After living on the beautiful island of Maui, I’ve always gotten a lot of questions on what to do on the island from those planning their vacation, and so excited to finally share this complete Maui travel guide with you. I’m including all my favorite spots, places to eat, where to stay, and what activities I highly recommend for those visiting.
Maui is often ranked as one of the most beautiful spots in the world to visit, and that’s not just by tourists—Maui residents are also proud of their island! From what makes Maui unique and special to the best places to stay, eat, and drink on the island, this guide has everything you need to make sure your trip gets off on the right foot. Maui’s terrain ranges from rugged mountains to arid desert landscapes, but the most remarkable thing about Maui is that it’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and incredibly friendly locals. No matter where you stay on Maui, there are beaches close by that offer breathtaking views of crashing waves and rolling surf.
The best thing about living in Maui is able to experience all there is to do. The beautiful beaches, incredible hikes, delicious food, and amazing people. The traditional touristy things like whale watching, and the local off the beaten bath adventures that have become some of our absolute favorites.
Anytime friends or family came to visit us; we would know exactly what to go do during their time here to show them a good time. And what better way to share it with all of you than creating our first official Maui Travel Guide so everyone can make the most out of their trip here.
Now, this list could go on and on, but for the sake of keeping this travel guide jam-packed with just the best, here are our top 15 things to do on Maui. Bonus points, most all of them are 100% FREE.
But first, here are our favorite places to grab a bite to eat.
WHERE TO EAT
- Flatbread Company- Get the Pele Pesto, Mopsy’s Kalua Pork and the salad.
- Tobi’s Shave Ice North Shore- The BEST poke in town.
- Cafe Des Amis – Perfect place for a late breakfast. Savory & Sweet
- Paia Fish Market – They have awesome salads with fish.
- Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop – Pick your favorite pie.
- Mama’s Fish House – Perfect for a fancy date night. Everything is amazing!
- Andaz Bumbye Beach Bar – The Ahi and fish tacos are incredible!
- 808 Deli – Favorite salads on the island.
- + ANY FOOD TRUCK – You literally can’t go wrong with food trucks.
TOP 15 THINGS TO DO
ROAD TO HANA | $ FREE The road to Hana has always been one of our favorite getaways here on the island. It’s about 50 miles from Kahului but takes about two+ hours to complete. With 620 curves and 59 one way bridges, it takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the island. There’s plenty to see on the way so make sure to stop along the way to enjoy the waterfalls and outlooks.
Tips: Make sure you have a full tank of gas, some cash, and move over if you have locals behind you trying to pass.
TWIN FALLS + FRUIT STAND | $ FREE
On the way to Hana, you’ll drive right past twin falls, which has a very easy to get waterfall. It’s a great place to stop for a quick freshwater swim. You’ll also see the Farm Stand there with coffee, acai bowls, banana bread, smoothies, and coconuts.
RED SAND BEACH | $ FREE
Red Sand Beach, a.k.a. Kaihalulu Beach is located on Kaihalulu Bay and always a place we stop by when we’re in Hana. The red sand and turquoise water are absolutely beautiful. Keep in mind that the short hike there is easy, but the last section of the hike, the only way down is a VERY narrow path. We have done it with kids, but always make sure to be extra safe. (Heads up, this beach is also a clothing-optional beach).
BLACK SAND BEACH | $ FREE
Waianapanapa State Park is one of the few places in the world; you’ll see black sand. They have built stairs that go all the way down, but I do recommend going early in the morning as this park gets busy quickly!
LAVA TUBES | $9.95 PER PERSON
These lava tubes go on for quite some time and are massive. It’s a self-guided tour and takes about 40 minutes to complete. Our kids really enjoyed this.
HOOKIPA+ BALDWIN BEACH | $ FREE
These two beaches are both on the north shore. If you want to watch some of the best surfing, grab a spot over at Hookipa. There’s also a ton of turtles, usually by the sand on the right side. It’s a great place to snorkel, just keep in mind that the waves here do get big.
Baldwin beach has always been one of our favorite beaches to swim at. If you walk all the way down to the right side, there’s a sweet, calm cove our kids have always loved to swim at. There are often turtles in the water and sunbathing in the sand. If you walk down to the left side, you’ll end up at baby beach Paia, with is the best beach for little kids. (If you have kids, it’s easier just to drive there)
IOA VALLEY | $ FREE
Iao Valley is a lush, stream-cut valley and the perfect place to stop and relax. There’s plenty of spots to cool down in the fresh cold water. There are also a few trails that take you through some beautiful historical sites.
