8 Sep 2023
Maui, often referred to as the "Valley Isle" due to its large valleys formed by two massive volcanoes, is a tropical paradise where diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and a deep sense of aloha await your discovery.
In this guide, we'll explore Maui's diverse regions from mauka to makai (mountains to the sea) highlighting the activities, attractions, and natural wonders that make Maui a truly extraordinary destination. Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or a blend of both, there's an incredible experience to be had by every traveler to the Valley Isle. Pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through this Hawaiian paradise!
South Maui: Where Sunshine Meets Serenity
South Maui is synonymous with sunshine as this region is sheltered on the leeward side of Haleakala volcano, making the area much drier than the rest of the island.
Miles of golden sand beaches, lava fields, and stunning shorelines paired with world-class resort amenities make the coastal communities of Kihei, Wailea, and Makena one of the most popular places for visitors to base their stay on Maui.
The beaches of South Maui are extraordinary. In Kihei and Wailea, you can bask in the golden sands, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or try your hand at water sports like snorkeling, surfing, and paddleboarding. Some must-visit beaches include Wailea Beach, Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach), and the family-friendly Kamaole Beach Park. For a truly magical experience, be sure to catch a vibrant sunset at one of our favorite spots to enjoy sundown.
Wailea Golf Courses
Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the world-class courses in South Maui. The Wailea Golf Club boasts three championship courses with stunning ocean views and meticulously manicured greens. It's a golfer's paradise in paradise!
From farm-to-table dining experiences and long-standing local establishments, there's no shortage of dining options available to enjoy a myriad of flavors.
North Shore: Where Adventure Meets Artistry
The North Shore of Maui is a unique blend of aquatic activities and artistic expression, all set against a backdrop of rugged beauty. is renowned for its big wave surfing spots, including the famous Jaws (Peahi). It is also home to numerous artistic endeavors, from Paia's vibrant art scene to the Hana Highway's roadside stands selling local crafts and handmade goods.
Baldwin Beach Park
Just before reaching Paia, Baldwin Beach Park is a stunning stretch of coastline with golden sands and turquoise waters. It's a great place for sunbathing, swimming, and even picnicking. The nearby Baby Beach is a sheltered spot perfect for families with young children.
Stroll through the charming and eclectic town of Paia, a hub for art and culture on the North Shore. Explore designer flagship stores, unique boutiques, and art galleries, including Maui Hands, Pueo Gallery, and Maui Crafts Guild. Enjoy an array of flavors from Peruvian and Mexican cuisine to sushi and flatbread pizza.
Just past the main stretch of town, indulge in a memorable seafood dinner at Mama's Fish House, known for its commitment to sustainability and its ocean-to-table cuisine. Make your reservation well in advance, this family-owned eatery fills fast.
Ho'okipa Beach Park
Ho'okipa Beach Park is world-renowned for its incredible waves, making it a popular spot for professional surfers and windsurfers. Even if you're not a surfer, it's a fantastic place to watch the action and enjoy a picnic while taking in the breathtaking views.
East Maui: Where Nature Thrives
East Maui is characterized by its lush rainforests, dramatic coastlines, and the famous Hana Highway, a journey through a tropical paradise filled with waterfalls, bamboo forests, and serene pools to explore. Show respect for the environment and local culture as you embark on this unforgettable adventure.
Hana Highway's Hidden Gems
Venture along the Hana Highway and uncover hidden gems like the Waianapanapa State Park, known for its black sand beaches and striking coastline, and the pristine Oheo Gulch, home to the Seven Sacred Pools. While enjoying these natural wonders, remember to pack out everything you bring in to preserve the pristine environment.
Hana Tours of Maui
For an immersive Hawaiian experience, book a tour with Hana Tours of Maui. They offer guided hikes, waterfall adventures, and deep insights into East Maui's cultural history. The knowledgeable guides will help you connect with the land and its stories.
Waimoku Falls Hike
Inside Haleakalā National Park, embark on the Waimoku Falls hike along the Pipiwai Trail. This moderately strenuous 4-mile trek takes you through a bamboo forest and past waterfalls before reaching the stunning 400-foot Waimoku Falls. It's a truly magical and rewarding experience.
