sunrise (from 3:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m.) that you can book between 60 to 2 days before the start date. At 10,000 feet elevation, the temperatures are COLD, so be sure to wear layers and bring a blanket to snuggle up with your loved ones at the top.

Hike Waterfalls

The best hiking on Maui is often in search of picturesque waterfalls dotted throughout the jungle. Much of Maui’s Northern and Eastern shores are punctuated with stunning waterfalls that range from breathtaking easy-to-find roadside attractions, to towering cascades of white water falling down into clear swimming pools deep in the verdant rainforest. Several of the pools are swimmable, making the experience of diving into crystalline water under a thundering fall a memory that is sure to imprint as one of the most spectacular parts of your Maui adventure, and a must-do on your vacation. Knowing where to find the best falls and following the proper safety and weather conditions to ensure your adventure is as sweet as it can possibly be is best left to professional guides, who often times have access to waterfalls that are either on private land or more off-the-beaten path and less likely to be overrun by other visitors.

We recommend you book your waterfall adventure with Hike Maui. Their expert, naturalist guides will ensure you have a fun and safe day as you trailblaze up volcanic shelves, jump from rock ledges into deep swimming pools beside several majestic waterfalls ranging from 10 - 40 feet high, wade through freshwater streams and explore private trails through the lush rainforest, all while receiving top-notch education about Maui’s unique habitat and ecosystem.

10 Day Itinerary

10 days exploring the Valley Isle really allows you to get a taste of all that Maui has to offer.  

Explore Iao Valley

Iao Valley, a sacred Hawaiian valley, with dramatic green cliffs, a bubbling freshwater stream and regal swimming pools, is known amongst locals as one of the most naturally healing basins on the island. Its easy road-side accessibility, paved walking trails and stunning outlooks makes it a popular tourist destination and a natural attraction good for kids and elderly. The main enchantment at the Iao Valley State Park is the Iao Needle (Kuka’emoku), a 1200 foot peak that has been chiseled down to a point by millenia of erosion around it. When the weather conditions are good, there are several hiking trails along the Iao Stream that lead to gorgeous swimming pools that you can plunge into. It’s not recommended to swim and hike around the stream if it is, or has been raining as the area carries risks of flash floods. Some access points to the trails alongside the stream will tell you not to enter due to the risks of flooding and hiking around the stream unmonitored, however, if you do venture down those trails, make sure you respect the aina (land) and locals by treating the environment with reverence and not leaving behind any rubbish or disturbing to flora and fauna in the valley. A little ways down the road before entering the state park, you will come across Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens, home to a network of gardens dedicated to the diverse cultures of Maui. Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino and American missionaries each have their own garden designed with unique architecture and landscaping to represent their culture. It is a pleasant place to walk through and eat a picnic before jumping into many of the stream’s accessible swimming pools to cool off from the heat of the day.

Go Ziplining

For adrenaline junkies that want a rush far above any of the land-based activities, Maui ziplining is an awesome way to explore the island. Individuals and families can soar together high above Maui’s heavenly rainforests, swaying palm trees and the open ocean. 

There are several different ziplining tours and companies to choose from on Maui, but we recommend booking your tour with Skyline Eco Adventures. They have three different ziplining tours to choose from:

  • Ka’anapali 8-Line Zipline Adventure, where you’ll soar above remote coastal landscapes and experience spine-tingling West Maui mountain views.
  • Haleakala 5-Line Zipline Adventure, where you’ll fly over 90 foot drops and reach speeds up to 45 mph on a pendulum zipline and cross an Indiana Jones-style swinging bridge.
  • Haleakala Sunrise & Zipline Tour, where you’ll experience sunrise at the summit of the volcano before being guided through an award-winning zipline course.

Skyline is a eco-tourism company with conservation at the heart of everything they do. As stated on their website, “Since 2002, we have planted over 18,000 native trees, hosted hundreds of community reforestation and ocean cleanup events, and given over $1.7 million to environmental and community nonprofits. We love Hawaii as much as you do, and we want to do everything we can to conserve this beautiful land for future generations.” When you book with them, you’re not only guaranteed an adventure to remember, you’re also actively giving back to the island and the Hawaiian people.

