The Ultimate Guide: Best Things To Do In MAUI. Google Map Included
Updated: Jul 15
For the holidays we decided to ditch California for the holidays and head out to one of our favorite Islands, the island of Maui in Hawaii. This is our second visit to this beautiful Island, only this time we visited as a family. Last time we visited it was just my husband and I, a little over 10 years ago and the island is just as beautiful as we remembered it. We stayed for a total of 7 days and adventured all throughout the island. With so much to do in this beautiful Island I want to share where we stayed, some of our favorite restaurants, as well as some of the best sights to visit. Basically all the things to do in Maui during your visit! I also added a link to a google map with all of the following destinations marked for your convenience. You can find the link toward the end of this post.
Road To Hana
This full day activity is a must for all who visit. Definitely recommend you add it to your list of things to do in Maui. From Kehei to Hana is a 2 hour drive but there are so many beautiful sights to explore and stop at, I would highly recommend you give yourself a good amount of time. Definitely start your trip up to Hana early in the morning (6:00am). This is a drive/trip you don't want to rush through. Keep in mind you will be driving through a winding road and you gain a good amount of altitude, so if you suffer from motion sickness you might want to do whatever it is you normally do to help with that. Also, keep in mind the road is narrow and at some points the road does turn into a single lane road so take your time and be safe. Personally, I found the road to be well taken care of and did not feel unsafe at any point.
Be sure to have a full tank of gas
Bring comfortable shoes that can be used for both hiking and water
Bring bug repellant
Bring cash as many vendors along the way only take cash
Take your time
We personally loved our day trip to Hana so much we went back twice because there is just so much beauty and nature to experience. From waterfalls to secluded beaches to amazing hikes, if you enjoy exploring nature like we do then this is definitely a trip to take. Not only are the destinations you can reach amazing but the drive itself up to Hana is absolutely gorgeous. Take a look for yourself! These pictures were all taken on our drive up to Hana. All of the waterfalls pictures below can be seen from the side of the road. I swear I was expecting Te Fiti to pop out at any second, everything was so luscious and green. If you are a Disney fan like myself you get it lol
I would HIGHLY recommend you stay overnight in Hana. Although there aren't any resort in the area there are some Airbnbs you can stay at. This is definitely what we will be doing on our next stay. I decided to list everything we did headed up to Hana in one sections so you can group the activities if you'd only like to take a day trip. From food, to beaches, to activities, here are some of the things we did headed up and down from Hana.
Pipiwai Trail- You can find this trail inside the Kipahulu Visitor Center. It is one of the most beautiful hikes we've done with several outstanding waterfalls and a beautiful bamboo forest. The whole hike up to the most beautiful waterfall we have seen is 2 miles up and 2 miles back. It took us a total of 3 hours to finish the whole thing with several stops for pictures and to enjoy the scenery. When you come to the last waterfall there are some warning signs to not go any further due to some accidents that have occurred in the past due to falling rocks. We saw the beautiful waterfall and decided to respect the warnings and started heading back. The whole trail is stunning and it is partially shaded, specially when going through the bamboo forest. The trail can get muddy and slippery specially toward the end so definitely wear some good hiking shoes/sneakers and expect to get dirty. I would say the trail is moderate in difficulty but doable even for my 8 year old. It's a popular trail so expect to share it with others, specially later in the day. Parking and restrooms are available at this national park but there is a $30 entrance fee. You can find this trail at mile marker 42. You can't miss it, just keep driving up and you will see the parking area to your left hand side.
This is one of the waterfalls you see Falls at Makahiku and its only 0.5 miles from starting point. Although beautiful, I highly recommend you go all the way to the end.
Entering the Bamboo forest was AMAZING! The sound they made when the wind picked up a bit and they hit each other was amazing. We hiked though the bamboo forest for 1 mile.
Towards the end is when things got wet and muddy but well worth it. Then came the grand finale...Waimoku Falls. Pictures do it no justice!
