Maui in general is a bucket list item to check off for many. When you think of it, you likely envision the best turquoise waters, lush forests, beautiful weather and hula dancers against a torch-lit backdrop. And Hawaii is all that, but also so much more!
Maui is the second largest of Hawaii’s islands, adored for its world-famous beaches, whale sightings, fresh cuisine, and amazing views of both sunrise and sunset. With so many fun things to do in Maui and a long list of adventurous must-do activities, you will surely never get bored—unless you want to.
While traveling throughout the top Hawaiian island, there were a lot of goals checked off my bucket list, plus so much more unexpected treasures.
What to See + Do
1. ✦ Attend a Luau
Not many people travel all the way to Hawaii without attending a quintessential Maui luau. The traditional feast typically has music accompanied by dance, and no shortage of food. The Feast of Lele in Lahaina puts on one of the few luaus in Maui that is not a buffet (that’s primarily why I chose that one!). Though another popular choice is Old Lahaina.
It’s definitely best to book your seats in advance, as this is one of the top activities to do on the island. Here are a few more options for doing so online:
2. ✧ Go Whale Watching
When you visit Hawaii in the winter season, from November to March, whale watching is the activity that should be at the very top of your bucket list of things to do in Maui! These boat tours take 2 to 3 hours, typically in the morning time, where you’ll get to enjoy beautiful Hawaiian scenery from the ocean as you try to get lucky and catch sightings of whales. There are plenty of tours to choose from, but the 2-hour whale watching cruise is one of the most popular.
3. ✦ Swim with Sea Turtles
Though sea turtles can be found in many snorkeling/swimming areas on the island, one of my favorites was Maui’s Olowalu Reef. Kayak Olowalu has an excursion where not only can you kayak through the smooth waters, but also pop on a mask to snorkel, and if nature is on your side quite possibly swim with some sea turtles. If you are lucky, a few sharks will be roaming around ready to share your ocean space!
For some added bucket list adventure book the Turtle Town snorkeling tour that takes you snorkeling in the extinct volcanic crater of Molokini!
4. ✦ See the 7 Sacred Pools of Ohe’o Gulch
Known for its gorgeous waterfalls and pools, The Pools of ‘Ohe’o is perhaps the most popular attraction in Eastern Maui—a popularity which it most definitely deserves. Located in the Haleakala National Park, the valley and its pools can make for an amazing day when combined together with a hike, such as taking the Pipiwai Trail.
To enter, you will have to pay a fee of $15 (per pedestrian or bicycle) or $30 (per private vehicle), but for that price you have access to the entire park, including the trails and summits and the pools, for 3 full days.
5. ✦ Walk on a Black Sand Beach
While contemplating which of the Road to Hana stops you will make, don’t miss the one at mile marker 32, the Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach. Take the short, steep trail down to the beachfront, take off your shoes and walk along the shiny black sand. It was one of my favorite things to do in Maui.
6. ✧ Pose With Lahaina’s Banyan Tree
Planted in 1873, in honor of the first Protestant mission to Lahaina’s 50th anniversary, this at the time small tree has since grown to be more than 60 feet tall, with a circumference of a quarter of a mile and nearly 50 major trunks. In layman’s terms, it is a massive tree in both its size and its magnificence. To honor the tree, the courthouse square it now stands on has been renamed as Banyan Tree Park. It’s a popular location to snap a photo, and you’ll see just why when you witness it with your own eyes.
7. ✦ Tour a Pineapple Farm
You haven’t tasted a pineapple until you have tasted one straight from the bush! Take a tour of a pineapple farm with Maui Gold Tours to see the fascinating farming process of the fruit, plus your guide will allow you to taste the pineapples at three different levels of ripeness, so you can pick your favorite. You can read about my tour experience here: Facing pineapple gluttony in Hali’imaile, Hawaii
8. ✧ Learn to Hula
Hula is a Polynesian style of dancing, originating on the Hawaiian Islands. There are numerous sub-styles of hula, with Hula ‘Auana (the direction Hula evolved to through Western influence) and Hula Kahiko (the ancient form of Hula) as the main categories; all styles of hula come accompanied by a chant or a song, either played on traditional instruments or “Western” instruments like a guitar and ukulele, with hand movements often directly representing the words in the chant or song.
You will have plenty of opportunities to catch an actual Hula show while you’re on Maui, but to actually `learn to Hula, you may want to look into arranging a lesson with Hawaii Hula Company.
9. ✦ Drive the Road to Hana
One of the absolute best things to do in Maui is to drive the picturesque 53-mile, curvy Road to Hana. With breathtaking waterfalls, hiking spots and beaches, this drive should absolutely be on your bucket list. Take a peek at my reccommendations of the 17 best Road to Hana stops to see what you would be missing if you choose not to go.
