What starts as a dream vacation for many often turns into an annual affair. There is some sort of magic spell Maui seems to cast on almost everyone who visits, earning the island the title of ‘Best Island in the World’ by Conde Nast time and time again. If it’s your first visit to the island, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by the deluge of things to do and places to see. Indulge in some of the most quintessential ‘Maui’ activities on your first visit- from experiencing the road to Hana to enjoying an evening luau.
Below, we’ll go over the top things to do during your first visit to Maui.
Where to Stay on Maui
For starters, we recommend staying near the Lahaina/Ka’anapali region or the Kihei/Wailea areas. These areas are home to some of the island’s best beaches, a plethora of Maui accommodation options ranging from upscale resorts to affordable Maui condos, and various shopping and dining opportunities.
Top Maui Attractions
A visit to Maui’s top attractions is a must. So, we’ll start with Maui’s #1 visitor attraction: Haleakala Crater. Standing at 10,023 feet, Haleakala dominates Maui’s landscape. The gaping crater is home to an otherworldly, Mars-like desert, with giant cinder cones that rise from the crater floor. Haleakala is one of the most popular sunrise destinations on Earth – if you can manage to snag a reservation. Otherwise, it’s a fantastic place to enjoy a hike, watch the sunset, or stargaze.
Snorkeling is huge on Maui, and there’s no better place to do so than Molokini Crater, an islet off south Maui that is home to some of the best snorkeling in the state. A snorkel tour here is the way to go- most include lunch, an onboard bar, floatation devices, and a select few boats even have waterslides.
Maui whale watching is a must if you’re traveling during the winter season. Hundreds of humpback whales spend the winter in the warm waters off Maui, and on a good day, you might see dozens of breaches.
Of course, a trip to Maui wouldn’t be complete without spending an evening at a luau. Maui Luaus might seem touristy (and honestly, that’s half the fun), but they’re actually an excellent way to get a dose of Polynesian culture and try traditional Hawaiian foods. And speaking of food… don’t eschew a dinner at the famous Mama’s Fish House in Paia- it’s part of the complete Maui package.
Often considered one of the more memorable Maui experiences, you may want to do a tour along the winding road to Hana. The road to Hana travels through the rainforest from Maui’s north shore to the sleepy eastern town of Hana. If you can handle the 600+ curves along the way and are a respectful visitor, you’ll be rewarded with dozens of waterfalls, viewpoints, and the feeling of stepping back in time to a Hawaii of the past. A question we often get is:
How bad is the Road to Hana?
That can be answered in a few ways. If you get car sick, stay at your resort. If you can handle turns, book a Road to Hana tour owned and operated by Hana locals. Congestion on Hana Hwy has caused real problems lately due to too many rental cars on the road. Cut down the traffic and leave the driving to a guide that knows the safe and legal places to stop.
For all other activities, check out this list of best Maui activities.
We have some fantastic restaurants here on Maui. Here’s a good list of our favorite Maui Restaurants. Here are some of our favorites restaurants per area:
- Lahaina – Star Noodle
- Wailea – Ferraros
- Kihei – Coconuts
- Upcountry – Restaurant Marlow
- Kahului – Tin Roof
- Paia – Cafe Des Amis
- Road to Hana – Hana Farms
Explore Life Changes
Since you likely fell in love with Maui immediately after leaving the airport, and if you think you’ll be able to contribute to our Maui community in a positive way, it may be time to move. Evan Harlow is a Maui real estate expert and a whiz at turning dreams into reality. His expert negotiating skills, in-depth Maui knowledge, and understanding of the current market can help you on your quest for a new home on Maui, a condo to call your own, or a vacation rental property. You can also browse a list of Maui home listings.