Hawaii is a dream vacation destination, but if Oahu isn’t your scene, check out Maui, Oahu’s more adventurous sibling, for fewer crowds and enough adventure to fill a lifetime.
29 Things to Do in Maui in 2023
Maui is the island of adventure in the Hawaiian isles, with things to do wherever you go, fishing, horseback riding, sightseeing, unique locations, history, culture, and helicopter rides.
Maui is perfect for families looking to fill their itinerary with one activity after another while still having plenty of amenities for you to enjoy.
Maui has all the benefits of Oahu, with fewer crowds and more to explore, from state park beaches to volcanic fields and even rainforests with iconic landmarks.
The views are stunning, the beaches sunny, and you can have more fun than you think possible on vacation to the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Read Next: The Best Luaus in Hawaii
Luaus are a Hawaiian specialty, an absolute must-see when you vacation. And Maui has some genuinely spectacular luaus to take part in.
The Te Au Moana Luau at the Marriot on Wailea Beach is a favorite, as is the Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton in Kaanapali. Luaus are a great way to learn about Hawaiian culture and have fun on your vacation.
When it comes to the top ziplining destinations globally, Hawaii can compete with the best of them. There are two main ziplining tours available on Maui, the Eight Lines Jungle Zipline Tour in Haiku and the Seven Lines North Shore Zipline Tour.
Both are great, so you can decide based on the scenery you’d like to see. The jungle tour includes rainforest and exotic animals, while the North Shore tour includes jaw-dropping cliffs and tropical beaches.
Snorkeling is a significant draw on Maui, with several famous snorkeling spots, reefs, turtles, tropical fish, dolphins, etc. There are tons of tours available.
But pay special attention to ones that tour famous locations like Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, or Lanai. You can even couple your snorkeling adventure with a short cruise to get luxury and experience all in one package.
4. Helicopter Tour
Helicopter tours are popular on all islands, though they’re trendy on islands with active volcanoes. Hawaiian islands with active volcanoes include Big Island and, you guessed it, Maui.
Flying over an active volcano and viewing the lava fields from the air is a truly unforgettable experience. You can see all of Maui from an airborne perspective in about 45 minutes, making it easy to fit into packed schedules.
5. Lahaina ATV Adventure
The Lahaina ATV Adventure lets you get off the beaten path with this fun, upbeat, and lively adventure the entire family can enjoy.
Exploring the wilds of Maui in an ATV helps you tour the island in a unique way that you just can’t from the regular roads. The only problem is that the ride can get rough, so it’s not recommended for those who can’t handle the ride of their lives.
6. Atlantis Submarine Adventure
Atlantic doesn’t just run fancy sunset cruises. They also offer incredible submarine tours. Explore the beaches from the other side of the waves as you dive deep into the oceans surrounding Maui.
You can even snorkel on this tour, and it is something extraordinary. After all, who can say they’ve been in a real-life submarine?
7. Road Trip
Maui is the most popular Hawaiian island for road tripping. Exploring the coastline and the towns and cities of Maui can create one of the best sightseeing tours.
The Road To Hana is a day trip along with one of the most scenic highways in Hawaii. There is stunning scenery, and you see the state parks, sanctuaries, and small towns.
Of course, you can also just make your entire vacation a road trip. Stopping in the small towns, driving the highways, and exploring the island yourself can be an enriching experience.
The rainforest is a magical landscape filled to the brim with vitality and life. Anyone who visits Hawaii absolutely must see one of the incredible rainforests that dot the islands.
On Maui, you can visit one of the several state or national parks and hike around.
Of course, hiking isn’t the only activity available. Museums, tours, ziplining, biking, and more are all open for exploring one of the world’s rarest ecosystems.
Biking is another popular activity on Maui. If you enjoy exploring the island but want to get more exercise than sitting around in a car, biking is the perfect activity.
