Maui not to be missed
Do you have a mad desire to escape to a warm and unique place? You like adventure, nature activities, relaxing at the beach, surfing, volcanoes fascinate you and paradisiacal landscapes challenge you. If you are wondering what to do in Maui and visit, our suggestions for activities and must-sees in this destination should fill you with happiness.
We will also share some practical information you need to know to plan your future trip to the island of Maui in Hawaii.
Maui is the second largest island in the archipelago after Big Island and has a wide variety of landscapes thanks to its large dormant volcano, Haleakalā, which rises to over 3000 meters. Its climate is also renowned for being very sunny on a good part of its coastline, which makes it an island very coveted by holidaymakers.
Who is Maui for?
Maui will satisfy travelers looking for a destination that combines idleness and adventure! Its main asset lies in its many sandy beaches in various colors, from yellow to black through red, which make it a favorite place for relaxation. Maui is the perfect family destination!
Best Beach Maui Island
Kaanapali Beach – Maui
Let’s go to the island of Maui, another of the Hawaiian wonders that you must know. Let’s start with Kaanapali Beach. It is one of the most complete, due to all the services you will have at your disposal. Water sports are also a good option here.
This beach, which is located west of Maui, is a good option for families. Its calm waters allow you to enjoy the sea much more. The tall coconut trees are part of the natural landscape which is simply amazing.
A destination with slightly more tourists than elsewhere. On this beach you will find many hotel complexes, so it is a very crowded area.
One thing to point out about Wailea Beach, and what makes it one of the most spectacular beaches in Hawaii, is that here you can meet some gigantic friends. See and listen to whales. Cetaceans bathe in these warm waters, especially in winter.
This is Maui’s largest beach and is located in the Kihei area. Isolated from large developments, it offers white sand and a magnificent sea with very powerful waves. You can take a nice walk there and it offers a magnificent view of the Molokini crater.
It is a superb beach surrounded by coconut trees and a turquoise sea as far as the eye can see. It is perfect for snorkeling and seeing all kinds of multicolored fish and sea turtles.
Haleakala National Park in the center of the island
The volcano culminates at 3055 meters above sea level. A road provides access to the summit. The entrance to the national park is paying, $25 per vehicle and the ticket is valid for three days so do not throw it away! You should also know that it is often under the clouds. We woke up one morning to see it completely clear and decided to go right away.
By the time we reached the summit, clouds had already formed. We were staying in Kahului and it takes an hour to drive to the parking lot. It’s not a few clouds that will discourage us, we go for a hike in the crater. The colors are amazing, there are red mountains everywhere. This place really feels like being on another planet.
The ideal is to go there in the morning and stay until sunset. That’s what we did, no regrets! The weather changes very quickly as in all volcanoes. Around 7 p.m. the clouds cleared, as I had bet and we witnessed a marvelous spectacle. The colors were simply sublime. It was a truly magical moment, without a doubt one of my most beautiful sunsets. You should still know that at the top it is 1 degrees and there is wind, so it is necessary to cover yourself well. Do not bring volcanic stones. A legend says that bringing a rock from Haleakala brings bad luck. The Maui post office has already received packages in which tourists sent stones back to the island on several occasions after having suffered misfortunes. So, myth or reality? The people of Maui have many such beliefs.
Lahaina and its surroundings
If you are in Maui between December and May, do not miss the whale watching excursion from Lahaina. Emotions guaranteed! It takes about $40 per person for 2. The encounter with these huge mammals remains a highlight of my world tour. We saw a mother with her calf. She did a wonderful jump in front of us and the baby kept pirouetting too. The dad passed just below our zodiac and stuck his head out 2 meters from me. It is an absolutely magical moment and a little scary all the same. They are in migration and therefore are not present all year round. I got off the boat so satisfied that I wanted to repeat the experience in the days to come! In addition, taking the boat offers a sublime view of Maui and its green mountains.
In the center of Lahaina is also a fantastic tree, its roots and branches merge and connect.
Continuing the road to the north there is a nice place, the Blow Hole. It is a hole in which the waves rush, which creates a very impressive geyser. Right in front there is a perfect heart-shaped hole in the rock. Finally, end the day with a beautiful sunset on the way back. The sky takes on fantastic colors and if you find a spot with palm trees, it’s the postcard photo guaranteed!
