With 727 square miles of land, ~120 miles of coastline, 80+ beaches, and two (now-dormant) volcanoes that made it the island it is today there are countless ways to enjoy your time on Maui. Whether you’re a visitor, a new arrival, or a long-time resident, you’ll find something for everyone on our list of attractions, activities, and things to do on Maui. Let’s start with one of the features that calls people to Maui time and time again—that gorgeous blue Pacific water and all the wonders that lie underneath.
1. Grab Your Gear and Go Snorkeling
The perfect snorkel spot is always up for debate, and it’s a distinction that changes with the weather. What you’re looking for is a calm area with few to no waves and very little wind—placid conditions, in other words. This makes for the best visibility, and it also makes it easy for all the members of your party to paddle around safely.
Insider’s Tip: If you’re a snorkeling enthusiast, sign up for the Snorkel Store’s daily Maui snorkel reports. You’ll get a forecast every morning pointing you to the best snorkel spots for the day’s conditions.
You’ll find excellent places to snorkel all over the island, but a few we particularly love include:
Honolua Bay: Get here early to snag a parking spot at this popular beach. Because this bay lies within a Marine Life Conservation District, you’ll find the underwater landscape more pristine than other locations. While the water right at the beach can be murky, you’ll find much clearer water—and plenty of colorful fish and coral—along the rocks surrounding the bay’s edge.
Kapalua Bay: Kapalua Bay is perfectly shaped for ideal snorkeling conditions. The bay is protected by two ocean reefs that form a C-shaped cove, creating calm, blue waters perfect for beginners and families. Additionally, you’ll find a beautiful white sand beach along the shoreline, so anyone who wants to skip the snorkeling has a scenic area to set up and enjoy the day.
Insider’s Tip: If the wind picks up—or the water around you appears murky—take your adventure to the north side of the cove and paddle along the rockier edges. The water will be much clearer on this side. Plus, you’ll get an even better view of the ocean reef, which as we all know, will be full of fun hidden treasures and gilled friends.
Maluaka Beach: You’ll find plenty of fish at this Maui snorkel spot—and you might even get the chance to swim with honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles. Although it’s impossible to predict exactly where you’ll see turtles on any day of the week, try toward the southern end of the beach, toward the rocks. Don’t forget your waterproof camera, and make sure to keep a respectful distance from the honu as you enjoy them in their natural habitat.
Molokini: If you’re staying in South Maui, you might have spotted a little crescent of land just off the coast between Maui and Kahoolawe. That’s Molokini, a volcanic crater that’s been designated a Marine Life Conservation District as well as a Seabird Sanctuary. Unlike the other locations we’ve listed, you’ll need a boat to snorkel Molokini, but it’s well worth it to enjoy the variety of marine life you’ll spot in the area. If you happen to be a scuba diver, Molokini also makes for an excellent dive, especially along the outer edges of the crater that drop off to the deeper ocean floor. In the winter, you might also be treated to an underwater whale song!
2. Take an Exhilarating Cliff Plunge in Honor of One of Maui’s Last Ruling Chiefs
Do it for the thrill of plunging 12-18 feet off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean. Or do it in honor of Kahekili II, one of Maui’s last ruling chiefs before the islands were united by King Kamehameha under the Kingdom of Hawaii. Legend has it that Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock, was one of Kahekili’s favorite cliff -umping spots.
Today, a sunset ceremony is performed every night in which a cliff diver lights a torch and dives off Black Rock. It’s a fun sight to see, and if you have adventurous kids, they’ll love taking their turn jumping off the cliff into the water below.
Bonus: While you’re over in West Maui, take some time to explore historic downtown Lahaina. Once considered the whaling capital of the Pacific and also once designated the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina is a town with a ton of interesting history. Pop into the Lahaina Heritage Museum near the marina if you want to learn more. The town also has tons of shops, bars, and restaurants for the whole family to enjoy.
3. Wander the Verdant Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
One of the things that surprises many visitors to Maui is how many diverse microclimates you’ll discover on the island. It might be hot and sunny in Kihei, rainy in Wailuku, and chilly and overcast up in Kula—all on the same day. When you want a break from the sun and the heat, head Upcountry.
There, on the side of Mount Haleakala, you’ll find some of Maui’s most unique attractions, including the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Meander the grounds to enjoy more than 50,000 lavender plants, as well succulents, olive trees, and other plants. The garden was founded in 2001 by Ali’i Chang, who started with a single plant, gifted to him by a friend. Although Chang has passed away, his farm continues to thrive. The Lavender Farm is a peaceful and serene way to spend some time on Maui. Plus, in clear weather, the views are spectacular, with central and south Maui laid out below you.
- Admission: General admission is $3 per person, with $1 off for seniors, military, and kamaaina. The garden also offers walking tours for $12 per person, with discounts for reserving in advance. You can also order a gourmet picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds with an advance reservation.
