you are planning your first trip to Maui, you're sure
to have many questions on what to do and see during your
stay. What are the "must sees" and "must
dos" for even a short stay. Maui offers lots of exciting
adventures, beautiful cream sand beaches, tropical rain
forests and of course, 18 sunny golf courses to play.
We have the best Luaus, Diving and Snorkeling, Kayaking,
Helicopter Tours, Biking Down the Volcano, Surfing, Horseback
Riding and great Shows.
what are the sights and activities that are unique to
Maui and shouldn't be missed? Here are our picks for the
most exciting, the most popular and most rememberable
things you can do during your Maui stay.
Road to Hana
The trip to Hana is perhaps the #1 must do on Maui. This
52-mile drive from Paia to Hana takes you through Maui's
rain forest and some of the most breathtaking views on
the island. The trip is not about getting there, but seeing
everything along the way. Pick up a guide book or the
Hana Guide audio cassette so you don't miss the best stopoffs.
plenty of time for the trip
Leave early, around 7 or 8 to have plenty of time for
stops and to get back before dark... this is a road you
don't want to drive at night. The road is narrow and winding
and for several miles hugs the cliffs 200 ft. above the
ocean. The speed limit is 10 mph and in some places you
may think this is excessively fast. It's about a 4-hour
drive including stops at scenic overlooks and waterfalls.
You should arrive in Hana around lunchtime. If you picked
up a picnic lunch when you passed through Paia in the
morning, find a spot with a view. If not, the Hana Hotel
has a lovely restaurant with wide ocean views and good
food. Next to the Hotel is Red Sands beach, a secret local
spot, sometimes frequented by nude sunbathers. It's a
short hike over rocky coastline and it's best to be an
experienced hiker to get there.
7 Sacred Pools
From Hana, it's another 10 miles (along much better road)
to the Seven Sacred Pools in Kipahulu. These are a series
of pools, one above the other, connected by waterfalls...
fun swimming if you can take the cold water.
the backdoor home
Going home leaves you with a choice. You can go back the
way you came, or continue on around the back of the mountain.
There is a 7-mile "bad patch" where you'll have
to navigate around lava rocks, but it's shorter and at
the end is the Tedeshi Winery on Uluapalakua Ranch where
you can taste some local wine and take a break in your
The Road to Hana will leave you with lifelong memories.
Don't miss it.
is another full day adventure and the views are spectacular,
like going to the moon. The drive is about 3 hours from
Kihei and 4 hours from Kaanapali side. Arrive about ½
hour before sunrise for the full effect. You can also
ride up to the summit in a van for the sunrise and then
ride a bike back down the mountain... an exciting adventure!
See Bike Down
the Mountain for info and prices.
the sunrise on Haleakala is like a view from the space
shuttle. The summit is at over 10,000 feet so bring warm
clothes or blankets. It's cool up there. The air is noticeably
thinner at this altitude too so don't overdo the exercise.
The hike in and out of the crater is about 2 or 3 hours
and you should be in good shape. Going down is easy and
the way back is only tough at the switchbacks and the
end. The Silversword plants and views are spectacular.
Stop by the Kula Lodge on the way back for a coffee or
lunch and take in the flowers of Kula Botanical Farm and
the local Upcountry feel.
Beach, Little Beach
Makena's Big Beach is one of the biggest and most beautiful
in the Hawaiian islands. This special beach has warm tropical
water and the southern swells are fun for body surfers.
Be careful as some big swells can injure the careless.
Little Beach is just over the hill where the nude bathers
go... so be advised.
It's wise to leave your valuables in your room as there
are occasional car break-ins in the parking lot. But take
a few cold drinks and enjoy the Big Beach at Makena.
When you come to Hawaii, you MUST take in a Luau... it's
practically a State law... and Maui has some of the best
feasts in the islands. All luaus have three things in
common... all you can eat, all you can drink and sparsely-clad
dancers for your viewing pleasure. Cost runs from $60
to $100 per person.
