Also know as The Valley Isle, Maui is world famous and for good reason. Admired for its green mountains and lush valleys, Maui is also home to the island’s highest peak, volcanic Haleakala. With 30 miles of gorgeous, white sand beaches, not to mention the winding Road to Hana, Maui is here to impress. Because of the island’s valleys, wind is prominent here, making activities like surfing and windsurfing very popular on this island. It’s no wonder that people from all over look to Maui for a sun-filled beach vacation. Before you plan your trip to this popular Hawaiian island, read our list of 11 fun things to do in Maui to make the most of your vacation.
Snorkel the unique Molokini crater
Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic crater in the middle of the ocean and is one of our top spots to snorkel in Hawaii. It’s deep blue waters will mesmerize you, not to mention the amazing coral along the walls. We even saw black tip reef sharks while snorkelling and we didn’t lose our cool! Make sure to take a tour boat first thing in the morning when the water is at its calmest. Also, find a tour that includes snorkelling the back of the crater for a whole new experience. It’s made up of a gorgeous wall of colourful, fantastical coral and the water rises and falls like a toilet being flushed. The experience is something else!
Drive the Road to Hana to see beauty at every twist and turn
You haven’t seen Maui if you haven’t driven the Road to Hana, plain and simple. The lush, green valleys and endless waterfalls are worth the trouble of a full day’s drive. You’re bound to hear that the Road to Hana is super windy and sketchy, but it’s in no way dangerous if you’re a confident driver. Along the way, you’ll find waterfalls, beautiful beaches, dense tropical trees, black sand beaches and even a lava tube! Another highlight of this drive is when you make it to the end of the road. Here you will experience one of the most picturesque waterfalls, The 7 Sacred Pools. Enjoy a swim and small hike here if you have the time. The water is cool and refreshing after a long day hopping in and out of the car.
For all you foodies, you’ll find banana bread and fish shacks along this road too! Make sure you stop at the banana bread shop clearly posted, “Halfway to Hana.” It is home to the original banana bread and it really, truly is melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.
Watch the glorious sunrise at Haleakala
You’ll have to wake up at 3am to make the drive out there, but the experience is mind blowing. As you wait for the sun to come up, enjoy the millions of stars lighting up the sky. Then when the sun steals its thunder, watch out! It is fascinating! Remember to wear LOTS of layers as you are high in the mountains and it’s cold sitting around. There are also a number of hiking paths on Haleakala with much different views than the usual greenery of Maui’s hikes. For something different, you can bike down Haleakala with tour groups, though it’s not as wild as one would think. Apparently it’s quite restricted and with the windy switchbacks and high number of cars on the road, it might be more tedious than adventurous. At least that’s the feedback we’ve been given.
Eat at Cool Cat Café after exploring the historic town of Lahaina
It’s packed to the brim with people, but it’s a must visit. The 50’s inspired art and décor will amuse you and of course, so will the live music. The burgers and milkshakes are HUGE, so go on an empty stomach. Visit here after watching the sunset at the docks and window-shopping the main street in Lahaina.
Visit the secluded, picturesque Secret Beach
Officially called Paako Cove, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. Surrounded by palm trees and black lava rock, this scenic gem makes for the perfect photo opportunity. Because it’s so small and remote, most people just come for the pictures. Spend the day here and you’re pretty much on your own even in the popular summer months. There’s a good chance you might even come across some local turtles in the water. How to get here: take the road towards Makena Beach and park at the third last entrance with the stone wall.
Snorkel at renowned surf spot, Honolua Bay
A large bay surrounded by sky-high cliffs that is tucked right into the tropical bushes, Honolua Bay has amazing snorkelling. Lots of different fish and the coral are like nothing we’ve ever seen. You will see the former Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, butterfly fish, parrot fish, eels, soldier fish and various others. The snorkelling is so awesome that Honolua Bay made our list for Top 5 Snorkel Spots in Hawaii. Make sure to bring your own snorkel gear and leave few belongings on the rocky beach, as there are a fair number of people visiting throughout the day. Stick to the right side of the bay for the best sightings. It’s worth noting that the renowned Honolua Bay surf break is something to see when there’s a north swell, but the point is far enough away it should not disturb your snorkelling.
