Hawaii’s vibrant island of adventure, site-seeing and tropical escapades, Maui is undoubtedly one of the best islands of Hawaii. It’s where you go to experience a little bit of everything. Want to visit a sacred site? Maui’s the place. Want to visit volcanic craters? Maui has it!
Here’s our list of places to visit in Maui. Get your swim gear ready – it’s going to be an exciting dive!
In the Hawaiian native language, Lahaina means cruel sun or relentless sun. The name may sound harsh at first glance, but there’s nothing to be concerned about. Lahaina is a wonderful city – tropical, just like the rest of the cities in Maui.
Snuggled up between the mountains and the coasts of west Maui, Lahaina is where the tourists go crazy with shopping.
Food, Fun and Ample Sun
Yes, that’s right! Be it the most delicious Hawaiian cuisines, the most lit live entertainment shows or the gorgeous sunny beaches, Lahaina got it all. It’s not a mainstream city, but its small-town vibes, local souvenir shops and laid-back resorts make it the perfect escape for any traveller.
Interesting Fact: Lahaina is home to one of the largest Banyan trees in the USA
Related Article: Things to Do in Lahaina
2. Haleakala National Park
The Haleakala National Park is a must-visit destination in Maui. It’s where ancient sacred Hawaii meets the modern-glamorous state. Located in the bustling Maui, Haleakala is all about Hawaii in its raw and purest form.
Surrounded by volcanic craters, acres of lush greens and native local homes, this is where you should be if you’re looking for a unique holiday experience.
The Scenic Sunset
Driving to the top of Haleakala sure is a challenge you’d never encounter anywhere on the island. But the views from the top are absolutely beautiful. The summit’s temperature would range between 10 and 18-celsius year round. Sunsets are the most magical moments here at the summit.
On our visit, we decided to take our own rented vehicle, and it was somewhat convenient. But if you’re not a skilled driver, it’s best that you go with a couple of people.
Occupying the east parts of Maui, Hana is one of the most isolated locations in the state. So much so that in 2020, the population was only 1,526. Due to the lack of people, Hana has been flourishing under the love and care of mother nature and its native locals.
You’d see breathtaking waterfalls, rainforests, beaches and some of the nicest resorts in Hawaii, here in Hana.
The Seven Sacred Pools
Oheʻo Gulch, also known as the seven sacred pools, is an iconic destination in Hana. It’s also part of the Haleakala National Park and is sometimes referred to as the Kipahulu area. The scenic landscape is just breathtaking. However, we were surprised at how inaccurate the ‘seven sacred pools’ is.
In fact, there are dozens of falls and streams here in Ohe’o Gulch. However, keep in mind that swimming in these pools is strictly prohibited. If you’re on the Pipiwai trail, you can dip in without worry.
The hiking trail tends to attract large crowds during peak season. So make sure you go there early to catch the most uninfluenced views and enjoy nature at its finest.
4. Iao Valley
The eternal resting place of many native tribal chiefs, Iao Valley, is simply a piece of heaven on earth. Famous for its hiking, the valley is also home to enchanting waterfalls and tropical rainforests. If you have a special interest in wildlife and botanicals, Iao Valley is the place for you to discover some of Hawaii’s most fascinating flora and fauna.
Needless to say…
The Iao Needle is the next best thing about Iao. It took us approximately 2.5 hours to reach the top of the needle, and the experience sure was a memorable one. A remnant of a volcanic eruption, the Iao Needle has been called the phallic stone of Kanaloa – the native god of the ocean.
Interesting Fact: The Iao word means ‘cloud supreme’, believed to be named as such due to the puffs of clouds surrounding the west mountains.
5. Kaanapali Beach
Beach lovers out there, we guarantee you that Kaanapali definitely belongs on your bucket list. We were swept away by awe, seeing the laid-back white gold beach surrounded by glistening crystal clear water. It was once even named America’s best beach.
Swimming here is an amazing experience. We do have to mention that the coast can get a bit crowded from April through May, but it’s definitely worth the visit.
Cliff Diving Destination
The Black Rock, or Puʻu Kekaʻa in the native tongue, is a cliff in the northmost of the Kaanapali beach where the famous daily cliff diving ritual takes place. The Sheraton Cliff Diving ceremony happens just before sunset with a torch-lighting procession.
