What to do in Maui
If you’re wondering what to do in Maui don’t you worry because after a week exploring the beautiful Hawaiian island, we still didn’t get to everything there is to do. From hiking to beaches, the Road to Hana and waterfalls, if you love outdoor adventure then Maui is just the place for you. I’ll be sharing the itinerary of our one week trip as well as all the details of everything there is to do in Maui.
Where to Stay
There are many accommodation options in Maui. From 5 star hotels, to family resorts, AirBnB and rental condos, there is something for everyone and every budget. The two main areas to stay in Kihei and Kaanapali/Lahaina. Let’s take a look.
Kihei vs. Kaanapali
We stayed in a rental condo in Kihei and loved it. Our place was at the North end of Kihei right beside Kaleopelepo Beach Park. What are you stay in really depends what you’re looking for though. Kihei doesn’t have as many restaurants or the nightlight options that Lahaina does but we’re not really into that so it was no big deal. Plus, in my opinion, Kihei has better beaches and is much less crowded.
I would say Kaanapali is a resort area and Kihei is more of a chill beach town. Between the two, Kaanapali is definitely more of a tourist destination but there are plenty of tourists in Kihei too, it just doesn’t have the same tourist setting. If you do plan to stay in Lahaina, I would probably look in the Kaanapali area so you’re close to Kaanapali Beach.
I didn’t much care for Kaanapali as it’s pretty much all resorts. Kihei is smaller with more vacation rentals. Plus, there are still plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, 3 large grocery stores, a natural food store, acai bowls and gyms, so I was happy. Kihei is a little less pricey as well.
Driving from Kihei to Kaanapali
Which ever area you decide to stay in, you can still drive from Kihei to Kaanapali in about 30 minutes. It’s not the most enjoyable drive though. It’s beautiful but absolutely jam-packed with a line of cars that never seems to end. Good luck if you need to turn around or turn across traffic! The traffic will depend on the time of day but unless you head out early, expect that road to be very busy.
Other Areas to Stay In
I’m sure what’s available around Kahului, Paia and Wailuku for accommodation but I would consider looking at that area if we ever go back. We spent a lot of time around Paia and Kahului so ended up driving back and forth across the island quite a bit. South of Kihei you’ll find Wailea and Makena where you’ll find higher end hotels rather than the older-style vacation rentals you see in Kihei.
Prices in Maui are exactly what you’d except for a tourist destination smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Expect to pay more than you would at home, substantially more for some items, especially if you’re coming from Canada and have to add the exchange rate on top of that.
We didn’t worry too much about it since we were on vacation but I would definitely recommend booking accommodations with a kitchen so you can prepare meals at home. Some groceries are quite expensive too though so we kept it simple and ate a lot of the same meals to save money and prevent food waste.
I shared what we prepared at our condo in this post.
What to do in Maui
Lucky you! You’ve landed in one of the most beautiful places on the planet! It’s time to get out and enjoy all it has to offer. Aside from longer journeys in SE Asia, this was one of the most active trips we’ve ever been on. We packed a lot of stuff into our one week stay and didn’t leave much time for relaxing.
That being said, depending on what kind of holiday you’re looking for, if relaxing is what you’re after, you can do that too. Whether it’s lazy beach days and reading by the pool or exploring, hiking, swimming and surfing, there is something for everyone.
How to Get Around
Rent a car. I don’t really see any other option if you plan on getting out and exploring. Unless you’ll just be hanging out at your resort with maybe a couple short trips, you’ll need a car to access all that Maui has to offer. There are taxis and Uber available but that would really add up if you plan on getting around. There are also organized tours but if you like to things on your own terms, then a rental car is the way to go. There is public transportation as well but again, if you want to explore Maui, that would be rather inconvenient for longer trips.
So. many. beaches. And I think we almost went to all of them! There is a beach around every corner on the wild and beautiful island of Maui.
Our two favourite beaches were the Cove section of Baldwin Beach in Paia, Hamoa Beach in Hana and Po’olenalena Beach in Kehei. I’m not going to list every single beach on Maui, that would take a while, but I’ll get to the good ones and the main ones we spent time at. I would recommend checking out this site for a complete list of Maui beaches organized by area.
Maui Trade Winds
It gets insanely windy in Maui in the afternoons so I’d recommend planning your beach time in the mornings and evenings. Because of those crazy trade winds we had most of our beach time from either 7-10 am or 4-7 pm. You can definitely still enjoy the beach during the day but at time the wind whips up the sand, the waves surge, it’s noisy and it’s not exactly what you’d imagine for relaxing on the beach.
Alright, let’s get into all the best beaches on Maui!
Kehei, Makena and Wailea Beaches
- Kamole Beach Park 1, 2, and 3. The 3 main beaches in Kihei are the Kamaole Beach Park beaches. They all offer full faciclities (showers, washrooms) and are family-friendly. You’ll find one after another with Kamole One to the North end of Kihei. We liked Kamaole 1 the best, head to the North most end of it to find Charley Young Beach. You can find parking on Illili or Kuaia Road to access it. They’re all pretty similar Kamaole 3 has the biggest picnic area if you’d prefer a spot on the grass.
