Sunset on the beach in Lahaina Maui Hawaii

I’ve been fortunate to travel to Hawaii five times. Maui is my favorite Hawaiian island. While my last couple of visits was to simply rest, relax, and recharge, I’ve compiled a list of the top things to do on vacation in Maui, Hawaii for first timers especially. Updated Aug. 14, 2023: Please avoid travel to Maui at this time.

Vacation travel to Maui is strongly discouraged due to the recent wildfires.

Please consider donating to help the beautiful people of Lahaina, Maui.

Editor’s note: Please consider donating to the Maui Strong Fund, Lahaina Grill gofundme, or other organizations to help the beautiful people of Lahaina, Maui. The Maui Humane Society also needs support.


Maui travel tip: Book your tours as soon as you make your travel reservations to Maui. Reservations for many of the top things to do in Maui fill up months in advance.

This post contains recommended links to products and services. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. While you will not accrue any additional costs to support my blog, I may receive compensation if you purchase these products and services. All images are taken by kmf and available for digital download.

List of the top things to do in Maui, Hawaii

Beach - Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 3
Kaanapali is one of the best beaches in Maui.

Here is a list of the top things to do on vacation in Maui.

Haleakala National Park – Maui, Hawaii

One of the top things to do in Maui is to visit Haleakala National Park. You can certainly make your own reservations for a sunset and sunrise visit. However, many tour companies offer a convenient way to check out the summit of the Haleakala volcano. If you choose a sunrise visit, you will leave in the wee hours. And some tour companies offer a ride there and then you can ride a bike back down.

Maui travel tip for Haleakala National Park

Wear warm clothes – even a winter coat when you check out the volcano crater in Maui. It gets really cold at the top of Haleakala National Park.  

Road to Hana – top thing to do in Maui

Road to Hana Maui Hawaii view of Pacific ocean shoreline

Is the Road to Hana worth the hype and traffic and windy roads?

Yes!

At least once!

You’ll find lots of guides and apps to inform you on the best stops on the Road to Hana in Maui. Stops on this ~65-mile narrow scenic drive include beautiful views, hiking trails, waterfalls, beaches, fresh fruit and banana bread stands, and more.

And when I say windy and narrow, expect about 600 turns and several one-lane bridges. And your Road to Hana is an all-day experience. Start early to help avoid some of the traffic.

Maui travel tip for Road to Hana

If you get motion sickness, make sure you take some preventive medicine. I don’t get motion sickness and my equilibrium felt a little off. Also, take the out-and-back route. Most rental car companies do not allow you to take the backroad from Hana. We’ve heard horror stories from people who drove the road less traveled and they do not recommend.

Wai’anapanapa State Park and Black Sand Beach

Road to Hana Black Sand Beach Maui

One of our favorite – and most memorable – stops on the Road to Hana was the Black Sand Beach. It’s part of the Wai’anapanapa State Park.

There’s nothing quite like the famous Black Sand Beach in Hana, Maui, Hawaii. Please use caution. My son and I waded into the water during our stop and we were wiped out by a rogue wave. This wave came out of nowhere and went all the way up to previous dry land and took out his shoes and cell phone.

Maui travel tips when visiting the Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park

Check the Wai’anapanapa State Park website to learn about reservations, potential closings, and park costs such as admission and parking.

Whale-watching tour in Maui

While you can often see whales in the distance from your balcony or beaches of Maui, get a closer look by booking a whale-watching tour.

Maui travel tip / bonus

Spinner dolphins in Maui Hawaii

You will most likely see an entertaining spinner dolphin show along the way. Also consider taking the ferry over to the island of Lanai. I’ve heard that you can sometime see whales from the ferry.

Hawaiian luau

Couple wearing leis at Maui Hawaiian luau

Learn more about the Hawaiian culture by attending an authentic Hawaiian luau. This dinner theater is one of the top things to do in Maui. We recommend the Old Lahaina Luau – a fun family experience in Maui.

Maui travel tip

Book in advance as the best Hawaiian luaus – top things to do in Maui – fill up quickly.

Deep-sea fishing in Maui

Maui Hawaii deep sea fishing

My husband and son took a deep-sea fishing sunrise tour when we visited Maui the first time. It’s an early-rise event, but they loved it. Even though they didn’t catch anything. They especially loved all the fish tales told by their captain.

Maui travel tip

Beach - Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii - Fisherman

Deep-sea fishing tours book up months in advance. If you’re prone to motion sickness, take medication ahead of time. And if you’re not into the deep-sea fishing, try to get your Maui catch-of-the-day from the shoreline.

