Updated: Dec 18, 2018
Blue, blue, blue, and then a spec of land emerges from the horizon, excitement tingles throughout your body, you’ve made it to paradise, and if you chose correctly, the spec of land in the middle of the pacific you are landing on is the magical island of Maui.
Now, you only have a week here, how can you be sure to pack in all of the best attractions? You’ve come to the right place, Trek Maui has already planned out your vacation days for you with all the “must do” attractions on Maui.
Here we will lay out the most basic travel guide for the average visitors to Maui. We are assuming basic abilities in water and on land. If you follow this guide day by day you will have not missed out on any of the best attractions.
Also, we aren’t going to tell you which side of the island to stay on or which living accommodations to make in this blog, we’ll let you decide, please check our other blogs for that information.
The following days can be organized in any order, you may want to check wind and other weather conditions before deciding which activities to do.
Day 1 (Upcountry Day)
Haleakala Sunrise and crater hike or lookout.
Haleakala National Park is definitely one of Maui’s most beautiful vistas with amazing views of Maui and the surrounding islands from above the clouds. Look into the crater in awe as you forget you’re on Earth and somehow appeared on Mars as you’ll see miles of red and black volcanic ash cinder contained within its magnificent walls that might remind one of the cliffs in New Zealand.
The drive up the mountain is about an hour and fifteen minutes from Kahului totaling about 37 miles. If you are coming up for sunrise the National Park is now making visitors reserve a spot online for $1.50 a vehicle at this link https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/253731. When you arrive at the park be prepared to pay the $25 entrance fee.
Once up at the crater you can just view it from the overlook points or begin to take the “Sliding Sands” hike into the crater. The full hike is 11 miles and ends at a lower end of the park so you will either need to hitch hike back to your vehicle or leave a vehicle down there.
After Haleakala you are going to want to take advantage of being upcountry and check out the other attractions. Head on down to the Historic Makawao Town and check out their various food, clothing, and art shops. A little further down from Makawao is Haliimaile Street where you can take tours of the Makai Glass Blowing Studio, Pau Vodka Distillery, and grab food the Haliimaile General Store.
Day 2 (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Whaler’s Village, and Luau)
This day is dedicated to checking out the best of everything Lahaina and Kaanapali on Maui’s west side has to offer. Begin your day in Lahaina Town getting breakfast at one of the many great restaurants. While in Lahaina check out the many boutiques, art studios, historic courthouse, and the famous Banyan Tree.
After spending your morning in Lahaina you can choose to stay there for lunch or head over to Kaanapali and try one of the many great restaurants in the Whaler’s Village Shopping Center, which is your next stop. In Whaler’s village you can check out the Whaling Museum and many boutiques and restaurants.
If you’re bored of shopping its time to head down to the beach. If you’re entering the beach from Whaler’s village just walk south to the ocean front to get to Kaanapali Beach. Here you’ll see the 3 miles stretch of beach that was once named America’s best beach and the popular vacation spot for Hawaiian Royalty. Pick a spot to beach anywhere along the stretch, many people congregate near black rock. Black rock has a great cliff jump and decent snorkeling. You can also pick up a surfboard or standup paddle board lesson at one of the two surf schools.
After spending the day on the beach you’re going to want to top it off with a Hawaiian Luau. Enjoy traditional Hawaiian food such as roasted pork and poi while watching Fire Dancing and Hula. The two best luaus on Maui are the Old Lahaina Luau in Lahaina and the Drums of the Pacific in Kaanapali.
Day 3 (West Maui Loop and Kapalua)
The views along the West Maui coast are unsurpassable. I could compare them to views of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland or the mountains and plains of New Zealand. West Maui has many little hikes, tide pools, and a blow hole. Check out our West Maui tour guide for the whole description.
You can either do the full loop from either direction, or if one way roads along cliffs frighten you, you can start near Kapalua and see everything up to the Nakalele blowhole and head back.
If you finish the loop in Wailuku check out Wailuku town or book another activity since the loop and its activities will only take about 4 hours of your day at most. If you finish back near Kapalua maybe enjoy a beach day on one of the beautiful beaches over there: Slaughter House, Oneloa (Ironwoods), or DT Fleming Beach. You can also get some great snorkeling in at Honolua Bay, Kapalua Bay, or Slaughterhouse beach. See our beach and snorkeling guides for more information.
