Looking to plan a Hawaiian island getaway? Be sure to spend time digging into all of the best things to do in Maui. With its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and clear waters, it’s no wonder that Maui is one of the most popular travel destinations in Hawaii—and in the United States.
The top tourist attractions in Maui are some of the most famous in the Hawaiian islands. From lazing on the iconic Wailea Beach or Kaanapali Beach to hiking in the West Maui Mountains or Haleakala National Park to soaking in the laid-back vibes of Lahaina Town, there are endless activities to enjoy on the island of Maui.
Ready to start planning out what to do in Maui? Sort out your adventure with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Maui, HI.
Best places to visit in Maui, HI
Located off the shore of South Maui, the crescent-shaped Molokini Crater formed due to volcanic activity millions of years ago. Today, the section of the crater above the surface forms a compact islet that’s been known to man for thousands of years.
Early Hawaiians visited Molokini to fish, much as their descendants do today. The volcanic crater, although small, has played an integral part in Hawaiian culture as it serves as the basis for an old legend.
Molokini, a beautiful woman, was in love with the same man as Pele, the goddess of fire. In an act of jealousy, Pele turned her love rival into stone. Her head is supposedly preserved as the cinder cone in nearby Makena Beach.
The crescent shape and sturdy rock of the Molokini Crater provide great protection from strong wind and currents. As a result, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Maui for snorkeling and scuba diving.
The Molokini Island Preserve is home to over 250 species of tropical fish and almost 40 coral species. It’s an ideal place to witness Hawaii’s blooming diversity in person.
Road to Hana
Located in East Maui, the famous Road to Hana is a 65-mile-long stretch of highway connecting the town of Kahului to Hana. Despite the relatively short distance between the two towns, the drive takes around two and a half hours to complete due to the small winding roads and abundance of bridges.
The journey to Hana, however, is incredibly scenic and a must for any Maui trip itinerary. The Road to Hana will take you past stunning mountains, sea, and the famous Hana Rainforest. On your adventure, you’ll explore the extensive history of the Myths of Maui and have a close view of several natural and man-made landmarks along the way.
The Hana Highway itself is a famous tourist spot in Maui, attracting thousands of yearly visitors. Though the modern road was constructed in the late 1800s, the highway has roots dating back as far as the 16th century. Waterfalls, beaches, and dramatic clifftops await as you traverse the scenic stretch of highway.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Located near Hana in East Maui, the stunning Wai’anapanapa State Park encapsulates everything that Hawaii is famous for. The 122-acre park can be found at the end of Waiʻanapanapa Road on the Hana Highway. Wai’anapanapa, which means ‘glistening fresh water’, is a fitting name for this stunning slice of Pacific scenery.
The epitome of natural beauty, Wai’anapanapa State Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Maui. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tropical landscapes and abundance of indigenous history for hours on end.
Features of Wai’anapanapa State Park include sea stacks, blowholes, lava tubes, native seabirds, and aquatic life species, and a unique black sand beach. There are also two freshwater caves (both are popular photo sites) along with ancient Hawaiian burial sites.
Maui Ocean Center
Located in Maalaea, the Maui Ocean Center features the largest living tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. If you’re traveling with kids, the family-friendly aquarium is one of the must-see points of interest on Maui.
Among the six main exhibits are the Living Reef section, a tapestry of over 40 native coral species; and the Turtle Lagoon, a showcase of the locally-revered green sea turtle population. You’ll also find the historical Hawaiians and the Sea exhibit, sharing tales of the early Hawaiians and their unique relationship with the sea.
Opened in 1998, the Maui Ocean Center is open seven days a week from 9 am until 5 pm.
Haleakala National Park
Standing tall over East Maui, the Haleakala Crater can be seen from miles away due to its elevation of over 10,000 feet above sea level. Its home, Haleakala National Park, encompasses a prehistoric-looking landscape so vast and barren you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve been teleported back to the Mesozoic Era.