Stand up paddleboard in the chill Napili Bay
Stand up paddleboarding is one of the most fun things to do in Maui. Trying SUP at Napili Bay makes it even more fun. The bay is busier because of the nearby resorts, but it is still so chill. There are barely any waves, which make it the perfect spot to SUP. If you’re not confident in your abilities, try tandem SUP with a friend or partner to share the work. We do this all the time!
Catch some waves along the South coast
Rent a surfboard in Lahaina and head south to one of the many roadside parks to catch some waves. Because of the wind protection from the mountains, the swell is frequently in prime condition.
Snorkel and sunbathe at gorgeous Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay is a gorgeous, sheltered white sand beach on the North West side of Maui where snorkelers unite. It’s a great spot to sunbathe too, but honestly the highlight here is the snorkelling right out from the beach. It is full of huge sea turtles and numerous schools of fish. In fact, on our way in, we spotted a couple of turtles coasting in the clear, turquoise water, which attracted crowds of tourists all giddy with delight. Us included!
Spend a day at Big Beach
A large beach in Makena State Park on the west side of the island, the soft sand and turquoise water attracts snorkelers, swimmers, sunbathers and beach dogs alike. Because it’s 2/3 mile long and over 100 feet wide, there will be lots of space between you and other tourists and locals. The waves here are quite big and unpredictable, and the shore break crashes right at the water’s edge, so exercise caution when entering the ocean. Another warning: don’t make the mistake of going to Little Beach, a nudie beach nearby (unless of course you want to, then by all means).
Watch an epic Maui sunset on Keawakapu Beach
What better way to end your day then to watch a beautiful sunset with your toes in the sand and wind in your hair while drinking a couple of beers with your travel buddy? The unique angle, soft sand and fire-like sky made for a few memorable nights on this surprisingly deserted half-mile stretch of beach in Kihei. Feeling frisky? Go for a sunset swim as the waves gently crash onto shore. If you stay long enough to watch the stars come out, don’t be surprised as the locals gear up for a night of fishing off the shore.
BONUS: Fun Things to Do in Maui that We’ve Still Got on Our Bucket List
We have this rule that when we return to places we’ve been before, we need to do at least 3 things we’ve never done. We’ve got these on the list for Maui!
Take advantage of Maui’s wind and enjoy some adrenaline junky activities
At Ka’anapali Beach, there are a number of parasailing adventure opportunities we can’t wait to try. Harnessed on a colourful parachute, a motorboat can take you up and over the ocean for a bird’s eye view! It costs anywhere from $60-80US depending on how high you want to fly. Banana boat or bumper tube rides would be just as fun. With all the wind, you’d be looking at a wild ride for sure. If you have a bit more confidence, you can also rent a kite board after taking a lesson in Kihei.
Go for an adventure on your mountain bike
Mountain biking is becoming very popular in Maui. Over the past few years the Xterra Off Road Triathlon World Championships have taken place on this beautiful island. There are a few popular options when looking for the right trail. If you have your own bike (no rentals allowed), you can ride down the Skyline Trail from the top of Haleakala, a difficult and rocky adventure. The Kahakapao Loop, either east or west, provides challenging mountain bike opportunities under the tree canopies. Poli Poli Springs above Kula has a variety of hiking and biking trails; the most popular is a technical trail that is often affected by weather changes, so exercise caution.
Hike the beautiful ‘Iao Valley State Park
An iconic, lush valley with great historical significance, ‘Iao Valley has become a popular tourist location. Official trails here are minimal, but paved and easily accessbile by anyone. There are also unofficial hiking paths along the stream and up the ridges for more adventurous travellers. You can swim in the ‘Iao stream on a warm summer’s day, but be careful of flash floods as this is one of the wettest spots on earth.
So there you have it! Which activity do you want to try in Maui? Tell us in the comments below!
Peace & Love,
Tim & Marcella
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