Ho’okipa Beach: a great spot not to be missed for anything in the world
This beach is known for surfers but also for the many green turtles that take up residence on its sand every day from 4 p.m. At the end of the beach an area is reserved for them. I spent hours watching these magnificent animals come out of the water and fall asleep on the sand. There were forty of them! They can also be seen in the water, just look at the ocean for 3 minutes to see a small head popping out to breathe. I went to this beach 4 times during my stay to see them and twice I was lucky enough to also see two whales jumping not so far from the coast. Hawaii is a destination full of magic. February is not the ideal month for snorkeling because there are a lot of waves, currents and the water is cloudy, but Maui is also famous for its seabed.
One day when the sea was not too rough we tried to go and observe the turtles with a mask and a snorkel and the show delighted me. They were everywhere, they let themselves be carried by the current and nibble the algae on the rocks. I screamed into my snorkel when I saw a huge one pass right below me! An unforgettable memory and another highlight of my world tour. They are so beautiful!
Pipiwi Trail and Waimoku Fall
Another heavenly spot on Maui, Hawaii. Is it possible? Hey yes! The Pipiwi Trail is a walking trail through a bamboo forest and leading to Waimoku Falls. We believe in a fairy tale strolling among these long and thin bamboo shoots. The hike is easy and pleasant to accomplish. You will be rewarded along the way with beautiful Hawaiian jungle scenery!
This is what awaits you at the end of the Pipiwi Trail. Difficult to photograph since it is of a significant height, the Waimoku waterfall allows a small refreshment before turning around and doing the opposite route of the hike. Take a well-deserved break, but be warned that the falls are not accessible for swimming. It is strictly forbidden to approach it.
Travel itinerary on the island of Maui in Hawaii
– Road to Hana and Haleakala Volcano
Scenic Road to Hana
On the island of Maui in Hawaii, the road to Hana is a kind of loop in the south of the island which is nearly 100 miles (160 km) and where we find many points of interest with waterfalls, a botanical garden , beaches, bays or hikes. You should also know that the road to Hana is a succession of bends with narrow portions in a magnificent natural environment.
Read also: Road to Hana | Travel Guide Maui, Hawaii
Starting from the city of Wailuku, we went north with Hookipa as a first stop, which is a long beach where it is possible to see turtles. We made a quick stop on Hookipa because the weather at the start of the day was not yet there. On the first part of the road, you will see many beaches on both sides of the road. Do not hesitate to stop to discover them.
Twin Falls is another point of interest at the start of the Road to Hana. A small hiking trail of 2.4 kilometers round trip will bring you closer to the waterfalls in the middle of nature. We didn’t stop because it was very crowded that day and there was an entrance fee. For information, it is possible to swim.
The botanical garden on the island of Maui in Hawaii also called “Garden of Eden Arboretum” is a small natural nugget on the road to Hana. The walk on more than 25 hectares is very nice because it takes you to several natural universes with more or less rare endemic and international plantations. The bamboo alley, the century-old mango trees, the banana trees or all the gardens of many colors, this is what you will see during a visit to the Maui Botanical Garden. But that’s not all because there are many elevated viewpoints fitted out for the occasion with very pretty 360-degree panoramas of the ocean, nature and waterfalls (such as Puohokamoa Falls in particular). For the record, a Jurassic Park sequence was shot in this botanical garden (fans will recognize the rock below the park).
For information, the botanical garden is paying and it will cost you 15 dollars per person. In the botanical garden, you will find car parks, sanitary facilities and possibilities for eating. Do not forget your sunscreen and your product against mosquitoes which in certain parts of the garden are very present. Our opinion on the botanical garden is a little mixed because we are not going to lie to each other this place is magnificent but the price remains high all the same.
Puohokamoa waterfall is in the middle of nature on the road to Hana a few turns after the botanical garden. The best way to discover it is to climb to the different high viewpoints from the botanical garden (the entrance fee is 15 dollars per person). It is also possible to see it from the road but parking is difficult. We could see some people rock climbing (or maybe canyoning) closer to the waterfall.
Still on the road to Hana, you can see views of Honomanu Bay which is below and where it is possible to go down to the beach in a 4×4 or on foot. A tongue of black sand will allow you to have the ocean on one side and the mountains and Hawaiian nature on the other.
The Keanae viewpoint offers a nice panorama of the bay with a green and blue color contrast between the ocean and nature.
Waikani Waterfall is one of the most beautiful falls on the Road to Hana. There is a small car park downstream of the waterfall to park then you have to walk there. You can see the waterfall from the bridge or through a small “quite difficult” path without signage that allows you to be closer. Waikani Falls is a very pretty waterfall and we loved this spot.
Black Sand Beach
As the name suggests, Black Sand Beach is a black sand beach in Waiʻānapanapa State Park. Always nice to be on this type of rather special beach where it is possible to see turtles and swim.
