As the second-largest Hawaiian island, Maui, or the “Magic Isle” as they like to call it, boasts a large diversity of lush green valleys, historic whaling villages and stunning national parks. Let’s get oriented on the island and find out the best things to do.
The Hawaiian island’s beaches are enough of a pull on their own with amazing sand and stunning crystal, warm waters. They are the perfect place to take surfing lessons, build an impressive sand castle, go for a swim or just relax in the sand. Each beach offers various beautiful views as well as a different atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for something quiet or crave a little more action, the beaches of Maui are sure to deliver.
In between trips to the beach, enjoy exploring the rest of the island. Try out different restaurants to experience traditional Hawaiian fare or stop by a museum or two to learn about the island’s history. You even take a hike to the top of a dormant volcano. Don’t forget your camera!
Known as the “Valley Isle,” Maui provides many experiences the whole family can enjoy or plenty of romantic settings where you and your significant other can celebrate your love.
Beaches of Maui
Kaanapali Beach: One of Maui’s best beaches is Kaanapali Beach, with three miles of sandy shores to enjoy. The northernmost section of the beach is a great place for snorkeling where you can see the different creatures living in the area up close and personal.
As one of the signatures of Kaanapali, cliff-divers love to jump off the beach’s northernmost edge, Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. The ceremony occurs every evening at sunset to honor King Kahekili. Watch divers light the torches on top of the cliffs before they leap into the waters below. It is a spectacle you won’t want to miss!
Wailea Beach: If you’re looking for a good place to take a dip, check out Wailea Beach. This area also comes with restrooms for convenience and rental equipment so you can try your hand at different aquatic activities. Wailea is a short walk from some of the best restaurants and shops in the city, so after a day of sun, meander over for a souvenir and a meal.
Kahana Beach: If you’ve ever had an interest in windsurfing, Kahana Beach is the place for you, as if offers excellent windsurfing conditions. There are lifeguards on duty so safety won’t be an issue. The beach also features convenient restrooms and showers for a quick change as well as picnic tables so you can enjoy a meal as you gaze out onto the ocean.
Hana Beach Park: For a terrific family-friendly beach day, you won’t want to miss out on Hana Beach Park. This is another one of the most popular swimming beaches on the island. There are also many local community events held at this beach, so check one out to see how the locals enjoy themselves.
Kaihalulu Beach: For a truly unique experience, don’t miss Kaihalulu Beach, Maui’s red sand stretch of sand. It was the site of a fortress and temple as well as the birthplace of civil leader Queen Ka’ahumanu. Kaihalulu is one of the new red sand beaches in the world, made so by the abundance of iron, and with the rich contrast against the blue waters, it’s truly a sight to see. The cinder cone behind the beach is constantly eroding, making the cove bigger and more fun to explore.
Things to Do in Maui
Whalers Village Museum: For a top-notch Humpback Whale education, stop at the Whalers VIllage Museum. Volunteers here can answer any questions about the animals. The 40-foot sperm whale skeleton located near the entrance is sure to impress, and it sets the scene for a trip inside in the museum. Learn about the history of whaling on the island and check out collection of harpoons, tools, sea chests, sailor journals and ship logs. Take a self-guided audio tour in many different languages as you look at artifacts, photo murals, movies and graphics depicting the life of sailors. You can even see a scale model of a whaling ship with an exact replica of the living quarters of a 25-member whaling crew.
Maui Arts and Cultural Center: To get a taste of Maui’s culture, head to the Maui Arts and Culture Center, a performing arts complex. Check out live music, an art exhibit or a variety of other events that celebrate creativity in its theaters, outdoor performance space, gallery concert stage and courtyard with bistro dining and food and beverage bars.
Old Lahaina Luau: You can’t leave Maui without experiencing a traditional Hawaiian luau like the Old Lahaina Luau. You’re sure to feel the Hawaiian values of hookipa (hospitality) and pookela (excellence) as you enjoy a delicious fire-roasted feast.
Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens Park: Bring the whole family to Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens Park to learn about the island’s cultural and ethnic heritage. As you move through the park you’ll see a traditional Hawaiian hale, a New England-style missionary home, Japanese gardens with stone pagodas, a Filipino farmer’s hut and a Chinese pavillion with a statue of Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary hero.You and your family can enjoy a lovely meal together in the park’s picnic area surrounded by natural beauty. The park also features the Hawaii Nature Center, where kids can experience exhibits geared toward them. The center also offers two-hour rainforest walks.
Haleakala National Park: At 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala represents Maui’s highest peak. The park reaches from the southern to eastern coastline, and makes up more than 30,000 acres of public land. In Hawaiian, the name Haleakala means “house of the sun,” originating from legend when the demigod Maui lassoed the sun across the sky from the top of the volcano to slow its descent and make the day last longer. Whether you want to hike to the apex looking out above the clouds or go horseback riding in the moonlike basin of the volcanic crater, this national park has got your day of adventure covered. Don’t forget to check the weather conditions before you head out, as the high altitude can cause heavy rain and gusty winds. It is also noticeably cooler in the park, so be sure to bring a jacket.
Royal Kaanapali Golf Course: If you like to hit a round of golf, don’t miss the world-class courses at Royal Kaanapali, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Kaanapali Kai. Both offer pristine fairways and Bermuda grass on the greens, yet the 18th on the Royal can be a real doozy. Royal is often referred to as the Tournament Course, since it hosted the LPGA and Senior Tours during the 1980s.
Hana: Get away from the waves of tourists in Hana, a small town on the eastern point of the island. There’s a famous road to the town that cuts through 52 miles of vast rain forests, amazing pools and narrow bridges. Despite its size, Hana is packed with plenty to do. Snorkel at the breathtaking black sand beach of Waianapanapa State Park, or swing by Hale Piilani, which is the state’s biggest temple. Bring the kids for a day of swimming and layin’ low at Hana Beach Park.
Lahaina: Though it was once an historic town, Lahaina is now speckled with contemporary art galleries, hip restaurants and shops. Take a stroll down Front Street to visit some of the old sites, such as Seaman’s Hospital and Hale Paaho, which was the Lahaina Prison. If you’re vacationing here during the winter months, the humpback whale-watching tours are a must!