First-Timers Guide to Maui Hawaii – Top Active Things to Do

Earlier this year, Kevin and I traveled with a few close friends to Maui, Hawaii.  Below is our itinerary and our must-read guide to Maui!

What To Do

1. Road to Hana

As most of you already know, the Road to Hana is a must-see!  Hana Highway is a famous 64.4-mile long highway connecting the town of Hana, in east Maui, to Kahului.  This trip typically takes around four hours to complete if you are simply just driving it.  If you choose to get out and explore, this trip can take all day, so plan accordingly.  Hana Highway contains beautiful waterfalls and pristine beaches, as well as, breathtaking lookouts.

Since we stayed in Kihei, Kevin and I woke up and left for Hana Highway early in the morning.  We recommend this for anyone who is staying on the opposite side of the island.  On our way to Hana, we stopped at Vanta Coffee Hub in Wailuku to get breakfast and coffee for the road.

Our first stop was Ho’okipa Beach Park.  Ho’okipa Beach is home to some of the best waves on Maui’s coastline.  Since Kevin is an avid surfer, we had to stop at Ho’okipa!  Ho’okipa Beach Park also has several picnic tables and pavilions for anyone who wants to pack breakfast and eat it there while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Twin Falls

After Ho’okipa Beach Park, we drove to Twin Falls.  Twin Falls is a 1.5-mile moderately trafficked hike that leads to two beautiful waterfalls.  At this point, it was raining heavily so we decided not to hike to Twin Falls. We did hear the falls are beautiful so if the rain isn’t too bad we definitely recommend going.  We did, however, buy banana bread from the local stand outside the trailhead entrance.

Tip: After living in Hawaii for a few months, Kevin and I learned that after a lot of rain Hawaii issues a “Brown Water Advisory.”  This means that coastal waters and rivers may become polluted from flood and storm water runoff that may be contaminated by chemicals, pesticides, feces, etc.

Honomanu Bay

After Twin Falls we drove toward Honomanu Bay.  Honomanu Bay is located between mile marker #13 and #14.  Honomanu Bay is surrounded by beautiful lush vegetation and has several lookouts along the road.  Although there are several lookouts, the bay can only be accessed by foot.  We do not recommend swimming here due to oceans rocky bottom and strong rip currents, but it is definitely a beautiful place to stop.

Waikani Falls

Following Honomanu Bay we drove to Waikani Falls.  Waikani Falls is also known as Three Bears Waterfall and can be seen from the side of the road or viewed from the base of the falls.  If you choose to view Waikani Falls from the road you may cross the bridge in front of the falls and walk to the falls or many just park their vehicle in front of the waterfall before the bridge.  There is a sign stating it is a “No Parking” zone, but if your quick no one will say anything.  If you choose to do to the hike be aware that it is very steep and usually very muddy.

Waikani Falls on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Waikani Falls, unfortunately, it was very rainy so the water was brown.

Waikani Falls on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Waikani Falls in the rain.

 

Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread

Between Honomanu Bay and Waikani Falls is Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread.  THIS IS OUR FAVORITE BANANA BREAD!  Aunty Sandy’s is located just beyond Keanae Lookout on a quaint little peninsula.  We definitely recommend heading down there for both the views and the bread!

Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread is a must!

 

Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread, ours was still warm when we bought it!

 

Wailua Falls

Just past mile marker #45 is Wailua Falls.  Wailua Falls is arguably one of Maui’s “most photographed waterfalls.”  This waterfall is about 80-feet tall and cascades beautifully down the lush wall behind it.  Wailua falls is easily seen from the road so no hiking is required.  You can’t miss this!

Wailua Falls on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Wailua Falls are seen from the road.

 

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

The Black Sand Beach on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
The sand here is rough and made up of tiny pebbles and rocks in some places.