You can rent a car to drive the Road to Hana on your own or book a small group full-day sightseeing tour.
10. ✧ Snorkel Molokini Crater
This stunning and unique crater, located off the Maui, is the remains of a violent eruption that took place more than 200,000 years ago. It’s an amazing spot for snorkeling, as well as scuba diving for those daring enough to go deeper. To reach Molokini Crater you will need to go by boat, so the best way to do it is with a tour (like the Molokini and Turtle Town snorkeling tour)
The Molokini Crater is worth visiting for its unique shape alone, but once you see all the colorful fish and coral, you’ll be extremely pleased you chose to go on a snorkeling or diving trip there.
11. ✧ Sleep in a Yurt
Prior to traveling to Maui, I had never even heard of a yurt. But, now I know that these tent-like shelters that are used by Central Asian nomads can be a unique lodging option. At Luana Resort Spa in Hana not only can you sleep in a cozy yurt, but you can also have a variety of spa services in one too.
12. ✧ Take a Helicopter Tour
While Hawaii and Maui are beautiful when seen up close, they may look their most stunning when seen from high up! Perhaps precisely for that reason, this spectacular experience is one of the best things to do in Maui, having made its way on many travelers’ bucket lists.
Whether you choose to take a flight over Hana or Molokini, if will not disappoint. There are several helicopter tours you can choose from, and here are some of the highest rated available:
13. ✧ Milk a Goat
Maui is home to Surfing Goat Dairy which is located in lower Kula of Maui’s Upcountry and has been producing gourmet goat cheeses for over ten years. They offer a variety of tours, one of which you can milk an actual goat! After the milking is complete don’t forget to eat a creamy goat cheese truffle while at the goat dairy.
14. ✧ Go Ziplining
Another spectacular way to experience Maui from above is by getting your blood pumping with adrenaline on a ziplining course! Base on your travel style you can choose a zipline adventure that includes catching the Haleakala National Park sunrise (book here) or try a 7-Line zipline tour on the North Shore.
15. ✦ See a Blow Hole
Though the Road to Hana is the most famous roads in Maui, it is not the only place to take an incredible drive. Traveling north from Kapalua to the Nakalele Blow Hole won’t disappoint either. The natural wonder gives off quite a show when the tide and surf combine. Just don’t get too close, because it can be dangerous!
16. ✧ Do a Waterfall Rappel
Dubbed the most unique of activities to do in Maui, rappelling down a waterfall can sound both exhilarating, once in a lifetime and nerve wrecking, all at the same time. Offered solely by Rappel Maui on this beautiful island, by taking on this tour you’ll surely bring home not just unforgettable memories but unique travel stories that’ll excite and thrill many curious ears! And don’t worry if you’ve never rappelled down a waterfall before, as both courses available also include some basic training.
17. ✧ Bicycle Down a Volcano
Haleakala Bike Company will take you on a bicycle adventure starting at the summit of Haleakala, Maui’s largest Volcano. The thrilling 27-mile downhill bike ride includes bicoastal and crater views, as well as pit stops along the way.
18. ✧ Learn to Surf
It’ll probably come as no news for you that Maui, especially its North shore, is an excellent place to learn to surf, with spots for both beginners and experts to get their surfing game on. After all, it is the state’s official sport. Because of how popular and accessible surfing is on Maui, you won’t have to put on a lot of effort into finding a spot to go surfing in or where you can learn how to surf – for example you might want to book the Maui Surf Group Lesson. Or if you’d feel more comfortable with being guaranteed a female teacher, check out Maui Surfer Girls.
19. ✦ Relax in a Funky Surf Town
One of the absolute must things to do in Maui is to spend time relaxing in a cool surf town—and Paia is a perfect choice. With its beachy boutiques, stunning waterfronts and fresh fish restaurants, It is definitely the epitome of a funky, cool town. It is also a great place to start on the Road to Hana.
Consider an overnighter at the trendy Paia Inn, which Conde Nast named as having one of the World’s Sexiest Hotel Staffs.
20. ✧ Standup Paddle Board
If surfing isn’t your thing, you might be happy to hear Maui is an equally excellent location for standup paddle boarding – SUP for short. Maui is where SUP was invented in the first place, so you absolutely cannot miss out on adding this to your bucket list and then checking it off there! You won’t have to put a lot of effort into finding a decent spot for some lessons and rentals, with Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding being the highest rated and most popular one to start from.