- Makena State Park. Makena State Park is located about 15 minutes south of Kihei and within the park you’ll find Makena or Big Beach and Little Beach. They’re both beautiful but the waves can get a bit crazy at Big Beach so it’s not always the best for swimming. Either way, I’d recommend checking it out.
- Po’olenalena Beach. This was one of our favourites and we went here a handful of times on our trip. It’s about 10 minutes South of Kihei. We loved it. Great spot for watching the sunset! It’s nice and flat and the wavers aren’t too big so it’s good for swimming.
- Ulua Beach. This is a smaller, protected beach in Wailea great for swimming and relaxing! We didn’t snorkel but apparently it’s an awesome snorkelling spot if you’re into that! You’ll find it at the North end of the Wailea Beach Path.
There are a bunch of beaches in front of the resorts that line Wailea but they’re kind of hard to find access to if you’re not staying at the resorts. No matter though, there are so many beaches in the area if you can’t find what you’re looking for, just head to the next one.
Lahaina & Ka’anapali Beaches
- DT Fleming Beach Park. We enjoyed out stop here as we made our way North around the island. It’s a big sandy beach and is good for swimming. There is lots of parking and a grassy area with picnic tables. We ended up here after not being able to find parking at the three places we tried to get to prior to it. Lahaina and area is super busy and kind of just made us want to get back to Kihei.
- Beaches everywhere. We didn’t spend much time at the beaches between Lahaina and Kapalua because it was near impossible to find a parking spot. There are a ton of beaches though, the main one being Kaanapali but unless you’re staying at a resort, they’re kind of hard to get to. I don’t recall the names of all the places we stopped but you’ll notice the many beach parks as you drive along the coast. Stop at whichever one you think looks good, you can’t really go wrong. If you’re there early enough parking shouldn’t be a problem. This site has a good list of all the beaches in the area.
- Ho’okipa Beach. Ho’okipa was beautiful and we saw turtles there but it’s not the best spot for swimming. The beach itself is sandy but there are some reefs and rocks in the water. It is a good place for kids though because the reefs create little pools that are perfect for splashing around in. It’s also a good place to watch surfing.
- Baldwin Beach Park. One of our favourites. There are three parts to Baldwin Beach Park, Baby Beach at the far left end, the main section of the beach and Baldwin Cove to the right. Once you park at Baldwin, head through the small patch of trees to your right and you’ll come out on the Cover side (or just walk onto the beach and head to the far right end). Baldwin Cove is a small bay protected from the waves and find and perfect for swimming. We ended up spending a lot of time there. Baby Beach is great too, it’s completely protected by an exposed reef that forms a small lagoon perfect swimming, especially if you have kids.
- Kuao Cove. Located in front of Mama’s Fish House, it’s a very small but very nice, sandy beach protected by a reef. Good for swimming.
- Paia Bay Beach. Paia Bay is the main beach in Paia. It’s nice and long with white sand and is good for swimming.
Road to Hana Beaches
- Hamoa Beach. Stop here. It’s that perfect Hawaii, white sand, crystal clear water beach you’ve been dreaming of.
- Koki Beach Park. This is a nice beach located just prior to Hamoa. It’s nice and worth a look but if you’re crunch for time, carry on to Hamoa Beach. We swam and hung out for a bit but be careful as the currents can be dangerously strong at certain times of year.
- Wai’anapanapa Beach. You’ll find this stunning black sand beach just before arriving in Hana. Don’t skip it. I’d recommend getting an early start to your Hana day so you can get here before the crowds. We almost had the place to ourselves and it was awesome. It was a bit stormy and the waves were pretty big but we still had a quick swim. There are ocean caves, stunning rock formations and the colour of the water against the surrounding jungle is unreal.
- Red Sand Beach. This was one of the coolest beaches I’d ever been to. It’s a short hike from where you’ll park you car. There are some warning signs that the hike is dangerous and I’m sure it could be after heavy rainfall but if it’s dry, don’t let them turn you back. It’s beautiful and perfect for swimming. You’ll find this beach right in Hana Town. Park by the Hana School, walk across the field and follow the path around to the beach. The path is only about 5 minutes long.
Hiking in Maui
Along with a coastline of beautiful beaches, Maui also has tons of awesome hiking. From jungles, to lava and craters, the terrain is different on every end of the island, which makes it a pretty cool place to explore. I’ll list the hikes we did first then share a few more I wish we’d been able to fit in.
Lahaina Pali Trail
- Location: North West Maui
- Length: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate terrain with significant elevation gain
You know those giant windmills you can see from Kihei and Lahaina? Hiking the Lahaina Pali Trail will take you right under them.
