Maui Hawaii Activities
What are the best Maui Hawaii Activities? Let me show you my favorite things to do on Maui.
The island offers a vast array of fun things to do as well as some breathtaking sights to take in. Here are some of the things you will find on Maui...
- The best place in Hawaii to see whales
- A beautiful, lush rain forest at the end of an adventure filled road
- A magnificent volcanic crater that resembles the moon more than a tropical mountain
- A historic whaling village with quaint shops, trendy restaurants, and a lively nightlife
If you are planning on taking any guided Maui activity tours, I recommend using Barefoot's Cashback Tours because their superb service, quality of tours, and "Low Price Guarantee" can't be beat.
Maui Hawaii Activities in Haleakala National Park
There are two areas within Haleakala National Park. There is the Kipahulu area (see section on driving the road to Hana), and the crater (or summit) area.
Magnificent Haleakala rises 10,023 ft into the sky making it the world's biggest dormant volcano. It is also known as the "House of the Sun".
Appropriately, the best and most popular time to go is at sunrise...Well actually, 30 minutes before sunrise so you don't miss it.
The sight is breathtaking! It is also never the same which is why I always return when I'm there. Sometimes the sky is perfectly clear and the whole horizon catches fire. Other times, you see patches of the clouds below you light up at different times.
For the number of people that are up there at the same time, it always seems amazingly quiet to me. I think it's just one of those things that you just revel at in silence. Mark Twain described it this way, "It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always."
If you choose to skip the sunrise, you should still visit Haleakala. In fact, Haleakala National Park is open 24 hours a day.
That should tell you something right there...A National Park open 24 hours? Why? Because it is an awesome place to gaze at the stars as well as the sun. All right...sorry, I realize the sun is a star...
The point is, the view from Haleakala is always worth the trip up there. Even if you've done this Maui Hawaii activity before, it always has a new perspective to offer you. Go at a different time of day...or night!
If you are a little more adventurous...there are some great Maui Hawaii activities you can do on Haleakala...
- There are numerous trails for both the casual walker and experienced hiker.
- Many tour companies offer a bike tour down from the summit.
- You can tour the area by horseback (pictured above).
Be sure to look for Hawaii's state bird, the endangered Nene Goose. Haleakala is also home to the endangered silversword plant (pictured). This plant can only be found in Hawaii. More specifically, it only grows on Haleakala and Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa on the Big Island.
Cost: $10 per non-commercial vehicle. $5 per individual on bike or foot. Valid for 7 days and good for re-entry into both the Summit and Kipahulu areas of the park.
Hours: The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for severe weather closure. The Park Headquarters Visitor Center at the 7000 ft. level is open daily from 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. The Haleakala Visitor Center at the 9700 ft. level is open from 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Tip: The summit can get very cold. Temperatures can range from 32 degrees F to 65 degrees F. I don't like to pack winter coats just for this one Maui Hawaii activity, so we just bring a couple blankets from the hotel.
Like any high elevation, there is less oxygen, so those with heart or respiratory problems and pregnant women should check with their doctor before going. Also, there is no food or gas in the park.
Maui Hawaii Activities -- Drive the Hana Highway
This has been called the most scenic highway in the world. You can see it buried on the side of the mountain in the picture. The word "highway" is not a very accurate description though...
The Hana Highway is a 55-mile stretch of two-lane road. This two-lane road has 600 hairpin turns and 54 one-lane bridges...but the scenery along this road is worth the severe case of whiplash that you will get. (Just kidding about the whiplash...)
Take your time on this journey and enjoy the beautiful sights along the way. Around each corner, you will be greeted with waterfalls, lush valleys, tropical flowers, refreshing ponds, bamboo forests, and fresh fruit trees (look for apple bananas which are smaller and more sweet than regular bananas).
Once you reach Hana, it will feel you've driven back through time. Hana is like Maui before hotels and condos. It's hard to describe the uniqueness of Hana without experiencing it firsthand.
They say Hana is Maui's "Last Hawaiian Place" and that may be the best way to explain it. While you're here, you should stop at the famous Hasegawa General Store, which is a Hana landmark. They sell pretty much everything here, including the well-known "I survived the road to Hana" t-shirts (a popular souvenir of this Maui Hawaii activity!).
Now is a great time to stop for lunch. We've always grabbed "plate lunches" from the lunch wagon at Hana Bay. There are not many options to eat in Hana. The most formal would be at the Hana Hotel.