21. ✧ Smell the Lavender
In the Upcountry region of Maui, you will find Alli Kula Lavender Farm. Although lavender is not native to Maui, and they are not always blooming, a walk through the gardens during the season is definitely bucket list worthy.
22. ✧ Learn to Play the Ukelele
The ukelele, which means jumping flea, is commonly associated with Hawaiian music. So, what would be a more perfect thing to do in Maui than learning how to play one while on the island? At Ukelele Mele you can not only master how to play this instrument, but also purchase one as a souvenir.
23. ✧ Wear a Fresh Flowered Lei
A lei is a garland that is a symbol of affection and placed around the neck upon arriving to Hawaii. In the movies these tokens are mostly made with exquisite fresh flowers, though in most places through the islands they have been replaced by the Kukui Tree Nut lei, which lasts much longer. But, with all of the gorgeous Hawaiian flowers you will find in Maui it is worth seeking out a fresh one.
24. ✦ Witness Lava Rock
Another one of the amazing things to do in Maui is to take a drive along Makena Road and through the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve for cool peek at the lava fields. It looks like something from the set of Star Wars! The surreal landscape was created by the lava flowing from Mt. Haleakala.
25. ✦ Stand Amongst a Bamboo Forest
Along Maui’s Road to Hana, you can take the Pipiwai hiking trail to the majestic Bamboo Forest. Stand amongst the impressive bamboo that lines the pathway.
What + Where to Eat & Drink
26. ✧ Eat Pie at Leoda’s
Leoda’s Kitchen is popular for its comfort food and pies, and often dubbed as one of the best places to eat on the island. They’ll have some truly unique items on their menu, such as ahi eggs benedict, but also a fair amount of familiar dishes like the garden salad. And you can’t enter Leoda’s without trying one of their pies! You can’t go wrong with their signature coconut cream pie, but other options on the menu sound just as tasty, including the pineapple mac nut and Olowalu lime and peanut butter.
27. ✦ Indulge on Shave Ice
Take a step up from the kiddie snow cones and indulge in a Hawaiian delicacy, flavored Shave Ice. What is it? This dessert is made with shaved ice (not crushed like that of a traditional snow cone) and then topped with an array of flavors.
Try one of the best at Ululani’s Shave Ice shop, which has several locations throughout Maui. I can vouch for their Haleakala made with coconut, leche and topped with sweetened condensed milk!
28. ✧ Eat Seafood at Mama’s Fish House
Mama’s Fish House is a highly rated and world famous restaurant located on Maui’s North Shore. It is a family-owned restaurant with decades of history, with their fish guaranteed to be local and fresh, brought in by their trusted fishermen on a daily basis. On their menu you can not only find ahi and mahi mahi, but you’ll also learn who caught the fish and how, making each day’s menu unique.
29. ✦ Eat at a Roadside Stop
From banana bread to fresh fruit smoothies to jumbo shrimp, you can get it all on the Maui roadside. On the Road to Hana, stop at Halfway to Hana for some of their famous pieces of banana bread. Or go to one of the most well-known roadside stops, Geste Shrimp, a delicious Hawaiian food truck in Kahalui that would make a perfect pitstop on the way to the airport.
30. ✧ Drink Local Craft Beer
Even if you’re not a big drinker, one fun aspect of travel can be to try the local drinks, with trying out local craft beers being a particularly easy and tame to do. There are two big breweries on Maui, Maui Brewing Co. and Kohola Brewery. To enjoy their creations in the best of atmospheres, do try out Barefoot Bar at Hula Grill, The Dirty Monkey or Down the Hatch.
31. ✦ Go Wine Tasting
Experience a different side to Maui and go wine tasting. Just under an hour away from the funky town of Paia you will find Tedeschi Winery, a small place with a handful of varietals. Drinking different types of wine is one of my favorite things to do wherever I am in the world and here you can take a tour, as well as do a tasting. Don’t miss out on trying the pineapple wine!
32. ✧ Eat Farm to Table at O’o
The private culinary farm that provides the food for O’o, located in Upcountry Maui, is the only one of its kind on this island. You can find information of the specific plant produce available right here. On the weekday mornings, you can get a coffee tour on the premises, which includes a filling breakfast, while the 3-course lunch tour comes with vegetarian options as well as fish and chicken choices. The price for this activity can feel a bit steep, but once you’ve tried their food and seen the views its estate holds, you won’t regret a single dime spent!
33. ✦ Snack on Spam Musubi
Along with shave ice, Spam Musubi is another popular Hawaiian delicacy. It is a slice of Spam canned meat (made mostly of ham) that is wrapped in seaweed. It an be found at many delis, grocery stores and even gas stations. The one I munched on was scored at the Honolua Store in Kapalua for only a dollar fifty.
