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The 20 Best Things to do in Maui for First-Timers


If you're planning a trip to Maui and it's your first time there, you might not know where to begin. There are some absolute musts for anyone that is visiting the valley island. We've put together a list of 20 of the most popular attractions along with places to eat and special one of kind locations to visit. You'll want to be sure to have your devices ready to take a lot of pictures and videos of this breathtaking and magical place. If you're going to be there for at least 5 days then you'll probably have time to take in all of the places on our recommendation list.

20. Take a drive on the road to Hana

The road to Hana is one of the most highly recommended road trips that you can take in Maui. It only takes a day to go from one end of the road to the other and then back again. While you're out and about you will see some of the most breathtaking views of the North coast as well as waterfalls and plenty of places to stop and grab a snack or a full meal.

19. Go on a camping trip

While you're on the road to Hana you'll come across a variety of different campsites that are available for tourists who want to enjoy an overnight stay. There are even places in Maui that you can rent all of the camping gear that you need, or you can buy the items outright. You can also bring your own from home. There are rivers to swim in and wonderful trails to walk if you enjoy exploring. You can turn your road trip to Hana into a 2, 3 or 4-day adventure that is filled with amazing new sights and adventures.

18. Watch the Haleakala sunrise and sunset

The sunrises and sunsets at Haleakala, which is interpreted as House of the Sun, is one of the most highly recommended activities by tourists. This location offers the best views that will leave you a little different from having had the experience. This viewpoint is set at 10,000 feet and the elevation offers the most spectacular views both morning and evening. You will need to make reservations in advance but the cost is only $1.50 per car to get in on an unforgettable experience. You only need to reserve the morning excursion. If you want to view the sunset no reservation is required.

17. Eat breakfast after watching the sunrise

Right after you watch the sunrise at Haleakala, stop by Kamoda's Bakery in Makawao. this is a wonderful little place to sit down and eat your breakfast. Another good place to catch a wonderful sit-down breakfast is Kula Lodge. After you enjoy a wonderful breakfast at the Lodge you can tour the local artist's gallery that is located in the downstairs portion. This lets you set up a wonderful itinerary for the day that starts with a view of the sunrise, breakfast and a tour of local art.

16. Visit Paia Beach

For one of the days that you're in Maui, you should make plans to go to Paia Beach. If you're into jumping into the surf, this is one of the best places to catch a few waves and hang out in the morning. You can also catch a tasty sit-down lunch at the Paia Inn Cafe. It's not the best place to go swimming but it's great for playing in the surf.

15. Go on a whale watching tour

Maui offers some of the greatest whale watching tours in the world. These are some of the most amazing sea mammals on the planet. The best time to go whale watching in Maui is between December through May. These are the times when you can be guaranteed to see sightings of whales while you're out there.

14. Tour the Lahaina historic district

Every person who is visiting Maui for the first time needs to visit the Lahaina art district. This is a historic area where many important historical events took place on the island. The area was once known as a whaling port and it was also considered the capital city of "the Kingdom of Hawaii" for more than two decades during the early part of the 1800s. This was where Christian Hawaiian royals established their power seats for a period of time. You can take a tour of the historic sites of Lahaina and go on your own to learn about this significant period of time.

13. Catch a free Hawaiian music concert

There is a daily concert of Hawaiian music offered from 6 to 7:30 pm. It's held from January through the end of October at the Baldwin Home Museum located at the front and Dickerson Streets. You'll need to bring your beach chair or blanket for seating but the concert is free of charge. There are a few places to sit if you're among the first to arrive but don't plan on being that fortunate as seating is extremely limited. It's best to come prepared.

12. Take a shopping trip at Lahaina

Another thing to do while you're visiting Lahaina is to visit the Front Street boutiques. They are artsy and novel and these are great places to pick up souvenirs of your trip. In addition to tourist shopping, you will also discover some excellent eateries that offer some of the freshest seafood in the world as well as other dishes that are prepared from the bounty of the island.

11. Go surfing

If you're a surfing enthusiast then you'll truly enjoy some of the beaches in Maui that have consistently great swells to tackle. You'll find surf breaks for just about every level from beginners through more advanced and even professional challenges. Grandma's Beach that is on the Pali Highway is a great place to go for beginners and another place to go is ove Park in Kihei, or you might also want to give Lahaina's Launiupoko Beach a try because the surf is highly accessible from the sandy beach.