 

Toward the end of the Road to Hana, you will also find both the black and red sand beaches.  We highly recommend checking out both.  Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach is known for its beautiful blue water, black sand and various sea-caves that are accessible to travelers.  If you are feeling adventurous, you may hike around the perimeter of the beach to an elevated area overlooking the water.

The Black Sand Beach on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Maui’s Famous Black Sand Beach.

Cave at the Black Sand Beach The Black Sand Beach on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Sea-cave at the Black Sand Beach.

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

About 3.5-miles after Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach you will find Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach.  This beach is a little harder to get to and requires hiking, but it is totally worth it!  Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach is truly beautiful.  The beach is hidden in a small cove surrounded by red lava rock that leads out to some of the bluest water we have ever seen.  The water in the cove is chilly but very refreshing and on a calm day, you will find cliff jumpers jumping from the trail into the blue waters below!  Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach is a must see in our opinion!

Maui's Red Sand Beach on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
View from above the Red Sand Beach.

Maui's Red Sand Beach The Black Sand Beach on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
Maui’s Red Sand Beach

If you are hungry after visiting Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach we recommend grabbing a taco, burrito, or quesadilla at Surfing Burro!  This food truck is not one to miss and offers picnic tables where you can enjoy your lunch.

Rainbow Eucalyptus

Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for these beauties!  Rainbow Eucalyptus can be seen near mile marker #7 on the Road to Hana but are also scattered throughout the drive.

One of Maui's infamous Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees on The Road to Hana in Maui. What to do in Maui.
One of Maui’s infamous Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees.

 

Do note that these are just some of the waterfalls and sites to see on the Road to Hana.  It would be nearly impossible to name every waterfall and beach along this drive.

Waioka Pond

Located at the end of the Road to Hana is Waioka Pond, also known as Venus Pool.  Waioka Pool is a 0.3-mile hike that leads to beautiful cliffs overlooking the Venus Pool.  This is a great place for cliff jumping if that is something you like to do.  However, if you do cliff jump and bring a GoPro with you make sure you have the floatation device on it!  Unfortunately, Kevin lost our GoPro after cliff jumping and we lost all of our footage from the Road to Hana (other than the few photos in this post).

The jump was worth it though!

2. Haleakala National Park

Seven Sacred Pools

After the Road to Hana, we traveled to Seven Sacred Pools or Pools of Ohe’o.  The Pools of Ohe’o are located in Haleakala National Park so you do have to pay a small fee to enter the park but the sites are worth it.

Tip: If you plan on visiting multiple US National Parks the year you visit Haleakala, make sure to buy the US Park Pass.  It will save you money!

Unfortunately, they have closed the pools and swimming/cliff jumping are no longer allowed but they are still worth checking out.

Waimoku Falls

Also located in Haleakala National Park, is the Pipiwai Trail that leads to Waimoku Falls.  If you are in Haleakala National Park this is a must do!  The hike to the falls is truly breathtaking and contains one of Maui’s most famous bamboo forests.  The trail is about 1.8-miles long and very well-maintained.  We recommend giving yourself about two hours for the hike maybe three if you are like us and like to linger and take a lot of photos!

Below this bridge are several waterfalls. Haleakala National Park. What to do in Maui.
Below this bridge are several waterfalls.

Maui's most famous bamboo forest located on Pipiwai trail. Haleakala National Park. What to do in Maui.
Maui’s most famous bamboo forest located on the Pipiwai trail.

 

Waimoku Falls at the end of Pipiwai Trail! Haleakala National Park. What to do in Maui.
Waimoku Falls at the end of Pipiwai Trail!

 

3. Whale Watching

In Maui between December and May?  You are in luck, this is the best time for whale watching!  On our second day on Maui, we rented a boat from Aloha Outdoors with a few friends and headed north between Lanai and Lahaina.  This area is known for whale watching and we were able to see a number of whales here.

Whale watching in Maui did not disappoint. What to do in Maui.
Whale watching in Maui did not disappoint.

