Things to do in Maui for a Quick Trip Adventure
Aloha! Maui is an adventure filled beautiful island with thrilling hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, biking, surfing, the famous Road to Hana and more! Read on to find out how to make your own quick trip adventure.
In Maui you’ll find crystal clear turquoise blue and warm waters with palm trees blowing in the breeze and mountains in the distance. This tropical paradise is an oasis of beauty with a long (and sometimes violent) history of land grabs and rulers. It’s easy to understand why so many would want this piece of wonderland.
Where to Stay in Maui
We stayed on the northwestern coastal area of Lahaina where there are beautiful high rise condos all along the shoreline with help of VRBO. You can’t go wrong staying anywhere in this area as there are many accommodations as well as options for restaurants and some shopping. The communities have a Lahaina address and include: Kaanapali Golf Estates, Kahana, Kapalua, Montage, Kapalua Bay, Napili, North Kaanapali Beach, Olowalu, Pineapple Hill, and Puunoa.
Accommodations in Maui
I stayed in Kahana ( VRBO) which has a beautiful view the distant islands of Lanai and Molokai, snorkeling, and is a good place for both families and couples. It’s also a perfect place to spot humpback whales in the winter months!
There is certainly something nice to be said about waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore while the birds sing their morning songs. So if you find a reasonable deal for a place on the beach (preferably with a little kitchen because of the high prices of food everywhere) then I say – take it! (I stayed in the Valley Isle Resort (through VRBO) in Kahana and recommend it!)
Shopping in Maui
I was expecting Maui to be more built up than it is. That’s not to say that it’s remote – there are areas where the bigger stores are clustered (mostly near the major airport – Kahului Airport) and most of the other areas are condos or homes (in the midwestern and southwestern side of the island).
There are 3 major grocery stores in Lahaina – Safeway, Foodland Farms and Times. Plus there are several speciality and smaller markets. Prepare yourself mentally for the Hawai’ian prices – which means high (of course everything has to be flown or shipped in).
A fun area to eat is at the Kaanapali food trucks called Broke da Mouth.
Whaler’s Village of Kaanapali has lots of shops, restaurants, experiences and even fun events. If you are not within walking distance of this village (or staying in Kaanapali) then it’s $12 to park in the parking garage. The ABC Store here has souvenir/beach/convenience items with lots of things you may have forgotten or need at good-for-Hawai’i prices. I loved the Maui Poke restaurant here with their make-your-own fresh and delightful poke bowls.
Transportation around Maui
You will certainly need a car to get around anywhere on Maui, because the airport is more in the central portion of the island and many of the accommodations or adventures are on the shorelines.
Beaches in Maui
The water is clear, warm (75-80 degrees Fahrenheit all year long) and turquoise! That means that you can swim, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, sail, surf, etc. in most places right off of the golden sand. Note that in many of the coastal areas there is only a small beachfront or no beach at all.
Surfing in Maui
There are always an abundance of surfers at the beach off of Highway 30 between Lahaina and Maalaea at all the “beach parks” along the way. Bring your surfboard (there were some rental trucks there as well), pull off the road, park in the sand and hang 10.
Maui has many surfing areas for beginners with many side stipulations about reefs, rocks and riptides, so do your homework on the area before you head out.
Some of the best waves for advanced surfers are: Ho’okipa Beach, Lahaina Reefs, Honolua Bay, and Olowalu Beach.
Of course, we cannot forget the famous Pe’ahi Beach (nicknamed “Jaws Beach,”) on the North Shore. It is strictly for professional surfers only due to its incredibly high (sometimes 70 foot) surf. Note that these waves only occur a few times per year in the winter, and it takes a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get to this location due to a dirt road and a rainy area.
Hiking in Maui
This is how I did these 2 hikes together: Kapalua Coastal Trail, (Burger Shack detour), Dragon’s Teeth Trail.
Park in the same parking lot for both of these hikes.
Driving directions: Take Honoapiilani Highway (Hawaii Route 30) northeast – make a left onto Office Road (Kapalua) and take it to the end (near the Ritz-Carlton). Turn right and the parking lot is right there. My maps navigator had it wrong.
Kapalua Coastal Trail – Hiking in Maui
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a lovely trail along the ocean with incredible bluffs and turquoise blue waters to fill up your senses. As you hike along the coastline you’ll encounter warm sprays of water billowing up onto the large lava rock formations. This hike is full of lava protrusions from a west Maui volcano that erupted 320,000 years ago! There were a good amount of people on the trail, but it wasn’t unbearably crowded. To get to this trail, I started the trail at the Dragon’s Teeth parking lot and headed south.
The Burger Shack Break Between hikes: Once returning to the parking lot off of Office Road from the Kapalua Coastal Trail then head north on foot. You will basically just be on a sidewalk that leads right to The Burger Shack for a refreshing drink on D.T. Fleming Beach!
Dragon’s Teeth Trail – Hiking in Maui
Dragon’s Teeth hike (a.k.a., Makaluapuna Point) is a quick 0.5 mile trail out and back right from this parking lot off of Office Road in the Kapalua community. Head straight down to the water for a sweet and quick trail right out to this unique lava formation. The jagged “teeth” are made from the lava from a volcano eruption. When the lava hit the water, the wind and waves blew it back to form these cool black “teeth.” Don’t forget to look over the edge for Hawaiian sea turtles.
Nakalele Blowhole Hike – Hiking in Maui
The Nakalele Blowhole is a beautiful natural spout that’s an amazing sight to see and explore. The blowhole is about 15 miles north of the Lahaina area. The drive to the blowhole passes many stunning overlooks with hairpin turns along the waters edge up in the mountains. There are some options to pull over and enjoy the view on the way.