- Website: Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
And while you’re in the area…
4. Stroll the Serene Forests Upcountry
The areas you’ll find on the slopes of Haleakala—Pukalani, Makawao, and Kula—make up what’s known as Upcountry Maui. In addition to charming little towns and rural landscapes, you’ll also find some spectacular forest hikes. (When we said Maui’s climate was diverse, we meant it!) As you’re walking the paths, keep your eyes out for a glimpse of Hawaii’s vibrant and now-rare forest birds.
Two of our favorite Upcountry hikes include:
- The Kahakapao Loop Trail in the Makawao Forest Reserve – Enjoy cool breezes and a shady, ~5.5 mile loop through Cook pine, ash, eucalyptus, and cedar trees, along with palm grass and ferns. If the idea of a quiet, peaceful stroll through the woods appeals to you, you’ll love this hike. Note: The trails were designed for use by both mountain bikers and hikers. However, designated bike-only trails make it easy for hikers to enjoy the paths without having to step aside frequently to allow bikers to pass.
- Poli Poli Recreation Area: You’ll find a number of trails in this area, which is on the same road as the Lavender Farm. The Waiakoa Loop Trail is the most easily accessible, and it’s often lightly trafficked, so you may only see a handful of other hikers as you wander the forest. If you want to access the additional trails beyond the cattle guard—or the campgrounds—you’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle.
5. Cross a Volcanic Crater and Marvel at the Power of Madam Pele
The island of Maui as we know it today was formed by two volcanoes whose lava flows eventually overlapped:
- Kahalawai, which now makes up what we know as the West Maui Mountains.
- Halealaka, which formed the eastern side of Maui.
Although the vast majority of the West Maui Mountains are inaccessible, a road was constructed to the peak of Haleakala, starting in 1933. Today, you can drive up through Haleakala National Park to 10,023 feet and explore the slopes of this dormant volcano.
If you want to get a real glimpse of the power of Madam Pele, the goddess of Hawaii’s volcanoes, take the Sliding Sands Trail down into the crater itself. The otherworldly landscape is dotted with cinder cones and painted with vivid shades of reds, yellow, browns, and greens. Hiking the 11-mile trail will take you all day. However, you can still enjoy the crater’s scenery by hiking an hour or so in, then then turning around. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, snag a camping spot in the crater or reserve one of three historic wilderness cabins for the night. As you might expect, on a clear night, the stars are unforgettably brilliant.
- Admission: $30.00 per private vehicle for a three-day pass
- Website: Haleakala National Park
6. Beach It
Finally, when most people think of Hawaii, visions of white sand beaches lined with palm trees spring to mind. And with good reason: Hawaii’s beaches are among the most beautiful in the world, and Maui has them in spades. Some of our favorites include:
- Big Beach in Makena: This beach has it all—ample parking, plentiful sand so you can spread out, beautiful blue water, and lifeguards to keep an eye on everybody. The shore break here can get a little gnarly, so make sure you check the conditions before heading into the water.
- Hookipa: Found on Maui’s north shore, Hookipa is a great place for both spectating and sunbathing. Its sandy shores are a great place to spot sleeping honu enjoying the warm sunshine. Hookipa is also an excellent area to enjoy the acrobatics of surfers and windsurfers as they play in the north shore’s plentiful waves.
- Baby Beach in Lahaina: You’ll find a lot of different beaches in Hawaii called “Baby Beach.” The name usually indicates an area that’s closed off by a reef, creating a calm shoreline that’s perfect for even the youngest of your family members. Baby Beach in Lahaina fits these criteria perfectly. There’s plenty of sand and calm water for all members of your family to enjoy.
- Waianapanapa Beach: A frequent stop for travelers along the Road to Hana, this black sand beach is a breathtaking reminder of Maui’s volcanic history. Although reservations are now required, this stunning natural wonder is definitely worth a visit.
Insider’s Tip: Beach conditions can change dramatically day by day, based on swell, wind direction, and wind speed. Check before you go to see what the conditions are at your chosen beach. (HawaiiBeachSafety.com is a great place to get started!) If conditions are less than ideal, simply try a different side of the island. You’ll likely find a spot that’s perfect for your day at the beach.
Taking in All of the Magic of Maui
There’s a reason people return to Maui over and over again—or decide to make a move to the Valley Isle. The island is simply packed with attractions and things to do, and we’ve only just scratched the surface. Plus, with all kinds of climate zones from hot, dry, and sunny all the way to lush, green, and wet, you’ll find a variety of activities to keep you going for at least a week—and maybe even a lifetime.
Considering making Maui your home? We’d be happy to help you make the move! We’ve got a warehouse and a crew right in Kahului, ready to assist you with a safe, easy, and affordable transition to the Valley Isle. We also do local moves. To get started, reach out to us for a complimentary quote for your Maui move.
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