All visitors to Maui have their own list of favorite activities. I am no exception. The following are the top things to do in Maui in no particular order that I believe one must do when visiting Maui. They may be done in one long trip or perhaps during several visits to the island.
- Lounge on a beach. If you are looking for an island with many soft white sand beaches, Maui is a tough island to beat with 120 miles of coastline and thirty miles of beach. Depending on where you stay on Maui, you will probably be close to Ka’anapali Beach or Wailea Beach. Both are wonderful beaches that are home to many hotels. Beyond where you stay, there are plenty of beaches to visit. If you are looking to snorkel, you should visit Honolua Bay or Kapalua Beach. For swimming and sunbathing, visit Kamaole I, II, and III Beaches, all great beaches with lifeguards.
- Snorkel at Molokini Crater, the top portion of a submerged volcano that is visible above the water. It is located 2.5 miles west of Makena Beach and is home to many tropical fish, making it a popular snorkeling spot. Not only can you can see many varieties of fish, but because of the depth of the ocean at this site, you can often see much larger fish than you see snorkeling just off a beach. Unfortunately, the popularity of Molokini has exploded in the past decade, and it is not the location of choice if you wish to snorkel in seclusion. There are plenty of bodies out there around the clock, often stirring up the silt and reducing visibility. Visit first thing in the morning for best results.
- Watch a stunning tropical sunset. Most of the beach line in Maui is on the west perimeter of the island, making it very easy to catch a tropical sunset. At first, you may make a concerted effort to catch the sunsets. After a few nights, though, you realize you probably don’t need to go out of your way to catch the sunset. You may be walking on the beach or eating dinner in a restaurant, and the sun will start setting. Pause and take it in.
- Drive the Hana Highway, a sixty-eight-mile stretch of highway that connects Kahulu with the city of Hana. It winds its way around the northeast corner of the island and has many wonders along the way, including a number of waterfalls you can hike to. Closer to Hana, you can visit both a black sand beach and a red sand beach. There are many bridges along the way—the majority of which are a single lane wide. Slightly beyond Hana are the Seven Sacred Pools in `Ohe’o Gulch—a must-see inside a must-do.
- Visit the top of Haleakalā Crater. If you have ever landed at the Las Vegas airport, looked down, and thought you were landing on Mars, then you have a good idea of what it looks like on the top of Haleakalā Crater. One of the wonders of the crater is the trip up to the top. When you get to the top, you can see all around the island of Maui and even out to other islands. Some drive up the crater early to see the sunrise.
- Visit the Maui Ocean Center and see sharks and other indigenous marine life in this aquarium. This is a great way to spend a couple hours, especially when the weather is poor.
- Go to a luau and get a taste of Hawaiian culture. Eat Kalua pork and poi. Watch hula dancers and listen to traditional Hawaiian ukulele music. There are all kinds of options here. Some of the best luaus are found in Lahaina.
- At Ho’okipa Beach Park, watch the world-class windsurfers who come from all over the world to this beach to practice their sport. While there, eat at Mama’s Fish House—but make sure you have reservations.
- Watching the humpback whales from the island of Maui is unbelievable but must be done at the right time. You must plan on visiting the island some time from the beginning of January through mid-March. You can book a dedicated whale-watching boat ride or just watch them from your veranda off Ka’anapali Beach.
- Visit old Lahaina city, an old whaling town with plenty of history and charm. If you visit only one city on the island of Maui, Lahaina should be that city. There is much to see. Visit the Banyan Tree Park or the old harbor. A simple stroll up and down Front Street exposes you to different shops and wonderful places to eat. Some classic dining locations on Front Street are Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Kimo’s.
Heeding to this list of things to do in Maui will guaranteed that you won’t be the one on the airplane flying home, regretting not visiting the site that the lady sitting next to you is ranting about.