Day 4 (Hana Road Loop)
The Road to Hana is one of the largest draws to Maui and you don’t want to miss it. Plan on it taking about 11 hours if you complete the loop and 8 if you drive the north side to Hana and back. You’ll see many gorgeous waterfalls, black and red sand beaches, lush jungles, and incredible cliff sides. Explaining the Road to Hana is very comprehensive so check out our Road to Hana guide for detailed instructions.
Day 5 (Wailea and Makena Area)
There’s a reason many of Maui’s most expensive resorts are in Wailea. This area contains pristine beaches, clear water, and great snorkeling.
If you want to snorkel, you need to do this early before the wind kicks up around 10am. The best snorkeling spots here are Makena Landing, Ahihi Bay, and the south side of Maluaka Beach. This is also a great area to get a kayak tour to see sea turtles and whales.
After snorkeling you may want to hike the King’s trail in La Perouse. You get awesome views of the lava fields from Maui’s most recent eruption around 1790, clear water, and dolphins if you’re lucky. The hike should take about 2 hours, now it’s time to cool off in the water.
Check out Oneuli Black Sand Beach at the beginning of Makena State Park, then go check out Maui’s prized gems: Big and Little Beach in Makena State Park. Here you can lay out on the beaches or hike Makena’s Puu Olai cinder cone hike.
After you’re finished at the beach we recommend checking out Maui Brewing’s world class restaurant and brewery for dinner or go stroll through the Shops at Wailea and dine at one of the restaurants within.
Day 6 (Snorkel Charter to Molokinj Crater or Lana’i)
It would be a shame to visit Maui and not jump aboard a Snorkel Charter boat and check out the amazing reef snorkeling off of Molokini Crater or Lanai. If you’re here during whale season you’ll get to see the whales up close and personal, if not you may get lucky and see a dolphin or two.
If you’re not a boat person, there’s plenty more activities to book on island. You can go on a zip-line, ATV tour, horseback riding, or hang out at your hotel pool.
Molokini and Lanai have better snorkeling than Maui as these reefs are less damaged by swimmers and fishermen off the populated shores of Maui. Both offer snorkeling at great reefs, but Molokini Crater is a little more catered to beginner snorkelers as it is a little more shallow and protected from wind and swell.
The snorkel charters usually last from about 7am to 2 pm. You will most likely be pretty burned out so we’ll reserve the rest of this day to relaxing at your resort pool and catching dinner somewhere near where you’re staying.
Day 7 (Iao Valley, Wailuku, Pineapple Plantation, and Paia Historic town)
Everything on this day is amazing, but we put it on day seven because you could miss these sights and activities and not feel too bad about it compared to the rest of the island.
Start your day at one of the great breakfast locations here, we like the Farmacy Health Bar, Wailuku Coffee Company, and Stillwells Bakery and Cafe.
After breakfast head over and check out Iao Valley State Park. Known as the second wettest place in Hawaii, you may want to be prepared for rain. The park is known as one of Maui’s gems containing beautiful jungles views, clear cool water in the Iao Stream, and the iconic Iao Needle formation. The park is friendly for old and young alike as there is a short paved hike to the look out area.
After spending your morning at the park, its time to take a tour at the pineapple plantation down the street. After The tour stick around and have lunch at the Mill House or check out the many great restaurants around Wailuku Town.
When you’re done in Wailuku you may want to stop by Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului to check out the windsurfing and kitesurfing.
After that it’s time to check out the beaches in Paia. Here you’re going to want to check out Baldwin Beach and Paia Bay. Both beautiful beaches with lots of places to lay out and tan or boogie board. Just past Paia town you’ll find Ho’okipa Beach Park. Here you can see windsurfers, surfers, and plenty of sea turtles on the north end of the beach.
To top the day off stroll through the historic Paia town and get some shaved ice and maybe dinner at the famous Paia Bay Fish Market. There’s also plenty of other great restaurants in the area but the Fish Market is the standout restaurant.
And that wraps up our one week guide. If you complete this guide you can leave Maui assured that you saw the best Maui has to offer and glad you picked Maui as the island to spend your vacation at. Mahalo.