There are a few options for completing this hike. You can park on the Maalaea side and hike from the East before returning the same way, you can park on the Ukumehame side and hike from the West before returning the same way or you can do what we did and hike the entire trail either West to East or East to West. The fourth option would be hiking the. entire trail out and back but that would be one long, hot and difficult hike. We left from the Maalaea side and hiked the trail from East to West then got an Uber to take us back to our car.
After coming down the West side it seemed like that would have been the more difficult climb. The ivew from both sides are nice but I think the West side was more beautiful as it climbs over teal waters and reefs along the coast of West Maui. As you hike up the East side you’ll get views of Haleakala, Kihei and onwards South.
I would recommend this trail if you’re looking for a good workout and some great views. If you’re hiking from the East, the trail head is only a short drive from Kehei. If you’re hiking form the West, the trial head is approximately 20 minutes from Lahaina and just over 30 from Kihei.
Tips for Lahaina Pali Trail
- Bring lots of water. There is essentially no shade the entire way. Make sure you have ample water.
- Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Like I said, a 3 hour hike in Maui sun with zero shade.
- Wear good shoes. This trail is rocky. I would recommend hiking shoes or a solid pair of runners. Do not wear flimsy sandals.
King’s Highway Trail
- Location: South West Maui
- Length: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate train with little elevation gain
The King’s Highway Trail is located in South West Maui at the very end of the road past Makena State Park. Keep driving and you’ll eventually get to a single lane paved road that will take you to the trail head. You can either park at the end of the paved road or drive a short distance on a dirt road to park directly at the trail head. We parked at the end of the paved road and it was just a short walk over to the beginning of the hike.
This hike doesn’t have much change in elevation as it follows the coastline but we warned, it’s probably not for everyone. The trail starts off beautifully, following the black lava rock, sandy beaches, withered trees and turquoise waters along the South coast before veering off onto King’s Highway. The road is is long, straight, hot and barren as it traverses Maui’s youngest lava flow. This trail is also called Hoapili Trail, named after Govenor Hoapili who built it between 1824-1840.
The trail itself is a few metres wide and made up of sharp lava rocks that can be a little awkward to walk on. I think walking across the lava field took us about 45 minutes. From what the signs and online postings said, we thought it was 2 miles each way but it seemed more like 1 mile across the actual “highway” portion of the trail. I think in total we spend 3 hours on this hike between the walk out and back and spending some time at the beaches at the end.
When you come to the end of the “highway” you’ll come out over a beautiful little bay where you can swim. It’s rocky but the waters are calm enough for swimming. We ended up walking past the bay and continuing around the coastline quite a ways. You’ll come across more of the same but I thought it was worth checking out. It was completely deserted when we were there and late in the day with the sun low in the sky it was absolutely beautiful. The terrain is strange, I’d say it lands somewhere between Mordor, Mars and a planet from Star Wars.
The colour of the water is incredible and the beaches are made up of a mixture of white coral and black lava rock. We even saw turtles bobbing about in one of the bays. Eventually we decided we should probably turn around to get back before sunset, so we had a swim and started on our way back.
Tips for King’s Highway Trail
- Wear good shoes. I would highly recommend you wear at least very solid running shoes if not trail runners or hiking boots. We both wore Solomon trail shoes that are solid on the bottom and offer some ankle support. Do not wear flip flops or flimsy shoes on this hike. I wouldn’t wear something as light as Nike Free’s.
- Bring lots of water. Depending on when you go, this hike offers zero shade. It’s hot so make sure you bring enough water.
- Go early or late. Because this hike is completely open with no shade available, I would recommend an early or late start. We ended up hiking it later in the day, leaving the trail head around 4 pm. Just make sure you leave enough time to get back before it gets dark. We got back close to 7 pm.
- Bring swimming gear. You can swim at the end of the trail. We didn’t have towels or bathing suits so I just swam in my shorts and sports bra but it would have been nice to have a towel. It’s also very rocky so we ended up wearing our shoes in the water. We were so hot after the hike across King’s Highway though, we didn’t care!
Makawao Forest Reserve
- Location: Upcountry Maui
- Length: 2 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
To be honest, Makawao wasn’t a particularly exciting hike. The plan for the day was to check out Makawao Forest Reserve and then head to Kuli Forest Reserve but after hiking through forest that looked a lot like home we decided to go back to Kihei and on to King’s Highway instead of going to a second forested area.
Makawao is famiy-friendly though and if you’re looking for a break from the sun I’d say it’s worth the stroll. It’s not challenging, there’s minimal change in elevation and it’s shaded the whole way. There are no views but the forest is quiet and peaceful. We only saw one other person the whole time were were there.
Looking back we would have gone to Kuli Forest Reserve, Polipoli Forest Reserve or done one of the longer hikes on Haleakala instead of Makawao Forest Reserve.
We did this walk (not really a hike) early. You can get coffee in Makawao at Cowgirl Coffee, a small yellow coffee truck you’ll pass as you drive through town. Afterwards there are a few food options and general store in Makawao or you can head back to town for lunch.
