What To Do in Maui: The Ultimate Maui Travel Guide
I’m so happy to finally be sharing a Maui travel guide on here! Last year I was lucky enough to go to Maui three times, so it’s high time I got a travel itinerary for this amazing island up on the blog. I receive a lot of questions about where to eat and what to do in Maui, and this Maui travel guide blog post covers all of my recommendations.
The Valley Isle is probably one of my favorite places in the world (definitely my favorite place in the U.S.) and I truly think it should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. It’s just so special and I feel so good when I’m there. It’s never enough time and whenever I have to leave I always wish I could stay longer.
This travel guide is chock full of activities and all the info on what to do in Maui, but of course part of enjoying a paradise like the Hawaiian islands is just relaxing on the beach or at the pool with a tropical drink in hand. So if you’re looking for a travel guide to Maui, feel free to take bits and pieces, or single days from this itinerary and make it your own! Sprinkle in days of total rest and relaxation in-between days of adventuring however you feel like. It’s your vacation, after all.
Also, sometimes I receive messages from people trying to choose between a trip to Kauai or Maui, so if you’re interested, my Kauai Travel Guide is here. Of course, my opinion is that you should go to both and decide for yourself which is your favorite because they are both incredible. 🙂
What To Do In Maui: Day 1
Where to stay. People always ask me where to stay in Maui. The two most popular areas for tourists are Kaanapali and Wailea.
Helicopter ride with Air Maui. We did one of Air Maui’s helicopter tours over the West Maui Mountains and Molokai and it was freaking awesome! I definitely recommend doing the doors-off chopper. It’s thrilling and you don’t have to worry about any glares from windows when you’re enjoying the views or snapping pictures.
Lunch at Tinroof. Since we were in Kahului for the helicopter ride, we stopped at Tinroof for lunch. It’s a mom and pop that works closely with local farmers and fishermen for their food. We had their mochiko chicken, which is their specialty and the chicken is marinated overnight and then fried in a mochiko batter. The miso sauce and aioli on top are the finishing touches that make it super delicious.
Slaughterhouse Beach. We made our way back to Kaanapali and went to hang out at one of my beaches over on the west side of the island. Slaughterhouse Beach can have awesome snorkeling (I’ve seen dozens of humongous sea turtles there), but it can also be super rough with giant waves and surfers. On the day we went, it was crazy rough and there was no way we’d be able to snorkel, so we just relaxed on the beach.
Dinner at Star Noodle. For dinner, we went over to Star Noodle, which is a super popular spot in the Lahaina area. We had reservations, but for people who didn’t the wait was two hours! Some of my favorite dishes of theirs are the Vietnamese crepes, pork buns, bacon & eggs, and garlic noodles.
What to Do in Maui: Day 2
Hike at Waihe’e Ridge Trail. When we were on our helicopter ride we flew over the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, and our pilot mentioned that it was one of his favorite hikes on the island. Since the West Maui Mountains were so spectacular by air, we decided to come back and get a view of them on a hike. It’s about two miles to the top of the ridge, so four miles round trip, and fairly steep. Also, be careful about hiking here if it’s going to be raining—things got super slick and muddy quickly and it was especially tricky coming back down on the slippery slope. If you’re looking for a different hike, the Iao Valley Trail (the entrance fee for this state park is only $5 per vehicle) or the Kapalua Coastal Trail are also both very beautiful.
Shave ice at Ululani’s. Ululani’s is my favorite shave ice place on Maui! They have several spots on the island including Kahului and Lahaina. Since I’m a coconut gal, their Haleakala flavor combo is my fav, but honestly, all of their flavors are delicious.
Poke bowls from Tamura’s. I looove to grab poke bowls from Tamura’s! It’s a liquor store, but it also has a poke bar where you can sample their different pokes. Their sunrise and hamachi pokes are my fav. We picked up a couple of poke bowls for dinner and had them out on the lanai while we watched the sunset.
Pie from Leoda’s Pie Shop. On our way back to Kaanapali after hiking earlier in the day, we stopped by Leoda’s Pie Shop. We always pass this place across the street from Olowalu and I’d been wanting to try it. Omg their pies are sooo yummy. The coconut cream pie was bomb, and the chocolate macadamia nut pie was also fantastic. Next time I want to try their key lime pie and their haupia chocolate pie. Yum!!
