What are the best things to do in Maui? And what should be on your Maui bucket list? We also asked ourselves these questions before our Hawaii trip and did a lot of research on the best Maui highlights, the most beautiful beaches and the famous Road to Hana. There is really a lot to discover on Maui. We tell you now which Maui sights you have to see, where you should stay and what kind of rental car you need for Maui.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Things to know about Maui
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and is famous for its paradisiacal beaches, the tropical jungle and especially the Road to Hana in the west of the island.
Maui is emblematic of the Hawaiian lifestyle and “hang loose” atmosphere. You can watch surfers on many beaches, everything is a bit more leisurely than on the lively neighboring island of Oahu and it’s just wonderful to cruise along one of the numerous coastal roads.
Maui is also famous for whale watching*. In the winter months, you’re almost guaranteed to see humpback whales, dolphins, or even blue whales.
Why should you travel to Maui?
For us, Maui is one of our favorite islands in Hawaii because it has the perfect Hawaii feel. Maui offers a number of gorgeous beaches, plus pristine rainforest that can be explored by car on the Road to Hana, for example. If you like it less touristy and want to experience the full load of nature, then you should come to Maui.
Driving on Maui
Maui, unlike Oahu, is much quieter and not as heavily touristy. There are no freeways here and never really any traffic jams. Driving here is wonderfully relaxed. And the gorgeous coastal roads Road to Hana and the Kahekili Highway are perfect for a road trip across the island. There is also a road on Maui, unlike Kauai, which leads once over the entire island, so that actually every place on Maui is easy to reach by car.
Do I need a Rental Car on Maui?
Maui has a fairly well developed local transportation network. There are buses here that reach most regions of the island. Detailed information about the different bus lines can be found here.
However, we would recommend you to rent a car, because this way you are much more flexible and you can get to places where the bus stops only a few times a day. Also, for example, the Road to Hana can only be explored by rental car and not by bus. If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can discover this spectacular coastal road on a guided tour*.
What kind of Rental Car do I need for Maui?
In our opinion, a normal rental car is quite sufficient on Maui. It is not necessary to rent an off-road vehicle, not even for the famous Road to Hana. The only piece of gravel road where a four-wheel drive car would be helpful is the section that is behind the town of Hana. However, we got through there with our convertible without any problems.
So our recommendation is to rent a convertible rather than an SUV.
How long should I stay on Maui?
You can experience the biggest highlights of Maui in 4-5 days if you plan well. If you spend 6-7 days on the island, then the whole experience will be much more relaxed and you can also plan a few more beach days without stressing yourself out.
Hotel Recommendation on Maui
Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort
At this charming accommodation* in West Maui, you'll stay in lovely studios right on the beautiful beach of Napili Bay.Amazing Hotel Napili Sunset Beach Front | Check Availability*
The Best Time to Travel to Maui
The best time to travel to Maui – like almost every other Hawaiian island – is during the summer months from April to October. During this time, statistically it rains the least and temperatures are a few degrees higher. So, unfortunately, are the prices, because summer is, of course, the peak travel season. We were in the rainy season in February / March on Maui and unfortunately had some bad luck with the weather.
There was more frequent rain and the temperatures were also not as high as expected. but you can of course also be lucky in this time and have fewer tourists, lower prices and still great summer weather. Because Hawaii is generally a year-round destination.
The Best Activities on Maui
|Maui Channel Whale-Watching Catamaran Cruise
|from 37 €
|Small-Group Road to Hāna Sightseeing Tour
|from 225 €
|Eco-Friendly Molokini and Turtle Town Tour with Lunch
|from 160 €
|Haleakala National Park Sunrise Tour
|from 199 €
The Best Things To Do in Maui
Maui has of course a lot of wonderful sights to offer. Jungle, beaches, hiking, but we want to present you now the most beautiful highlights of Maui, which you should be on everyones Maui bucket list.
Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is probably THE most famous and popular highlight on Maui. Probably everyone who visits Maui also drives on the adventurous coastal road to the small town of Hana. The Road to Hana offers 600 curves and 59 bridges and leads you through dense Hawaiian jungle along waterfalls, tropical plants, the rugged coast and great hikes.
Take at least one full day to do the Road to Hana, from early morning until late at night. There is plenty to see and the drive is long and exhausting.
The best highlights on the Road to Hana – besides the route itself – are the Pipiwai Trail, Waiʻānapanapa State Park and Ho’okipa Beach Park at the very beginning of the route, where you can spot sea turtles on the beach.