Bike Down the Volcano

Biking down Haleakala is a thrilling way to venture from the summit to the sea. Since the ride is downhill, you’ll barely have to pedal as you glide past several scenic microclimates on the mountain, and get up-close and personal with upcountry towns in a way that would otherwise allude you from the back of a tour van. As this is a leisurely downhill ride, you do not need to be particularly physically fit to enjoy the peaceful and alluring scenery, however, you should be comfortable riding a bike and safety should remain one of your utmost concerns as you traverse switchback turns, strong winds and share the road with distracted drivers.

We recommend booking a bike tour down the volcano with Maui Mountain Cruisers. The company provides excellent quality Schwinn and Workman cruiser-style bikes and top-notch safety gear to ensure a comfortable and safe ride down the mountain. The bike tour begins at the entrance of Haleakala National Park, a 6,500 foot elevation with crystal-clear views of the Maui coastline far below. According to their website, you’ll “wind through the rolling hills of Upcountry Maui, passing through the historical town of Makawao with its colorful storefronts where time seems to stand still. As your journey continues, you’ll ride down Baldwin Avenue to Paia.” This tour is suitable for children 12 and older and is one of the best activities for adventurous travelers.

Go Kayaking

Kayaking is a great activity for single travelers and families to explore the reef and open waters around Maui. If you’re on Maui in whale season (December to March), kayaking is a great vantage point to intimately see whales in their natural habitat. Although it isn’t guaranteed you’ll see these sovereign creatures, you do have a good chance of seeing other marine life like spinner dolphins, turtles and schools of tropical fish swimming past you. There are several different locations you can kayak around the island that range from easy to difficult. To make the most out of your time on the water with pleasant and calm conditions suitable for a range of levels, below are our recommendations for the best kayaking on Maui:

Makena Landing is located in South Maui and offers a sandy launching point from the beach into calm waters. As you paddle out, you’ll reach a massive reef and a natural habitat that is home to several turtles. This location is ideal for families and beginners.

Just south of Lahaina town on the West Side, you can enter calm, shallow waters that offer picturesque views of the magnificent West Maui mountains as you float above the luminescent water and reefs teeming with marine life below. Lahaina offers a laid-back paddling experience for families, couples and solo kayakers that is certain to create memories for a lifetime.

Olowalu is home to one of the most unique ocean reef habitats surrounding Maui. Located Northwest between Lahaina and Ma’alaea, Olowalu boasts hundreds of coral head cover that house schools of tropical fish and a turtle cleaning station (think nature’s underwater car wash for turtles). These waters are not as beginner friendly as the other locations mentioned above due to shallow reefs, unmarked channels, strong winds and choppy seas. Olowalu is best for advanced kayakers or under the guidance of a tour guide.

Book a Spa

Whether you’ve filled your days with physically active adventures or just survived the stress of planning your Hawiian vacation and sitting on airplanes for hours on end, what better way to treat yourself to some much-deserved pampering than by booking a spa day at one of the several award winning spas on the island. If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, chances are there’s an amazing spa just at your fingertips that will offer a variety of treatments and packages that range from traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage to rejuvenating, anti-aging facials, and even a body treatment to soothe your Maui sunburn. If you’re not staying in a hotel, many of our best resorts offer day passes to their spas where you can enjoy the spa facilities like hot and cold plunge pools, steam rooms and saunas, and a menu of treatments to choose from. Whether you book a spa day at the beginning, middle or end of your trip, you’re certain to enjoy your hard-earned reprieve in paradise.

Think you could pack in even more to your trip? Consider checking out Maui Ocean Center, swinging by the Pacific Whale Foundation,  and enjoying the Maui arts and music scene. Did we miss something you would consider a must do Maui activity? Let us know in the comments! 

After many years of nomadically bouncing around the world as a yoga instructor (From Nebraska to DC to London to Chicago to New York to Thailand to Maldives to Martha’s Vineyard to Abu Dhabi), I landed in Hawaii 7 years ago. I spent my first two years on Lana’i, but I knew my heart belonged in Maui, so we moved in early 2018 before the birth of our son to lay our official roots. I love the year-round tropical weather and unparalleled aloha spirit from my friends and neighbors. In my free time you can find me practicing yoga near the ocean, spending time with my family on the beach and submerging in the icy cold waters of Iao Valley. Maui is a culturally rich island with beauty at every turn, which makes living and raising my child here an honor.

Becca Coren