A UNESCO-listed heritage site, Haleakala National Park isn’t entirely desolate. Besides the Haleakala Crater, there are tropical forests, rare birds, and bamboo forests aplenty along with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the overhead stars at night.
Hop on one of the many walking, hiking, and biking tours to traverse the stunning beauty of Haleakala National Park and the Haleakala Crater. Just be sure to take along some supplies, such as food and water, for your travels.
Golden sands and crystal-clear waters await at Makena Beach. The 3,000 foot stretch of shoreline isn’t just the island’s largest beach but one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui.
Located in Makena State Park, Makena Beach is chock-full of natural beauty, from sun-kissed palm trees to rugged green fields. There’s adequate protection from the wind, but also plenty of breeze to enjoy some surfing and boogie-boarding.
The South Maui beach splits into two main areas: Big Beach and Little Beach. You’ll most likely visit Big Beach, but its smaller incarnation is popular with tourists, too. Little Beach is one of the only beaches on the island to tolerate nude sunbathing—if that’s your thing.
Nearby Makena Cove is one of Maui’s hidden gems. Tucked away behind a wall, this secret cove is a popular spot for wedding photos. The striking beauty of Makena Cove characterizes the idyllic beauty that Maui and Hawaii are so famous for.
When you’re done at Makena State Park, head north to laze on other popular Maui beaches, including Wailea Beach. Fringed by luxury resorts, Waimea is also one of the most popular places to stay on Maui.
Iao Valley State Monument
Located in Central Maui, the Iao Valley State Monument features a 0.6-mile paved walk within the heart of the Iao Valley. The site is punctuated with steep cliffs and lush green hills plunging into deep valleys.
The most notable feature of the landscape is the Iao Needle, a natural 1200-foot monolith rising from the ground. The area is rich in history from the days of the early Hawaiians to the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai, a conflict that changed Hawaii forever. The park covers a whopping 4,000 acres.
The Iao Valley State Monument is located 3 miles away from Wailuku, an important site in Polynesian culture. The stunning beauty of Wailuku will keep you enthralled for hours.
Ho’okipa Beach Park
The beautiful islands of Hawaii are rich with beautiful beaches. Ho’okipa Beach Park is no exception. Located in a faraway corner off Mile 9 on the Hana Highway in Upcountry Maui, the beach is one of the premier windsurfing destinations, not only in Hawaii but in the whole United States.
Though the waters at Ho’okipa Beach Park are normally choppy, visitors can be found swimming and snorkeling on calm days. You can spot sea turtles, birds, tropical fish, and even seals near the ocean, too.
Ho’okipa Beach Park features several amenities on-site such as restrooms and picnic tables. Overall though, this North Shore beach isn’t the best for the casual observer and is appreciated most by windsurfers. Ho’okipa Beach, however, is a great sunset spot, provided the weather is calm enough.
Three miles of stunning beach await you when you visit Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui. Its sugar-white sand and clear waters are complemented by an array of spectacular resorts dotting its perimeter.
One of Ka’anapali Beach’s most famous attractions is Black Rock. At this stunning location, divers spring off its edges every sundown in recognition of King Kahekili.
Non-native visitors can rise above the treeline via a zipline tour breezing to the apex of the surrounding cliffs. It’s a far more exciting way to view the landscape than a helicopter tour!
Found on Maui’s northern tip, Nakalele Point features a windswept, rugged landscape complete with rough seas and jagged rocks. The point is well known for its Nakalele Blowhole. Shooting water up to 100 feet in the air, the blowhole is one of the coolest places to see in Maui.
Although majestic, the Nakalele Blowhole is not to be underestimated. Resist the temptation to get too close to the blowhole as it has the sheer power to suck you in, never to be seen again. In general, Nakalele Point’s high winds and rough seas can present a danger to tourists, be sure to visit with care.
