Things to do in Maui

There’s no other way to say it: Maui is paradise. So if you’re looking for a place that offers your family (even that hard-to-please kid) nothing but the best, then take a look here. Maui has natural and cultural attractions, alike, and is very accessible no matter what type of transportation you prefer.

Things to do in Maui

The amount of things to do in Maui is endless. Visit us for a complete list of Maui attractions and activities.

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You’ll definitely appreciate the natural beauty of Maui. A trip to Haleakala National Park will confirm as much, as you’ll look upon a seriously massive volcano and crater. Jaunts out to the Iao Needle and Honokohau Falls, which stand at 1,200 and 1,100 ft., respectively, as well as to the mysterious Pools of Oheo, are all “musts,” as well. If hitting up all these locations seems overly daunting, don’t worry too much. You can easily grab a bus tour or, if you can handle heights, a sightseeing plane or helicopter flight!

Maui Helicopter 

Maui Helicopter Tour

Starting At: $222.75/Person

Get the rush of soaring through the air aboard a luxury helicopter, as you look down at famous Haleakala Crater.

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When you come to Maui, you’ll also want to hit the beaches—and there are plenty of them! In particular, take a trip to one of the world’s finest at Hamoa Beach. And it just isn’t a Hawaiian vacation without a luau, so make your way to one of the many resorts that host these traditional, meaty-good feasts.

Finally, if you crave ocean life, Maui’s definitely got your fix. Head down to Lahaina during the winter, and you’ll spot pods of humpback whales. Go to the top-rated Maui Ocean Center to swim with sharks, rays, and turtles. Or take a snorkeling or scuba diving tour, and learn first-hand what life is like under the Pacific’s calm waves.

 

Things to Do in Maui #1

Aerial Tours – With so many things to do in Maui, why not see it all from above! Maui offers so many amazing things that you just can’t get a complete view of from the ground. But it’s a different story from the air. Aboard a helicopter or plane, you can see waterfalls, Mount Haleakala, sugar and pineapple plantations, and even pods of whales with utmost ease. Helicopter flights range from half an hour to two hours. Depending on the tour company selected, you could be flown over the 17 waterfalls that produce the “Wall of Tears” or the majestic 1,100-ft. Honokohau Falls. Or perhaps you’ll head to Hana rainforest and Haleakala National Park for a glance at the volcanic range and Maui’s highest peak, Puu Ulaula. Select a longer tour, and you not only fly around Maui, but down to the Kohala Coast of the Big Island, southeast of Maui.

Maui Spectacular – Helicopter Tour

Starting At: $311/Person

With an island as small as Maui, one might think that 10 or 20 minutes in the air would exhaust the scenery. On this one-and-a-half-hour tour, however, you’ll discover that that’s just not the case.

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Other air tours give you the opportunity to fly by airplane over significant chunks of Maui and the Big Island. During the day, you can fly over both Haleakala and Kilauea in the same roundtrip flight. Alternatively, take a sunset flight and enjoy the romantic ambience around you as the weave your way 300 miles through the air and twice over the Alenuihaha Channel.

 

Things to Do in Maui #2

Haleakala National Park - When considering what things to do in Maui, Haleakala is not a Maui destination that you can miss. That’s because it offers the highest peak in Maui, Puu Ulaula, which stands at 10,023 feet above sea level. While the mountain can be seen across the island, seeing it up close is even more exciting, especially when you hear the legend of how the volcano received its nickname, “House of the Sun.” 

 

Haleakala Summit Crater Tour

Starting At: $340/Person

Ascend to unprecedented heights for an unmatched view of Haleakala Crater. From an altitude upwards of 10,000 ft., you’ll gaze upon the majestic land formation as the sun rises in the distance.

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If you’d like, you can hike, horseback ride, or drive through the park. As you do so, you may be lucky enough to see some of the endangered species located in the vicinity, including the Nene (that is, the Hawaiian goose) or the prickly ahinahina plant, known popularly as the silversword. If one day’s not enough, feel free to camp out here, experience a refreshing Haleakala night, and continue your tour of the tropical habitat the next day. There’s always another waterfall to discover!