The spout is actually ocean water shooting through a 3-foot diameter hole in a lava shelf. Anything you read about this place gives many warnings of death around the lava shelf either being sucked into the hole itself or from large, unexpected waves breaking over the lava cliffs (near the blowhole) and pulling people into the rough waters. Just use caution and don’t get too close.
If you are not interested in a short but decent rock scramble down to the blowhole (wear secured sport sandals with backs or hiking shoes as it’s also slippery) then you can also view it from up above. The blowhole is a remarkable sight especially if it’s windy – a spout every 30 seconds-ish! Turns out it’s almost always windy there, but if you check out the tide chart and go when it’s high tide then you’ll get the best show – up to 50 feet of spray.
Haleakalā National Park
There is a national park on the island of Maui and it’s a volcano (in a non-eruptive stage)! Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to hike or bike down this volcano, as it was further away from Lahaina than I’d realized. If you have the time, there is a lot to explore on this volcano!
Note that some of the hiking trails are at the end of the Road to Hana, so plan accordingly, as there is a lot of drive time to get to that location.
The Road to Hana (all day trip) – How to Prepare and Adventure
The Road to Hana is a long road through the rainforest and jungle on the eastern side of Maui. It has over 600 curves and 54 one lane bridges on this windy road. I drove it in a standard sized rental car without any difficulty. Just take your time and follow the rules, and you’ll be in good shape. Note that it does take a long time to do this 34 mile drive (that’s Paia to Hana but you could go further to the Seven Sacred Pools a.k.a. Oheo Pools). There are more than 40 stops along the way and the “stops” are the true reason for this road. The Road to Hana includes waterfalls, beaches, gardens, swimming holes, food stands, caves (“lava tubes”), and a state park.
A few things to do before getting on the Road to Hana:
- Gas up ahead of time (or in Paia town)
- Get cash (many road side stops only take cash)
- Put plastic down or something to cover your car’s floor boards as many of the trails to waterfalls or hikes are muddy in this rainforest
- Start the tour (in Paia town) at 8am so that you can finish it all before dark
- Make reservations at the Waiʻānapanapa State Park (black sand beach) weeks ahead of time. I recommend the 12:30-3:00 time frame if you start the Road to Hana at 8:00am. This gives you time to see all the sights ahead of time and have enough time to explore and even swim at this park. *Note that I did NOT receive an email confirmation, so I took a photo of the voucher with the QR code right after I made my reservation and that worked to get into the park. Otherwise, I would not have been able to get in.
- Download the Shaka Guy app. It’s a tour that follows you on GPS and tells about the highlights.
- Bring a picnic lunch and/or heavy snacks and drinks
- Bring a car charger for your cell phone (note that most of this road does not have cell service)
- If you plan to swim – wear a swim suit under your clothes. Bring a towel, reef safe sunscreen, a change of clothes and a bag to store your wet clothes/swim suit
On the Road to Hana I made the following stops:
- Ho’okipa Beach Park Lookout – 1st stop
- Twin Falls (parking $10 – cash or card) – 2 waterfalls – Mike Marker 2
- Garden Grove Cafe roadside stand – for famous banana bread
- Waikamoi Ridge Nature Trail – a walk through the rain forest with eucalyptus trees
- Kaumahina State Wayside Park – views from above and bathroom
- Ke’anae Peninsula (lava formations on the water, tide pools, breaking waves) – Mike Marker 16.8
- Secret lava tube (cave) – ~100 yard long cave right off the road – Mile Marker 23
- Coconut Glen’s (coconut milk ice cream)
- Waiʻānapanapa State Park (black sand beach) – reservations needed – Mile Marker 32
- Small lava tube (cave) to the right of (while looking at the water) the black sand beach
- Food truck in Hana
- Many quick stops for waterfalls just before the one lane bridges
- Many stops for scenic overlooks
Kayaking and Snorkeling in Maui
Getting into Hawaii’s beautiful warm waters and spying on gentle marine life is another not-to-missed-adventure in Maui!
I highly recommend Hawaiian Paddle Sports for a truly Hawaiian experience kayaking and snorkeling (with sea turtles!). Our paddle guide, Lowe, was a treasure trove of information on Hawaiian history, culture, geography and geology formations. We also learned all about our sea friends including the turtles and many of the beautiful sea creatures that we would have easily missed right under our floating feet! Definitely a must-do.
I kayaked and snorkeled off the shores of the southwestern region of Maui in the town of Kihei. This led to also exploring that area which is more of a town than a resort area.
You will also see people snorkeling around the resorts in Lahaina. Either bring, rent or look for snorkeling equipment in your condo (this was my good luck). Other known snorkeling spots in Maui.
Maui Sunsets – Need to Know
Maui sunsets are spectacular! We all know the sun sets in the west where most of Maui accommodations are located. Simply walk to the beach or rent a kayak or paddle board to sit in the surf while the sun slowly descends near the mountains of the distant islands. It is a sight to behold!
Sunset Tip: At sunset in Maui, many people blow into a conch shell (“pū”). I first thought it was a tsunami warning (haha!), but soon learned it’s a Hawaiian ritual with a long history. In Hawaiian culture the blowing of the conch shell has a sacred meaning as a journey to eternity or to begin a ceremony as well as previously being used for communication across the waters. In modern times it is used to bid farewell to the day and to say thanks (“mahalo”) for that day.
“A hui hou mālama pono!” (Until we meet again, take care!)
The Hawaiian language has 13 characters and many diacritical markings. While respecting the Hawaiian language, this website has had to omit some of these diacritical markings to improve the online experience. I acknowledge the importance of using these diacritical markings to preserve the language and culture of Hawaii and will respectfully use them in all communications beyond this website.