Walking back I just about died of a heart attack. Being from California, if you see something big and dark by the bushes during a hike, you worry. I was leading hubby and Alexia when suddenly I screamed and ran to them like a fool, only to then realize, 1. We weren't in California and 2. It wasn't a bear but George the cow, as the ranger we saw up ahead called it LOL. So if you visit and see George, don't be frightened, apparently he's friendly and a regular in the area.
Hamoa Beach- This beach was found by accident but we are so happy we found it. It's a little beach you find in a small street with clear waters, some shade, and showers. There's limited parking on the side of the road but we got lucky and didn't have to wait long. There's a paved walkway right down to the beach side. It's not very big but it's absolutely gorgeous surrounded by cliffs and greenery. It was perfect to cool down after our hike since the natural pools by the hike (The Pools at Ohe'o), were closed during our visit. The waves were not too big during our visit but because there's no lifeguard on duty always respect the ocean and approach it with caution as water conditions change by the minute. This beach was located by marker 50 on Hamoa street. You will pass Troys restaurant coming down from Hana and then see Hamoa street on your right hand side. GPS coordinates (20.7194570,-155.9876495)
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach- I'm all for exploring and adventuring specially when on vacation but always making sure we stay safe. We were so excited to visit this Red Sand beach and made our way out and less then halfway down the hike we decided to turn back around due to its conditions. The hike to the red sand beach is not very long, about 10 minutes but it is VERY narrow with loose gravel. Some of the trees along the narrow path drop some small seeds that make it that much more dangerous. After doing some reading the pathway is much more narrow than it once was due to land slides. One small slip will send you down to the waves or rocks so be very cautious. I would NOT recommend you visit with kids and If you decide you want to take the chance then make sure you wear good shoes, definitely do NOT go in sandals. If you plan to adventure out you need to look for the Hana Senior center 1501 Uakea Rd Hana and park around that area. Theres no specific parking lot for this. You will then head out to the grassy area to the right of the building towards the back to find the trail. It can be a bit hidden by trees and bushes but it's there. I would NOT recommend you visit but I'll let you make that decision.
Black Sand Beach- This beautiful and stunning beach is inside the Waianapanapa State Park just past marker 32. This whole area is very clean and well maintained and there's so much to see just in this area. With plenty of parking at no cost, this is a must visit when visiting Hana. They even have cabins up for rent as well as picnic tables and restrooms. The beach itself is not very big and the beach is part black sand part black rocks, so water shoes can be a nice extra, although we did just fine without them. IMPORTANT UPDATE 2021: As of recently entry and parking reservations are REQUIRED to be purchased in advance for all non-residents. For reservations go to www.gowaianapanapa.com
There are some wonderful caves around the area but it is not recommended you go inside but definitely cool to look at from the outside. There's also a blow hole around the area that was not active during our visit and some hiking trails. The area is beautiful so definitely consider exploring more of it. There's plenty of palm trees with coconuts so watch your head for falling coconuts. GPS coordinates: (20.7886606,-156.0035712)
Someone decided to climb a short tree and get some coconuts!
Hana Farms Restaurant- This is a great stop when visiting Hana. They have a little market with lots of great local snacks and even some coffee. When in Hana banana bread is a must! The Bamboo Hale is a restaurant that has delicious food with lots of outdoor seating surrounded by beautiful greenery. The restaurant is only open during the weekend but it's a must. I had thee best fish tacos here and Alexia loved their pizza. We definitely recommend it. You can't miss it when entering Hana. You will see this sign and it's a very beautiful vibrant area.
Coconut Glen's- This has got to be thee best ice cream we've had and it's organic vegan ice cream! It's made with coconuts from the jungle of Maui! Like I mentioned before make sure you have cash because that all they accept. In addition to their normal flavors they have mystery flavors. We had 2 of their mystery flavors a peppermint, chai tea, and 2 of their regulars: mint chip and original coconut. They were all so yummy and creamy! You need to try it out. It's located in the Hana Highway mile marker 27 1/2 Nahiku. When driving up to Hana it's to your right hand side and you can't miss it.