What To Do In Maui: Day 3
Whale watching. If you’re in Maui during whale season, you absolutely have to go whale watching! Peak whale season is February, but they start to show up around mid-December and you can still see them until May. The humpback whales come down from Alaska to have their babies here, and it is absolutely incredible to see them! I’m going to write up a whole in-depth post about whale watching tips in Maui, but for now, my tips are: don’t go out on a huge whale watching boat. Go out with Hawaii Ocean Rafting, specifically with Captain Jeff. He’s able to zip around on a much smaller zodiac raft and get you much closer to the whales, plus he’ll let you “whale dunk,” which is when you stick your face in the water to look at the whales. This was such a bucket list experience for me and I legit bawled my eyes out after seeing this mama and her brand new baby underwater!!
Cabana day at the Hyatt. Rent out a cabana at the Hyatt and hangout beach and poolside. You don’t have to be a guest to rent one. Make sure to get a coconut smoothie, and shave ice from the Ululani’s stand at the pool later.
Pupus and dinner on the deck. We spent the rest of our evening relaxing on our condo’s lanai, watching humpback whales breach. It is so incredible to see these huge creatures slapping their fins and breaching out of the water. Staying in a condo means you get to grill up and enjoy Maui’s incredible fish! In Kaanapali, Safeway is the best for fish for grilling, like mahi mahi or ono. Omied perfectly grilled up some mahi mahi and we made fish tacos that were seriously amazing. For sashimi-grade blocks of ahi tuna, we like to go to Foodland. Pro tip when you’re looking for ahi tuna for sashimi: try to find the block that is the brightest, ruby red, with the least amount of white-ish fibers.
Ice cream from Island Cream Co. This place serves up a mix between gelato and ice cream and has all of the Hawaiian flavors you could dream of, plus traditional ones too. I got the chocolate caramel turtle with a scoop of coconut (I know, again with the coconut! I like what I like) and it was the best sweet treat to end our night on.
What To Do in Maui: Day 4
Snorkeling at Lanai. We booked the Half Day Dolphin + Snorkeling from Maui to Lanaī with Hawaii Ocean Rafting and it was awesome. Do note that the snorkel spot locations are going to be based on the weather/wind. If it’s too choppy, they’re not going to take you out to Lanai. We were able to go to one snorkel spot at Lanai, but the other spot on the other side of Lanai was too rough. We did see dolphins, which is, of course, the best. And the coral reef over at Lanai is incredible. So, so beautiful.
Big Beach. If you’d rather have a relaxing day and are opting out of the Lanai snorkeling trip, head to Wailea (about an hour drive from Kaanapali) for a beach day. Big Beach is probably my favorite beach park on the island for just relaxing. The sand is soft and white and the water is so turquoise and gorgeous.
Dinner and drinks at Ka’ana Kitchen. If you’d like to stay in Wailea for dinner, Andaz Maui’s beautiful Ka’ana Kitchen is a great option. Be sure to request a table outside for gorgeous views of their multiple infinity pools, the ocean, and Molokini. Their cocktails were delicious and I loved their ahi tuna dishes.
What to do in Maui: Day 5
Brunch at Gazebo Restaurant. This little restaurant is super duper popular and they don’t take reservations. But if you go on a random weekday, your wait shouldn’t be too bad. Be sure to get the macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup. It’s legit the best.
Snorkeling at Honolua Bay. Honolua Bay is another favorite snorkeling spot of mine on the west side of the island. I love that you walk through a beautiful, lush jungle to get to the beach. It’s pretty protected and usually calm enough for snorkeling. I like to venture off to the right of the cove where there is beautiful reef. We almost always spot sea turtles here and this time saw at least a dozen.
Lunch at Monkeypod. Snorkeling always works up a huge appetite, so we went over to Whaler’s Village to try Monkeypod, which just recently opened there. They have really great eats at affordable (for Maui) prices. And their mai tai is the best on the island! I’m not really a mai tai kinda girl (because pina coladas, duh), but the creamsicle foam that they add to the top of their mai tais really does it for me. Hula Grill or Leilani’s are also great choices for casual but yummy restaurants at Whaler’s Village, but we were excited to check out a new spot.
