When visiting a tropical island like Maui, many people want to kick back and relax by the ocean with a fruity drink in hand. Maui is a great place for that! But Maui is also a really interesting island, full of culture, history and natural wonders. You don’t want to plan out every minute of your visit, but if you are looking for things to do in Lahaina, or nearby, here are 5 fun things to do on Maui.
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Attend a Maui Luau
This goes for any Hawaiian island vacation: you must go to a luau! (Full confession: my first luau was at the Polynesian Resort at Disney World, and I still remember the rum punch 20 years later!) I chose the Old Lahaina Luau and from talking to Maui regulars, it’s the best luau on Maui, hands down. They really do a phenomenal job telling the story of the Hawaiian islands and the Polynesian culture, in the most entertaining way, with the most elaborate costumes! You’ll also enjoy a delicious buffet of regional foods and an open bar featuring loads of tropical cocktails.
Haleakala National Park
Even if you are not a National Park fan like I am, it’s worth the trip to the summit of Haleakala National Park. Not only will you drive through a variety of ecosystems, with killer views of the island, you’ll also ascend to over 10,000 feet above sea level! If you’re lucky, you might even get to experience Hawaiian snow! One popular way to visit the crater is on a sunrise bike tour. The road is windy, but paved so you can also drive yourself if you’d like to do some hiking around the crater. (Tour groups are not allowed to hike as they would like to limit impact on the fragile eco-system.)
Maui Boat Charters
If you are visiting Maui, you will want to get out on the water at least one time. If you visit during whale season (starts in mid-December) you’ll definitely want to book a whale watching tour. I was a bit early, so I chose the Lanai Snorkel trip with Ultimate Whale Watch. Luckily, the whales don’t follow the calendar to a tee, so we spotted a few even though it wasn’t quite whale season yet! Another great option is a sunset dinner cruise. Hawaiian sunsets are legendary, even more so from the deck of a dinner cruise!
I’ao Valley State Park
This was another stop on the Haleakala Maui tour that I took, but it’s near Kahului so it would be a good stop on your way to or from the airport. This park has a very different feel from the beaches of Maui and the summit of Haleakala crater. It’s very “Jurassic Park” and reminds me of photos I’ve seen from the Pitons of St. Lucia. There’s a nice hiking trail, with bridges crossing a rushing river. You’ll get good views all the way back out to Kahului.
The Road to Hana
Driving the Road to Hana is probably the most popular tourist activity on Maui, and for now, it remains on my Maui bucket list for another trip. While many visitors choose to drive the road on their own, there are also many tours available. The road is windy and takes a full day, up to 12 hours depending on how many stops you make. There are waterfalls and beaches, including black and red sand beaches.
If you prefer to self-drive, check out Hana Highway – Mile by Mile: The Road to Hana and Beyond
Where to Stay in Maui
When planning a visit to Maui, it can be tough to decide where to stay. There are so many different areas of the island you can choose from, it will all depend on your taste and budget.
- Kapalua – at the northern tip of Maui, Kapalua is an exclusive resort area. Places to stay include the Ritz Carlton and Kapalua Villas.
- Ka’anapali – just south of Kapalua and north of Lahaina is Ka’anapali Beach, a popular resort area. 3 miles of coastline are fronted by seven resorts, including the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort, where I stayed during my visit to Maui.
- Lahaina – Lahaina is the most-visited spot on Maui and is where you’ll find tons of restaurants and shops, as well as lower and mid-range lodging options.
- Kihei – Kihei is on Maui’s southwest shore, in the sunniest and driest part of the island. Kihei has a wide range of accommodation options, including many condos and vacation rentals.
- Wailea – Further south from Kihei, Wailea is another popular resort area featuring upscale hotels such as the Fairmont, Four Seasons and Grand Wailea.
- Paia – close to Kahului on the North Shore or Maui, Paia is a hippie town where celebrities like Willie Nelson live. You won’t find big resorts here, but there are guest houses and inns where you can stay.
- Hana – at the end of the Road to Hana, you will find a few guest houses and B&B’s, if you choose to break up the long drive into 2 days.
- Kahului – Kahului is where the airport (OGG) is located, so you’ll find the usual assortment of chain hotels for business travelers, especially. I wouldn’t suggest staying here your entire vacation, but if you have an early flight, one night might be a good idea to avoid Maui traffic.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Maui?