Honomanu Bay- A small rural black pebble bay is great for stretching your legs, views and relaxing. It was very deserted and we found it by visiting a little path on the side of the road between marker 13-14 to the left side of the road when driving up to Hana. Cool to drive down the path but not a must, so if you're short on time you can definitely skip it. Not really a great spot for laying out or swimming since it's so rocky.
Ho'okipa- This made the perfect stop after our visit to Hana. It's located on the north shore of Maui. This white sand beach is known for its Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and windsurfing. We arrived at 5pm, an hour before the sunset and it was the perfect time to see the sea turtles laying out on the sand. You can spot them toward the right side of the beach area towards the cliff. They can easily be missed because they look like rocks in the area but once you take a closer look and spot them it is an awesome sight to see. After we saw the turtles and took some pictures we stayed to admire all the surfers. The waves were huge and it was awesome to see so many catch some awesome waves. After doing some reading this beach actually holds professional windsurfing competitions. If you rather not go down to the beach, they have a lookout point where you can admire the surfers. For some who are more adventurous you can even walk down to the rocks to take a closer look, but beware because the waves can get high enough to hit the rocks. First time we visited we did the lookout point but this time we walked down to the beach to see the turtles as well. This beach is long and narrow so there's lots of space to spread out. Theres also benches, showers, lifeguards and bathrooms available. Plenty of parking available for free as well. I would say this is a must visit! Located on 9 Hana Hwy Paia, Hi 96779. GPS Coordinates: (20.9331087,-156.3585959)
Hana Picnic Lunch Company Paia- The road to Hana can be a long one, specially if you plan to make some pit stops to admire all the beautiful sights there is to see. This Sandwich spot is perfect to grab some sandwiches for lunch on your way up to Hana. The sandwiches were fresh and yummy and were nicely packed in a cooler bag for us to enjoy. I would definitely stop here again. Their basil mayo spread was delish on the sandwiches.
To learn about 15 Stops You Can't Miss On Maui's Road To Hana with tips and directions follow the link down below:
Makena Beach - aka Big Beach-
This is the most beautiful beach I have seen in Maui to date. With its long and wide sandy beach stretch and its turquoise waters, it's definitely the kind of beach you think of when you think of Hawaii. It's no wonder it's considered one of Maui's most outstanding beaches.
There is a lifeguard tower but during our visit no lifeguard was present. This beach is known for its beauty as well as its big and strong waves that crash right at the waters edge. Definitely be cautious, specially with kiddos or even unexperienced swimmers. We have visited twice and never have had a problem but we are always on the cautious side specially when we see the waves are strong. I would still say this beach is a must if anything for the amazing views and to splash around in the water. Porta potty was available by parking area. There was a $10 fee to enter parking area located inside Makena State Park. Address 6600 Makena Alanui, Kihei, HI
Kamaole I Park Beach-
This is thee perfect family beach. It has white powdery sand and it's a long and wide beach stretch with plenty of area for all to enjoy. There is some parking available but that fills up fast and early so you can definitely find parking along the street or even across the street like we did for free. Unlike Makena (Big) Beach, this water is a lot more calm and shallow making it ideal for families with kiddos.
The water is clean and a green-blue and get this, it's known for having sea turtles swimming around close to shore. We were given this information by a local and you can imagine our excitement when a sea turtle swam right in front of us and we even captured it on video. We were so excited because it was obviously Crush from Finding Nemo haha.
This beach is a must! Take a boogie board because the small and gentle waves made it perfect for this activity. It's also conveniently located in front of several shops you can easily walk to for lunch or do a little shopping. This beach stretch is separated into Park I, II, III. I recommend park I as it's the one known for sea turtle sightings. You can also see lots of fish swimming around you so snorkeling is also great in this area.
