Need some ideas for the top attractions in Maui? I promise you, this list will not disappoint! Here are some of the top attractions in Maui and what you need to know before you go.
Driving the Road to Hana
I’m going to warn one thing about this amazing activity: It is not for the faint of heart. The Road to Hana is a drive up (and back down) a mountain with a whopping 620 hairpin-like turns and over 50 bridges, many of which are one lane. At times, the nearly U-turn like road turns are about the width of one lane and you’re driving up the side of a cliff. The locals can get really assertive in having to share a one lane highway and you can’t always see them coming.
Now, that said, I don’t want to totally scare you off because it is truly amazing and breathtaking what you see up there, but I also don’t want to minimize it so you are prepared. It can easily take 3 hours to drive one way. Many people do it, just be alert and not hungover or under the weather and be ready for it. Car sickness is easy to get, so I recommend taking something to combat it just as a precaution. Pack a cooler also with water and snacks because it’s not that easy to find places to eat.
The reward for your valor is beautiful waterfalls, natural swimming holes, lush green nature and tropical flowers, black sand beaches, caves and even a bamboo forest. You basically drive up and then stop along the way at the various sights. So, you do get to get out of the car often.
I recommend leaving very early in the morning and I strongly suggest you are done with your trip and reach the bottom before nightfall. It would be dangerous as a novice on those roads at night. The official website gives great info on the stops that you can see and below are some of my own photos!
Snorkeling in Molokini Crater
I’ve been snorkeling many times and one of my favorite snorkeling trips ever was the snorkeling at Molokini Crater. I highly suggest using a great tour company to take you out. We used Trilogy and they were amazing. Seriously tops in every way. The captain, Yoshi, was awesome and the guys he had (one was named Brown Bear!) were so attentive, patient with the newbies and totally took care of us. It may feel a little pricey, but it is totally worth every penny.
They served us breakfast and lunch and the sailboat itself was first class. It was truly awesome snorkeling and then a really great afternoon sail afterwards which was really relaxing and enjoyable. I saw tons of tropical fish, live coral and those gorgeous sea turtles Hawaii is known for!
This is the exact tour I did. I fully recommend this excursion and Trilogy in every way!
Attending a Hawaiian Luau
I don’t care if it’s touristy, you have to see a luau when you are in Hawaii! You have a couple of options. You can go to a resort luau or you can go to Old Lahaina Luau, which is a permanent area 100% dedicated to the evening luau and shows.
I’ve been to both and I can recommend both, but they are different. If you want to go to something that is more traditional and keeps the integrity of the cultural traditions, then go to Old Lahaina. If you want something with a little “Vegas” style character like warrior fire dancers and a bit of drama added to the hula dancing, go to the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Luau. The traditional Hawaiian dances never included fire, so this is something that’s been added from other Polynesian cultures for showmanship.
I don’t think you can go wrong either way. If I’m being honest, I probably liked the Marriott luau a little better because it was more exciting and dramatic, but the Old Lahaina Luau was in a beautiful setting and I did appreciate that the culture was left intact. Though I will say, the actual show itself could get a little boring for little kids because it is a history timeline explained through hula dancing where the Marriott luau was designed to keep everyone’s attention with a little more action.
Shopping on Front Street in Lahaina
Carve out a late afternoon and evening to do shopping and dinner in Lahaina. You want to drive down to Front Street right on the water where all the shops are clustered. There are cafes, art galleries, surf and t-shirt shops and some nice restaurants along the waterfront. You can also see the oldest banyan tree in Hawaii which is over a century old and just beautiful and enormous. It’s right near where all the shops are.
You also have to stay for dinner and ideally get a great spot on the water at one of the restaurants that line the coast to watch the amazing sunset. I recommend either making a reservation or putting your name in early and walking around.
Sunrise Bike down Haleakala
If you are into a bit of adventure and have an athletic spirit, this can be a cool experience with some really beautiful views of the sunrise from the volcanic summit of Haleakala. Be sure to stay a bit after the sunrise to really experience all the beauty of the views. For this excursion, you will wake up quite early and drive up to a very high point of the volcano before dawn and then view the sunrise and bike down.
It will be very cold when you are at the high altitude, so be sure to bring warm clothes that you can shed in layers. I recommend doing this excursion early in your vacation if you are from the US mainland because this won’t seem so early to you before you get used to the time change. If you choose to do this excursion, the host tour groups will help you prepare. Other options include hiking Haleakala National Park if you are not into cycling but still want to catch the sunrise.
Swimming in Turtle Town & Maluaka Beach
This area of the coastline is known for snorkeling and some of the best the sea life encounters, particularly the Hawaiian green sea turtles. It is pretty rocky and has a coral reef that is a great place to see the tropical fish and plants. The day we were there it was pretty deserted, so we were careful with snorkeling, but we really did see a ton of turtles that day once we were out far enough into the water. They were so peaceful and gentle, it was really a cool experience.
This is one where you can go on your own with your own snorkel equipment and simply go off the beach. If you had to pick between this and Molokini Crater, I’d definitely go with Molokini, but this is a great little excursion as well.
Watching the Sunset in Kihei
One of the most amazing activities that also happens to be free (yes!) is simply viewing the stunning Pacific sunsets off the public beaches in Kihei. You can go right before it starts to set, bring a blanket and just enjoy one of nature’s most beautiful phenomenons.
There are a few beaches that line the coast in Kihei, but I recommend Keawakapu Beach for the scenery and the sunset!
For a more comprehensive travel guide to Maui to help you plan your trip, check out: What to do in Maui, Hawaii: Comprehensive Island Guide