Wiahee Ridge Trail
- Location: West Maui Forest Reserve
- Length: 2-3 hours
- Terrain: Moderate
I would defteinly recommend Wiahii Ridge Trail. It took us just over 2 hours to complete the out and back trail that takes you through forest and jungle in the West Maui Forest Reserve. The hike features lush scenery, ridge-line hiking and some beautiful valley views. The trail is well-groomed and easy to follow. Some of the trail is shaded some is open so make sure you’re prepared for sun. When we were there however it was misty, cloudy and cool at the top. I would say it was a moderate hike, good for all skill levels. It’s still a climb though, you’ll steadily head uphill until you reach the summit so be prepared for somewhat of a workout.
The drive from Kihei, through Wailuku and on to the trail head is beautiful and offers great views South. One quick tip…go early. We arrived just before 8 am and there were just a couple cars in the parking lot, by the time we returned it was packed with cars lined up witing for a spot. The overflow parking is miles down the road and I wouldn’t have done the hike if I had to park there. Do note that most Maui parks open their gates at 7 am, so don’t go too early!
Iao Valley State Park
- Location: West Maui Forest Reserve
- Length: A short walk
- Difficulty: Easy
We stopped here on our way to Wiahee Ridge Trial, arriving at 7 am just as the park opened. It’s $5 to park your car but I think worth a stop. It’s not exactly a hike, just some paved walkways that lead you around the park. You’ll take in views of Iao Needle, a peak created by erosion of the soft rock around it. We only spent about 30 minutes here. This would be a good place for families with small children. Again, go early to avoid the crowds. We were the only people there as as the sun was coming up and shining through Iao Valley it really was breathtaking.
You’ll find the parking lot for Iao Valley State Park in Wailuku, a cute little town where you’ll find a Wailuku Coffee Company, a Thai food truck and some shops and restaurants. For a healthy meal you can check out Farmacy Health Bar right on the main street.
Other Hiking Areas in Maui
These are the three other areas I wish we’d had time to explore.
- Polipoli Spring Forest Reserve. The reason we didn’t end up going here is from what I read you need an 4wD to reach the trail head and we didn’t want to risk it with our rental car. Plus, it’s quite a long drive and we just didn’t end up having time. That being said, I also read its some of the most beautiful hiking in Maui. If you like hiking I’d recommend checking it out.
- Kuli Forest Reserve. We had planned to go here after Makawao Forest Reserve but ended up heading back to Kihei and doing the Kind’s Highway hike, rather than two forest hikes back to back. IT sounded like a good option though and I would go if we are ever back in Maui.
- Haleakala National Park. Oh, I wish we’d had more time for a hike on Haleakala. After going there for sunset and seeing how insanely beautiful it was, I would highly recommend adding a hike there to your list if you have time. I would love to do one of the big, full day hikes or even hike overnight. There are a ton of options. Check out All Trails and Haleakala National Park website for more info. The ones that sounded good to me were:
- Hosmer Grove & Suppy Trails
- Sliding Sands Trail
- Haleakala Trail
- Kaupo Gap Trail
We visited Paia a bunch of times during our one week stay on Maui. It’s small but you’ll find some great beaches, shops, cafes and restaurants plus our favourite place to shop for groceries, Mana Foods. We also enjoyed the patios at Paia Bay Coffee and Milagros, açai bowls at Paia Bowls and Baldwin Cove.
Things to do in Paia
- Paia Bay
- Mana Foods
- Paia Bay Coffee
- Paia Bowls
- Ho’okipa Beach
- Baldwin Beach
- Kuao Beach
- Paia Gelato (Vegan Options)
- Hawaii Flatbread Company (Vegan Options)
Driving from Kihei to Nakalele Point makes a nice day trip as you can stop at beaches and restaurants along the way, eventually making your way to Nakalele Blowhole in North Maui. The drive from Napali to Nakalele Blowhole is stunning, as you come around each corner every view is more beautiful than the last. The road is somewhat narrow and winding so just take it easy as you make your way along the coastline.
There are beaches you can stop at for swimming, Coconut Caboose for vegan coconut gelato and the Nakalele area is insanely beautiful. I couldn’t get over the cliffs and colour of the waves crashing against them.
We stopped at two places on the way to swim but I’m not sure what they’re. Just look for the pull-outs where other cares are parked. Both were beautiful and worth stopping, especially if you love to swim. I would alott close to a full day to explore everything between Kihei and Nakalele Point.
The Road to Hana
We knew we were going to do the road to Hana before we went and I am so glad stuck to the plan. Expect unreal jungle scenery, stunning beaches, huge waterfalls and a crazy winding road that hug the coast of South East Maui. The Road to Hana is going to be a full days adventure. We left our condo at 6 am and returned home about 7 pm, so I would recommend allotting at least 12 hours for the trip. The other option is to spend the night in Hana, which would definitely have it’s benefits and I would consider if we went back.