Maui has some of the best food! Specially their melt in your mouth poke. Here are some of the restaurants we loved during our visit!
Cafe @ La Plage- This was perfectly located in front of Kama'ole Beach Park I discussed right above. They had Breakfast, Sandwiches, Espresso, Hot or Iced Coffees, Blended Coffee Drinks, and Fruit Smoothies. We all had breakfast sandwiches and it was the perfect way to start our beach day. The location had some outdoor seating but we took it to go and enjoyed it at the beach. The location was clean, fast and friendly. Located in Dolphin Plaza across from Kama’ole Beach Park One 2395 S. Kihei Road #115 Kihei, Maui, HI 96753. Open from 7:30 to 1:30 everyday except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Da Nani Pirates- We were told about this food truck by our pineapple tour guide and it was delicious. They have 2 different locations but we visited their location in Kahului after our pineapple tour. They were located in a parking area across from Costco with other food trucks but their menu definitely stood out in the bunch. After much thinking and narrowing it down, we each got a different plate and we all loved what we got. Seating was available outdoors on benches with some shade. Definitely recommend it if you love trying local food. It was delish! Located at 370 Dairy Rd, Kahului, HI 96732
Akamai Coffee Co- Cute trendy coffee shop that was recommended. Lots of choices and very cute place but wasn't very impressed with the coffee. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing? If you want to check it out for yourself there are several locations in Maui but this is the one we visited, 1325 S Kihei Rd Kihei, Hi 96753
Farmers Market Maui- This little place located in a shopping center just across from the beach is a must. They have great locally grown fruits, veggies, snacks and thee best Acai bowls we enjoyed for breakfast. They also had some cool souvenirs and jewelry to shop from. Located at 61S Kihei Road, Kihei HI
Coconut's Fish Cafe- This was the first restaurant we ate at in Maui during our visit and it was delicious. Definitely recommend it for good food, great fun decor and service. Their Ono plate with their wasabi sauce was my favorite. Located at Azeka Center 1279 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
Kihei Miso Phat Sushi- This sushi! This sushi has ruined all other sushi restaurants for me. It was some of the most amazing sushi and Poke bowls I have ever had. Everything was so fresh, the fish was melt in your mouth delicious. The restaurant is not huge but clean and with great decor. The staff was very friendly and welcoming. All in all it's a MUST when in Maui. This is a family owned and operated sushi bar and we had to go back twice because it was that good. Located at 1279 S Kihei Rd Kihei, HI 96753. For more information or to check out their menu you can head on over to https://misophat.com/
Ululani's Hawaiian Shaved Ice-Kihei- This is thee place for shaved ice. With tons of different flavors and combos to choose from you can't go wrong with anything. They have some outdoor seating but can get crowded so take it to go and enjoy it across the street at the beach. Located at 1279 S Kihei Rd Kihei, HI 96753.
Merriman's Kapalua Bar and Grill- This was the place we choose for our Christmas Eve Dinner. It's an oceanfront restaurant with AMAZING views and a very elegant atmosphere. We were able to catch the sunset while having dinner and it was a beautiful experience. Due to it being Christmas Eve we had a fixed menu so we didn't have as many options as we normally would had we visited at another time. The food was good, but didn't have a wow factor. Would I come here again? Absolutely! The experience as a whole was definitely worth it. Located at 1 Bay Club Pl, Lahaina HI
Things To Do In Maui Besides The Beach
Maui Pineapple Farm Tour
This is the one and only working Pineapple Farm in Maui. We did the Pineapple Farm Tour where we learned the history, culture, and hard work that goes into producing this deliciously sweet fruit. The tour started in an air conditioned bus that took us to the processing factory where we learned all about how they hand pick, test, sort and package the pineapples. Fun fact: All who visit get a free pineapple that is packaged and is allowed to bring back home.