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
Our biggest frustration on the road to Hana in Maui is not having had time to discover the red sand beach which is near the village of Hana. This little cove looked beautiful and we would have liked to tread on its sand. It is perfect for swimming because a barrier of rocks has created a natural pool. The frame looks perfect.
Wailua Falls is a magnificent waterfall after the village of Hana on the way back to the town of Wailuku. Once again, we didn’t have time to stop but it really made us want to. Wailua waterfall is easily accessible from the road despite the small parking lot.
Ohe’o Gulch & Pipiwai Trail
On this hiking trail you will find swimming pools.*** natural ines, waterfalls and lovely nature in bamboo forest.
The Haleakala volcano was our favorite on the island of Maui in Hawaii. The road to access this national park is quite long with a multitude of turns before reaching more than 3000 meters. At the top, we marvel at these landscapes with on one side the totally unrealistic colors of the crater and its volcanic cones and on the other a surreal sea of clouds near the life-size telescopes. We did part of the “Sliding Sands Trail” hike which allows you to descend into the crater.
Read also: Hawaii | Must See and The Best of Hawaii
The experience is wonderful. The must is to do the famous 18 kilometer hike one way with the Sliding Sands Trail and Halemau’u Trail in the direction you want (however you will have to find a way to return to the starting point on your own). We also walked the small “Pā Ka‘oao” path above the visitor center which gives an exceptional view of the crater.
In terms of telescopes, the moment is also magical because we found ourselves above a sea of clouds. We stayed here until sunset when the white of the clouds gave way to the purple orange of the sunset. We will remember this moment for a long time.
For information, the Haleakala Volcano National Park is paying. Admission costs $30 per vehicle per day or $50 if you take the annual pass (tri-park annual pass) which also allows access to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park and Volcano National Park on Big Island Hawaii. Sunrise is the most popular moment at Haleakala volcano because the sun rises above the crater, however it is mandatory to reserve 60 days before to access the summit during the hours (3am – 7am) thanks to this site: https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/253731
South West beaches
Wailea Makena is a beach town with many hotels and villas. We stopped here for lunch on the beaches which are still very pleasant.
We did not stop at Big Beach but the beach is known to be very long and pleasant. You will also find Little Beach and Secret Seach here. Be careful, some car parks are paying in the area.
The Perouse Bay
The Perouse Bay is just southwest of the road past Wailea Makena. You can’t be wrong, it ends in a dead end. We liked this place because it is quiet. A short walk takes us to small deserted beaches between old lava fields and the ocean. It was also here that we saw our first whale jump off into the bay.
It is possible to continue the walk with a path that will take you to a viewpoint over the bay: Hanomanioa Light.
Papalaua Wayside Park
Since we had seen whales in the distance from La Perouse Bay, we drove back to see them up close at Papalaua Wayside Park further north. Unfortunately, we did not see any but the super sunset will have quickly consoled us. By the way, it is possible to camp with your tent or your vehicle here if you have a permit.
The North Shore
The whales…that’s what we’ve been waiting for since the day before and we managed to see them. We are not going to lie to you, we are whale lovers and we were pretty well served that day. On our way to the Northshore of Maui in Hawaii, we made a stop at McGregor Point and Lighthouse which is the perfect spot to see whales playing in the bay. We saw a dozen whales and as much to tell you that we loved this moment. There is also another viewpoint a little further down the road called Whale Lookout Point, but the whales that day were less visible than at the McGregor lighthouse.
After seeing the whales, we continued this day with the beach of Lahaina which is really magnificent. How not to feel good on a white sand beach with a transparent lagoon. It is possible to snorkel to see turtles and corals. The neighborhood with houses and palm trees adds charm to the place.
Napili Bay & Kapalua Beach
In a neighborhood surrounded by hotels and villas, we stopped to enjoy the beaches. The place is very pretty but it was also crowded.
Slaughterhouse beach is really nice. A parking lot allows you to park then you go down by a staircase before arriving on white sand. That day the ocean was a little rough but Slaughterhouse is a very nice place.
Honolua Bay is a very good spot for snorkeling. It is also a beach of black rocks. We saw it from the lookout a little higher.
Waihee Ridge Trail
We didn’t have time to do the Waihee Ridge Trail but this hike of about two hours (6 kilometers round trip) looked very nice because it takes you in the middle of nature and offers magnificent panoramas of the mountains and the coast of Maui. The walk ends with a viewpoint that looked very nice. Be careful, the path can be muddy if the weather has not been good the last few days.
The Iao Valley is a short hike in the Northshore that brings you to a viewpoint in the middle of the jungle over the valley. Parking is $5 on site.