Snorkeling in Maui

You’ll find lots of shallow and coves right off many of Maui’s white-sand beaches for some beautiful snorkeling. Kaanapali Beach in Lahaina offers a long stretch of beach and lots of snorkeling opportunities.

Maui travel tip

If you don’t want to pack your own snorkeling gear, you can rent from a local place. Many places also rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers. And make sure you wear reef-safe sunscreen. And if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can try taking scuba-diving lessons.

Learn to surf or paddleboard in Maui

Boy surfing in Maui Hawaii

Feeling adventurous? Try learning how to surf or paddleboard in Maui. You can sign up for private or group lessons from several different places.

Maui travel tip

Maui surfing lessons dry land

If you’re traveling to Maui during spring break, see if any of your children’s classmates are going at the same time. We learned that one of our son’s friends and his family were staying at the resort next to us. And we signed them up for surfing lessons together.

Lahaina’s banyan tree

Lahaina banyan tree in Maui

I am fascinated with trees and love Lahaina’s banyan tree that covers an entire city block. It’s a great place to get some shade, rest, and people watch. The historic banyan tree in Lahaina was planted in 1874.

Maui travel tip

Lahaina’s iconic banyan tree is located in the historic downtown area of Lahaina’s Front Street. Additionally, you’ll find a relatively clean public restroom right across the street near the marina.

Front Street in historic Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

View of mountains in Lahaina Front Street restaurant Maui
You can catch views of the Pacific ocean as well as the mountains on the rooftop of Fleetwood’s on Front in historic Lahaina, Maui.

You’ll find scenic views, stunning sunsets, shopping, restaurants, bars, live music, and art galleries on the historic Front Street. Our favorite places to eat include the Lahaina Grill, Lahaina Fish Market, and Fleetwood’s on Front.

Editor’s note: My heart is breaking as the people of Maui have suffered great loss due to the wildfires that decimated Lahaina in August 2023.

We enjoyed our last evening in Lahaina earlier this year at Lahaina Grill. Please consider donating directly to help Lahaina Grill employees and families.

Grilled mahi mahi from Lahaina Grill in Maui Hawaii

Maui travel tip

Lahaina Front Street Maui Hawaii boats on the ocean blue sky


Lots of people traffic on Front Street especially if a cruise ship is stopped in Lahaina. The best parking we found was in the lot next to the post office. It’s an easy walk to the best things to do on Front Street in Lahaina, Maui.

Kapalua Coastal Trail – hiking in Maui

Kapalua Coastal Trail hiking best thing to do in Maui

If you’re looking for an easy hike with stunning views of the Pacific shoreline, then make your way to Kapalua Coastal Trail. This 2.5-mile out-and-back trail does have a few inclines, but is not challenging. Kapalua Coastal Trail is fairly popular and can get pretty crowded in areas. However, there’s lots of opportunities to take some offshoot trails for more solitude. You’ll also find a few beaches along the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

And then after your hike, walk over to Sea House Restaurant for brunch. Ask for an outdoor table overlooking the ocean. Great view and great food!

Maui travel tip

It’s difficult to find parking at the Kapalua Coastal Trail because it’s also home to a popular beach. So arrive early to beat the crowds and find a spot. Otherwise, you can park on the street. This trailhead offers a public restroom.

Visit historic Paia, Maui

Boutique shops in Paia Maui Hawaii

You’ll pass through Paia, Maui on your way to Hana. However, don’t pass through. Make a stop in this historic village with a hippy vibe. It’s a great place to eat breakfast, pick up a picnic lunch for your Road to Hana trip. Or we highly recommend the Paia Fish Market. Get there early!

It’s also a great place to visit on a rainy day for some shopping therapy at their quaint boutique shops.

Maui travel tip

Sea turtle on the beach in Maui Hawaii

Make sure to stop at Ho’okipa Beach Park just outside Paia, Maui. It offers a beautiful beach, public restrooms, and lots of crowing roosters and beaching sea turtles. A popular beach, get there early for a good parking spot.

Nakalele Blowhole

Nakalele Blowhole in Maui, Hawai
It’s a moderately challenging hike if you want an up-close look of Nakalele Blowhole. You can still capture scenic shoreline views from the top of the trailhead.

We made an impulse decision to go check out the Nakalele Blowhole after hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail since it was less than 10 miles away. So we drove there blindly without any expectation. So here’s what to expect when you drive to the Nakalele Blowhole.

