This past year, I had the sweetest opportunity to visit my family in Maui and spend some time on the popular island of Hawaii. I am so excited to share what I believe are the best places to visit during your trip to Maui. Each island is so different, but what I love about Maui is its wild amount of biomes you can visit all within a few hours from one another.
Out of the 7 biomes in the world, the island of Maui is home to 5 of them including tropical rainforests, temperate forests, deserts, boreal forests, and grasslands. There is so much to discover on the island and it’s the perfect place for those seeking a nice combination of adventure and retreat. We spent about 10 days on the island, which was the perfect time to relax, explore, and eat all around the area.
Where we stayed:
During our trip to Maui, we stayed in Haiku, which is a small off-the-beaten-path town on the north side of the island. Since we stayed with our family, I highly recommend looking at AirBnbs around the island. Haiku is a great option if you’re looking for an area that is a little less touristy; however, if you want to stay in a place with more people and closer to the traditional Maui activities (i.e. a luau), then Lahaina is a great option.
Things you must do in Maui:
Haleakala National Park
Haleakalā is a massive volcano with an elevation of over 10,000 feet. A lot of times, people either choose sunrise or sunset to see the best views at the prettiest times! We chose sunrise and it was stunning. In order to get to the volcano for sunrise, you must make a reservation ahead of time. It takes about an hour to drive up, and you’ll most likely spend about 2 hours there taking in the prettiest views.
Warning: it is very cold up top. When we went, the temperatures were 45 degrees (Fahrenheit), compared to 75-80 degree weather at shore level. Make sure to bring extra layers and socks!!! We didn’t prepare, ended up swaddling ourselves in our extra towels, and looked like very unprepared out-of-towners!!
Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is arguably the best thing to do in Maui. There are a ton of beautiful spots to stop by, but a lot of people end up passing through them because sometimes they’re quite hidden from the main road. Here are some of my favorite spots we experienced during this drive.
Kaihalulu Beach was one of my favorite spots. It’s quite a walk to get there (about 20 minutes and lots of steep twists and turns), but it’s so worth it! The water is such an incredible color! The beach features a large area blocked by rocks, so the water is very calm and clear. I especially loved snorkeling here because there were so many beautiful fish to see.
The Black Sand Beach in Waianapanapa State Park is absolutely stunning and so unlike anything I’ve ever seen (aside from the Black Sand Beach in Iceland of course). It’s the perfect place to stop, with a short walk down to the beach. You can swim there, or hike up to the top of the cliffs to see a pretty view of the surroundings.
We loved visiting this waterfall on the road to Hana! It was about a 10-15 minute walk into the falls and once we got there, we had the whole place to ourselves. It’s a small waterfall, where you can swim in fresh water and feel completely in touch with nature.
Take a Farm Tour!
At Surfing Goat Dairy, you can visit Maui’s cutest goat farm and even spot the sweetest baby goats! We tried their flight of their goat cheeses, along with one of their sandwiches and it was so good.
At O’o Farm, you can take a brunch or lunch tour through their orchard, taste all sorts of fresh vegetables, spot chameleons, have a home-cooked meal by their chef (who uses all of their own ingredients), and taste a variety of their coffee blends. This was one of our favorite experiences! Their farm is nestled in the mountains of Maui, with cool crisp mornings and a nice breeze during the day.
Makena State Park
Makena State Park is one of Maui’s famous beaches. It’s a huge beach full of soft sand and clear water. When we went, the waves were pretty huge, so if you like to boogie board or surf, this is the perfect spot for non-beginners. There’s also a really nice walk up to the cliffs nearby, where you can get a really beautiful photo of the view and enjoy the sunset. Past the cliffs, on the other side, there is Little Beach, Maui’s famous nude beach. It is open to the public but you must get there by walking through Makena (a.k.a. “Big Beach”).
From sweet little restaurants to cool shops, there is a lot to see in the town of Paia. We especially loved visiting our favorite shaved ice shop, Ululani’s, every day. And I mean, every single day. My flavor recommendation: mango!
Baldwin Beach Park is a great beach area, close to Paia with lots of trees for shade. Make sure to stop in Paia for some poke bowls at Tobi’s Shave Ice North Shore and head to Baldwin to sit, relax, and swim.
Kanaha Beach was one of my favorite beaches to read a book or nap at. It features a large park, lots of trees, plenty of opportunities to wind surf or kite surf, and lots of sea turtles to spot in the water.
Kula features a thick forest full of rich greenery and orange bark. It’s absolutely stunning! Lots of people head up here for a hike, to spot deer and wild boar, or to go frisbee golfing!
Paia Bay Park was one of our favorite spots for swimming, simply because the waves weren’t as crazy and the sand was really soft. We parked ourselves here quite a lot, swam, and watched the sunset.
My uncle showed us a local spot where you can take snorkel gear to and snorkel in shallow, clear water over a coral reef. It’s nice because there aren’t many people here and it feels like you have the whole shore to yourself. You can see our dropped pin here. Make sure to bring a couple towels or chairs to sit on!
I really loved coming across Baby Beach in Lahaina. It was a really calm beach, perfect for those looking for less waves! It’s a great stop if you’re on that side of the island or if you’re on your way to a luau. Which brings me to my next suggestion…
Go to a luau!
It’s always fun to have your typical Hawaiian activity — and we knew we just had to visit to luau! We ended up going to the Feast at Lele, a seaside luau with a 5 course meal and a fun show leading you through the cultures of Hawaii, Aotearoa, Tahiti and Samoa.
Restaurants & Food
James is a huge foodie so we (of course) visited a ton of places that were highly recommended to us! Here are a few we really enjoyed:
- Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop: The most perfect place for delicious home-cooked pies and treats. Great for all kinds of diets! $$.
- Mama’s Fish House: A fancy beachside restaurant with wonderful cocktails, entrees, and ocean views. I’m vegetarian and they were able to substitute out the meat for veggie/tofu options! $$$$.
- Nuka: A modern Japanese intimate restaurant with plenty of clean eating options. $$$.
- Maui Tropical Plantation: Take a tour of their plantation (full of fruits and sugarcane) and eat at their restaurant! It’s a beautiful spot with amazing entrees (and good beers!!). $$$.
Bring the sunscreen and enjoy the weather.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Maui! It is such a special place with so much golden light and warm weather. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out!! Enjoy!