This dive is not an ordinary dive. It’s a depth of about 12 to 15 feet, and it only lasts for about 20 minutes. On our visit, we were lucky enough to be there just a few minutes after it began, so we didn’t lose much of the action. If you’re planning to visit the ceremony, be there early.
6. Honolua Bay
One of the world’s most famous surfers’ destinations, Honolua welcomes some gigantic and expressive waves to its shores during winter, attracting expert surfers from across the world.
The word Honolua stands for two bays, and it’s a significant location in Maui – environmentally as well as culturally. If you’re not a pro surfer (like most of us), you still can enjoy Honolua to its utmost.
Honolua is known for snorkelling all throughout the summer. This is the period when a variety of exotic fish species and turtles swim closer to the shallow waters. The ocean during summer is comfortably warm, and witnessing the sea beds is sure worth the experience.
Lined up along the stretch, you can easily find snorkelling gear for rent, so you don’t have to worry too much about resources for your tropical sea adventure.
7. Makena – Big Beach
Makena stands for its name, the ‘Big Beach’. It stretches up to nearly two-quarters of a mile and is one of the largest untouched beaches in Maui. By untouched, we mean unmodified.
When compared to other commercialised beaches in Hawaii, Makena is spacious, picturesque, and long, and it has golden-white sand shores.
Long Romantic Walks
Makena Big Beach is the ideal place for you and your better half to take a long romantic walk (if that’s your thing). During sunset, the skies turn into a beautiful orange-blended hue, and the view is just so postcard-worthy.
The Big Beach is not just a pretty shore. If you love snorkelling, here is also a great place to take a dip and an underwater adventure.
8. Ho’okipa Beach Park
All of Maui’s beaches equally create the perfect atmosphere for some sunshine and lazing. Ho’okipa beach park is no different. In fact, it’s even better. It’s for those who simply love beaches and all activities that come with them. You name it, they’ve got it.
From windsurfing to snorkelling, you can enjoy a truly remarkable vacation, sipping a cocktail under a Hau tree. It’s very convenient and travel-friendly, you’d find vendors, picnic tables, parking lots and restrooms here in the Ho’okipa Beach Park.
Spot the Green Sea Turtles
Ho’okipa beach park is the best place to see green sea turtles year-round. The ideal time to visit is in the afternoon, preferably between 2 and 4 p.m. when the waters are warm. You should be aware that turtles are very gentle creatures, so ensure you don’t startle them on your visit.
9. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Where can you find 45 different varieties of lavenders growing in one vast botanical farm? You may find somewhat similar farms in the Netherlands, but no one would guess Hawaii.
Yes, on the volcanic island of Maui lies Ali’i Kula, a private lavender farm overlooking the magnificent landscape of Maui. It sure is worth the visit.
A Relaxing Escape…
The farm adjoins its own store with all lavender products made out of the fresh harvests from the store. You can find some soothing body care products and even lavender honey. For those looking for a healthy escape from the city bustle, this is a great place to start.
You can enjoy the views, spend some alone time and capture Instagram-worthy shots next to the iconic Buddha statue.
However, be aware that it’s open from Friday to Monday, so make sure you don’t mistakenly visit there mid-week (like we almost did if we had not found it online)
10. Pua’a Ka’a Waterfalls
A back trail extending from the Hana highway, deep into the Pua’a Ka’a state leads one to a breathtaking waterfall. The Pua’a Ka’a waterfall is one of Maui’s greatest natural treasures.
Although hidden away from the visitors’ eyes, tourists flock here – past the difficult drive – to take a dip in the cool basin of the waterfall. There are rocks and boulders in the pool, so make sure you do not swim upstream, as the water currents may sweep you away.
The little jungle
Nestled amidst the mini rainforest, Pua’a Ka’a is not just a waterfall, but a wayside park where you would find many trees, creatures like feral cats and mongooses, and insects. The park extends up to 5 acres and is home to many streams and natural pools.
On our visit during the afternoon, the area was a bit crowded, but if you can manage to be there early, you can experience nature at its purest.