For some amazing views, hike over to the Nakalele Point Lighthouse. Although not much to behold on its own, the lighthouse, built in 1908, is a fantastic spot to gaze upon the rugged coast and tide pools.
Kula Botanical Garden
Founded over fifty years ago, Kula Botanical Garden is home to thousands of blossoming plant species. The garden is located near the Kula Highway junction in Maui County. A true tapestry of bright colors and charismatic plants, this stunning botanical garden is perfect for those hoping to retreat in a different form of nature.
At Kula Botanical Gardens, there’s hardly a palm tree in sight—just charming native plants in every conceivable color. There’s also a pond and even an idyllic waterfall where visitors can read, relax, and meditate.
Paia Fish Market
The immensely popular Paia Fish Market is one of Maui’s most popular food sites. Its main philosophy is to serve fresh seafood that’s 100% local to the clear, warm waters of Hawaii. And they sure deliver on that promise. The main, and most famous, incarnation can be found on Front Street in Paia Town.
The Paia Fish Market is so popular that it’s recently been expanded into other towns. However, the restaurant still retains its original promise of delivering the very best locally-caught fresh fish.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm encompasses 13.5 acres of beautiful gardens in Upcountry Maui. Located on the slopes of the countryside, Ali’i Kula bursts with blossoming purple lavender. For sightseeing, it’s one of the most impressive places to go on Maui.
The on-site gift shop at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm sells herbal presents and souvenir. There are also plenty of tour guides on-hand to walk you through the remote countryside. Farm tours happen frequently every day, so there’s never a bad time to go.
A departure from the typical Maui attraction, the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is ideal for those hoping to see a different part of the Hawaii countryside.
The crescent-shaped Napili Bay is known for its serene, calm water and family-friendly atmosphere. Located in West Maui, Napili Beach is slightly off the beaten track and is free from the large crowds of other Maui beaches.
Situated around a host of mid-tier resorts and hotels, Napili Beach features overhanging palm trees, golden sand, sea turtles, and some amenities for you to explore and enjoy.
As is the case with many Hawaiian beaches, rip tides and strong currents occur frequently. Be sure to swim out only during safe times and always supervise children or less-experienced swimmers.
Located in South Maui, Maluaka Beach is known for its calm waters, wonderful scenery, and abundance of green sea turtles.
Turtle Town, as it’s known, houses the native green sea turtle in a 100% natural environment. Visitors can witness these amazing creatures both on land or by snorkeling in the sea. Be careful of strong currents and rip tides, though; conditions in the water here can change rather quickly.
Amenities at Turtle Town include outdoor showers, restrooms, and parking. With the wide range of things to see & do, the beautiful scenery, and glistening seas, Maluaka Beach is an ideal spot for travelers hoping to reconnect with nature.
Lahaina Pali Trail
Walking the Lahaina Pali Trail may be difficult, but it’ll certainly be worth the effort. One of the top-rated Maui hikes, the five-mile trail will transport you from Maalaea to Ukumehame. Along the way, you’ll dazzle at amazing panoramic views of the landscape below.
Prepare for strong winds and steep hills as you navigate your way through this challenging trail. Keep in mind that the strong gusts can fool you into thinking that you don’t need sunscreen. This isn’t the case. Be sure to slather some on before your trek. Take some food and water with you, too, to have all the supplies needed to complete this tough, yet rewarding, walking trail.
The charming community of Paia Town is located on the North Shore. This popular Maui beach town features everything from wonderful restaurants serving delicious Hawaiian food to pristine beaches to unique art galleries.
Paia Town has cultivated a reputation as a friendly, liberal surfing town thanks to its beachside proximity and abundance of surf shops. However, there’s plenty more to do if riding the waves isn’t your thing.
You can grab a delicious cup of coffee and browse the selection of authentic Maui jewelry on sale at the local markets. Or grab a sunbed, sit back, relax, and watch the turquoise waters pass you by.