Whether you stay overnight or come in from outside, one thing you’ll want to do is head to the Haleakala Visitor Center before the crack of dawn. From the center, which stands at 9,740 ft., you’ll wait for a few moments before you find yourself standing in awe of the rising sun. Stay a little longer, and watch the colors of the sky continue to change.

 

Things to Do in Maui #3

The Road to Hana – The road to Hana travels along some of Hawaii’s most beautiful roads, with incredible views that pepper the 52-mile journey – this is a top “things to do in Maui” excursion! Driving it is not for the faint at heart, since there are many one-lane bridges and hairpin turns, but it is fun! Plus, where else can you see such an inspiring collection of waterfalls, rainforests, and seascapes? Either way, the road to Hana should top your “things to do in Maui” list.

Road to HanaOnce you arrive in Hana, you’ll quickly get a feel for Hawaiian culture and lifestyle. You can visit the historic Travaasa Hana hotel, considered by many to be the top resort in Hawaii. Or browse the shelves at Hasegawa General Store and Hana Ranch Store for some souvenirs to take to friends and family at home. Or take a trip back in time to the ruins of the 13th century temple Hale O Pi’ilani, which covers three acres and is the largest of its kind.

If it’s the beach experience you’re looking for, then the road to Hana’s got some great offerings, too. Try out what is perhaps the most beautiful beach in the world, the crescent moon-shaped Hamoa Beach, where volcanic rocks, cliffs, and jungles abound. Snorkel in Waianapanapa State Park, which contains one of the rare anchialine pools in the area, and is home to a strip of black sand. And a little further south are the Pools of Oheo. Though not a beach, per se, these “Seven Sacred Pools” offer a series of gorgeous waterfalls and tiered pools for swimming and wading.

 

Things to Do in Maui #4

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving – Maui has many amazing beaches, as well as elaborate coral reefs that are home to endangered sea turtles and beautiful tropical fish. Most of the time, these sights are only accessible while watching something like a Discovery Channel ocean documentary, but on Maui, you’ll have the chance to come face-to-face with this mysterious world down under. When thinking of things to do in Maui, ocean activities top the list.

Snorkeling In the Tropics

Maui Half Day Snorkel

Starting At: $106.81

What’s the best way to spend half a day in Maui? In the water, of course! So throw a snorkel on, jump aboard our sailboat to investigate the teeming world beneath the waters.

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While there are many places in Maui to snorkel or dive, Molokini Island may be the best. This tiny, crescent-shaped island off the southwestern coast is accessible only by boat and offers a pristine ocean habitat that teems with diverse life forms. At the same time, snorkeling may be done at many places along Maui’s west and south coasts, such as Honolua Bay, Black Rock, Kaanapali, and Kapalua Bay. Many beaches offer scuba diving in addition to snorkeling; if this flexibility is appealing, try Kahekili Beach Park or Five Caves, which offer both options. Instruction is, of course, available for all skill levels.

For a more intense snorkel and scuba experiences, take a boat tour that gets you out beyond the crowds for a more intimate underwater getaway and professional supervision. Popular off-shore dive spots include Molokini Crater, Seven Daves, and St. Anthony’s Wreck.

 

Things to Do in Maui #5

Whale Watching – If you want to experience some of the best whale watching that the world has to offer, then Maui should be your destination of choice.  Maui’s coastal waters are shallow, but still calm and clear thanks to the shelter created by the West Maui Mountains and Mt. Haleakala. Since humpback whales love undisturbed waters that aren’t too deep, you’re likely to get a good look at these marvelous creatures. The whale-watching season in Maui runs from December to May, although the peak season occurs from January through early April.

Humpback Whale Breaching out of the water

Whale Watching Maui Tour

Starting at: $132.53

Witness one of the most enormous animals on the face of the earth: the Great Pacific Humpback Whale. Aboard the Teralani Catamaran, you’ll go whale spotting to catch glimpses of these great sea creatures.