You can take a loop trail, bike between small towns, or tow your motorcycle into the upcountry for rough and tumble mountain biking. There are tons to see and do in Maui, but getting from place to place on a bike is a fantastic way to explore it all.
10. Whale Watching
If you visit Hawaii in the winter, you’ll find that one of the most popular activities available is whale watching. Humpback whales live in the warm waters of Hawaii in the winter months, making it perfect for those who want a warm winter getaway.
Seeing these majestic and enormous creatures in action can inspire anyone. Any winter visit must include a whale watching tour to see the humpbacks in all their glory.
11. Historic Plantations
You’ll likely think of Hawaiian culture and life before the Unites States colonized the islands when I say Hawaii and history. But the colonization period is also a part of Hawaiian history and should be remembered.
Taking a tour through a historic plantation will give you the history and insight into the lives of the Hawaiian people back when exploitation and colonization ran rampant.
Besides the historic plantations, Maui is known for its agriculture and farming. Several farms in the area deliver food straight to resorts and hotels for guests to enjoy, and the “farm to table” approach helps them live a healthy lifestyle.
Taking a tour of one of these farms will have you picking fresh organic produce and visiting with farm animals to see how the food you eat is grown and harvested.
13. Horseback Riding
You may think farms and ranches are the same things, but they couldn’t be more different. The farms grow food, while ranchers raise animals like cows and pigs and, most importantly, horses.
Riding a horse through the stellar Maui scenery and then enjoying paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) is a fantastic experience.
Hawaii has a long history of cowboys and ranching, so this activity has something for everyone in your group. Plus, luaus are overdone, and paniolos and delicious barbeque are the best way to enjoy Hawaiian cuisine.
14. Haleakala National Park
Any visit to Maui would be remiss without a visit to Haleakala National Park. The unreal landscapes, the untouched serenity of nature, and the once-in-a-lifetime sunrise will get you out of bad early on your precious vacation days.
Tour the remote Kipahulu district to feel alone on the coast and rainforest, or drag yourself out of bed for one of the best sunrises you’ll ever see.
Read Next: Best National Parks in the United States
15. Waianapanapa National Park
The Waianapanapa National Park lies along the Road to Hana, but you can easily enjoy this location for a week or more. Camping, shore fishing, and an ancient Hawaiian coastal trail are just a few highlights of this iconic location.
The black volcanic coastline is different from the usual sunny beaches featured on Hawaiian postcards, but it’s still beautiful to see and enjoy.
16. Pipiwai Trail
Pipwai Trail lies inside the Haleakala National Park, and the four-mile round trip takes you by two waterfalls—the Makahiku Falls and the Waimoku Falls.
Seeing the tropical waterfalls in person is a great way to explore the rainforest and park and an incredible photo opportunity for trip albums.
17. Makena Beach State Park
Located a few miles south of Wailea, the Makena Beach State Park, with its 165 acres of nature and two beaches, is something you can enjoy.
Makena Beach is 1.5 miles long and a hundred feet wide, making it the perfect beach to stretch and sunbathe without feeling crowded. Puu Olai Beach is about a five-minute walk away and is one of the few beaches that tolerate nude sunbathing, though it has become stricter.
However, this beach is only 660 feet long and can get quite crowded. But of course, there are also trails and roads for you to enjoy, as the state park has a lot to offer besides its lovely beaches.
Read Next: The Best Beaches in Hawaii in 2023
18. Wailea Beach
Wailea is the most popular beach on Maui, and although it’s nowhere near as busy as, say, Waikiki Beach, it can still get crowded with tourists.
Nevertheless, it’s a great place to hang ten, sunbathe, or enjoy a game of beach volleyball. There are also amenities and shopping nearby for you to enjoy if you want a break from the sun.
19. Iao Valley State Park
If you think you’ve had enough of the rainforest, you are wrong. The term rainforest is elevated to a new level with Iao Valley State Park. The dense canopy skyrockets off the ground with the Iao Valley Needle, a leftover volcanic feature.
