Yearning for the spray of salt water in your face as you zip across the ocean surface in a catamaran sailboat? Dying to meet a few lively sea creatures face-to-face in their submarine homes? Or do your interests lie purely in letting the steady sound rhythm of waves relieve your stress while you kick back beachside and sip on a mai tai? Travelers, rejoice! You can go to one place to satisfy everyone. Maui is a Mecca for outdoor fanatics and watersports lovers, as well as for lounging enthusiasts.
Regardless of your personal requisite for activity level, Maui is largely a “get outdoors” destination. Even such cultural spots as Tedeschi Vineyards and Winery and Surfing Goat Dairy are located in fairly rural areas. (It is an island after all.) The attractions listed here reflect this, and as such, may not be perfect for those who don’t want to leave the comfort of air conditioning.
However, this doesn’t mean these ten places are exclusively for “rugged types.” Feel like spending the day strolling about the grounds of a lavender farm or botanical garden? Maui’s got you covered.
With all these options, you may start to feel stressed about how best to spend your time. Don’t let the pressure takeover. Relax, remember the aloha spirit, and read this list we’ve compiled for you. Full of options you’ve probably never thought of, it embraces the uniqueness of Maui’s numerous attractions.
There’s no view quite like that from the hull of a catamaran sailboat slipping effortlessly across the waves. Started in 1994 by a husband and wife who both grew up sailing, the Paragon staff and crew are some of the most experienced hands in the charter business.
The company centers on the paragon–a modified catamaran, including an added seven feet on the hull and a solid central cabin. Sailing easily at 20+ knots while carrying 30+ passengers and crew, with snorkel gear and food and drink for all, the paragon is sure to satisfy the call of the ocean. Relax on deck with a cold drink or get wet on one of the trampolines. Plus, you save 15% off the original price if you book online.
Local Expert tip: Don’t lose a full day to seasickness. If you’re not sure whether or not you are prone to seasickness, take medication like Dramamine beforehand as a precaution. Don’t try to tough it out.
Two thousand feet above sea level on the leeward slopes of Haleakala Crater may seem like an unlikely spot for a commercial winery. However, the rich volcanic soil and temperate Hawaiian climate on Ulupalakua Ranch, where the vineyards are located, has allowed the winery to successfully grow grapes since 1974.
The grapes grown here take on the physical characteristics of the region, and there is perhaps no better way to showcase Maui’s features than with wine made on the spot. Tedeschi doesn’t limit its visitors to traditional wines, either. It is known for its pineapple wine and raspberry dessert wine, distinct flavors you won’t find anywhere else.
Serious wine snobs may not find staple varieties for their personal cellars here, but the novelty of the location and the beautiful scenery, as well as the knowledgeable staff, more than make up for it. Offering tours and free tastings, this place is a nice reward for braving the Hana Highway.
Local Expert tip: Make this a part of your trip to or from Haleakala National Park.
This funky little stop in Kula was started ten years ago by Eva Kafsack and Thomas Kafsack. Their former occupations of high school German teacher and software company leader, respectively, may make Surfing Goat Dairy seem like an unlikely venture; however, their passion for fine cheese-making is backed by their extensive research and travels to dairies throughout Germany, Austria, and France.
Plus, they are animal lovers and treat their goats very well. Feel free to taste the quality of their products for yourself; They offer free samples of butter, cheese, and ice cream!
Complete with a petting zoo (where baby goats almost always make an appearance) and walking tour, this is the perfect activity to keep the kids entertained while you take a break from the sun.
Local Expert tip: If you decide to take part in the tour, plan your footwear accordingly. You will be walking through areas frequented by goats.
A snorkeler’s and diver’s paradise, this crescent-shaped island, which now serves as a bird sanctuary, is all that remains of an extinct volcano. (Note: The island itself is off-limits to humans.) Even the most inexperienced snorkelers will enjoy the calm waters and maximum depth of 60 feet within the bay. Since the area around the island is a marine preserve, fish, octopuses, parrotfish, eels, and many other creatures are sure to make an appearance.
If you are looking to charter a boat on the western or southern coast (necessary for visitors), Pacific Whale Foundation is a great option. You will not only whale watch on the way to Molokini, but certified instructors will provide you with an introduction to the marine life you are bound to see there. Plus, your fees go toward a good cause–saving whales from extinction.
Local Expert tip: Stick to the buddy system. The situation quickly turns hectic when several boats full of snorkelers moor at the same time.
Lose yourself in the lush, calm jungle of Maui, by visiting this valley. The serenity found here makes it hard to the believe that the battle of Kepaniwai was fought here in the late 18th century. One of the most savage takeovers in history, the battle resulted in the slaughter of Maui’s army by King Kamehameha I’s. Ironically, it was fought because Kamehameha I wanted to unite the peoples of all the Hawaiian Islands.
