Maui is known for its beautiful beaches, surfing, and dramatic scenery. The island is 68 miles from Oahu by aircraft. It covers six miles and there are 120 miles of coastline. Maui was the most-visited island in Hawaii approaching 3 million visitors annually.Here is a list of 14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Maui
The weather in Maui varies widely because the mountains cause it to, with high temperatures reaching 86 degrees Fahrenheit on average, and lows of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors will find a wide range of activities on Maui, many of them free or inexpensive, from hiking adventures in the rainforest to a romantic stroll on the beach at sunset.
Plan your sightseeing and activities in Maui with our list of the top things to do.
1. Haleakala National Park
This park is located on the inactive 10,023-foot Haleakala Volcano. Visitors can see the dormant crater of this volcano, and from the summit they can have amazing views over the entire island.
When you visit the top, you can make reservations for early morning visits, but for a much more intimate experience and fewer crowds, go to the summit at sunset. Whereas most people come up here because of the views from the top, the drive from lower ground to the peak is also impressive.
The most popular attraction in the park are Pools of ‘Ohe’o, freshwater pools fed by waterfalls within the ‘Ohe’o valley. Visitors should plan to arrive early in the day before they get too crowded with people. The valley of Makahika and Waimoku Waterfalls are among some of the most stunning Things to Do in Maui.
Hosmer Grove is a short nature trail where birders can see many of their favorite species.
One of the best ways to enjoy Hawaii’s top attractions is with a guided tour that includes a trip to the Crater, visits to beautiful locations, and some time to explore Maui’s cultural sites. Pickup in Kāneʻohe can be arranged and the tour includes stops at the top of Haleakala, scenic drives, and a visit to historic Wailuku.
2. Experience a Traditional Hawaiian Luau in Lahaina
No visit to Hawaii is complete without attending a Lūʻau, a feast accompanied with traditional dance and music. Most events offer tourists the opportunity to experience native foods while watching hula dancers tell stories through their performance.
Most luaus include a free meal and cover most food. Many resorts also host traditional Hawaiian luaus that last around three hours, with vegetarian options included.
The Old Lahaina Luau is the most popular luau on Maui. It begins at sunset, with only a limited number of spaces available since guests are seated right on the shore! Guests enjoy freshly picked orchid leis and a beautiful setting.
As the sun sets and torches light up, and the feast begins, with traditional dishes featuring locally grown ingredients such as roasted meats cooked above the ground in an imu oven, and Hawaiian dancers tell the story of Hawaii on stage.
Address: 1251 Front Street, Lāhainā, Hawaii
3. Drive or Ride the Hana Road
Hana is a remote village in one of the most thinly-populated districts in the entire state of Hawaii. Its isolated position has enabled the town to maintain an image of the Hawaii that existed before mass tourism invaded. The idyllic town finds lush fields, gardens, and reliable rains.
Every other place in the world is on the coast, but at Hana on Maui’s eastern side is amazing rainforest. The drive alone gets every member of your family excited.
Pa’ia and Hana are about 40 miles apart, but this journey involves the winding coastline, single lane bridges, scenic vistas, and other small towns along the way. While it’s best to plan for a full day of driving, you have time to stop for photos or explore villages that are five minutes from each other.
An option for visitors is the Small Group Tour, where a maximum of 8 people go on a personalized experience to see Hana Road attractions and visit local sites. The 9-hour tour includes narration by a knowledgeable guide, you absorb the guide’s information along your scenic route as you stop for photo opportunities and lunch. You visit destinations such as Kaumahina State Park, Ho’okipa, Waikani Falls, and Hana town where you will to get an exclusive tour of the Hana Tropical Gardens.
4. Visit the Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center houses a diverse collection of Hawaiian reef fish, corals and other marine life as well as living specimens in several aquariums. Its most impressive exhibit is the Living Reef, where more than 40 different varieties of coral that are native to Hawaii thrive. The reef is fed by water directly from Mā’alaea Bay, and is home to a variety of fish that enjoy living in this environment.
Another highlight is the Open Ocean tank, a 750,000-gallon tank featuring a 53-foot acrylic tunnel that allows visitors to see sharks, rays, and fish up close and all around.