After learning the process by our exceptional and very friendly tour guide Ken, we drove out to the fields. First off, the views from the field are one of a kind. You are able to see the ocean and one of Maui's beautiful mountains, Pu'u Kukui. Ken, our tour guide then explained the pineapples growing cycle and we were able to see the pineapples in all cycles.
At the end we were given the opportunity to taste these delicious and sweet pineapples machete cut straight from the field. Alexia was our tour guide's little helper so she earned an extra pineapple from uncle Ken...Score! Paid off to have a chatter box with us lol.
Tickets are $65/adult and $55/12 years and under. Whole tour took 1 1/2 hours. Bathrooms were available at processing factory and Porta potty available at the field. You can only find these delicious pineapples in Maui. To order some pineapples or to purchase tickets head on over to https://mauipineappletour.com
Old Lahaina Luau
This was our second visit to this amazing experience and it was just as great as the first time.
They started by greeting us with a beautiful fresh flower Lei and escorted us to our seats. We had the option of choosing to sit at a table with chairs or Traditional seating around the stage in a low table cross legged on a cushion. This time we went with a traditional Luau seating and it was fun but whatever you find more comfortable is perfectly fine.
The views are great no matter where you sit. We were able to walk around to take some pictures and even watch the sunset right before dinner.
Our visit included unlimited traditional cocktails and beverages, a 5 course dinner, and a beautiful productions of legendary music and dances that took us on a magical journey through the history of Hawaii and its people.
The dances are always so amazing to watch and this is definitely a must when visiting. Prices may vary based on dates and seating options. For details head on over to Old Lahaina Luau .
Banyan Tree In Lahaina
The Banyan Tree known in Hawaiian as Paniana, located in the Courthouse Square, which was renamed Banyan Tree Park. Covering 1.94 acres, is not only the largest in the state but also in the United States. It was cool to see since we were in the area and it was decorated for the Holidays. We did go at night and it's in a very active part of town across from some restaurant/bars so you are sure to run into some characters. It's massive and definitely cool to see if you're in the area.
Haleakala Crater Visit-
This is a must during your visit to Maui. It is the most popular attraction in Upcountry Maui and after visiting I understand why. The views from 10,000 feet above sea level were amazing. Not only can you see panoramic out of this world landscapes but you can also find one of a kind animals and plants. There is an option to visit and experience the sunrise or sunset. They do require you purchase tickets ahead of time to experience the sunrise and unfortunately those tickers were all sold out during our visit but you can check this site if you are planning to visit and want to purchase sunrise tickets https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/253731/ticket/255. The next most beautiful view is the sunset! We got to experience the sunset and star gaze.
There is a $30 dollar fee to enter the park and from Kihei to the National park it was about an hour drive. Up to the summit was another 20 minutes. The road is very winding the whole way so keep that in mind. The road up there was very well taken care of and at no point did I feel unsafe.
There are cows crossing the road and we definitely had to stop for a few to cross...so drive carefully to avoid any accidents. Very important to know, once up the mountain it gets very cold. I mean like 35 degrees cold or colder so come very warm. Dress as if you are going to the snow. It also gets very windy so be prepared. We had a friend warn us and we were very well prepared. There were people there in shorts and were miserable so please come prepared to fully enjoy your experience. There are some restrooms once you get all the way up to the summit but we didn't use them to see their condition. For more information visit https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/sunrise-and-sunset.htm
The weather is very different 10,000 feet above sea level so on our first attempt we weren't able to make it all the way up due to the rain. We wouldn't have seen any of the spectacular views so we decided to drive back down. Make sure you check the weather upcountry before going or booking. We did however get to experience this beautiful rainbow all throughout our drive so I would say our attempt was well worth day.