Today, Iao Valley is one of the best maintained parks on Maui, complete with paved hiking paths and many spots along the river to go for a dip on a hot day. Though best known for the “Iao Needle,” a stone spire with a summit that reaches 2250 ft in elevation, the trails come in a variety of difficulty levels, and thus are great for the whole family. The $5 parking fee is for the park maintenance and upkeep.
Local Expert tip: Bring your local friends. Kama’aina (Hawaii residents) get free parking.
Upon its opening in 1994, a dream of Maui residents came true; they finally had an appropriate facility dedicated to the arts. Spanning 12 acres, the center is also quite impressive and includes several theaters, a museum-quality gallery, an amphitheater, and several classrooms and studios, among its numerous other features. Constituting a space where performers and artists from all realms come together, it’s the perfect place to take in the Maui art scene. Check out the schedule of classes and get a few lessons in dance or painting during your visit. All ages are welcome. Those interested in traditional Hawaiian culture with delight in the annual Ki Ho’alu (Slack Key) Guitar Festival, as well as in the Maui ‘Ukulele Festival and Hawaiian Storytelling Festivals.
Local Expert tip: Some concert venues in Hawaii require attendees to buy scrip (tickets in specific denominations) to use towards food instead of paying food vendors directly in cash. Check with MACC before attending a concert, and try not to purchase unnecessary scrip. You don’t get to cash them back in if you don’t use them!
Planning a trip is stressful. Luckily, Maui is home to this perfect “wind-down” spot. Reserve a spot on a tour of the gardens, which feature over 40 varieties of lavender, and breathe in the fresh mountain air. (And I mean fresh. No pesticides are used on the lavender at any point during the growing process.)
Want more? The farm always offers special classes, where you can learn to create all things with a lavender twist, and themed tours, including the popular “pick-your-own lavender” tour. Though the schedule of course/tour offerings may vary, the lavender itself favors the dry Kula climate, allowing the medicinal and floral treasure to grow here year-round.
Don’t forget to grab something to remember your visit by in the gift shop, which offers everything from bath products to food.
Local Expert tip: For a larger sampling of the farm’s stellar product, order the garden lunch basket, a complete meal of lavender-infused foods.
Though in name may seem like classic Hawaiian kitsch, this 60-acre working plantation is a great way to escape the noise of busy western Maui. Admission to the grounds is free, but tram rides are available to those who want the complete tour of the fields yielding pineapple, coffee, sugar cane, macadamia nuts, among other crops for which the Hawaiian Islands have come to be known. (Don’t forget to try the free samples!) Hidden in the mountains in rural Waikapu, the scenery alone is worth the visit. For a bird’s-eye view, take the zip line across the property. If you’re in the market for tropical flora, be sure to visit the nursery. The market and gift shop are great spots for those looking for souvenirs (especially edible ones). If you are looking for something more substantial meal-wise, the restaurant on the grounds may be the right option for you.
Local Expert tip: Though a bit pricey, the tram tour is packed full of information. You will even learn how to husk a coconut by hand!
Not for the faint of heart, this 52-mile road curves all the way around the eastern and southern coast of Maui. This is not a point-A-to-point-B trip, so don’t be in a hurry. Despite the many rumors surrounding the Highway, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is not necessary to cross it. However, a sense of adventure and willingness to share the road are. You must be comfortable easing across narrow, one-lane bridges and reversing at some of the most inopportune spots (i.e., curves or hills) when a driver approaches from the other direction. Fortunately, the brave do not outnumber those who choose to take another route to the western half of the Island, so this won’t happen often. Be sure to look up! Gorgeous waterfalls, hidden vistas, and lush jungle accompany you the whole way.
Local Expert tip: Be sure to unclench your white knuckles from time to time, so you can step out and enjoy hikes (many with waterfalls you can jump from) located all along the road.
You haven’t seen a Maui sunrise until you’ve seen it from the summit of Haleakala Mountain (a volcano, considered sacred by ancient Hawaiians and dormant since 1790) in historic Haleakala National Park. Step inside the visitors’ center to find out all about how the crater was formed and ask the knowledgeable staff any questions you may have. The closest resorts on the west coast are 2-3 hours away by car, but the stunning beauty of the terrain more than makes up for it.
After sunrise, you can choose to hike, camp, bike, or go horseback riding in the crater itself. Those who dedicate at least two days to hiking the entire crater can stay in one of the few cabins scattered throughout. Bird-lovers take note: cabin dwellers will be rewarded by a near invasion of native bird species very rarely seen other places in the Islands, including the ‘i’iwi (with its distinct sickle-shaped bill and bright red feathers) and the nene (Hawaiian goose).
Local Expert tip: It may be located on a tropical island, but catching the sunrise at the visitors’ center(elevation of 9,740 ft.) is cold! You will want a coat, gloves, and hat.