Travelers flock to Maui, Hawaii for many reasons. Some visitors are drawn to the island's luxury resorts or its premier shopping and restaurants. But for me, Maui is more than a tropical paradise – it's an adventurer's paradise.
From hiking to mountain biking to surfing and snorkeling, outdoor enthusiasts won't be short on things to do and places to see. The following is a 6-day itinerary that provides a sampling of Maui's best active pursuits mixed with a couple of relaxing ones.
Six Day Itinerary of Maui
Day 1: Aloha! Welcome to Maui
- Arrive at Kaluhui Airport in the early afternoon.
- Stop at Whole Foods or Safeway, less than a 10-minute drive west of airport, to stock up on snacks and water.
- Check into hotel, get settled, and spend the afternoon relaxing by the beach or the poolside.
- Watch the sunset and torch lighting at Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach near the Sheraton Hotel.
- Dine on a wholesome, vegetarian dinner at Choice Health Bar.
Day 2: Beaches and Trails in South Maui
- Drive 45 minutes south to Kihei and grab a filling breakfast at Kihei Caffe. Rent snorkel gear from Maui Dive Shop or another local outfitter.
- Head 15 minutes south to Wailea and spend the morning lounging and offshore snorkeling at Big Beach in Makena Beach State Park.
- If you feel like a change of scenery, stop at Secret Cove on Pa’ako Beach just south of Makena. This cove is not so much of a secret place anymore as it’s a popular spot for newlyweds to pose for wedding photography.
- Beat the midday sun and return to Kihei for lunch. We suggest getting take-out from the scrumptious salad bar at Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods and enjoying it under a shady palm on Kalama or Waipuilani Beach Park up the street.
- Spend the afternoon exploring other beaches in South Maui or touring Kihei. In the later afternoon, drive south to La Perouse Bay to hike and watch sun set along the ruins and lava fields – remnants of Haleakala's most recent eruption in 1790.
- On the way back to hotel, grab a Mexican dinner with a Hawaiian twist at Maui Tacos in Kihei or Lahaina.
Day 3: Road to Hana
- Leave by 7:00 am for a day driving around the eastern, less developed side of Maui, starting on Hana Highway. Stop at Whole Foods in Kahului for a buffet breakfast and to stock up on snacks or grab them in the charming north shore town of Pa’ia. This is a good point to fill the car tank up with gas. Once you start traveling the backside of Hana Highway, you will probably lose cell phone coverage so make sure to download offline maps or carry printed ones.
- Spend the rest of the day exploring the windy 64.4-mile long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360. This trip is all about the journey. Stop wherever catches your fancy: scenic lookout points, roadside stands, waterfalls, landmarks, and hikes. We suggest researching the major sites you want to hit in advance since there is so much to see. Our favorite highlights are the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park and the 2-hour Pipiwai Trail located near the Pools of Ohe'o.
- Most people back-track up Hana Highway after visiting the Pools of Ohe’o, but we prefer continuing on Route 31 for a road trip along the backside of Haleakala (allow 2-3 hours). Around mile marker 39, the road narrows and becomes bumpy for about 10 miles. It becomes smooth again near Kaupo where you can grab drinks and a popsicle from the historic Kaupo Store.
- Savor the rugged, windswept scenery of the beaches and volcano at lookout and pullout points. This part of the island is a beautiful area to witness sunset.
Day 4: Snorkel/Scuba Tour + Kalapua Coastal Trail
- Take a snorkel or SCUBA tour, most leave in the early morning, around 7:30, when the water is calmest. Boats usually visit two sites: the crystal clear Molokini Crater and a second reef for spotting sea turtles. During the winter, whale watching is included. We recommend booking with the intimate and family-owned Aqua Adventures. Paddlers may prefer kayak and snorkel excursions along the coastline, offered by companies like Maui Ecotours.
- Spend the afternoon relaxing. About 1-1.5 hours before sunset, head to the Kapalua trailhead, accessible from the free, public lot next to Napili Kai Beach Resort. Meander through the beaches, villas, and jagged lava terrain as the sun dips behind the ocean.
- On your return from the trail, stop at Maui Brewing Company for a refreshing beer or dinner.
Day 5: Haleakala National Park
- If you don’t mind leaving around 3:00 am, bundle up in warm clothes and go to Haleakala Crater to watch the sunrise and fog lift over the volcanic landscape. If early mornings aren’t your thing, avoid the largest crowds and head to the summit for sunset instead.
- Spend the rest of your day mountain biking down the volcano or admiring the views and wildlife from one of the over 30 miles of hiking trails in the national park. Trails range from 10-minute treks to full day ones.
- The ocean is calmest in the morning, making it the best time to schedule a surf or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) session near Lahaina. It’s best to arrange rentals at least a day in advance since many of the shops are not open until later in the day.
- If you’re burned out by the beach, try a morning hike on one of the emerald trails in Iao Valley and see the Needle before the afternoon clouds roll in and block the view.
- Spend your last afternoon relaxing or lazing by the sea. Or get your last dose of action by hiking Waihee Ridge Trail for sweeping vistas of the valley and ocean.
- Treat yourself to dinner at a nice restaurant. We like Roy’s in Kaanapali for its fusion of Hawaiian and Asian fare and offering of a separate, creative à la carte vegan menu.
Day 6: Departure Day
- Take a last morning stroll along the beach and partake in a filling breakfast before leaving.
- Depart from Kahului Airport and catch a last glance at Maui's tropical terrain as you fly over the island.
Do you have any questions or tips for visiting Maui? Leave them in the reply section below.