Hawaii’s second-largest island, Maui is a popular haunt for honeymooners seeking out its soft sands and rainforests. But, with scenic drives, a range of water activities, historic towns and even wine tasting, the island’s appeal is broader than it might first seem.
The west-coast port of Lahaina is actually the archipelago’s oldest town, and an apt place to experience native Hawaiian traditions such as a luau (a celebratory feast accompanied by song and dance). Just off the island’s southwest coast, you can snorkel in the partially flooded Molokini Crater, which shelters a coral reef teeming with fish. Then there’s the Road to Hana, which twists along Maui’s northern coastline. Driving it gives you access to black-sand beaches, forested trails and viewpoints over the glittering Pacific.
You can find enough to do on the ‘Valley Isle’ to fill several days, and scenic drives could occupy a bulk of your time. The Haleakala Crater Road in Haleakala National Park winds up to the summit of the huge, now-dormant shield volcano that gives the park its name and makes up much of the island’s surface. From the top of Maui’s highest peak, you have views over the whole island, nearby Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii (the Big Island), and the surrounding ocean.
Another well-known route is the 103 km (64 mile) Road to Hana (also known as the Hana Highway). Stretching along the coastline between the region of Kahului and the old town of Hana, the drive tempts you with places to stop off throughout. You might want to relax on a volcanic beach (we like Pa'iloa), follow forest walking trails to lagoons and waterfalls, such as Waikani Falls, sink your teeth into fresh pineapple or banana bread sold from roadside shacks, or simply pull over to photograph the coastline extending ahead of you.
Just off Maui’s southwest coast, the Molokini Crater encloses a coral reef awash with marine life, including tropical fish, octopuses, manta rays and turtles. You can sail from Ma’alaea Harbor to snorkel in this volcanic crescent as part of a small group. Between January and March, you might also see whales and spinner dolphins from the boat — your guide will tell you about their migration patterns and characteristics.
Staying closer to shore, you can have a go at learning to surf. Two-hour introductory lessons led by experienced surfers for groups of no more than six give you a grounding in the sport and personal advice and guidance. Covering everything from water safety to wave-riding skills and surfing etiquette, the lesson will leave you feeling more confident in tackling smaller waves.
It’s not particularly well-known, but Maui produces wine. On top of your classic reds, whites and rosés, some of the wines are made from pineapples grown on the rolling Ulupalakua vineyards. At MauiWine, whose vines were planted more than 150 years ago, you can hear about the winemaking process first-hand and sample some of the finished products.
To experience Hawaiian hospitality, we recommend spending an evening at a traditional luau in Lahaina. Welcomed with leis (fresh flower garlands) and a drink, you’re invited to sit in the Hale ‘Ai (Eating House) to dine on Kalua pig cooked in an imu (traditional underground oven), fresh seafood and fruit. As the sun sets, hula dancers tell stories of their Polynesian roots through song and dance.
Best time to visit Maui
Many people flock to Maui in December and January for a winter escape. However, we suggest visiting in Mau’s spring (mid-April to June) or autumn (September to November), when the weather is still pleasant and reliable, yet there are fewer visitors.
Suggested itineraries featuring Maui
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Maui, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Maui
Places & hotels on the map
Accommodation choices for Maui
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Maui. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Ideas for experiencing Maui
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Maui, and which use the best local guides.