Wailea Ocean Front Boardwalk Trail
This trail goes along some of the most beautiful ocean front resorts in Maui with spectacular beach and ocean views. It's a 3.5 mile out and back trail near Kihei for all skill levels. Free parking is accessible south of the Grand Wailea Resort. We have flagged the parking lot on the map down below and you will easily find the trail. Definitely wear sunblock because it is a full sun trail with no shade.
Here is the link to the Google map we used with all the destinations mentioned in this blog. They have all been saved and marked with a BLUE FLAG
Where We Stayed
During our first visit we stayed in Wailea at the Wailea Beach Resort Marriott and fell in love with this area. This time we decided to have our first Airbnb experience and I was not disappointed. I wanted to stay fairly close to Wailea since this side of the island is a little more calm and family friendly from what we have experienced from our first visit. We found a little condo through Airbnb in Kihei which is right across the street from the beach and is located right in the middle on what we wanted to explore. We absolutely loved this area. It was perfect for our stay! We stayed at a newly Updated Studio steps from the beach that sleeps 3 guest. They have 1 king bed and a sofa bed that was perfect for Alexia. The studio was clean and well kept. The host Gracie and Hannah were always available to answer any questions and even recommend some places for us to visit before our visit. During our whole stay the area was quiet and we had no issues. Inside the studio they had everything we needed and more. They provided everything we needed plus lots of extras like beach towels, Tommy Bahamas beach chairs, beach umbrella, small cooler, boogie boards, and even sand toys. All these extras were very much appreciated and we used them all. This condo is also just minutes away from lots of delicious restaurants which we ate at most of the time. Also not far from Costco, Target and Walmart. If you are interested in checking out this Studio you can follow this link https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/37815209?source_impression_id=p3_1609052637_LBetBkjx4ap9NmGR
If you are a bigger family I highly recommend you check out Airbnb for some other great condos around this area at a great price. If you'd rather go with a resort, Wailea Beach Resort Marriott is a great option and beautiful. Having had both experiences, here's my thought. If you are looking to explore and adventure around the Island an Airbnb is a great option and much more affordable. If you are looking for a more relaxing lounge around at the beach and pool vacation, a resort is probably more suitable for you. Decide what kind of vacation you are looking for and go from there.
If you're coming out to explore the island, which I highly recommend you do, a rental is a must. We searched everywhere and we found the best deal at Discount Hawaii Car Rental. We had absolutely no issues with them and you can talk to a live person at 1-800-292-1930 or local 808 292-1930. Make sure to mention if you are looking for a specific car and they will find you the best deal. We went with a red Jeep and Alexia has decided this is the car she wants when she grows up...not a bad choice kiddo lol
For Our Next Visit
Here are some things we didn't get to do but definitely will add to your list on our next visit.
Twins Falls - first easily accessible string of waterfalls and pools on the Road To Hana
Rainbow Eucalyptus Grove -Located near mile marker 7 along the Hana Highway
Garden of Eden Arboretum In Hana
Due to Covid-19, all restaurants, trails and activities in Hawaii do require you wear a mask. Also, most attractions like the Luau and Pineapple Farm Tour have cut down on number of people they allow per visit to be able to adhere to social distancing. For our visit they did require we show proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to boarding the plane and could only do test at approved facilities. To learn all about the travel guidelines that are constantly changing please visit https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/getting-to-hawaii/
We've traveled to several different locations but there's just something about this Island that has for the second time made us fall in love with it all over again. After our first visit we knew we had to come back and we are so happy we did, only this time with our daughter. We wanted her to fall in love with the Maui just like we had the first time and she absolutely did. Everything about this Island is amazing. The love for their culture, their respect for nature, their beautiful destinations and their delicious food. We had an amazing experience and my wish is that you have the same experience we had. Hope you find this post helpful and have fun planning and visiting this piece of paradise.
To see some videos of our full days in Maui you can head on over to Life Of Lexy on Youtube! My daughter put these videos together on her channel so don't forget to give her a thumbs up! Click on the image below twice and it will take you to her page.
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Talk to you later!