MOLOKINI | $90-140
Molokini is a crescent-shaped, volcanic crater between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe. It has some of the best snorkeling and diving due to it being a State Marine Life & Bird Conservation District. There are lots of tour boats that bring people out there for a day. You can read more about it here: https://molokinicrater.com/
CLIFF HOUSE | $ FREE
For those who are seeking a little more adventure, the Kapalua Cliff House has some of the most beautiful clear waters on the island. There’s a massive rock formation that you can jump off. There’s a few lower rocks, as well as some that are very high up and a ladder that you can climb upon to get out. We’ve been here a few times but only jump in the water when the water is calm enough.
KAANAPALI + BLACK ROCK | $ FREE
Snorkeling just off Kaanapali Beach at Black Rock, Maui is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. There’s a huge black rock by the water that people love jumping off.
HALEAKALA | $30 PER VEHICLE
Haleakala is a beautiful sight to see. We’ve been there a handful of times since our home was right off the main road leading up to the crater. My advice on this is to skip the early sunrise (which now has to be reserved ahead of time) and head up there to enjoy the sunset. It’s just as beautiful, and you can go anytime without needing to make reservations or getting up incredibly early.
BIG BEACH MAKENA | $ FREE
This is another beach we love to go to. Crystal clear water and big waves. Be careful when getting in and out. It’s best to time it with the wave sets. You’ll notice after a few bigger sets, they get a little smaller and that’s the right time to get in.
MAKENA LANDING PARK | $ FREE
This is another beautiful spot that is excellent for snorkeling, kayaking, and diving. You can park right by the beach. This park is a little smaller than the rest, so I recommend getting there early! There’s also a great food truck (JAWS) that’s usually parked in the parking lot, making it easy to grab a bite to eat.
BABY BEACH | $ FREE
Baby Beach in Lahaina is another great place to spend the day. The water is perfectly clear and calm. It’s shallow pretty far out so you can explore the rocks and fish nearby. If you have kids or looking for some nice calm water, this is the perfect spot for you. Our favorite spot is by the little palm trees in the far corner.
LAHAINA FRONT STREET & BANYON TREE | $ FREE
Spanning 1.94 acres and rising more than 60 feet, Lahaina’s banyan tree is the largest banyan tree in the USA and a must-see when you’re in Lahaina. Some weekends you can find a range of artists set up under the tree and enjoy live music. There’s a ton of places to eat on front street, and lots of little shops to enjoy.
EXTRA TIPS FROM A LOCAL
Now, you’re in Hawaii to have a good time, but I figured I would do you a HUGE favor and list a few things you MIGHT not be aware of if you aren’t from Hawaii.
- MOVE OVER – If you’re driving around Hawaii you’ll quickly realize that there’s something beautiful to see around every bend, and I don’t blame you for wanting to take it slow. Take your time, small the guava and plumeria in the airy, let the salty wind blow your hair. BUT…keep in mind people live here. They have to get places and there’s nothing quite as annoying to locals than getting stuck behind someone driving incredibly slow. If you notice a car come up behind you, if possible try to move over so they can easily get past you. Everyone will appreciate it.
- BE ALERT – The last thing you want to do is get inquired or die on vacation. If you live in Hawaii you’re used to constantly hearing about someone who’s visiting drowning while snorkeling, or falling off a waterfall, or getting stick because of flash flooding. It’s just the reality of living near the ocean. When you’re out by the ocean or adventuring, BE ALERT. The ocean is incredibly strong and has to be respected. If you go out hiking, make sure you research ahead of time anything you should be aware of.
- STAY UP TO DATE – The nice thing about an island is that news travels fast. You can find pages such as Maui 24/7 on Facebook and easily stay up to date on everything going on. If there’s a fire, flash flood, emergency, you’ll probably hear about it first there.
- NEVER TURN YOUR BACK – Never, ever, EVER, turn your back to the waves. When you’re getting in the ocean, or getting out, always keep your eye on what the waves are doing. There are certain beaches like Makena beach that have ended in broken backs and necks because these waves crash right on the sand and if you’re not paying attention, you can get a surprise wave too. Try not to spend too much time in the wave break area.
- SUPPORT THE LOCALS – There are so many incredible artist and local shops in Hawaii. Instead of spending your money on typical touristy things made in China, scope out local shops with pieces that were truly made in Hawaii.
- REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN – you probably won’t find a place that cares as much about the ocean and reef as Hawaii. Make sure to only wear reef-safe sunscreen when spending time in the ocean. Most of the shops carry them. You can also find it at Target.
- DON’T IGNORE WARNING SIGNS – You’ll see plenty of these around Hawaii and they are there for a reason. Too many people have gotten hurt or killed by ignoring these dangers.
I hope these little pieces help make your vacation perfect. These warning signs aren’t here to scare you, I just want you to be safe when visiting this beautiful place. There’s so much to do and see and I have no doubt you’ll have an amazing time. It’s my favorite place in the world.
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