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One of the top spots from which to notice humpback whales is Lahaina Harbor. At one time, this city was a hub of the global whaling industry, and this is no coincidence, since the sea creatures love to set up shop just off its coast. Other sites from which you can spot whales from shore are Kaanapali, Kapalua, Kihei, Maalaea, Makena, and Olowalu, all of which are on the west side; and also Hookipa to the north and Hana to the east.

There are plenty of ways to get closer to the gentle giants, too. Depending on your preferences, go out to sea on a humpback spotting tour, either on an agile passenger raft or a cushy charter boat. These excursions generally last two to four hours, and put you within a football field’s length of the 40-50 ft. mammals. If this piques your interest, you’ll want to head up to Maalaea Harbor or down to Wailuku or Kihei, which are each departure points for many of these cruises. On our list at #5, whale watching is a top things to do in Maui!

 

Things to Do in Maui #6

Submarine Rides – Have you ever been below the surface of the ocean to experience sea life first-hand? A submarine ride allows you to get up close and personal with the ocean environment, and see exotic sea creatures in their natural habitats.  During your 45-minute submarine adventure, you’re likely to see rays, eels, turtles, and hundreds of different fish. Come from December through May, and you may also have the pleasure of whale watching from the vessel.

maui submarineOnboard a spacious, state-of-the art submarine, you’ll plunge to depths of 100 ft. and more. In addition to the marine life that you’ll watch float by, you may spot the ruins of the Carthaginian, a ship deliberately sunk in order to create an artificial reef over time. Narration will assist you in recognizing what you’re seeing out of your viewport, so there’s never any fear of getting lost.

Submarine adventures can also be packaged together with other enticing activities. Bundle your underwater trek with a lunchtime luau, snorkeling excursion, or afternoon of ziplining. It’ll be one day to remember!

 

Things to Do in Maui #7

Art and Culture – To appreciate the Hawaiian art of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, you’ll want to drop by a few key spots in Maui. No matter your age, you’re sure to learn something new from the island’s vibrant community of creative individuals.

The Maui Arts and Cultural Center offers shows and exhibits that will keep you coming back for more. Every few days, there’s a different act, from comedy shows, to educational talks, to concerts of every genre. Even better: some of these events are free. Meanwhile, in the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, you’ll find amazing local, American, and international art, and rotating exhibits like “Celebrating the Artist in Us” and “The Legacy of Land.”

Meanwhile, the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center features community art exhibitions, along with related panel discussions and lectures. It also offers one-day and weekly art classes that’ll expose you to arts like painting, jewelry design, and ceramics; and an open studio that is designed for experienced artists to offer guidance to aspiring artists. There’s also Art Night on the first Friday of every month in downtown Lahaina. There, you can swing by many of the local galleries, discover new types of art, meet artists, and listen to music.

 

Things to Do in Maui #8

Iao Valley State Park – Venture into the heart of Maui on a tour of Iao Valley State Park. Guided by an expert, you’ll be able to patrol the 10-mile-long park, as you look up upon the lush canyon walls of the West Maui Mountains. The valley was cut by the stream that still flows through it.

Iao Needle Iao Valley State Park Maui HawaiiThere is plenty of hiking and sightseeing to be done here, in and around the valley’s thriving rainforest. A trip to the Hawaii Nature Center is easy, and a family-friendly way to learn more about the environment around you. There are many weekend programs there, as well, in addition to the nature tours and interactive exhibits they offer daily.

The climax of your trip to the Iao Valley appears when you arrive at the foot of the Iao Needle, a 1,200 ft. lava remnant covered by vegetation, which dwarfs everything around it. For the best views of the Needle, you should come early before the clouds set in and obscure its peak.

 

Things to Do in Maui #9

Lahaina Historic Trail – Visit the once-thriving whaling port and former capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahaina. On this self-guided tour of the 55-acre city, you’ll pass by countless historic sites and catch amazing views of the ocean, which is a humpback whale destination during the winter months.