Upcountry Maui: Where Tranquility Awaits
Upcountry Maui offers cooler temperatures and a glimpse into the island's agricultural heritage. It's a serene escape from the coastal heat, with farms, gardens, and breathtaking panoramic views. Take time to appreciate the tranquility and support local businesses in this part of the island.
Haleakalā National Park
Located in East Maui, Haleakalā National Park is home to the world's largest dormant volcano, Haleakalā. Witnessing the sunrise from the summit is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but make sure to dress warmly as it can be quite chilly. During the day, explore the unique landscapes, hiking trails, and the breathtaking Sliding Sands Trail.
Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm
Visit the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm and take a leisurely stroll through fragrant lavender fields while enjoying breathtaking views of Maui's central valley. Savor lavender-infused delights at their gift shop, and remember to support local businesses by purchasing handmade crafts.
MauiWine in Ulupalakua
Wrap up your adventure with a visit to MauiWine in Ulupalakua. Indulge in wine tasting sessions featuring local pineapple wines, explore the scenic grounds, and experience the tranquility of Upcountry. This winery takes pride in its sustainable practices, so you can enjoy your wine knowing it comes from a place dedicated to environmental responsibility.
Surfing Goat Dairy
Discover Surfing Goat Dairy, where you can take a guided tour to learn about goat cheese production, meet the goats, and taste some of the delicious cheeses crafted on-site. Supporting local agriculture, like this family-owned dairy, helps preserve Maui's rural charm.
Central Maui: Where Tradition Meets Tranquility
Central Maui is often seen as the island's bustling commercial center, but it holds hidden gems that connect you to Maui's rich history and serene landscapes. Wailuku's rich history, cultural significance, and proximity to natural wonders make it a compelling destination for travelers looking to dive into Maui's authentic experiences. Whether you're interested in exploring the outdoors, delving into history, or simply enjoying up the local atmosphere, Wailuku has something for everyone.
Historic Wailuku Town
Stroll through the charming streets of historic Wailuku, where you'll find well-preserved 19th-century buildings and a variety of boutique shops, art galleries, and local eateries. The town's ambiance is a delightful mix of old and new, making it a great place for a leisurely walk and exploring the local culture.
Wailuku First Friday
If you're in town on the first Friday of the month, don't miss Wailuku First Friday. This community event features live music, local art exhibits, food vendors, and a bustling street fair atmosphere. It's a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Wailuku's vibrant culture.
Iao Valley State Park
One of Maui's most iconic landmarks, Iao Valley State Park, is just a short drive from Wailuku. Explore the park's lush rainforest trails, which lead to the famous Iao Needle, a natural rock formation rising 1,200 feet from the valley floor. The park also offers a glimpse into Hawaiian history and culture.
Maui Tropical Plantation
Just a short drive from Wailuku, the Maui Tropical Plantation offers a fun and educational experience. Explore lush gardens, take a tram tour through the plantation, and sample fresh tropical fruits. The on-site Mill House Restaurant serves farm-to-table cuisine in a beautiful setting.
While there's much to see, keep in mind the best way to experience the island is by connecting with those that make your vacation special.
As you embark on this journey to discover authentic experiences that make Maui special, remember the importance of responsible travel. You may hear the phrases "travel pono" and "mālama Maui," both Hawaiian concepts and ways of life that refer to our shared and collective responsibility to care for and respect the island, its culture, and its environment. During your visit, we encourage you to:
Support Local Businesses: Whenever possible, choose local businesses, restaurants, and shops to support the Maui community. By doing so, you contribute to the island's economy and help preserve its unique culture.
Minimize Your Environmental Footprint: Travel responsibly by leaving no trace. Dispose of your waste properly, recycle, and be mindful of the environment. Stick to designated trails and paths to protect fragile ecosystems.
Embrace the Aloha Spirit: The Hawaiian concept of "aloha" goes beyond a mere greeting; it signifies love, compassion, and respect. Show kindness and respect to the locals, and immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the island.
*Note: At this time, Lahaina is off-limits to visitors and travel to West Maui is discouraged through Oct. 8, 2023. The rest of the island remains open and welcoming of visitors.