While I thought the Road to Hana was a bit treacherous in spots, the narrow, hairpin turns on steep cliffsides on the way to the Nakalele Blowhole made me a bit anxious. And we didn’t think our rental SUV was going to make it up the steep incline on one stretch of road. I could not get above 10 mph! And I had horrific visions of rolling backwards into the car behind me or flying off the cliff after the engine kicked in. Fortunately, we survived without incident. Just be prepared to get a running start on that big hill! Or put it in lower gear or something.

While you can take the steep trail (with lots of loose rock) down to get a better look at the Nakalele Blowhole, we just didn’t have it in us that day. And our hiking poles were packed away as we were flying out that night. You can still take in breathtaking sights of the blowhole as well as the coast.

Maui travel tip

Distance and time are not the same thing in Maui. Expect a drive to take you much longer than you expect. You may find all the parking spots filled at the lookout. Just be patient and wait for someone to leave.

List of the best things to do in Maui

Maui rainbow at the beach in Hawaii
Maui rainbow in Lahaina

While watching the ocean waves and reading a book on the beach are my top things to do in Maui, here is a wrap-up for those looking for a little more activity.

  1. Haleakala National Park
  2. Road to Hana
  3. Wai’anapanapa State Park and Black Sand Beach
  4. Whale-watching tour – often includes dolphin sightings
  5. Hawaiian Luau
  6. Deep-sea fishing
  7. Snorkeling
  8. Learn to surf or paddleboard
  9. Lahaina Banyan Tree
  10. Front Street in historic Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
  11. Kapalua Coastal Trail
  12. Historic Paia, Maui
  13. Nakalele Blowhole Trail



See also my related post: Top things to do in Maui when it rains



Pin it for later: Top things to do in Maui


Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

47 comments

  1. Aaaah Karen I can see why you like it so much! Maui looks flipping gorgeous! I am sure I’d love the road to Hana (with all those waterfalls and walks) but you have shown sooo many more reasons to visit that beautiful Island!

    Even just the views from Front Street in historic Lahaina look amazing. What a great place to relax and eat!

  2. I’ve been to Maui twice but I’ve never done the road to Hana! It’s been on my list and your post is making want to book a flight. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome and my pleasure! I would love to take the Road to Hana again do I could capture photos on my nice camera. It’s one of the best things to do in Maui.

  3. Wow! Maui looks so beautiful! Looks like the perfect place water sports and scenic beauty. I love that images of Nakalele Blowhole and Kapalua coastal trail. I have not been to Hawaii yet, but it is in my bucket list. 🙂

  4. Having just got back recently from Maui it was fun to travel through your eyes. David hurt his back just before we left so we had to pass on all the water activities. But snorkelling and maybe even deep-sea fishing would be fun on a return visit. It looks like you had a great trip!

  5. I haven’t been to Maui in quite a while, but it holds such a special place in my heart and remind me that I need a holiday! Your photos really tell the story of what a stunning island it really is.

  6. I haven’t been to Maui yet but it’s on my list! My parents went years ago and actually rode bikes down Haleakala – not sure I’m as adventurous as them but it sounds amazing!

  7. Maui is so high on my bucket list! My husband and I have talked about going in the next few years, so this guide is super helpful. I would love to do the Road to Hana and go whale watching.

  8. My husband and I are trying to see all 50 states before he turns 50 in four years. After this summer, we should be at 48 if all goes to plan. So you know what that means–we have to get in Alaska and Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to go to Maui, and your pictures are stunning! I can’t wait to go. I kind of want to do just about everything on this list, well, except maybe surfing–lol

  9. I need to go back to Maui! So many things I didn’t get to do! But I did do the road of death to the blowhole! That was awful!

    1. Good to hear it wasn’t just me! While the views near the Nakalele Blowhole were stunning, that drive made me so anxious! Fortunately, lots of fun things to do in Maui.

  10. Great list of top things to do in Maui, Hawaii! Even though I grew up on the West Coast and most of my friends flew over to Hawaii every summer…I’ve never been…but I would love to, and I’ll refer to this post for inspiration!

  11. Ahhh, a vacation would be nice. And a vacay on the island of Maui in Hawaii? Even better 😊. Thanks for taking me there, even if virtually.

  12. What a great list of things to do on vacation in Maui! My sister just got back from Maui and her family loves to go to the Haleakala National Park and watch the sunrise.

  13. It’s great that there are so many activities where you can enjoy the natural beauty of the island. I’d love to go one day.

  14. I love this guide so much! My husband and I have been looking into traveling to Hawaii in the next few years. We definitely want to visit Maui. Thanks for sharing these fun things to do!

  15. Maui is on our bucket list! We love all of the incredible things to do when we vacation.

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