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Travelers visiting the Aloha State are spoiled for choice between the Jurassic lushness of Kauai, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and the legendary swells on the North Shore of Oahu. But if you only have time to explore one island, it’s got to be Maui. This vacation paradise offers a surreal mix of stunning beaches — some for surfing and others with calm water for snorkeling and swimming — hiking trails, scenic drives, Hawaiian culture, and farm-to-table food (oh, and don’t forget shaved ice). With the help of Margaux Pfeiffer, director of concierge and guest experience at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and Ashleigh Gay, activities manager at Montage Kapalua Bay, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do on Maui.
Related: T+L’s Guide to Maui
Watch the sunrise from Haleakalā.
Rising early gives guests the chance to witness the breathtaking sunrise over Haleakalā, the active volcano that covers much of the island. “It’s one of the most coveted experiences in Maui,” says Pfeiffer.
Drive the Road to Hana.
The Road to Hana is a beautiful one-lane road with many twists, turns, and bridges that connects Kahului to Hana on the east side of Maui. Pfeiffer suggests devoting a full day to the journey to have plenty of time to stop at the countless waterfalls, jaw-dropping lookouts, and delicious banana bread stands along the way.
Take a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour.
Take in the incredible views during a helicopter tour of the island. “Though you get an aerial glimpse of the island on your arrival flight, nothing compares to a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour carving into mountainsides and waterfalls and absorbing the magnificent landscape of Maui,” says Pfeiffer.
Check out the Ho’okipa Lookout.
Where in the world can you watch a bale of turtles sunbathe and surfers ride 30-foot waves? Find that at Ho’okipa Lookout, an easy and scenic pull-off area on the North Shore of Maui.
Shop the Upcountry Farmers Market.
For fresh, local produce, few places beat the Upcountry Farmers Market, which is open on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. “Numerous vendors from all over Maui arrive early to begin selling their handmade and handpicked items. It’s not to be missed,” says Gay.
Lounge on Kaanapali Beach.
One of the best beaches in Hawaii, Kaanapali Beach is a favorite for swimming in the clear water, sunbathing on the soft sand, snorkeling, and kayaking. Arguably its most famous attraction for thrill seekers and voyeurs? The daily cliff jumping at sunset.
Cool off with Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice.
If you go to Maui and don’t get shaved ice, were you even there? Head to Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice for the tastiest sweet treat in the Aloha State. With dozens of yummy flavor combos, one visit is never enough.
Admire the surf at Big Beach.
Located just south of Wailea, Big Beach, often referred to as Makena Beach, is the ultimate wide, sandy expanse to bask in the Hawaiian sun while watching local bodyboarders ride the famous waves.
Go hiking at La Perouse Bay.
Situated south of Wailea at the end of Mākena Alanui Road, La Perouse Bay, also known as Keoneʻōʻio Bay, ranks among the most picturesque places to hike through lava formations and soak in the volcanic scenery and blue water.
Snorkel at Molokini Crater.
The result of a volcano eruption that occurred more than 200,000 years ago, the Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped, volcanic caldera that’s well known for snorkeling. “The clarity and visibility of the waters around the crater is excellent. And it’s an amazing marine sanctuary,” adds Pfeiffer.
Walk along the black-sand beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park.
Black volcanic pebbly shores and turquoise tides make Waiʻānapanapa State Park one of the most gorgeous beaches in Maui. Better for photography than sunbathing (but feel free to toss out a towel and test that theory), it’s also prime for swimming, exploring the freshwater caves, and hiking the King’s Trail.
Taste the fresh seafood from Paia Fish Market South Side.
Paia Fish Market South Side in Kīhei Kalama Village is the perfect casual lunch spot to hit in between sightseeing or on the way to the beach. Order a mahi mahi plate and grab a seat at the communal tables under the shade and enjoy the laid-back ambiance or grab your food to go and walk across the street to watch the kite surfers.
Visit the Punakea Palms coconut farm.
Punakea Palms is a coconut farm situated in Launiupoko Valley. Visitors can do coconut tasting tours and try coconuts at different ages. “It’s a wonderful and delicious experience for the entire family,” says Gay.
Stroll through Lahaina.
Lahaina (which translates to “Cruel Sun”) used to be the royal capital from 1820 to 1845. Today the historic town on the west side of Maui is a hotspot for tourism with restaurants, galleries, beaches, and boat cruises, as well as whale watching during the winter.
Indulge your sweet tooth at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop.
People line up for the fresh-from-the-oven baked goods and comforting plates of home-cooked food from Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, an institution in Olowalu, Maui. Don’t leave without trying the coconut cream pie.
Trek along the Kapalua Village Trails.
A hike to the duck pond along the Kapalua Village Trails is challenging, but the views are worth the sweat. It’s best to strike out in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Since all the trekking is bound to work up an appetite, you can enjoy a delicious meal from the Honolua Store near the trailhead afterward.
Learn about local marine life at Maui Ocean Center.
The Maui Ocean Center is Hawaii’s best aquarium and the largest living tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. It’s truly an incredible place to learn about local marine life. See sharks, sea turtles, tropical fish, and other amazing creatures that live under the sea.
Try the poke at Tamura’s Market Wailuku.
Tamura’s Market Wailuku is a grocery store and an in-the-know destination for some of the best poke on the island that’s beloved by locals and visitors alike.
Go to a lūʻau.
Going to Maui provides an unmissable opportunity to soak in local cultural traditions. Many hotels and resorts on the island host lūʻaus, celebrations of Hawaiian food, music, hula, and storytelling. Old Lahaina Lūʻau is a popular sunset feast.
Grab a table at Mama’s Fish House.
There are many delicious places to eat in Maui, but Mama’s Fish House has earned the reputation as one of the very best restaurants on the island. Pro tip from Pfeiffer: Be sure to secure reservations well in advance, as it books up six months out.