Top Things to Do on Maui

Visitors to any of the Hawaiian Islands are in for a lifetime experience. But Maui, as celebrities like Steve Tyler and Oprah Winfrey have discovered, offers more of a relaxed pace.

Also known as the valley isle, Maui offers stunning contrasts between cascading waterfalls and alpine peaks to boho chic towns and award-winning resorts. But to see Maui and all its splendors requires time. The road to Hāna requires a three-hour drive—if you’re leaving from Lāhainā or Kīhei—and stretches along 50 miles past taro patches, over single-lane bridges, waterfall pools and lush rainforests. While waking up in the early hours may not seem like a vacation, seeing the sun rise atop Haleakalā is worth the effort. Known as the “House of the Sun,” Haleakalā majestically rises 10,023 feet above sea level and offers a winding odyssey of 36 miles of hiking trails, which open to fascinating landscapes (see also: Haleakala National Park: A Guide for Travelers).

To get a historical sense of Maui, Lāhainā is the portal to the past. Often called the “jewel in the crown of Maui,” Lāhainā’s history lays bare to see through its road structure and architecture, which have been carefully preserved over the generations. Before it was the rowdy whaling epicenter of the Pacific, Lāhainā was the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i.

So, as author Mark Twain once said, "I went to Maui to stay a week and stayed five."

Snorkeling off Molokini

Legend has it that Molokini was once a beautiful woman transformed into stone by her rival, the fire goddess Pele. Creative as the legend is, the 80-degree turquoise waters and exotic marine life around this tiny crescent-shaped island three miles off the southwest coast of Maui is no myth.


One of Hawaii’s biggest attractions is the stunning 10,023-foot Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, located on the island of Maui. Haleakala’s most magnificent feature is the crater itself: 3,000 feet deep, 2.5 miles across and a circumference of 21 miles.


The most frequently visited spot on the island, Lahaina is the only town in leeward Maui with a genuine downtown. Its primary draw is Front Street, a crowded main drag where a variety of restaurants, shops and hideaway cafes tucked into side streets create a maze of quirky charm.


Once an plantation town centered on Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, today Paia enjoys status as one of the top windsurfing destinations in the world.

Maui Ocean Center

This marine park is one of Maui’s top attractions and has been called “The Hawaiian Aquarium.” It includes a 750,000-gallon open ocean exhibit, with 2,000-plus fishes, live coral displays, green sea turtles, encounters with sharks and rays, and a touch tank filled with starfish and sea urchins.

Bailey House Museum

Built in 1833, Wailuku's Bailey House get a glimpse of both pre-contact Hawai‘i – the site was once the Royal compound of Maui’s last ruling chief, Kahekili, and Hawaiians’ sense of place makes the pre-contact component here critical – and a slice of missionary-era life.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

Located along the south-central coast, between the towns of Kīhei and Mā‘alaea, Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge measures approximately 700 acres and is one of the few natural wetlands remaining among the Hawaiian Islands.  The refuge is a natural basin for a 56-square-mile watershed from the west Maui mountains.

Iao Valley State Park

Covered in green foliage, the iconic ‘Īao Needle is a natural basalt pinnacle that  looms over the ‘Īao stream and is surrounded by the walls of the Pu‘u Kukui, the crater of a dormant volcano in the West Maui Mountains.

Road to Hana

The small town of Hana is isolated from the rest of the island, and the epic drive here on the Hana Highway is one of the most scenic in the entire state. The highway has more than 600 curves and 50 bridges and passes lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and seaside cliffs.


This unpretentious South Maui town draws locals and visitors to its beaches. Some of north Kihei’s beaches are not ideal for swimming, but the brisk winds off Mai Poina Oe lau Beach nevertheless draws windsurfers and kiteboarders.