It’s approximately 50 miles from Kahului to Hana but the drive still takes 2 and half hours even if you didn’t stop. This would be due to the hundreds of hairpin corners. However, if you’re up for, you’ll be rewarding with jungle cliffs, panoramas of the Pacific Ocean, crashing waves, bamboo forests, waterfalls, swimming holes, roadside food stands, stunning beaches and more.
Is the Road to Hana Dangerous?
No, not really. I would say it’s important that you’re a confident driver though. The road isn’t too bad but it can be very narrow at times and we had to back up numerous times so cars could get past us. The road has over 600 corners and 56 single-car bridges, so if you get car sick easily it may not be for you. Parts of the road are totally fine and have a yellow line with more than enough space for two cars. Other parts of the road are single lane you just cross your fingers no one is coming as you inch around the hairpin corners.
I would say the worst part is from Hana to Oheo Pools, so if you really don’t like the narrow roads, maybe skip that part. Otherwise, go for it. It can get a bit tight here and there but you’ll be rewarded with the most epic scenery the whole entire way.
Road to Hana Tips
- Get the Road to Hana Guided Tour App. It’s $10 bucks and 100% worth it. Download it on Google Play or from the App Store and then download the tour so you have it offline. It was invaluable for telling you when and where to stop. It works through yours phones GPS. Even though I knew where I wanted to stop it would have been hard to figure exactly where to pull-over. The app tells you exactly when to park, how to access each area and some information and history about the drive.
- Leave early. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to get ahead of the crowds. We left at 6 am and had many of the stops to ourselves. By the time we returned, the most popular stops were packed with cars. The only downside of leaving early is you’ll encounter locals driving the opposite direction and they do not drive slow. Keep your eyes on the road, drive safe and you’ll be fine.
- Make sure you have enough gas. There is a gas station in Hana but it’s busy and more expensive than other places on the island. Fill up in Kahului, Lahaina or Kihei before you leave. You won’t need a full tank but it’s nice not to worry about it.
Road to Hana Stops
- Paia. Technically, Paia is part of the Road to Hana but I’d leave exploring that area for another day. You won’t have time to do that and make the long journey to Hana and back all in one day unless you end up skipping some amazing stops you’ll find down the road.
- Kuau Store. Located in Paia, it opens at 6:30 am so you can grab a coffee and some snacks before you hit the road.
- Twin Falls. We didn’t stop at Twin Falls on the actual day we drove to Hana and I’m glad we didn’t. We went back another day and spent a good couple hours there. It would have added to much time to our Hana day to do it the day of. Plus we drove by Twin Falls at about 7 am so just wanted to get some miles behind us to get ahead of the crowds. I’t’s not too far from Paia so you can go back another day and not worry about rushing off to your next destination.
- Chings Pond. Chings Pond wasn’t really much but we love stopping at all the swimming holes and jumping in. Chings Pond comes up pretty early on the drive. Park on the side of the road, hop over the guardrail and scramble down the short path to access the pond. There’s a small waterfall feeding into the pond. The pond itself is pretty small but it’s good for a quick swim.
- Wailuaike Falls. I thought this was worth the stop and the 15 minute hike up the hill. There’s only room for a couple cars to park but we were there so early so it wasn’t a problem. Just be aware, the falls are located on private property and there is a sign warning not to proceed, so make up your own decision is it’s something you want to do. After a short hike up the hill you’ll get a great view of the Falls, you can follow the path around to the left to see another smaller water falls and pool. You’ll only need about 30 minutes here.
- Lava Tube Cave. Nothing too exciting to be honest but if you want to pull over and have a look, there’s a small area for parking across the road from the cave. You can climb right inside and walk into the cave about 150 feet.
- Wai’anpanana Beach (Black Sand Beach). Wow, this place was stunning. Kind of what you’d imagine when you think of Hawaii. Big waves, teal water, jagged black rock, caves, jungle…all misty and magical. I loved it here! The waves were pretty big and it was a little rainy when were were there but we still went swimming and explored the park for an hour or so. Get there early if you can to beat the crowds.
- Wailua Falls. Get there early because when we stopped there were just a few people but by the time we drove by on our way back, it was absolutely packed. We swam here, the pool is small but you can jump in and swim right up close to the waterfall. It’s pretty cool.
- Red Sand Beach. This was one of the coolest, most beautiful beaches I’d ever been to. I wrote about it above in the Maui Beaches section. Stop here, bring your towels and hang out a bit.
- Hamoa Beach. You can access Hamoa Beach and Kuki Beach via a short detour just a ways past Hana. They were both worth a stop.
- Kuki Beach. Right before Hamoa Beach just past Hana. Beautiful and not many people there.
- Venus Pools. I loved it here. Park on the side of the road, walk through the fence and across the field to find the small path that leads to the pool. The waterfall was dry when were were there but it’s a great spot for a swim and some rock jumping (not high, but fun!).
