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Maui, Planning a trip away from the Resorts

Many bucket list destinations include the Hawaiian islands. Maui, is the 2nd largest of the islands, behind the Big Island (Hawai’i) and ahead of O’ahu (home of the capital, Honolulu). Maui is such a great vacation location because it is very quiet compared to O’ahu. Maui is filled with resorts but look to the Big Island if you seek more isolation. 

View of the coastline in Maui

Maui’s Airport, OGG, allows for many direct flights from the US but is not the international airport hub that you will find in Honolulu. A quick island hop flight from HNL will bring you to OGG. With Southwest Airlines bringing more routes both inter island and from the mainland, air travel hasn’t ever been easier or cheaper to go to Maui. 

Things to Do 

The Road to Hana

One of the most iconic things to do on Maui. Popularity brings crowds so be sure to check out my Road to Hana Travel Guide for planning the perfect adventure.

Couple standing on a bridge overlooking waterfalls on the road to Hana


The giant volcano on the East side of the island is home to Maui's U.S. National Park. The most iconic thing to do is catch the famous sunrise above the clouds. This is over 10,000 feet above Sea Level so be sure to pack warm clothes and not just your tropical attire if you plan to come. Bike riding down the volcano is another fun activity once you are here. 

Pro Tip: Do this at the beginning of your trip (ideally the first two days) as you will have the advantage of Time Zone’s on your side as you will need to get up early for this adventure. 

Snorkel / Scuba Dive

Snorkeling is the easiest and best activity to do on the island. There are three ways to enjoy this activity, rent a snorkel from the resort, go on a snorkel tour, or bring your own! 

My recommended gear

*for mirrorless / DSLR cameras, I recommend the aquatech housings. These are expensive but you can rent them as well!

snorkeler swimming and photographing fish

Most resorts will have snorkel gear to rent. I recommend bringing your own gear because you may save money if you elect to do this a few times throughout your trip. Plus, you can drive and stop anywhere on the island for a quick swim. This is a great thing to do if you plan to go to Hana as well! 

There are also many great options to join a snorkel tour. I had a great time with Redline Snorkeling. They took us on a quick and fun boat ride to Molikini (the small volcanic crater in the ocean between Maui and Kahi’olawe) and 4 other snorkel hot spots along the coast. Although it is not a guarantee, they will certainly do their best to get you up close and personal (while keeping away from the protected species) to see or photo the beautiful sea turtles that swim all over the island.  

Underwater photo of a sea turtle swimming in Hawaii

Find a local beach

Get away from the big resorts and take a drive along the coast. The drive to Hana on the South East side of the island has some unique and amazing beaches. Don’t forget to drive the North West part of the island too. My favorites are Red Sand Beach, Black Sand Beach, and Slaughterhouse Beach. 

overhead view of a wave cashing on to a palm tree beach

Surf Competitions

Many surfers come to Hawaii for the BIG waves. For this reason, there are pro surf competitions held around late fall / early winter every year. If you have an off road capable vehicle, adventure out to Jaws Surf Break (NOTE: do not go here without a 4x4 especially before or after a rainstorm) 

rainbow overspray from a surfers wave in Hawaii

Take a Drive

Maui is so lush and scenic. From sweeping coastline views, to lush green ridges, to the abundance of waterfalls. Stop for local fruit or shaved ice and find a secluded beach or hike along the way. Pro Tip - watch out for the wild chickens! 

North Maui

Honolua Bay, Napili Bay, Slaughterhouse Beach,

Nakalele Blowhole, Honolua Bay & Olivine Pools

East Maui

Jaws, Waiuku to Lahaina Road, Baldwin Beach

South Maui

Makena Landing State Park, Wailea, Hana 

Take a Hike

Find a secluded waterfall or go to the top of a ridge for 360 views. My favorite hikes are:

  • Waimoku Falls (Hana) 

  • Pipiwai Trail / Oheo Gulch (Hana) 

  • Twin Falls (North Shore)  

  • Waihee Ridge Trail (North) 

  • Nakalele Blow hole (North Shore) 

waterfall hike view of Haleakala national park in Maui

Places to Stay

There are many big resort areas on the island including, Wailea (SE), Kaanapali (NW) and Kapalua (N). Be sure to also check out Lahaina for great dining and shopping (a few minutes from Kaanapali) 

Wailea Beach

The Grand Wailea

Beautiful and grand just like the name.

Fairmone Kea Lani

Classy and beautiful rooms and villas. Beach feels a little more private.

Wailea Beach Resort Marriott 

A more modern hotel with great restauraunt options. Not as big as the other two.


The Westin Ocean Villas 

Timeshare style villas with full kitchen. Huge property with multiple pools and great beaches.

Westin Resort 

Hotel style. Closer to all of the hotels in the area.


Four seasons Kapalua

A classy resort on the north end. Huge property with a great beach and golf course.

Places to Eat

So many great options especially at all of the great resorts. My two favorites are:

  1. Mama’s fish house (close to airport)

  2. Sensai Seafood & Sushi (kapalua)

Be sure to make reservations before you arrive on the island!!!

lush forest greens and waterfalls flowing in to a river in Maui
aerial view of the pool and beach at the westin ocean villas in kaanapali maui
palm trees standing in from of the volcano in maui
two snorkels with their hands out of the water giving the Shaka
milky way and stars at a beach in Hawaii
panorama view of a sunset on a rocky beach in Hawaii


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