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Maui, Hawaii is where tropical dreams come true. The island is world-renowned for its beauty, fascinating history, pristine beaches, and stunning waterfalls. Maui does cater to those looking for more luxurious accommodations, but there is also a great selection of budget-friendly options making Maui an easy choice for anyone. One unique feature of the Valley Island is the isthmus that connects the two volcanic masses that formed the island. Planning your vacation to Maui just got a lot easier! Use this guide to Maui to help plan your perfect tropical getaway.
Getting To Maui
The Kahului Airport (OGG) is the island’s main airport. There are also 2 smaller commuter airports on the island, Kapalua Airport (JHM) in West Maui and Hana Airport (HNM) in East Maui. Many domestic airlines do offer nonstop service to Kahului Airport.
Best Time To Visit Maui
There isn’t a bad time to visit Maui! Peak season on the island is typically June-August and December. You’ll find the islands least crowded during shoulder season, making it the best time to visit during April, September, and October.
Like the other Hawaiian Islands, Maui has 5 distinct regions, and each has its own activities and attractions.
- West Maui – Kaanapali, Kapalua
- Central Maui – Kahului, Kanaha Pond State Park
- Upcountry Maui – Haleakala National Park
- East Maui – Hana Highway
- South Maui – Wailea, Maalaea Bay
Where To Go In Maui
West Maui was once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. Today, it’s known for gorgeous sunsets, great shopping, and delicious dining. Take the Honoapiilani Highway to get around the western side of Maui. West Maui is known for its abundance of high-end resorts. Check out Kapalua for amazing golf courses and a quieter atmosphere with understated elegance.
Home of Maui’s major airport, Kahului Airport, most visitors will begin their vacation on the island here. One of the top attractions in the region is Iao Valley State Park. Here you can hike to one of Maui’s many iconic landmarks, the Iao Needle. Head to Kahului if you want to shop in Maui’s largest mall. The Hana Highway also begins in Kahului.
Upcountry Maui has golden beaches and misty mountains surrounding the famous Haleakala National Park. Haleakala is the island’s highest peak, and also its most beautiful one. The region is also known for farming both taro and sweet potatoes, and you can tour farms for a closer look at the process. You can also enjoy Maui-made wine or check out the rustic Kula and Makawao areas. Don’t forget to take in an epic sunrise east of Haleakala!
East Maui is exactly what you picture when you think of the Hawaiian Islands. Roadside pineapple stands, lush tropical rainforests, and plunging cliffs abound in East Maui. Home of the legendary Hana Highway that is consistently ranked among the top scenic drives in the world. The highway begins in Kahului in Central Maui before winding through the northern coast for 52 miles. Another gorgeous landmark in East Maui is the Pools of Oheo.
The south coast of Maui has the sunniest and driest weather on the island. There are miles of gorgeous coastline with soft sand and beautiful blue water. Keep an eye out for whales when you are near the Maalaea Bay. Wailea has world-class golf courses and upscale dining and resorts.
Things To Do
Hana Highway – ‘Road To Hana’
This scenic drive is the undisputed #1 attraction in Maui. The drive is actually the main attraction, and you’ll want to take your time on the 52-mile Road To Hana. As you drive along Maui’s cliffs cloaked in emerald green, you’ll be awestruck by the beauty of East Maui. Gaze at lush valleys that are bursting with gorgeous waterfalls as the road snakes around 620 curves and over 50 bridges. Due to the fact that the Road To Hana is so popular, it has a code of conduct.
Road To Hana Code Of Conduct
- Visit State Parks and county rest stops and facilities.
- Stop at botanical gardens, farms, and fruit stands along the way to support local businesses.
- Pay attention to private and posted property signs.
- Only park in designated parking areas.
- Do not enter streams or rivers after heavy rains.
- Respect the land and make sure to leave no trace. Pack up the trash and leave only footprints.
Haleakala National Park
$30 entrance fee for 3 consecutive days
Haleakala National Park is impressively beautiful with its lush rainforests, rugged coastlines, and stunning volcanic landscape. The park offers camping, hiking, and epic sunrises. Hiking is the best way to experience this extraordinary National Park. Some of the most popular hiking trails in the park include:
Seven Sacred Pools Trail (Ohe’o Gulch)
- Distance: .6 miles
- Rating: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 108 ft
Also known as the Kuloa Point Trail, this is an easy .6 mile trail that is great for families. As one of the most popular and impressive hikes in the park, in just .6 miles you will discover a lush jungle, beautiful ocean views, and amazing waterfalls. Diving and jumping into the pools are prohibited and there is no safe ocean entry from this trail.
Waimoku Falls via Pipiwai Trail
- Distance: 3.8 miles
- Rating: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 908 ft
On this beautiful hiking trail, you’ll experience several waterfalls before reaching the gorgeous Waimoku Falls. The hike will take you through dark bamboo forests on this unforgettable trail.