- Oheo Pools. Unfortunealy, as they often are, Oheo Pools were closed when we went. We should have checked beforehand as it’s clearly stated at the top of the Haleakala National park website but oh well, we made the trip! If the pools are closed there isn’t much to do here aside from the Pipiwai and Waimoku Falls Trail. I don’t think we would have made the drive knowing they were closed though. You can still get a glimpse of the pools but most of the area is sectioned off. You’ll also need to pay a $25 park entrance fee here, which is fine if you plan on going to the Haleakala Crater another day but if not, you’re not really paying for much.
- Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls. Find the trail head in the same location as Oheo Pools. The whole hike takes a couple hours and features two waterfalls and a bamboo forest. We didn’t have time to do this hike so plan accordingly if you want to check it out.
There are plenty more stops than what I’ve listed here. There are bamboo gardens, a couple of detours you can take, historical sights and more beaches, parks and waterfalls. If I went back, I’d probably plan to spend the night in Hana in order to spend the whole day exploring on the way out. This site has a good list of all the stops.
Haleakala Crater is a must-visit. It’s quite a jaunt so be prepared for a bit of a drive but it’s like nothing else I’d ever seen and was entirely worth the trip. You’ll need to pay a $25 park entrance fee to enter Haleakala National Park. The pass is good for 3 days and it’s the same one you’ll need if you go to Oheo Pools past Hana so make sure you time those two days up so you don’t have to pay the entrance fee twice.
Sunrise or Sunset
The usual thing to do is go for sunrise on the crater however, this involves making reservations ahead of time. I didn’t realize you needed to book a couple months ahead, so needless to say, no sunrise for us. Instead, we went for sunset and it was incredible so I have no regrets about missing climbing out of bed at 3 am to get there in time for sunrise.
When we were in Maui, sunset was around 7 pm. We left Kahului just before 5 to begin the drive up the mountain. It takes a while to get up to the 10,000 foot summit since the road is a series of switchbacks that goes on for miles. So even though the it’s not that far by distance, it takes close to an hour and a half from Kahului. However, it’s well-paved, not too narrow and totally safe to drive. When we were there, there was a thick cloud sitting over the crater so until we broke through the top of it, the drive was misty and foggy with little visibility. Keep going though because once you come out above the clouds, the views are unreal.
We had our beach chairs in the car, a couple of beers and some snacks, so after taking a look around, we got a spot to watch the sun make it’s way towards the horizon. It was quite the show and I’m so glad we ended up going. We didn’t stay until it got dark but if you’re into stargazing apparently it’s epic from the top of Haleakala. Oh, and it’s cold up there so make sure you bring adequate clothes. It was way colder than I thought it would be and just our hoodies and shorts were not enough to stay warm. All we had to help stay warm were our damp towels from a day of swimming….lol.
Hiking at Haleakala
We had planned to do the Sliding Sands trail or one of the other longer hikes on the crater but we didn’t end up fitting it into our trip. Once we got up there and saw what it was like, I wish we’d had time for it. It would have been amazing hiking through the bizarre terrain right down into the crater itself. If you love hiking and exploring, I’d highly recommend checking out the series of hikes you can do on Haleakala.
Our One Week Maui Itinerary
We didn’t plan this itinerary ahead of time as I don’t like to be too rigid. I knew the main things I wanted to do and we based the rest on what we felt like each day and what the weather was doing. A couple things about us….we love being active, we love getting up super early and starting the day and we pretty much go to bed when it gets dark so you won’t find any nightlife on this list. As my husband likes to say, nothing good ever happens after 8:30 pm anyways…lol. We are in our 30’s going on 92 and I love it. We’re mainly into beaches, hikes, exploring and food, so that’s what you’ll find on this list!
You can find all my stories from this trip saved to my Instagram highlights if you want to check it out.
Day 1: Exploring Beaches
Our first day of any trip we usually just chill and get a feel for the area we’re staying. Our first day in Maui didn’t end up being as relaxed as we planned but it was fun! Here’s exactly what we did on day 1.
- Coffee at Kihei Caffe. Kihei Caffee opens at 5:30 am, 7 days a week so it was perfect for early birds like us.
- Early morning swim at Kamaole Beach Park 2. The three Kamaole beaches get busy during the day but if you get up early, you can have the whole place to yourself. We went for an early morning swim at Kamaole 2 and it was beautiful.
- Crossfit at Makena Crossfit. If you’re into Crossfit or just looking for a great gym to workout in while you’re staying in Kihei, Maken CrossFit is awesome. They have a great deal for a 1 week couples pass for $130, which is really good considering most Crossfit gymes charge $20-25 per drop-in. The team their is super friendly and we worout out there almost every day on our trip.
- Joy’s Place in Kehei for lunch. We wanted a casual and healthy lunch, so we had wraps at Joy’s Place.
- Makena Beach. You’ll find Makena State Park about 20 minutes drive south of Kihei. We parked at the main parking lot and walked down for some time on Big Beach then climbed over the small cliff at the North end of the beach to check out Little Beach. The waves on Big Beach were too big for swimming and the lifeguard has issued an advisory but they weren’t so bad on Little Beach. Just a heads up, Little Beach is clothing optional.
