Whether you’re heading to Maui on a family vacay or a solo mission, you’re probably trying to scout out the best adventures to fill your time. Luckily, there is no shortage of incredible things to do on the Valley Isle, from snorkeling to hiking to taking a slick 1957 Porsche for a spin.
So before you lock down your itinerary, Check out these unforgettable Maui experiences.
Snorkeling at Molokini graces nearly every Maui visitor’s itinerary- and for a good reason. The offshore crater is a veritable aquarium known for its dazzling reef home to over 250 species of tropical fish. In turn, Molokini’s stunning biodiversity attracts heaps of boat tours to its waters every day- so many that picking one excursion out of the pack can be quite a challenge.
However, Redline Rafting has become a definitive standout for several reasons. In addition to being one of the first boats to the crater every morning (hello, uncrowded Molokini), they only carry a maximum of 24 guests aboard their speedy red raft. Plus, one of their most popular Molokini tours also visits the crater’s back wall and the jagged lava coast near La Perouse - an area where larger tour boats dare not venture. Undoubtedly, exploring South Maui’s rugged, isolated coastline is one for the books.
Head up Haleakala’s rolling slopes to the cool region of Upcountry. For many visitors, Upcountry serves as nothing more than the gateway to Haleakala National Park. However, the area is full of hidden gems, and its charm is unmatched. To get a feel for Maui’s paniolo (cowboy) country, spend a relaxing night at North Shore Lookout, a chic bed and breakfast tucked in the hills above Makawao Town, before setting off on your Upcountry exploration.
From the manicured grounds at Aliʻi Kula Lavender to the hiking trails in Makawao Forest, there are seemingly endless unique Maui experiences to be discovered in Upcountry. The region doesn’t skimp on dining either. Top the day off with pizza and locally brewed beer from two cherished local establishments- Restaurant Marlow and Mahalo Aleworks.
There’s no need to explain why this is an unforgettable experience- I mean, you’ll be flying a plane, for goodness sake! The folks over at Fly Maui run the island’s only flight school, and they are more than happy to show prospective students the ropes on a discovery flight. You’ll learn the ins and outs of communicating with air traffic control, how to steer the plane on the ground, and most importantly, the lowdown of taking off and flying.
Discovery flights head out to Hana Airport for a brief touch and go, and you’ll be able to take in the stunning scenery below. Don’t worry, your instructor will be able to take the reigns at any moment, in case you want to snap a photo or two.
Under the shadow of the lush West Maui Mountains, the West Maui coast is studded with secluded cerulean bays, crescents of golden sand, and blooming coral reefs. And as any West Maui sailor can attest, the views from the sea are unmatched.
Luckily, experiencing the magic of the West Maui coast is as easy as stepping off the sand and aboard the Trilogy. Docking right on the sand at Kaʻanapali Beach, Trilogy’s Discover Kaʻanapali Tour takes guests along a five-hour journey to some of West Maui’s best snorkeling spots. From the kaleidoscopic waters at Honolua Bay to the oldest reef on the island at Olowalu, this sailing excursion reveals the best of West Maui. Whether you’re keen to explore beneath the surface or simply kick back in the sun with a mai tai in hand, the hospitable crew will see to it that you have everything you need for a memorable day.
If you’re traveling to Maui, you’re probably planning on doing the road to Hana- so why not add some style to the drive? Maui Roadsters boasts a rental fleet of 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster Convertibles, one of the most iconic sports cars ever produced. Navigating the rural route’s 600 turns and 59 bridges becomes a lot more fun in a head-turning classic car.
No two reefs are created equal, and the secluded shoals near Manele Bay on Lanaʻi certainly deserve a spot on this list. Uncrowded and untouched, Lanaʻi’s reefs are teeming with life, plus the island is a favorite hangout for spinner dolphins.
Several tour boats visit Lanaʻi’s coastal waters, but the Kaulana, Hawaii Ocean Project’s sturdy, double-decker boat is one of the most comfortable. Outfitted with all the fixings for an epic day out on the water, you can plunge into crystal clear seas via waterslide, explore the depths with provided snorkel gear, chow down on a freshly grilled lunch, and keep your eyes peeled for spinner dolphins along the way.
Veteran visitors often long for Maui’s tropical sunsets after returning home. First-timers? You’re in store for a spectacular treat. The cool breeze, warm hues reflecting off the sea, and the anticipation of the green flash- Maui sunsets are not easily forgotten. And while watching it from your hotel balcony or the beach is all well and good, the extravagance of it all is seriously upped when witnessed from the sea, drink in hand.
That’s where Kai Kanani comes in. This luxury catamaran offers one of the finest dinner cruises on the island and serves as the only beach-loading catamaran in all of South Maui. With live music, an open bar, friendly service, and a delectable menu by The Market Maui, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better sunset setting than aboard Kai Kanani’s sunset sail.
When renowned writer Jack London visited Haleakala Crater in the early 1900s, he wrote of his experience, “Haleakala has a message of beauty and wonder for the human soul that cannot be delivered by proxy.” Simply put: you need to see the beauty of Haleakala with your own eyes to comprehend it. Although London didn’t witness a Haleakala sunrise, we feel he sums up the magic of the crater pretty well.
Since London’s visit, millions of visitors have flocked to Haleakala at dawn to witness the volcano’s epic beauty for themselves. Unfortunately (but understandably), a reservation system has been put in place to enter the park between 3 am and 7 am to help mitigate the overwhelming crowds at sunrise. Given the fame of the sunrise, to say that it can be tricky to score a reservation would be a gross understatement. However, some reputable tours, namely Haleakala EcoTours, will happily take you up to the summit for sunrise. Not to mention, it’s a lot more enjoyable for someone else to drive the winding road up to the summit in the pre-dawn hours.
With off-road trails that wind through 1,400 acres of wild West Maui land, the Maui Off-Road Adventures UTV excursion takes you along the road less traveled- literally. This UTV tour is one of the most notoriously exciting land-based activities on the island. Blaze through forests and grassland on narrow red-dirt trails, and take in stunning views of the Kaʻanapali coastline below.
Of course, tours run rain or shine, and if it’s been raining, you better come prepared to get dirty. But hey, a muddy UTV tour is a surefire way to bring home one of those famous Maui “Red-Dirt Shirts” without ever having to step foot in a t-shirt shop.
While we’ve covered a few of the best Maui experiences, there are countless more to be discovered. Looking to get more ideas about what to do and where to eat while on the Valley Isle? Give the Aloha360 Podcast a listen, and take a deep dive into everything Maui.