Pa Kaoao Trail
- Distance: .6 miles
- Rating: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 134 ft
Take in a sunrise on this spectacular trail! The park implemented a new reservation system, and you will need to make a reservation for sunrise on the summit. This trail is a lot of bang for your buck, a very short hike for truly spectacular views.
Sliding Sands Trail
- Distance: 11 miles
- Rating: Difficult
- Elevation Gain: 2,795 ft
This difficult trail is worth the challenge for experienced hikers. This 11-mile hike offers spectacular views, but make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots for this difficult hike.
Hiking In Maui
Waihee Ridge Trail
- Distance: 4 miles
- Rating: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 1,610 ft
This hike may be more of a challenge for beginner hikers due to the elevation gain. The reward is worth the climb, you’ll be treated to ridge tops, jungle, and ocean views.
Iao Needle Lookout Trail
- Distance: .4 miles
- Rating: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 134 ft
This family-friendly hike is great for all skill levels. This nice paved trail offers beautiful views of the famous Iao Needle.
*See Haleakala National Park
*See Waianapanapa State Park
Hoapili Trail To Hanamanaioa Point Lighthouse
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Rating: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 141 ft
This hike features stunning coastal views as well as some lava tubes, and if you are lucky you may even see wild goats! All leading to a beautiful lighthouse. Keep in mind that the trail is very rocky, so sturdy hiking boots are recommended. Try to hike this one early because the trail is exposed to the sun.
Once named one of America’s most beautiful beaches, Kaanapali Beach has dazzling white sands and sparkling blue waters. The beach is also surrounded by a boardwalk with easy access to shops, dining, and luxury resorts.
This beach is a great place to snorkel and you’re likely to spot sea turtles and colorful tropical fish.
Known as one of the best swimming beaches on Maui, the pools here are formed by lava rocks. This is another great spot for snorkeling.
Kanaha Beach Park
Located conveniently close to the airport, this two-mile stretch of ivory sand is truly stunning. It’s also a great beach for watersports including windsurfing.
Baldwin Beach Park
If you’re looking for the quintessential beach experience in Maui, head to Baldwin Beach Park. The shady tree line and calm waters make this a great spot for families to enjoy beach days in paradise.
Black Sand Beach – Waianapanapa State Park
In Waianapanapa State Park, you can find the best black sand beaches in Maui. The contrast between the stunning black sands, dazzling blue water, and emerald coastline will leave you mesmerized.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds head to Hamoa Beach. You won’t believe your luck at having these stunning beaches almost entirely to yourself.
One of the most famous beaches in Maui, there are actually 2 beaches in Makena, Big Beach, and Little Beach. The crystal clear waters at these beaches will make you feel like you’re dreaming.
There are actually 3 beaches in Kamaole and each one has something different to offer. All beaches have lifeguards and you can find sea turtles on each beach. Kamaole Beach I is the longest, Kamaole Beach II is best for snorkeling, and Kamaole Beach III has a great playground for kids.
Visit Waianapanapa State Park
This beautiful state park has a ton to see and do. Although the Black Sand Beach (mentioned above) is typically the main attraction in the park, this place has much more to offer. The park is actually named after the brilliant freshwater pools that are located in Waianapanapa. While visiting the park make sure to check out KeAla Lao O Maui Trail or the 3 mile Kipapa O Kihapiilani Trail that runs along a beautiful cove and Hawaiian ruins.
Maui is known for great snorkeling thanks to the crystal clear waters surrounding the island. The underwater landscape here is dreamy! You’ll see colorful schools of fish, sea turtles and eels in the waters of Maui. Honolua Bay is a great place to snorkel, and it has a stunning array of marine species. Turtle Town is another great snorkeling destination near Maluaka Beach. In Turtle Town you can also spot humpback whales during the spring months. While snorkeling remember that sea turtles are protected animals and getting too close to them in Hawaii will get you fined.
Ocean Kayak Or Stand Up Paddle Board
Maui has a ton of water sport activities and some of the most popular are ocean kayaking and SUPing. The coastline is spectacularly beautiful and one of the best ways to see it is from the water. You can rent equipment from the Snorkel Store or Boss Frogs.
Where To Stay
Camping is huge in Maui and it’s a great way to fully experience the natural wonders of this magical island. Here are some great camping options:
Resorts & Hotels
- Budget: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
- Mid-Range: The Mauian Hotel on Napili Beach
- Lux: Montage Kapalua Bay
- Ultra Lux: Honua Kai Resort & Spa
- Budget: Paia Inn
- Mid-Range: AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea
- Lux: Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui
- Ultra Lux: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Maui is a stunningly beautiful island with so much to offer! Whether you’re looking for complete relaxation in an ultra-luxury resort or hiking in Haleakala National Park, this Hawaiian Island has something for everyone. No matter what you choose to do on the Valley Isle, you’re sure to have an amazing time.
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