We were lucky enough to see this family of whales. What to do in Maui.
We were lucky enough to see this family of whales.

We then headed south to Molokini Crater for some snorkeling.  Unfortunately, the winds picked up and we were not able to make it to Molokini Crater but it is supposed to be some of the best snorkeling on the island so you should check it out!

Tip: If you show a Hawaii Drivers License at Aloha Outdoors you will receive an extra hour of boat rentals services.

Rented this boat from Aloha Outdoors. What to do on Maui.
Rented this boat from Aloha Outdoors.

 

4. Sunrise Atop Haleakala

On our third day in Maui, Kevin and I decided to wake up early and head to Haleakala to watch the sunrise.  Haleakala has a 10,000-foot summit and has become a popular spot to view the sunrise and sunset.  The views atop Haleakala are quite amazing on a clear morning.

Tip: For anyone planning to do this, make sure you make a reservation ahead of time to see the sunrise!  Reservations can be made online up to 60 days in advance at recreation.gov.  Some hotels also offer tours for anyone who does not want to drive up on their own for a price of about $170 per person.

5. Olivine Pools

The Olivine Pools, located in Wailuku, are accessible after a 0.4-mile hike and totally worth seeing.  These tide pools were created by lava rock and can be accessed on a calm day or at low tide.  Make sure if you choose to swim in the Olivine Pools to do so when the water is not rough, the waves that crash onto the Olivine Pools can be very fierce at times and there is no lifeguard at the pools.

6. Snorkeling at Makena Landing

Located along the southern coast of Maui, is Makena Landing.  Despite Makena Landing’s small beach, it is visited by both tourists and locals.  Makena Landing offers some of the most accessible reefs off the coast of Maui and is known for snorkeling.  You are almost guaranteed to swim with a few sea turtles while checking out the other beautiful sea life.  If you like to snorkel or are hoping to swim with some sea turtles, head on over to Makena Landing.

Makena Landing. What to do on Maui.
Swimming with sea turtles at Makena Landing.

Makena Landing Snorkeling. What to do on Maui.
Snorkeling with sea turtles in Makena Landing.

Where to Eat

Fleetwood’s on Front Street

If you are looking for a nice dinner look no further than Fleetwood’s on Front Street!  Fleetwood’s on Front Street is owned and run by Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac!  If you are lucky you’ll get to meet him and hear him play for the crowd!  Fleetwood’s offers a great happy hour menu as well as live music every single day.  This restaurant also offers both indoor and outdoor seating and beautiful views of the ocean across the street.  Be sure to make a reservation before going, Fleetwood’s fills up quick and you usually cannot get in without a reservation.

Fleetwood's on Front Street! Where to eat on Maui. What to do on Maui.
Fleetwood’s on Front Street!

 

Java Cafe

Before heading out whale watching be sure to stop at Java Cafe for your morning fuel.  Java Cafe offers delicious beverages and sandwiches which are sure to satisfy any morning craving.  Java Cafe also offers an awesome ambiance so if you are not in a rush and just hoping to go out and enjoy some morning coffee this is the place for you!

Maui Brewing Co.

While in Maui make sure you don’t miss out on Maui Brewing Co, Hawaii’s Largest Craft Brewery!  With events almost every night, Maui Brewing is always packed.  Maui Brewing offers great food and even better beers like our personal favorite the Bikini Blonde!

Kohola Brewery

Kohola Brewery is located in Lahaina not far from Fleetwood’s on Front Street.  Kevin and I went here for a beer before heading to Fleetwood’s for dinner.  Kohola Brewery is open daily from noon to 9:00 pm and offers trivia every Tuesday night.  If you check this place out be sure to order the Lahaina Blonde, Pineapple Blonde, and Sweet Home Lahaina, our personal favorites!

 

We hope you have a great trip!  Feel free to leave any questions or comments you have for us below!

 

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Taylor Mathers

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