Once you've relaxed and unwound in Hana, continue on and check out the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park. Within the park, is Ohe'o Gulch. This spot is also known as Seven Sacred Pools.
It's a series of pools (actually more than seven) connected by waterfalls. It's an awesome place to hang out, swim, and take pictures. Keep in mind that it can get quite crowded on the weekends. Also, if it has been raining heavily, it can get flooded out. The ranger station at the park entrance should have conditions posted.
Just past Kipahulu is the grave of world-famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh. He and his wife loved Maui so much that this is where he wanted to spend his last days. As he was dying of cancer in a New York hospital, he made the decision to return to his home in Kipahulu. He said, "I love Maui so much, I would rather live one day in Maui than one month in New York." Wow...
At this point...(unless you are staying in Hana), if the sign at the ranger station says the road is open to all vehicles, keep going around. It is much quicker than going back the way you came...much quicker. Many rental car companies will say that you need a 4-wheel drive to drive along this part of the island. Don't worry...the road is just fine. We've never had a 4x4, and never had any problems.
Late 2006 Update: Due to the earthquake on the Big Island, the road going around Haleakala past Hana has been closed to ALL traffic by the state.
October 2008 Update: The road past Hana is now open so you can drive all the way around Haleakala.
Tip: This is an all day Maui Hawaii activity. Start early to beat the tours if you're driving yourself.
Tip: If you are driving yourself, pick up a self-guided CD that you can play in your car to tell you of all the things to look for on the Road to Hana. You can buy them at the Shell Service Station on Dairy Road in Kahului on the way to the road to Hana.
Maui Hawaii Acivities -- Whale Watching
If you're going to be on Maui between December and April, this is one of the Maui Hawaii activities you can't skip. Why? First of all, if you're here during this time, you can't miss them...you'll inevitably see whales when you're there. Second, Maui is THE best place in all of Hawaii to see whales.
If you do a boat tour, you might get really lucky and see whales close-up and I mean close-up. Technically, humpback whales are protected by a 100-yard rule. That means you can't approach within 100 yards of them in any way. However, if they approach you, you have to sit there and just observe them until they move off...BUMMER!
Can't do boats? Not to worry...Maui is probably the only island where you don't actually have to go on a boat to see great whale action. Although I still think going on a boat tour is the best option, you can see these magnificent creatures pretty darn good from shore. The best spots are on the west and south shores.
Cool? Fascinating? Unbelievable? You bet it is! Watch this video and see what I'm talking about...until you see it (them) in person!
If you are going to do a boat tour, I have only used one company for this Maui Hawaii activity. They do an outstanding job, and I support their efforts 100%.
The company is Pacific Whale Foundation. All of their profits support Pacific Whale Foundation's education programs, along with their work to protect whales, dolphins, all other marine life and their home – the oceans of the world. They have hosted teams from National Geographic Explorer and BBC.
If you haven't guessed by now, I have a deep love and respect for the ocean, and everything that lives in it.
Pacific Whale Foundation
- Cost: Eco-Tours starting at around $20. Kids go free (one child 6 and under per paying adult).
- Phone: (808) 942-5311 or (808) 249-8811.
- Website: www.pacificwhale.org
Check Barefoot Cashback Tours for a Pacific Whale Foundation Tour.
Maui Hawaii Activities -- I'ao Valley
Iao Valley is the gateway to the spectacular West Maui Mountains. They say Hana is Maui's "Last Hawaiian Place", but I think I'ao Valley is more deserving of that title.
With the mountains on one end and the ocean on the other, this valley is a perfect example of how the ancient Hawaiians lived off the land. In fact, you will be able to see a re-creation of an ancient Hawaiian village.
I can't help but imagine how awesome it would have been to live in ancient Hawaii. Imagine this entire valley being "your neighborhood"...You could pick from an abundance of tropical fruit trees...You could fish in the ocean teeming with life. Imagine finding everything you would need within this neighborhood. Almost sounds like the Garden of Eden doesn't it...:)?
When you explore this 4,000 acre valley, you will know you are in a very special and sacred place.
Within this valley is I'ao Valley State Park. This park spreads out over 6 acres and offers hiking trails, nature walks, picnic areas, and waterfalls. The geographic feature called the I'ao Needle (pictured) is an impressive rock tower formed by erosion. It shoots 2,250 ft above sea level.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: Daily from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
If you want in-depth information and exhibits, be sure to stop at the I'ao Valley Nature Center.