10. Go on a Sky-High hiking trip

Maui is a valley island that offers some amazing beaches as well as volcanic peaks. This has created some amazing trails which lead up to the peaks at Haleakala with amazing views of the hilly landscape of the island. There are some fantastic places to hike at the 10,000 feet level. This will give you a good workout over some very interesting volcanic terrain and also give you a fantastic view of the hills and valleys of the island. On some days you can take a walk in the clouds. you'll want to stop by the visitor center for the National Park adn take the Halamau'u trail hike for an amazing view of the crater.

9. Explore the secret beaches

Maui is an island that is dotted with some of the most popular beaches in the world, and it's also a great place to go exploring. If you want to go a bit off of the grid and you don't mind doing some hiking, you can find some of its famed secret beaches that are not often visited by tourists because they are off the beaten path. Procure a local map of the area while you're there and get away from the resort areas by visiting Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului and the interconnecting beaches that are often pristine with no other occupants. Baby Beach is just a short walk from Baldwin Beach Park in Paia.

8. Visit the Maui Tropical Plantation

Another strongly recommended attraction for first-time visitors is the Maui Tropical Plantation. You can take a farm tour and learn about agriculture in the region. Some of the most beautiful plants and flowers are displayed within a large property of immaculate landscaping. The Plantation opens at 9 am daily and is open until 5 pm. It's best to rent a car and to drive to the plantation which offers parking for visitors.

7. Make it a tram tour

You can take the tram for your tour of the plantation and it won't break the bank to save your legs. It only costs $20 per person for adults and kids cost just $10 for the tram tour. They're offered 7 days a week. This is a great activity to build into your itinerary because the entire Maui Tropical Plantation Express Tram tour takes about an hour. Afterward, you can enjoy lunch at the Mill House Restaurant and Bar which is located on the property.

6. Visit the Mill House Maui Coffee Shop

When you're at the Plantation don't forget to stop by the coffee shop that sells Mill House Maui organically grown coffee. You can either buy it by the cup or by the pound for fresh Hawaiian coffee. This makes an excellent gift for the coffee lovers in your life. You'll also find a lot of souvenirs and gift items at the small shops that are set up throughout the plantation and the large country store also feature works by local artists. Don't forget to check out the fresh produce and nuts that are also grown at the plantation. You'll find vendors just outside of the main country store who are happy to help you find a good selection of fresh produce to take back to the room with you.

5. Take a sunset catamaran cruise

The sunset catamaran dinner cruise is one of the most memorable nighttime activities you will experience. You have to book this well in advance because availability is extremely limited but it's a worthwhile activity. The entire cruise plus dinner takes about 2 hours. You will depart from Pier One in Lahaina Harbor and eat a tasty Hawaiian meal with wonderful live music playing while you watch the sunset while out cruising the waves. You will be served appetizers along with 2 free beverages of your choice, and after the catamaran has left teh harbor alcoholic beverages are available. Your cruise takes you into the scenic waters near Lahaina. There is a good chance that you will even see some humpback whales on your cruise, and you're guaranteed to see some truly amazing sights.

4. Go snorkeling

No trip to Maui is complete without a snorkeling adventure. There are a few different places that come with high recommendations including Black Rock in Kaanapali, and if you want crystal clear waters to see the turtles and fish swimming around, head up north to Honolua Bay. This offers holes where there are tideless swimming and some great snorkeling during the summer months.

3. See the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles

Almost everyone has heard about the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles. This is another must-see for all first-time visitors to the island. You'll find them at Napili Bay which is also a popular snorkeling and swimming spot. Go in the morning and enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Gazebo Restaurant while you're there and make a morning of it.

2. Go to an authentic Luau in Lahaina

You can't miss out on the thrill of an authentic luau while you're in Hawaii. There are two that have received rave reviews including the Feat at Lele and the Old Lahaina Luau. The food is exceptional and so is the music and exotic dancing. These are fun and exciting nighttime activities that everyone who visits Maui needs to experience.

1. Take a Maui Zipline Tour

This is a commercial zipline tour that offers one of the most dramatic and exciting ways to tour the island. Ziplines are used in many countries where there are deep river valleys and streams that are difficult to cross. You will see some of the most breathtaking views on your zipline tour.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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