Black Rock Beach. Since Monkeypod is right by the beach, we strolled along and found a spot at Black Rock to take in the sunset.
What to do in Maui: Day 6
Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is one of those things that people are pretty torn on. While it does take you to some serene, beautiful places, it’s a very long drive (especially if you are based in Kaanapali, on the opposite side of the island), and it’s also very windy. But I say you should find out for yourself! You don’t have to do the whole road or see everything; in fact most guides will recommend you pick and choose a few destinations along the way rather than trying to cram everything in. A few favorites of mine are the twin falls, black sand beach, Wailua falls, Seven Sacred Pools, and the bamboo forest. If you make it all the way to the end, go to Maui Tropical Plantation for dinner.
Honokowai Okazuya. If you don’t do the whole road to Hana (or don’t stop for dinner), grab Hawaiian plates from Honokawai Okazuya when you’re back in Kaanapali. My favorites are any of the mahi mahi dishes, the katsu don, or the chicken teriyaki. So good.
What to do in Maui: Day 7
Lunch at Mama’s Fish House. Mama’s is located on the north shore and is known for being one of the best (if not THE best) restaurants on Maui. The setting on the beach is absolutely stunning, and their freshly caught fish is to die for. They even have opakapaka (pink snapper) on the menu right now which I rarely see restaurants serve these days, and it’s my favorite Hawaiian fish. Definitely make reservations weeks in advance for this one.
Hike and sunset at Haleakala National Park. Haleakala crater is pretty mind-blowing to see. You can hike down a bit (or all the way if you’re feeling super adventurous), and just admire how it looks more like Mars than Earth. Real go-getters will go to watch the sunrise over Haleakala, which I’m sure is amazing, but I’m more of a sleep in and watch the sunset kinda gal.
Dinner at Sansei Sushi or Paia Fish Market. Sansei is another favorite restaurant of mine on Maui. They have a location in Kihei and Kapalua. A couple of my must-have dishes there are the panko-crusted ahi sashimi and the crab ramen with truffle broth. Seriously drooling right now thinking about those dishes! If you’re looking for something more casual, Paia Fish Market in Lahaina is one of my absolute favorite spots to grab a delicious and reasonably priced meal. They always have opakapaka (pink snapper) which is hard to find these days. I love getting the sauteed ‘paka over their home fry potatoes. SO. GOOD. I ask for it with half as much salt/seasoning as it can get a little on the salty side. But seriously, you won’t regret it. We usually eat here multiple times during our trip.
That’s it for my Maui travel guide! Did I miss anything? I’m always looking for new spots to check out in Maui, whether it’s a new hike or a restaurant, so email me if you think of anything else!
Looking for ideas on what to do in Maui with kids?
Maui Ocean Center – The Maui Ocean Center is a great place to learn about Maui’s marine life. Be sure to check out their amazing 3D humpback whale movie!
Kula Botanical Garden – Explore 8 acres of beautiful botanical gardens and Maui’s native plants.
Kula Lavender Farm – You might be surprised to learn that Maui has a lavender farm with 45 varieties of lavender, which you can explore at the Kula Lavender Farm along with other beautiful tropical flowers and plants.
Old Lahaina Luau – If you’re looking to do a luau in Maui, the Old Lahaina Luau is the best. It’s less kitschy than some of the hotel luaus, and they do a great job of sharing Maui’s history.
Hawaii Mermaid Adventures – Let your inner mermaid shine and take a mermaid swimming lesson, complete with a mermaid tail and underwater photos. Hawaii Mermaid Adventures does lessons in the ocean or at the Hyatt pool, and adults can join in the fun too.
Heading to Maui? Check out my other Maui posts:
Some of the top attractions in Maui include Haleakala National Park, Road to Hana, snorkeling, hiking, doing a helicopter tour, and horseback riding.
It’s worth spending at least a week in Maui, or even two weeks for a relaxing vacation. At a minimum, try to have at least five full days in Maui to experience its top sights.
Hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing on Maui’s beaches can all be done for free in Maui.
Yes, there are sharks in Maui, including reef tip sharks that generally do not attack people, as well as the more dangerous tiger sharks. Maui usually has 2 – 3 shark attacks per year, but with the millions of people swimming in Maui’s oceans every year, your chances of being attacked by a shark are minuscule.