- Baldwin Beach. After spending the morning in Kihei, we decided to drive across the island to check out Baldwin Beach. We were also hoping to find somewhere to swim since the waves at Makena were so crazy that day. Baldwin Beach ended up being one of our favourite spots on the island. Head to the far right of the beach to find Baldwin Cove which features a small protected bay perfect for swimming!
- Veg-Out for Dinner. We got takeout from the Veg-Out food truck in Kihei on our way home and just relaxed at our condo for the evening. We shared the pad thai and vegan chocolate cake, YUM.
Day 2: Iao State Park and Wiahee Ridge Trail
Our second day in Maui was another busy and active one. After breakfast at our condo, we set out early for hiking and exploring more beaches. We got some acai bowls after hiking, snacks from Mana Foods and caught sunset from Po’lenalena Beach, one of our favourite spots.
- Iao State Park. We got there at 7 am, right as the park opened and spent about 30 minutes having a look around. You’ll need $5 to park.
- Wiahee Ridge Trail. We arrived at Wiahee Ridge around 8-8:30 am and began the climb to the summit. This hike took us just over 2 hours with a few shorts stops for photos. Stunning, beautiful, do it!
- Paia Bowls for Acai Bowls. By this time we were getting pretty hungry so we drove straight from Wiahee Ridge to Paia Bowls for açai bowls. You’ll find it on the left just as you drive into Paia.
- Mana Foods. After that, we walked up to Mana Foods to get snacks for the rest of the day. Mana Foods was our favourite place to shop on the island, they have loads of vegan grocery options, a smoothie bar, vegan baked goods, a hot deli and any other groceries you’d need.
- Ho’okipa Beach. From Paia, we drove South to check out Hookipa Beach. We swam, saw some turtles and lounged on the beach for an hour or so before driving back to Kihei.
- Kamaole 3 Beach Park. On our way back we stopped back at the condo for a breather before heading to Kam 3 for more beach time, relaxing and swimming. We brought a cooler with ice, drinks and some snacks.
- Maui Brewing. Maui Brewing is less than a 10 minute drive from the beach. If you like craft beer they have a good selection and a shaded patio perfect for a breakfast from the sun.
- Po’olenalena Beach for Sunset. Our final stop of the day was Poolenna Beach in Wailea-Makena. This was one of our favourite beaches and we spend the evening on the beach watching the sunset before heading back to our condo for dinner.
Day 3: Exploring North West Maui
I loved this day! We started with a 6am CrossFit class then grabbed coffee and got to Makena Beach for about 7:30 am. We wanted to head back there early to a. have it ourselves and b. be able to swim with out the crazy waves from the first time we went. It was beauuutiful and we did in fact have the entire beach to ourselves. I just love hopping in the ocean after a sweaty workout! After a little swim and sun at Makena, we made out way back to Kihei for acai bowls at Wow Wow Lemonade then headed out to explore Lahaina, Kaanapali and North from there, driving up to Nakalele Point.
- Makena Beach.
- Acai Bowls at Wow Wow Lemonade.
- Lahaina. We slowly made our way from Kihei to Lahaina stopping at various beaches and lookouts.
- Choice Health Bar. A great stop in Lahaina for a healthy lunch. They have two locations, we went to the first one which is right off the main road as you drive into Lahaina. Smoothies, acai bowls, salads, wraps and more.
- DT Fleming Beach Park.
- Slaughterhouse Beach.
- Coconut Caboose. You’ll see Coconut Caboose left hand side of the road as you make your way to Nakalele Point. It’s just a small little food truck and he’s got coconut vegan gelato, shaved ice, coconut water and other treats.
- Nakalele Point. A beautiful drive with lots of fun places to stop. We stopped at the pull-out just before Nakalele Point and had a little hike around, the views are sooo stunning. Once you get to the Nakalele Point area, it’s a little hike down to the blowhole and heart shaped rock. We spent maybe 45 minutes looking around here. Another option from here is to carry on down the road all the way around to the other side, passing Olivine Pools on the way and ending up back in Wailuku where you can make your way back to Kihei or Lahaina from there. Apparently the road is pretty crazy but it would be an adventure for sure.
Day 4: Makawao Forest Reserve and King’s Highway
Another jam packed day! We started the day with another workout, then set off for Makawao Forest Reserve. Makawao is a cute little town in Upcountry Maui. We spent a few hours hiking there and having lunch before heading back to Kihei and eventually making out way past Makena State Park and on to the King’s Highway hike, getting back just in time to watch the sunset over Makena Beach.
- Crossfit. Another morning at Makena CrossFit, best way to start the day!
- Cowgirl Coffee. You’ll see a large Coffee sign on the main street as you drive into Makawao. Pull into the parking lot and you’ll see the small, yellow Cowgirl Coffee truck. We had macadamia nut milk lattes.