Other exhibits in the aquarium include Turtle Lagoon where visitors can learn more about the native green sea turtles, and a whale exhibit that explains the life cycles of humpback whales, which migrate to Hawaii from December to March. Visitors also get an in-depth look at the aquarium’s operations on a behind-the-scenes tour, which allows guests to watch feedings and ask staff naturalists questions about animal care.
In addition to the exhibitions that explore the relationships between Polynesian settlers and their environment, there are also many Hawaiian arts exhibits on display. The center has an entire store where one can purchase their favorite pieces of original artwork.
Address: 192 Māʻalaea Road, Wailuku, Hawaii
5. Take a Helicopter Tour
With an agreeable price point and packages that allow for a unique experience of the Hawaiian landscape, air tours are a great hobby choice for travelers looking to explore the island from above. Air tours offer an elevated perspective of the island’s outdoor landscape and highlight the significance of the Hawaiian people’s environmental efforts. They also give a bird’s-eye view of Hawaiian aquatic neighbors such as dolphins or migrating whales to visitors who may not have seen them otherwise.
If you have time in Maui, the West Maui and Molokai Helicopter Tour is an exclusive 45-minute adventure that lets you see remote areas on the mountains, forests, and coast of western Maui.
6. Iao Valley State Monument
Iao Valley is a valley west of Wailuku. It used to be customary for Hawaiians to visit ancestral places in the name of their gods. Today, there are well-maintained paths that lead people to this beautiful valley. However, parts of the park may be closed due to floods and other weather-related hazards.
Iao Needle is a pointed rock that stands on the middle of a steep valley situated at 2,215 feet above sea level. This unique overgrown rock was apparently used as an altar in prehistoric times. A legend surrounds Iao Needle’s origin. It is said that the demi-god Maui took captive an unwanted suitor, the water sprite Puukamoua, of his beautiful daughter, Iao, and wanted to kill him. However, Pele, the fire goddess, ordered Maui to turn him to stone instead. Hence Iao Needle.
According to Hawaiian myths, the valley is full of the spirits of Hawaiian gods of ancient times, known as manas. On the left-hand side of the path there is a dark black cliff called Pali Ele’ele.
7. Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach
Black Rock is a coastal cliff in western Maui, part of the town of Lahaina. One of the most popular activities at Black Rock is watching the daily cliff-diving ceremony from Puu Kekaa. This area has some of the island’s best hotels and resorts located.
Consequently, the town is teeming with different activities and things to do. For a relaxing atmosphere, there’s world-class golf; a variety of restaurants; shopping galore; and Whalers Village where visitors can window shop or grab a bite to eat. Other sites of interest include a whaling museum and traditional Hawaiian entertainment.
8. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Maui is a top spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. With a range of activities and ample places to rent equipment, tourists can try snorkeling or scuba diving near the beaches. There are also places that offer lessons on how to do the sport if you’re not experienced at it. As always, be aware of current conditions when you venture out into the water.
The Marine Life Conservation District of Honolua Bay, located on the northwestern end of the island, is one of the top snorkeling and diving sites. The bay, which is isolated by rocky cliffs, has calm, quiet water and is home to a wide variety of reef fish such as parrot fish, surgeon fish, wrasse and Rectangular Triggerfish. Tourists should note that there are no facilities or lifeguards at this location.
Another popular place for snorkeling and diving is Molokini, a volcanic atoll that sits just off the southern coast of Maui. It is also home to a conservation district, so it makes a top destination for snorkeling tours. Its picturesque setting attracts more rare species of reef fish and dolphins, which are accessible often during tours due to the wide variety given by different operators.
For those who don’t want to get their feet wet or over see the spectacular ocean life, without the risk of swimming through the water. With a glass-bottom option for sighting sea life under the clear waters, in addition to other activities such as diving and riding on an inflatable raft on the ocean’s surface, fresh seafood for breakfast, and lunch on board, this cruise can last about five hours.
9. Waianapanapa State Park
Waianapanapa State Park is a remote area on the Hana Coast characterized by beaches, rugged coastline, hiking, camping facilities and lodging options. This is a good place to enjoy natural scenery and simply relax without much distraction. The black lava beach at Paiola Bay in the park is worth visiting, however those unfamiliar with the surf conditions should refrain from swimming in the strong waves.