- Learn more about the Road to Hana here: Road to Hana on Maui I The Most Beautiful Things To Do
Kahekili Highway | Road Trip along the North Coast
The Kahekili Highway is the totally unknown alternative to the extremely touristy Road to Hana and it is located on the other side of the island. Here you also drive along a beautiful coastal road, which is partly so narrow that two cars do not fit next to each other.
The road winds very closely along the coast and offers many beautiful viewpoints of Maui’s steep coast along the way. The Kahekili Highway is much less frequented and still offers a wonderful nature, even if you won’t see as dense jungle as on the Road to Hana.
Recommended stops on the north coast are e.g. the Nakalele Blowhole, where the sea whips around the jagged rocks with tremendous force. Later on you will come to the Waihee Ridge Trail. A beautiful hike through a dense forest and along a narrow mountain ridge. In good weather you have a phenomenal view of the green overgrown mountains around you.
- You can find Kahekili Highway here on Google Maps.
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is one of the best things to do in Maui and consists of two parts located at different regions of the island. There is the Kipahulu area, which is located in the far west of Maui and features the Pipiwai Trail as its most famous attraction. The other region is located in the center of Maui at an altitude of over 3000 meters at the Haleakala Crater.
The two regions are in total contrast: In the Kipahulu area on the Road to Hana, you can swim in the ocean or at roaring waterfalls and take a great hike through the jungle. At the Haleakala crater, on the other hand, you will hike through moon-like landscapes and experience a completely different dust-dry landscape.
- Learn everything about Haleakala National Park here: Haleakala National Park I What you can do here
Whale Watching in Lahaina
Hawaii is famous for the thousands of whales that can be seen here, especially in the winter season. And the best place to do that is on Maui in the strait between Maui’s west coast and the islands of Lanai and Molokai. Whale watching tours depart every day from the beautiful town of Lāhainā.
The probability to see a whale (mostly humpback whales) is almost 100% and we could hardly believe our luck when we could discover not only a mother whale with her (huge) baby, but also other single humpback whales.
We can highly recommend our provider Quicksilver Charters*. At under 40€ p.p. they offer the cheapest whale tours in Hawaii.
By the way, the town of Lahaina itself is also worth a trip even if you don’t want to do a whale tour. The town is really super cute and still authentically Hawaiian. There are many restaurants, souvenir stores and the biggest banyan tree in Hawaii.
This banyan tree has a circumference of several hundred square meters. The special thing about this tree is that it looks like a combination of many single trees, because from the numerous branches again thick trunks grow towards the ground. You feel like you are standing in a whole forest instead of just one tree.
The most Beautiful Beaches on Maui
Maui is famous for its beaches with turquoise waters and powdered sugar sand. The island has only 193 km of coastline, but beaches alone take up 50 km of it. These range from fine sand beaches to red or black lava beaches to pebble beaches.
Many beaches, especially in western Maui, are located in densely populated areas where hotels and resorts spoil the panorama in our opinion. An example of this is the very popular and heavily visited Kaanapali Beach.
On the other hand, such beaches usually offer the best infrastructure with toilets, showers and restaurants. Since we prefer a more natural environment, we present you here only beaches that are away from the tourist strongholds.
Big Beach (Makena State Park)
The beaches in Makena State Park in southeast Maui are in our opinion the most beautiful because they are the most natural and pristine on all of Maui.
Several beaches are clustered in this state park, but they are all relatively similar and virtually next to each other. For example, Palauea Beach, Po’Olenalena Beach and Maluaka Beach.
In the surroundings of the beaches there are no large hotels and otherwise very little development. You are really alone with nature here and it is also beautiful.
The beaches in Makena State Park are also rarely overcrowded, so the beaches for us also belongs to the Maui insider tips. Here you can enjoy pure idyll and enjoy the sea of Maui to the fullest.
Hamoa Beach is one of several beaches on the Road to Hana and is really made for swimming and relaxing. There is light sandy beach, a wonderful jungle backdrop and a calm sea for swimming. Keep in mind, however, that this beach can only be reached after a long journey along the 100 km long Road to Hana with its 600 curves.
Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach offers black lava sand and is located in Waiʻānapanapa State Park in western Maui on the Road to Hana. The entire stretch of coastline is characterized by wild seas, volcanism, and the high waves that crash against the lava rocks.
The Black Sand Beach consists of fine black sand and the sea is often much too rough to go swimming here in peace. Nevertheless, the beach is worth the trip because the panorama is unquestionably spectacular
Here on the north coast of Maui is a beach that is most famous for the turtles that can be found here almost every day. These wonderful creatures snooze on a specially cordoned off section of beach and can be admired by you from some distance.