- Makawao Forest Reserve. We spent two hours strolling the Makawao Forest Reserve hike. I wouldn’t exactly say we were bored but it wasn’t the most exciting way to spend out morning.
- Polli Mexican Restaurant. You’ll find Polli Mexican Restaurant as you return to Makawao from the forest reserve. It was nothing special but we had margaritas and they were able to make me a vegan enchilada.
- Mana Foods. After lunch we needed some beach time so we swung by Mana Foods to grab some snacks and kombucha for the afternoon.
- Baldwin Beach. Beach time! We spent an hour or so at Baldwin Cove swimming and relaxing before driving back to Kihei and stopping by our place before making our way South to the King’s Highway hike.
- Kings Highway Hike. Bizarre, hot, kind of awesome. You’ll need a least a couple hours for this hike.
- Sunset at Makena. We tried to find Secret Cove but couldn’t find the beach access so ended up at the South end of Makena to watch another beautiful Maui sunset.
Day 5: The Road to Hana
Our Road to Hana day was a long one. We left Kihei and 6 am and got back to town around 7:30. Our first stop was Kuao Store for coffee and our last stop was Venus Pools on the way back. We had a mix of crazy tropical rains and sunshine and both were actually really nice for this drive. As we drove back, the rains stopped and the sun came out creating a pretty magical drive back as sun beams broke through the just-rained-on misty jungle.
Here are all the places we stopped:
- Kaua Store.
- Wailuaiki Falls.
- Chings Pond.
- Lava Tube.
- Hana Harvest.
- Wai’anapanapa Beach.
- Wailua Falls.
- Red Sand Beach.
- Oheo “Seven Sacred Pools” Pools.
- Ae’s Thai Food.
- Coconut Glens.
- Venus Pools.
Day 6: Free Day
After a few crazy days we decided to take it easy today. We went to Crossfit, had acai bowls, relaxed all morning at Charley Young Beach in Kihei, drove to Wailuku for lunch, had some chill time at our place and spent the rest of the day at other various beaches in Kihei.
- Brekkie Bowls.
- Charley Young Beach.
- Farmacy Health Bar.
- Kihei Beaches.
Two things we didn’t do on this trip were surfing and snorkelling. We’ve done them lots before and didn’t feel like it on this trip. Maui is supposed to have some unreal snorkelling so today would be a great day to do that or if you’re up for it, give surfing a go.
Day 7: Lahaina Pali Trail, Twin Falls and Haleakala
Our last full day in Maui was jam packed. It doesn’t seem like a lot but this took all day. We left home at 6:30 am to start our hike and didn’t return from Haleakala until 9 pm. I loved it! The Lahaina Pali Trail itself took about 3 hours then we spend another 45 minutes waiting for an Uber then driving back to our car. We were hungry and hot after that so we went to Island Fresh Cafe in Paia for smoothies, then Jaws Cafe for coffee on our way to Twin Falls. After Twin Falls we had lunch in Kahului before beginning the adventure up Haleakala.
- Lahaina Pali Trail. See my notes on this trail up above. You’ll need about 3 hours if you want to do it.
- Island Fresh Cafe. Smoothie stop after hiking in the hot sun for 3 hours.
- Jaws Cafe. We hadn’t had coffee yet so stopped at Jaw’s Cafe on our way to Twin Falls. They’ve got a great outdoor picnic are if you wanted to have a bite to eat here. Vegan options, coffee, smoothies, breakfast and lunch, plus a small general store.
- Twin Falls. We loved it here! We spend a good couple hours looking around, swimming and hiking up to the second water fall. To get to the second waterfall, walk through the gate that says “experienced hikers only” and follow the trail for about 20 minutes. It was an easy path that crosses a few streams and it was no big deal when we were there but I could imagine it may be more difficult after heavy rain fall. We swam at both the lower falls and upper falls and both areas are quite beautiful and worth a stop.
- Mo’Ono Hawaii and Thai Mee Up. Finally time for some food! You’ll find these two food trucks in a food truck park near the airport in Kahului. More details in my post on vegan food in Maui.
- Haleakala Crater for Sunset. This was epic! The whole adventure took about 4 hours from Kahalui up the crater, watching sunset and riving back to Kihei. Whether you go for sunset or sunrise, include Haleakala in your trip for sure!
Day 8: Heading Home
Since our flight wasn’t until the evening we still had the whole day to spend in Maui. We went to Crossfit, had more beach time, visited a couple more restaurants I wanted to try and eventually made our way to the airport to head home. Use your last day as you please, head back to some of your favourite spots or squeeze in another hike if you’re feeling ambitious.
- Po’olenalena Beach.
- A’A Roots in Lahaina.
- Ukumehame Beach Park.
- Baldwin Cove.
- Thai Spice in Paia.
- Paia Beach
- Back to the airport to head home.
I hope you enjoyed my recap of our one week trip to Maui! Let me know if you go or have been and what your favourite places and things to do in Maui are.
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