34. ✧ Drink a Cup of Maui Grown Coffee
Hawaii is one of the rare states and territories belonging to the US that is capable of producing their own coffee, therefore offering the visitors to Hawaii yet another delicacy to try out whilst there. Maui Grown Coffee is the main local coffee provider on Maui, growing its coffee on an estate in Lahaina, specializing in various Arabica coffee varieties. You can get a cup of their steaming hot and tasty coffee at their company store in Lahaina, and you can also compare it against a smaller coffee grower by checking out Grandma’s Coffee’s coffee selection as well.
35. ✦ Eat Kalua Pig
Kalua pig is cooked in an underground oven, a traditional Hawaiian cooking technique. And, of course, it is tender and tasty. You can find it on many menus, but Flatbread Pizza in Paia sells a popular pie, the Mopsey Kalua Pork, which features the most tender Kiawe smoked free-range pork shoulder.
36. ✧ Eat at a Mixed Plate Restaurant
When you’re in Maui, you won’t be low on choices of dining spots to choose from. Another rather quintessential type of meal on Maui is a mixed plate, also referred to as a plate lunch. This dish typically consists of two scoops of rice, two scoops potato mac salad and some meat, usually kalua pork. Though not the only one of its kind, a quick Google search will tell you that Aloha Mixed Plate is THE place to go for such a meal now, especially if you want those gorgeous oceanfront views to go with your meal.
37. ✦ Eat Fresh Fish Tacos
Located in a discreet strip mall, you will find one of the most popular fresh fish tacos and yummiest of things to do in Maui. At Coconuts Fish Cafe each fish taco is made with 17 different ingredients, plus the fish is no older than five hours and the tortillas are made in house. What could be better than that?
38. ✧ Eat Manapua Buns
Have you ever had a Chinese steamed bun? Well, Manapua buns are somewhat similar to them, and yet quite uniquely its own kind of a Hawaiian style steamed bun. It’s typically filled with pork, although other variations also exist.
39. ✧ Eat Poke
Poke is a dish native to Hawaii, made of diced raw fish, often also running under the name ‘poke bowl’. Traditionally the fish is prepared with maui onions, roasted candlenut, limu, soy sauce green onions or sesame oil. For some of the best poke on Maui, taste the dishes served at Takamiya Market and Eskimo Candy Seafood Market & Café.
40. ✦ Eat Coconut Candy
Nahiku Marketplace is a small Hana shopping center, which consists of a tiny handful of Hawaiian product shops. This is where I discovered one of my absolute favorite Maui treats, coconut candy. The coconut is hand cut, sprinkled with brown sugar and slow baked. It was well worth the $5 a bag and a spot on your bucket list.
41. ✧ Eat Loco Moco
A delicious Hawaiian comfort food, a traditional loco moco is made by topping rice with a fried burger patty and gravy, with a fried egg as a cherry on top. And it’s so tasty, it can’t be missing on your list of things to do in Maui! Include Kihei Caffe, Nalu’s South Shore Grill or Rainbow Drive-in in your itinerary so that you can fall in love with loco moco in one of the restaurants known to make it the best.
42. ✧ Buy Fruit Using the Honor System
While driving on the island you will see several unattended stands selling a small selection of fresh fruit. Each has it’s own money slot with the cost of the product, allowing you to buy your fruit using the honor system. Consider picking up a fresh pineapple for the road.
Essential Tips for Visiting Maui
Getting There: Most travelers fly into Kahului Airport (OGG), which is the main airport of Maui. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. You could also check on flying into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) and taking a half hour commuter flight to Maui.
Where to Stay in Maui: Choosing where to stay in Maui is mostly about which area you’ll be spending the most time in. For the perfect gateway to drive the Road to Hana, then the town of Paia is a good choice. We stayed (and loved!) the Paia Inn (Moderate). West Maui is popular because it has the many dining and accommodation options. For something on the less expensive side, try the Best Western Pioneer Inn (Budget) that is right in downtown Lahaina. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Renting a car in Maui is the best to really experience the island and RentalCars.com has some great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. It is possible to get around the island by taxi, shuttle, tours or public transportation. Plus, both Lyft and Uber are available all over the city.
Top Tours: You can find some of the top tours at Get Your Guide. I recommend these ones:
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing are Travelex Insurance.
More About Hawaii
Maui Luau: 6 of the Best Hawaiian Luaus on the Island
Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook
Walk a Black Sand Beach on the Road to Hana
Facing Pineapple Gluttony in Hali’imaile
Swim with Sea Turtles in Olowalu
The 17 Best Road to Hana Stops on the Hawaiian Island of Maui