And it rises higher than the Eiffel Tower. The short hike is well worth the visit, as the view is spectacular. The vegetation suddenly rises off the valley floor.
20. Kapalua Coastal Trail
Anyone staying in the Kapalua Resort area will want to explore this lovely walking trail that wanders along the coast through lush vegetation, blackened lava fields, and white-sand beaches.
The trail passes by several famous resorts and hotels in the area, so you can stop in and indulge in their luxurious amenities while on your walk. It’s only 1.76 miles long, a three-and-a-half-mile round trip, and is a great way to explore the area.
Read Next: The Best Hikes in Hawaii in 2023
21. Hookipa Beach
Surfing and Hawaii have a long and storied history, the islands being the origin of the sport and boasting some of the most impressive surf in the world.
Everyone who visits the islands should try their hand at surfing at least once, and there’s no better place to start than Hookipa Beach.
Known for its impressive waves, the beach is a renowned surfing and windsurfing destination, with lessons from locals available. Of course, the beach also has tidepools and turtles for children to find and play with.
The Hawaiian islands are one of the foremost destinations in the world for the sport of golf. Beautiful weather, bountiful plant life, and luxurious accommodations make Maui perfect for fans of the sport.
Some of the best golf courses available on the island include The Plantation Course at Kapalua Bay, which hosts the PGA Tournament of Champions, the King Kamehameha Golf Course, and the Gold Course at Wailea Beach Club. But there are far more for you to enjoy the sport.
23. Maui Ocean Center
Visit the Maui Ocean Center to peek into the coral reefs and deep ocean ecosystems surrounding Hawaii. The unique location of Hawaii, the most isolated archipelago globally, has developed unique ecosystems with some rare species that can be found nowhere else in the world.
Visit a living coral reef, see sharks and stingrays, and learn about the incredible wildlife that makes Hawaii unique.
Surfing was mentioned for Hookipa Beach, but there are more beaches you can enjoy this iconic sport. If you can’t fit a visit to Hookipa Beach into your busy schedule, find the time to rent a surfboard or a lesson, then hit those waves.
You won’t find the surf in Hawaii anywhere else globally, and enjoying the sport where it was invented is a truly incredible experience.
25. Molokini Crater
Molokini Crater was mentioned in the snorkeling section. However, this crater is worth a separate entry on its own. The crater was leftover from an eruption over 230,000 years ago, leaving a crescent-shaped atoll in the ocean of Maui.
It includes fantastic geologic formations from hot lava hitting cold ocean water and stunning sea life. This is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in the Hawaiian islands and is a must-see when you visit Maui.
Read Next: The Best Snorkeling Spots in Hawaii
26. Historic Makawao Town
Earlier, I mentioned paniolos, Hawaiian cowboys, and their long and storied history. If you have small cowboy fans in your group, a visit to Historic Makawao Town is to explore the paniolo way of life and the record of the Hawaiian cowboy.
Stop into the delicious bakery for mouth-watering delights, and explore the lovely shopping district in Upcountry Maui.
27. Dragon’s Teeth
It can be easy to miss this roadside attraction at Makaluapuna Point, but this is something everyone should stop by and see. A unique lava formation with sharp rocks jutting into the air create a long row of pointed teeth where the land meets the sea.
Formed from lava flowing into the Pacific and waves pushing the lava back, Dragon’s Teeth are indeed a sight to behold, and it makes you feel as though you’re stepping into the mouth of an enormous fire-breathing lizard.
28. Hale Paahao Old Lahaina Prison
Fans of history can step back into the 1850s when rowdy sailors joined whaling ships and stayed in Laihana at Hale Paahao or the Old Lahaina Prison.
The town saw the need to control the rowdy sailors and built the prison to keep them under control when their fun got out of hand. It allows visitors to take a step back into a time and place rarely seen by Hawaiian outsiders.
