Maui Travel Guide

If the Hawaiian Islands were siblings, Maui would be the Golden Child — the beautiful, successful, charismatic one whom everyone adores. Maui, Hawaii, offers almost everything sun-seeking travelers want: brilliant sunshine tempered by balmy breezes, beautiful beaches perfect for swimming and snorkeling and, of course, some of Hawaii’s best resorts and restaurants. But this 727-square-mile island (the state’s second largest) also works its magic with activities ranging from adventurous to indulgent, making it the Hawaiian Island on which to try it all.

Many of Maui’s resort areas are located on the west coast of the island, and watching an epic sunset is a nightly ritual Shutterstock

Maui is Hawaii’s second youngest island (800,000 to 1.3 million years old), formed by volcanic activity over tens of millions of years that created its most famous landmark, Haleakala. This 10,023-foot dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1790) is an adventure-lover’s playground. Hike above the clouds on trails that crisscross its caldera or spike your adrenaline with an exhilarating ride down its switchback road after watching the sunrise from the summit. Upcountry, the fertile farmland on Haleakala’s slopes, also lures epicureans with lavender-infused chocolate, jelly and honey at Alili’i Kula Lavender Farm and fresh cheese at Surfing Goat Dairy.

The sunrise at Haleakala National Park on Maui
The varied landscape of Haleakala National Park Shutterstock

Other top things to do in Maui: Drive the 52-mile road to Hana — with its 620 curves, 59 bridges and scenic waterfalls — to see East Maui’s black-lava coastline. Head to the far end of Kaanapali Beach at sunset to witness the ceremonial tiki torch lighting and cliff dive from Black Rock. Spy on the humpback whales that congregate here (December to May) and snorkel crescent-shaped Molokini crater.

To savor Maui’s food scene, reserve a table at a top restaurant, such as Mama’s Fish House near Paia, known for serving the freshest fish imaginable (the fisherman who caught it is named on the menu). Hawaii’s blend of Asian, Portuguese and Polynesian influences create a dynamic dining scene — from local homegrown eateries serving noodles or poke to upscale dining rooms helmed by celebrated chefs.

Maui’s main resort areas are Kaanapali, Kapalua and Wailea, each with a range of hotels, spas and golf courses. The island’s history, meanwhile, is showcased in three legendary towns: Makawao, a 19th-century plantation-town-turned-cowboy-outpost where you’ll find T Komoda Store and Bakery, famous for its cream puffs; Paia, a surfer-hippie town surrounded by sugar cane near Hookipa Beach, a famous windsurfing spot; and Lahaina, capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early 1800s. After experiencing all that this island has to offer, you’ll be adopting the local’s favorite saying, “Maui No Ka Oi!” Translation: “Maui is the best!”

A black sand beach in Maui Waianapanapa State Park
A black-sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park Shutterstock

Where to Stay in Maui

Deciding to take a trip to Maui is easy, but trying to decide where to stay in Maui is the hard part. If you want to stay on the beach, start your search in the three legendary resort areas of Kaanapali, Wailea and Kapalua. That’s where you’ll find the best beach resorts in Maui, straight from a Hawaiian postcard.

If you’re planning a romantic getaway or Maui honeymoon, you’re in luck, as Maui boasts some of the world’s dreamiest resorts. We found the best Maui resorts for couples that offer adult-focused amenities and the seductive ambiance that makes for a memorable romantic getaway. Maui is also an island playground for families, with unique activities to easily fill every day of the week.

The best family resorts in Maui happily say aloha to keiki (children) with everything from free meals to water slides to hula lessons to babysitting — because parents should be able to fully enjoy their vacation, too. But if you’re experiencing sticker shock at the cost of a trip to Maui, don’t fret. There are budget-friendly and even cheap hotels in Maui, as well as resort and condo-resort options where you can save money on dining by cooking your own meals. (Freshly caught fish, anyone?) So take a look at these options of where to stay in Maui.

Things to Do in Maui

There are so many things to do in Maui that you could easily fill a two-week vacation without repeats. One of the main draws to The Valley Isle is its gorgeous coastline — the island boasts more than 30 miles of beautiful beaches, including black-sand and red-sand beaches to explore.

A waterfall in Maui
Lower Waikamoi Falls, one of the stops along the road to Hana Shutterstock

You could spend days exploring Haleakala National Park and its dormant volcano, whether it’s via hiking, biking or watching the sunrise (or sunset) from the summit. Spend a day driving the famed road to Hana, a trip that’s more about the beauty along the journey than the final destination. Stop along the way to take selfies at waterfalls, scenic bridges and hidden beaches and coves.

Did you know that 23 percent of the fish species in Hawaii are endemic, found nowhere else on earth? So naturally, snorkeling in Maui is a must, and one of the best spots is right off Kaanapali Beach. Maui is also a top choice for a family vacation, offering plenty of options for keiki (children). If you’re traveling with your littles, check out the best things to do in Maui with kids.