- Cost: $6 for adults, $4 for children 4 to 12, and free for children under 4.
- Hours: Daily from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Maui Hawaii Activities -- Snorkeling in Maui
Shaped like a crescent moon, Molokini is the best place for this Maui Hawaii activity. It is an islet located three miles off Maui’s southern coast.
Its protected harbor provides calm water and is considered one of the best dive spots in Hawaii. In fact, it is rated one of the ten best diving spots in the world. It is also a marine-life preserve so there are tons of fish.
Molokini offers something for all levels of snorkelers and divers. The water here is unbelievably clear...Being able to see 150 ft is normal!
They also offer a "snuba" dive which you don't need any previous scuba experience for. It is basically scuba without the tank on your back. The tank remains on the boat and you breathe through the regulator connected to the tank. This allows you to go to a depth around 30 ft. I tried it on our honeymoon on Grand Cayman, and thought it was really cool.
The great thing about these charters is that it can be an all-in-one Maui Hawaii activity for you. Many times, you will be greeted by dolphins on the way out. During whale season (December-April), you will be able to see the whales too. You can dive, and see dolphins & whales all in the same tour!
As with the whale-watching tours, I've only used Pacific Whale Foundation for snorkeling Maui Hawaii activities. Their knowledge and experience just can't be beat.
Pacific Whale Foundation
- Cost: $79.95 for adults. Kids go free. (one child 6 and under per paying adult). Additional children and children ages 7-12 are $29.95.
- Phone: (808) 942-5311 or (808) 249-8811.
Maui Hawaii Activities -- Lahaina
Lahaina is a really cool town to check out. There is something for everyone to see or do here. Click here to read more...
Maui Hawaii Activities -- Tasting Hawaiian Wine?
Because I worked at the Swiss Inn restaurant on Oahu for seven years, I really enjoy tasting wine...And considering that there are only two wineries in Hawaii (the other one is on the Big Island), Tedeshi Winery is a favorite stop of mine on Maui.
This is a perfect Maui activity to do on the way back from Haleakala Crater. The winery is located on the southern side of Haleakala in Ulupalakua Ranch, a 20,000 acre property.
Tedeshi winery was established by Napa vintner Emil Tedeschi in 1974. Be sure to try the wines made from pineapple and lilikoi (passion fruit)!
Maui Hawaii Activities -- Luaus
"Luau" is probably one of the first words you associate with Hawaii. In a traditonal sense, it is simply a get-together with family and friends for some good food and good times.
For the visitor, luaus include entertainment. This usually consists of a production showcasing the different Polynesian cultures. Luaus are Maui Hawaii activities that sometimes involve audience participation...:)
Luaus are one of Hawaii's signature attractions, and Maui offers many choices. They all offer traditional Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua pig (cooked in an underground imu, or oven), laulau (pork and butterfish wrapped in taro leaves), lomi salmon (salmon and onion), and haupia (coconut dessert). Some offer American dishes as well.
It's something you have to do once in your visit. One particular luau on Maui, the Old Lahaina Luau (pictured), is thought of by many as the best and most authentic luau in Hawaii. Sorry to say, I have never been to this or any other luau on Maui. Maybe on my next visit...
Old Lahaina Luau
- Cost: $89 for adults; $59 for children ages 12 and under. Infants not occupying a seat, no charge
- Phone: (808) 667-1998 or (800) 248-5828
- Website: www.oldlahainaluau.com
Tip: The Old Lahaina Luau seats according to when you book so do it early...Book direct or through Barefoot Cashback Tours...The price is the same.
Here are the other luaus on Maui.
- Feast at Lele (If you want table service, go to this luau)
- Maui Hyatt Luau (Drums of the Pacific)
- Sheraton Maui Luau (Ka'anapali Sunset Luau)
- Wailea Marriott Luau
- Maui Prince Luau (Drums of Makena Luau)
- Renaissance Wailea Luau
- Royal Lahaina Luau
Sidebar: If there is one thing you take from this site, I hope this is it. Please don't forget the most important Maui Hawaii activity...enjoy yourself. You are in paradise.
Take in the heavenly scenery, listen to the sound of the ocean, breathe in the refreshing tradewinds, smell the exotic flora. Enjoy this magical time with your spouse, companion, or friend. Enjoy your children. After all, this is heaven on earth...:)
Click here to read about all the activities available on Maui.
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