There’s no better way to explore the oceans surrounding Hawaii than on a luxurious cruise. You can take a cruise to an island, as part of a tour, or just for dinner. There are cruises to suit all people and vacations, so ensure you enjoy one while at your tropical destination.
Things to Consider
Maui is more backcountry than Oahu, although it’s not as isolated as Lanai or Kauai. It’s best for families who still want access to standard amenities while getting off the beaten path.
If you want to see an active volcano on your trip, Maui makes the perfect destination. Maui is also one of the two islands with active volcanoes, so stay up to date on the news, but it’s pretty safe. Just exercise caution when traveling near the volcano.
When packing for Maui, buy necessities here, and check the amenities provided by hotels and resorts. Hotels and resorts often offer sunscreen, towels, and beach equipment as necessities.
This will help you save space in your luggage for clothes and souvenirs you buy on your trip. If you’re planning on road tripping around Maui, book your accommodation well ahead of time.
The islands are popular year-round, so you can’t guarantee there’ll be room in the hotels. However, a good alternative is staying at campsites around Maui.
Maui is home to one national park and eight state parks, so there are plenty of campsites for you to enjoy. You’ll have to pack extra luggage for camping gear unless you decide to buy or rent on the island.
Nevertheless, campsites fill up quickly, so book ahead of time before your trip. But campsites can be a great way to save money while exploring Maui.
Frequently Asked Questions
Maui is a lesser-known gem of the Hawaiian archipelago and is perfect for vacationers, tourists, and travelers who like to explore and adventure in their destinations. It can be hard to know where to begin and where to end, but Maui is the perfect place to go no matter what you choose.
How should I spend five days in Maui?
A road trip would be the best way to explore Maui. It begins in Wailea and along highway 31 to Hana, allowing you to explore this stretch of territory and stop at exciting destinations. Spend the night in Hana, and take some time to enjoy the city.
Then, from Hana, travel up the coast, stopping at fascinating destinations, and take a zipline tour once you’re on the North Shore. Then, head south into the upcountry and visit Makawao, the historic city of paniolos. Spend the night here, and take some time to enjoy the fresh delicacies.
Travel inland to Haleakala National Park, explore the jungle, and visit the waterfalls on the Pipiwai Trail. Afterward, head northwest until you hit Laihana, where you can hit the beach, take a snorkeling tour, a helicopter tour, or anything else you’d like.
Head south until you reach Wailea again, visit the Molokini Crater, and take some time to explore Wailea fully.
Finally, just take a day off to relax in Wailea. Hit the beach, visit a luau, and take in all that Aloha spirit. You should take some time to relax on vacation.
While this hits most of the highlights of Maui, it doesn’t even have half of the activities I mentioned, so you can come back for more visits or change the itinerary to your liking.
What is Maui known for?
Maui is known for having fewer crowds than Oahu and being an adventurous island filled with wild activities. And it lives up to its reputation, as the beaches are less crowded and there are more natural and more active activities for families and tourists to enjoy.
How much time should I spend in Maui?
Well, this is a hard one. There are tons to see and do in Maui, but if you limit it to activities you want to do, about a week should be enough to fit it all in. That’s for five to ten activities, so if there’s more you want to do, you’ll either need to spend more time here or come back for your next vacation.
Do you need a car in Maui?
A car is certainly recommended. Maui has a lot more countryside and roads than Oahu, and it’s larger than Lanai or Kauai, so a car for getting around certainly comes in handy to explore the island.
How long does it take to drive around the island?
Suppose you don’t stop anywhere and follow along the coastal highways, around 9 hours. But that’s without stopping anywhere, like the beach, state parks, charming towns, big cities, and sightseeing locations.
If you’re planning to drive all around the island, plan at least three days to give you plenty of time to explore.
So, What Are the Best Things to Do in Maui?
Maui has a little something for everyone, from historic cowboy ranches to modern cityscapes and lush rainforests. You can do everything from snorkeling in exotic locales to flying over lava fields. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, though — in paradise, anything is fun!