Hiking trails can be challenging but rewarding, and the Ke Ala Loa O Maui/Piilani Trail offers sweeping views of Haleakala, Hana Coast, natural stone formations like arches, sea stacks, caves and a heiau (an old temple).
Tourism and vacation activities in Wailea, on the southern coast of Maui, have been growing following its five-mile of beaches and wide range of activities. Wailea Beach is the most famous for its high-end resorts, while Polo Beach is popular with swimmers and snorkelers. Ulua Beach Park is the ideal location for a romantic walk under the stars.
The Wailea area has three luxurious golf courses, most notably the Wailea Gold, Wailea Blue, and Wailea Emerald. Another attraction is the Shops at Wailea, a shopping and entertainment complex that will keep tourists entertained for hours.
With everything to offer, Wailea is a great location. In the surrounding areas are Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, with its lava fields, as well as La Perouse Bay which is great for snorkeling.
11. Makena Beach
Big Beach is one of the beaches on Maui that is longer relatively undisturbed. It is in southern Makena, and an alternative to the crowded Wailea beaches. Because of the rougher water conditions, beach warnings should be taken seriously when visiting this area during non-lifeguard hours.
This is a great place to take a stroll and admire Kahoolawe and Molokini islands in the distance. For a secluded, less crowded spot, couples can make their way to “Little Beach,” which is not patrolled or with any services.
12. Learn to Surf with the Masters
Hawaii and surfing have come to be nearly synonymous. No visit to Maui is complete without at least watching the local pros in action, but why just watch when there are so many skilled surfers ready to teach you how to have a tubular time yourself?
One of the top surf schools is Kaanapali Surf School. It operates on Ka’anapali Beach and provides lessons in private, semi-private, and small-group settings. Some options include lessons for beginners, who start on the beach before hitting the water to develop some basics; experienced skill sets can be learned in a one-on-one setting.
Maui Surfer Girls is a great place to have your first lesson with, and will help you get started in the sport as well. The instructors here are female, so it’s often a great fit for women looking to explore surfing. Lessons take place just south of Lahaina at Ukumehame Beach Park, close to the ocean. It’s also known for being a good spot for spotting whales!
13. Visit Lanai Island
With many unique experiences and resorts which tourists can enjoy, there are 400 Miles of trails that lead you to the high quality forests. Lanai with only 30 miles of paved roads offers unique experiences for nature lovers who are looking for complete wilderness.
Lanai is a Hawaii island with a coastline of over 18 miles that offers many beautiful beaches. Southern coast has some of the best beaches on the island, and swimming, snorkeling and hiking should be your top priorities while visiting. The main attraction in the area is Puu Pehe, an 80-foot rock formation named after a Hawaiian legend.
Polihua Beach tends to be quiet and full of sun-seekers. Despite the fact that it isn’t safe for swimming, it’s a popular place for people to visit when they’re looking for a good time in the sun.
Another great spot along the northern side of the island is Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach). The water here is also dangerous, and the specter of a massive wrecked oil tanker looms just offshore as a reminder. Visitors will also find Poiawa, or petroglyphs, on rocks near the beach and can enjoy great views of the island of Maui from here.
There are numerous hikes around the island, including established trails at Kanepuu Preserve and Munro Trail near Lanai City, which leads to the highest point in the area for stunning views. Visitors can find a variety of tour options that include horseback riding on the trails and beaches.
Covetous travelers should take special care to note unmarked dirt roads are present and might flood or be muddy. They can best be reached via the Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry, a boat that travels in between those islands.
14. Golf in Paradise
There are over a dozen golf courses in Maui and many of them are host to international competitions and tournaments.
One top pick is the Plantation Course of Kapalua Bay, which hosts a PGA tournament annually. In addition to offering a challenging 7,411-yard course sitting on the West Maui Mountains and overlooking the ocean, it also offers spectacular views throughout your round. Also 450 feet above these mountains, golfers are thrilled with the private club at King Kamehameha’s course that has a
One of the top picks is Kapalua Bay Course, a par-72 course designed by Francis Duane and Arnold Palmer. It offers 6,600 yards with beautiful views of Molokai Island, and has been host to numerous professional tournaments.
Wailea Golf Club offers courses with a variety of lengths, though their most popular is the 7,000-yard Gold Course. Ka’anapali Kai Course on the western tip of the island has the best golf views and is an “easy-going” course.