Things to do in Maui
We work hard to recommend the best spots to spend your precious vacation time. We’ve spent years exploring Maui to reveal breathtaking trails, secluded beaches, pristine reefs, delicious places to dine, relaxing resorts, the Haleakala volcano and so much more. Every restaurant, activity provider, business and resort is reviewed personally and anonymously. In this post, we’ll be sharing things to do in Maui, from famous beaches and hikes to activities to do with your kids on Hawaii’s undisputed playground.
Maui Hawaii hotels
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
This 15-acre beachfront resort setting was completed in 2013, making the Andaz Wailea’s newest resort. The buildings are modern in both style and décor while still embracing the resort’s beachfront location. Their modern lobby is where every guest is personally greeted with a lei. There’s even a large “sandbox” (actually a sand-covered floor area) to hang out in and dip your toes into while you wait for your room.
This is a very well-run condo property with particularly competent staff. Their beach is a winner. The pools are pleasant with a designated quiet pool. If you don’t love to cook but love to eat, some weekend nights they have a grill master who will season (from the on-site herb garden) your food and grill it with you for free—sweet! (You supply the food; they supply the plates and utensils.)
Places to eat in Maui
Cheeseburger in Paradise
A legendary place that is fun to try at least once. It shares a name with a song by Jimmy Buffet, who promptly sued them when he discovered the restaurant, so they settled and changed the name of future locations. Buffet then launched his own national chain of the same name, but it’s unrelated to the Cheeseburger restaurants here in Hawai‘i. There are two on Maui and three on O‘ahu, and the menu is the same at both Maui locations. We’ve been negative on this place in the past (and so have readers), but the food has gotten better. Lots of varieties of big cheeseburgers to choose from.
Gazebo benefits a lot from its location. Eating near the shore with wicked ocean, Napili Bay and Moloka‘i views for… relatively little money (for this area, at least) makes the food and service seem better. They’ve got a good selection of omelets, and their signature mac nut pancakes are pretty good. Lunch is burgers, sandwiches and salads. They only have 14 tables and fill up quickly (they don’t take reservations), so either arrive well before they open, or you’ll have to wait, perhaps a long time.
Things to do in Maui with kids
Run Silent, Run Deep. You won’t hear the sound of sonar pinging away in the background. And it’s rare that anyone shoots torpedoes at you. But if you want to see the undersea world and refuse to get wet, this is one of the best things to do in Maui. Atlantis Submarine uses a 48-passenger sub out of Lahaina that ambles along over a reef, which is, to be honest, a bit plainer than the type you’d choose to snorkel or SCUBA, but it’s still cool. They also visit a sunken wreck called the Carthaginian. This is the opposite of an aquarium—this world belongs to the fish, and you are the oddity.
Maui Ocean Center
One of the bigger things to do in Maui with kids and definitely worth a stop. Opened in 1998, this is a relatively small (compared to some mainland aquariums) but extremely well-done aquarium. The living reef exhibit has a fantastic collection of fish found around the Hawaiian islands, and the sealife seems remarkably well cared for. Turtle Lagoon has lots of honu (the Hawaiian word for turtle) roaming around that you can view from above or from a glass wall below the surface. Elsewhere there is a glass tunnel that passes right through a large tank, complete with sharks. Stop in the tunnel’s center, and watch the sharks pass right beneath the glass floor. There’s a small playground for little ones and their new, 3D domed theater brings you closer to humpback whales than you imagine. The gift shop has a surprisingly fine and vast assortment of gift items, many locally made. It’s one of the more impressive gift shops we’ve seen on the island. The aquarium is more crowded when the weather is bad. The $35 entrance fee may seem excessive due to the small size, but the quality shines. (Kids get in for $25.)
Hiking in Maui
Kapalua Coastal Trail
If you’re looking for simple but worthwhile things to do in Maui, the Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy hike that has surprises even the trail builders didn’t realize. Although it’s less than 2 miles from end to end, you can get 3-plus miles of hiking out of it (plus the return), if you take other opportunities.
The trailhead starts at D.T. Fleming Beach Park near the Ritz-Carlton. (The other end is at Kapalua Beach, but it’s tough to park there.) The first section is not along the coast and is fairly boring, so we suggest you park near the corner of Office and Lower Honoapi‘ilani roads. You can start with a diversion to Dragon’s Teeth before walking down the road to the beach access at Oneloa Beach. Head to the beach from there, turn left, and you’re walking along the shoreline.
Two-Tiered Tide-Pools of Honolua
Most of the island is composed of a porous lava shoreline, making deep tide-pools a rarity while hiking in Maui. The Olivine Pools are a classic example of such rare tide-pools, which we discovered for our first edition. More recently, we found the heretofore unknown two-tiered tide-pools of Honolua.
The shoreline along these stretches looks somewhat artistic and exotic. It’s made from a fine-grain, light-colored rock and sandstone. At one area the ocean smashes against the shoreline, bathing an upper pool in a clean shower of seawater.
Shopping in Maui
If you’re looking for gifts to bring back home for family and friends (or maybe something for yourself), Lahaina is where you’ll find the most extensive shopping in Maui. In Central Maui, the town of Pa‘ia has a large art community, making it one of the most eclectic places on the island to shop. South Maui is spread out, so you won’t find a dense concentration of shops where it’s easy to walk from one to another just to browse.
Top Beach in Maui: Maluaka Beach
Fronting the Makena Beach Resort, Maluaka Beach is a wide, pretty beach that slopes gently, providing good swimming during calm seas, especially toward the center of the beach where a thick padding of sand awaits. Adults and children alike will find several things to do in Maui at this beach. During calm seas keiki (kids) splash about with abandon. There is shade at the south (left) end, as well as restrooms, showers and picnic tables. Parking is past the Makena Beach Resort, where Makena Road backtracks, 3.6 miles south of the Wailea Alanui/Wailea Ike intersection. After parking continue the same direction on the concrete path to the beach. If you want, park a bit closer to the sand, try using Makena Road just south of Honoiki for the north end of the beach.
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