Some of the landmarks at which you’ll stop include the Lahaina Jodo Mission, a Japanese Buddhist Temple that’ll have you feeling more like you’re in Asia than in America. The highlights are a 12-ft.-tall copper and bronze Buddha, the largest of its kind not located in Japan, and a 90-ft.-high pagoda, which contains urns of deceased temple members. For more on Maui’s religious history, make your way to the Baldwin Home, where a family of Protestant missionaries once lived during the early-to-mid 19th century. Its former owner, Rev. Dwight Baldwin, helped establish Western forms of education on the island, and also used his medical training to stem a smallpox outbreak. There’s also the Wo Hing Museum, which commemorates the efforts of a fraternal society known a the Chee Kung Tong.

Other interesting landmarks include the Lahaina Courthouse, built in 1859; Hale Paahao, a prison that operated in the 1850’s; the Seaman’s Hospital, which operated until 1862, and functioned as a clandestine drinking and gambling hall for King Kamehameha III; and the Master’s Reading Room, built in 1834 to house written media for use by military officers and seamen.

 

Things to Do in Maui #10

Luau – Stuff your face and dazzle your eyes at an authentic Hawaiian luau. With a variety of exotic dishes and local entertainment, you’ll have a dinner like never before. And you’ll enjoy it all in a resort environment that overlooks the dreamy Pacific Ocean.

LuauSome of the delicious buffet options you’ll get to try include “kalua pig,” so named due to the fact that the pig is cooked in an underground oven called a “kalua.” You’ll also enjoy lomi-lomi salmon, which is a salad comprised of fresh raw salmon, diced tomatoes, and onions; haupia, a type of coconut milk; and poi, a pudding made from the mashed corm of the taro plant.

Luaus also feature many forms of entertainment. There is, of course, the traditional Hawaiian hula, where dancers gently sway their bodies and arms as they silently tell stories. There’s also the intense Tahitian dance, otea, and a harrowing fire-knife dance, which comes from Samoa.

 

Things to Do in Maui #11

Maui Ocean Center – Zagat’s top family attraction for Hawaii is the Maui Ocean Center, an aquarium that will inspire wonder and awe in the hearts of all visitors. With its unrivaled collection of coral, and assortment of Pacific green turtles, sharks, and rays, the Maui Ocean Center is understandably one of the island’s top tourist destinations.

Once you’re there, you’ll need a good two hours to see all the exhibits. You won’t want to miss walking through the acrylic tunnel that passes underneath a 750,000-gallon aquarium. In it, you’ll make eye contact with the creatures that float past you! Sharks, rays, and turtles are featured here, as well, although the Maui Ocean Center is unique in that many of these larger sea creatures are rotated from the wild, into the aquarium, and then back into the Pacific.

One special attraction is a morning shark dive that starts before the center opens. On this excursion, while accompanied by a professional diver, you’ll plunge into the aquarium for over half an hour, and swim within an arm’s length of stingrays, hammerhead sharks, and hundreds of other species. Cameras are permissible, so you can capture the whole experience! And with the price of admission, you can bring one viewing guest in for free.

Entrance fees for the Maui Ocean Center are $25.50 for adults, $18.50 for children, and $22.50 for seniors. The shark dive is $199, and divers must be scuba certified. WEBSITE

 

Things to Do in Maui #12

Maui WaterfallsPools of Oheo – Looking for a spot to swim, but don’t consider yourself a “beach person?” Well, then head to the lower slopes of Mount Haleakala to the Oheo Gulch, where you’ll find the legendary Pools of Oheo. Known as the “Seven Sacred Pools,” these freshwater pools are a convergence point for many streams and waterfalls, making them the perfect place to cool off.

While here, there are a variety of things to do. Jump off of cliffs and into one of the many pools—in actuality, there are way more than seven! Swim in their refreshing waters, and come out feeling ten years younger! Or go just north of them to the Pipiwai Trail, one of Maui’s top hikes. This three- to five-hour hike is a true adventure, and climaxes at the 400-ft.-tall Waimoku Falls.

The Pools of Oheo are easy to access, and there is a large lot nearby where you can park for $10, if room is still available. If you’d rather not go alone, select a tour company to take you here; for instance, many of the “Road to Hana” adventures stop by the pools, and may give you time to jump in.

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