The most famous is the Old
Lahaina Luau on the West side. On the South side,
our recommendation is the Wailea Marriott
Luau... at an affair featuring "all
you can eat & drink" driving distance might be
a consideration. For something really spedcial, check The Feast at Lele... private tables and service, plus the food and dance from 4 Hawaiian islands.
Wet and Wild
clear warm water all around, ocean activities are Maui's
most popular. You can bathe on Maui's miles of uncrowded
beaches, surf, boogie board, snorkel and even SCUBA dive
from the shore. There are also deep sea fishing and bottom
fishing boats for charter or share. And then there's parasailing
off Kaanapali in the summer when the whales are away.
Get away from the hotel pool and out on the ocean for
some of Maui's best fun.
the wind on a sailing catamaran to Lanai.
and dance on a sunset cruise on Maui's largest yacht
to surf... in just one hour, guaranteed
dive for a real experience
Surf a kayak or visit the exotic wildlife up close and personal
Raft into the lava caves
For a real above and underwater thrill, take one of the
many snorkel or dive boats out to the reefs. Perhaps Maui's
most unusual water activity is the rafting/snorkeling
trip to the caves of Kanaio. These lava caves and arches
were formed over 200 years ago when molten lava exploded
from Haleakala and poured into the sea. For more, see
our feature story, The
Lava Caves of Kanaio & the Molokini Abyss
Maui from the Air
To really absorb the scope of Maui you must take to the
air. There are several helicopter tours that will take
you for a bird's eye view of Maui's wonders. Look into the huge Haleakala
crater or the resorts of Kapalua and Kaanapali on the
shore of the West Maui Mountains and even fly to Molokai.
Most operators give you a videotape of your flight, which
includes your in-cabin reactions. Be prepared to spend
about $200 minimum for a 1 hour flight, but the memories
are well worth the price.
For tours and prices see Helicopters.
Maui is not all wahinis in wafting grass skirts.
Cattle and horse ranching has been one of Maui's prime
enterprises since the old plantation days. Upcountry,
Makawao is like a town from the mainland's old west. Cowboys
here are called paniolos and if you'd like to be
a Hawaiian cowboy, try out some of the horseback riding
on the island.
The best views are from the Makena Stables ride which
goes up Haleakala's gentle southern slopes. There's plenty
of running room and terrific views of La Perouse Bay and
the lava fields below. More info on horseback rides at Makena
Up the Night
Nightlife on Maui is varied and plentiful. Not only do
all of the big resorts have one or more nightspots with
live entertainment, but smaller bistros in Kihei and Lahaina
offer local entertainment in an intimate setting.
In Kihei, for example, you can dine New Orleans-style
while you listen and dance to some hot jazz at Yorman's
by the Sea in Menehune Shores. Near Longs Drugs, Boccalino's also offers dining and dancing and the Tradewinds poolside bar at the Maui Coast Hotel offers the same.
Down at the Blue Course in Wailea, you can spend the evening
at Mulligans on the Blue dining on Irish cooking
and listening to the entertainment. On Sundays there's
dancing to an Irish band. Learn the Irish Jig in Hawaii!
For a real treat, see Maui's longest running show 'Ulalena.
This vast production chronicles the history of the island
in original music and dance... a must see!
and Booking Tips
Getting as much fun as possible into your Maui vacation
requires some advance planning. For example...
Don't book a luau on a day you're playing twilight golf...
luaus all begin at 5 pm and you are sure to miss the "soup course."
It's smart to plan the sunrise bike down the volcano
or a sunrise trip to Haleakala for the day after you arrive.
You need to start around 3-4 am to reach the summit in
time to get the full effect of the stars fading away and
the crater coming into view at your feet, which is easier
when your body is still on mainland time (3-6 hrs earlier
Leave your good camera in the room and buy a disposible
underwater camera for beach and boating trips.
Book your activities as far in advance as possible.
The most popular get filled up fast. If you wait until
you arrive the activity you want may be booked solid.
Book in advance and don't miss out.
For information and booking see Maui's
Top Twelve Adventures.