Unfortunately, because of the many rocks in the water, this beach is not perfect for swimming. However, if the waves are high enough, you can watch surfers surfing here.
Hiking on Maui
In our opinion, Maui is not as much of a hiker’s paradise as the neighboring island of Kauai, but there are still some beautiful and partly famous hikes that you shouldn’t miss.
Read also: The Best Things To Do on Kauai Hawaii
Keonehe’ehe’e (Sliding Sands) Trail
One of the most beautiful and spectacular hikes on Maui is definitely the Sliding Sands Trail (Keonehe’ehe’e).
This trail starts at the almost highest point of Haleakala Volcano and leads you over 18 km through inhospitable desert landscapes directly through the crater. You will feel as if you are on Mars or the moon, so incredible is this area. It is dry as dust and only a few plants can grow here at all.
The hike is easy to do in one day for experienced hikers, even though there are almost 1000 meters of altitude to climb. Unfortunately, the hike is not a circular route, but you have the option to walk back to the starting point via the serpentine road that leads to the summit, or to hitchhike.
Short info about the Sliding Sands Trail:
- Length: 18 km
- Duration: 8-10 hours
- Loop trail: no
- Altitude gain: 931 meters
- Difficulty: difficult
- GPX: Hike at Alltrails
Waihee Ridge Trail
The Waihee Ridge Trail is a beautiful hike that partially crosses a ridge and is located in northwest Maui near the beautiful coastal Kahekili Highway. The hike takes you over 6 km through dense forest with great views of the surrounding mountains.
The hike is in a rather untouristy area of Maui, but is still heavily visited, so you will hardly be alone here. Nevertheless, the climb is worth it, because the natural scenery is simply phenomenal.
Brief information about the Waihee Ridge Trail:
- Length: 6.4 km
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Loop trail: no
- Altitude gain: 485 meters
- Difficulty: difficult
- GPX: Hike at Alltrails
The Pipiwai Trail is one of the most popular hikes and is located on the beautiful Road to Hana in east Maui. The approach to the hike is long and also strenuous.
The hike itself is not very strenuous and leads along waterfalls and bamboo forests to the spectacular Waimoku Waterfall. This falls from over 120 meters down a green overgrown rock wall.
You can read all about the Pipiwai Trail hike and the waterfall in our detailed travel report.
Brief information about the Pipiwai Trail:
- Length: 6.1 km (there & back)
- Duration: 2 hours
- Circular route: no
- Altitude difference: 277 meters
- Difficulty: easy
- GPX: Pipiwai Trail Hike at Alltrails
Maui 6 Days Itinerary
We recommend to spend 5 (or more) days on Maui if you want to see the best highlights and also spend some days on the beach. We have put together a sample itinerary for Maui that you can customize as you wish.
Day 1 | Road to Hana
See the highlight of Maui today and drive the Road to Hana. We recommend you to do the complete loop, so you don’t have to do it twice. Take the whole day from early in the morning until late in the evening.
- More about the hike can be found here: Road to Hana on Maui I The Best Things To Do
Day 2 | Beach Day
After yesterday’s exhausting day you can lay down on the beach today to relax. We recommend Makena State Park with its natural and beautiful beaches.
Day 3 | Whale Watching Tour in Lahaina
Drive to the west of the island today and start a whale watching tour* to spot humpback whales or other whale species. In the afternoon you can relax on one of the numerous beaches in the area or explore the beautiful town of Lahaina with its huge banyan tree.
Day 4 | Drive along the Northern Coast
Today you will drive around the west coast of Maui. Not only will you pass many great beaches, but also the rugged coastline in Maui’s northwest. There is a lot of wonderful nature to discover and at the end of the route (if you drive clockwise) you will pass the very cool Waihee Ridge Trail hike.
Day 5 | Beach Day
Today you can relax at one of Maui’s many beaches, learn to surf or snorkel.
Day 6 | Haleakala Volcano
If the weather is good, you can drive up to the 3000 meter high Haleakala volcano. There are several viewpoints and hikes. In any case you should walk the Sliding Sands Trail.
If you want to walk it completely, you will need the whole day. If you only have a few hours, then hike only a few kilometers down into the crater and enjoy the fabulous view of this Mars-like landscape.
- Read more about Haleakala National Park here: Haleakala National Park I What you can do here
We hope you enjoyed our blogpost about the best things to do in Maui. Feel free to leave us a comment.