If you’ve ever visited this page on our website, you know a little bit about what we consider to be “The Best of Maui.”
But there is a lot more to say about each of these island highlights, so that’s exactly what we’re sharing with you here!
There is so much to do and see in Maui you could get overwhelmed by it. But that’s why you have us, to practically be your private tour guides, telling you everything we’ve experienced over countless visits to our very favorite sunny oasis.
We’re willing to bet it will soon be yours, too!
On to the best of Maui…
It’s hard not to start with the obvious one, but there’s something so magical about the beaches in Maui (all 80 of them!) that each offer something slightly different, down to the color of the sand!
Maui’s beaches total a stretch of 30 miles, which is more than any other Hawaiian island! Their sandy surfaces come in white, gold, red, and even black.
We love the North end of Kamaole Beach Park I (also known as Kam I or “Charley Young Beach”) because it’s family friendly with its calm swimming water and it has a great spot for snorkeling!
Here are the need-to-knows about the rest of them…
Kamaole Beach Park I, II, and III (Kam I, II, and III)
Maui Beachside 1 is located between Kam I and II. There is a beautiful, 1.5-mile sandy stretch with views of the Molokini, Kaho’olawe, and Lana’i islands.
Each Kam beach has a lifeguard stand, is equipped with outdoor showers, and have public restrooms. There is excellent snorkeling right in front of Maui Beachside 1. You can ease in from the beach or jump-in right off the lava rocks, but make sure to look for turtles first! Kam III has the best boogie-boarding with a regular break. It is the shortest of the 3 with a large grassy area and swings.
This beach is right in front of Maui Beachside 2. It has a long golden sand and coral beach protected by a reef. It’s suitable for swimming, long walks, whale watching, and beautiful sunsets. The beach ranges from fully sand to a mixture of coral/sand.
It’s great for beachcombers and children. There are opportunities for novice stand-up paddlers to catch small breaks during the right conditions. Up away from the beach is a big, well-maintained grassy lawn with shaded areas.
Makena Beach (aka Big Beach and Oneloa Beach) & Little Beach
Big Beach is a natural, undeveloped beach that is almost ⅔ of a mile long and over 100 feet wide. That’s huge! It can be an entertaining spot for viewing water sports.
There are 3 lifeguard stands, but there is a significant on-shore beak that is dangerous for young children and inexperienced swimmers.
You can also find yummy nearby food trucks!
Little Beach is a nude beach that can be accessed from Big Beach. Park in the Big Beach lot and walk North (to the right) towards the end of the beach. Continue on a trail over a rocky old lava flow, and you’ll find it.
On Sunday afternoons and evenings there are drum circles and fire dancing!
As the name suggests, this one is a small beach well-known for intimate weddings and very little foot traffic. It’s a short distance past the turn-offs for Big Beach.
You can find the narrow door-way sized opening in the lava rock wall that is surrounded with foliage. There is a blue “Shoreline Access” sign posted.
But take note: this is not a great swimming beach.
Wailea is a beautiful and popular beach that is consistently rated as one of the world’s best beaches. The sand is soft as can be, there is good snorkeling, and plenty of swimming.
The Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea resorts are located on this beach, so it can get crowded with resort vacationers, lounge chairs, and cabanas. But it does have well-maintained public access and facilities, including a nice paved walkway!
This one is a sandy beach located at the boundary of Kihei and Wailea. It’s 0.7 miles long and is another one that’s good for swimming, snorkeling, boogie-boarding.
The shoreline is developed with beach houses, hotels, condos and restaurants, so it’s easy to grab a bite to eat nearby!
One’uli Black Sand Beach
This intriguing find is located on the Wailea side of the Pu’u Ola’I cinder cone, a prominent geological landmark feature.
Typical beach sand is made up of ocean ground coral and shells, but in true Maui fashion, this one is made up of ocean ground lava. The beach is covered in thick black sand, but the sand abruptly disappears at the water’s edge, making it a difficult entry for swimmers.
There is a great coral reef with abundant sea life just past the shoreline.
Last but not least, Cove Park is located just north of Kam I/Charley Young Beach and at the south point of Kalama Park. It is most commonly used for beginner surf lessons.
Instructors are set up for surf lessons every day of the week, so don’t be shy!
02 Haleakala National Park
You can’t go to Maui without seeing or hearing about Haleakala National Park! It’s home to Maui’s highest peak with an elevation of 10,023 feet.
Haleakala, the massive shield volcano, forms 75% of Maui and is the largest dormant volcano in the world. It last erupted in 1790.
It’s famous for its sunrises, which can be viewed from 9,740 feet atop the Haleakala Crater! Just be sure to make a reservation up to 2 months out…they’re required.
The cost is $1.50 per car. You’ll want to go with a full tank of gas, food, drinks, and layers because it gets chilly – like 35 degrees Fahrenheit chilly!
When you get there, drive all the way up to the observation center. You can sit on the other side of the wall with a great view and a break from the wind to help you stay slightly warmer.
It can get crowded, so you may want to get there extra early so you can soak it all in.
(Sunrises are not guaranteed!)
03 Whale Watching
In the winter months, the Auau channel between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai is one of the best places to whale watch in the world.
Whale-watching is available from the coastline and even from your lanai! Check the horizon for what looks like white puffs of smoke with the binoculars we provide in our homes. These puffs are from when the whales exhale out of their blowhole, causing the water and exhaled air to make the puffs.
For whale watching cruises we recommend the Pacific Whale Foundation. They present the annual Maui Whale Festival, which includes World Whale Day & The Parade for Whales.
04 The Road to Hana
Hana is a small, untouched town on Maui’s eastern coastline. To get there, visitors must travel one of the world’s most scenic drives — The Road to Hana. The journey includes 59 bridges and over 600 curves.
The twisty turning road runs through lush tropical rainforests, massive bamboo forests, and cascading waterfalls.
It ends with Hana’s Wai’anapanapa State Park, a black sand beach and the pools of Ohe’o Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, which are fed by waterfalls.
The road is paved and has reflectors to see the edge of the road at night. There are delicious banana bread, fruit, and coconut stands along the way, (like this favorite of our guests Xavier & Katie) but you’ll want to stock up on fuel and food before the ½ to full day trek.
Total travel time:
5-11 hours (5 hours without stopping; 11+ hours if you stop a lot)
A traditional Hawaiian luau is a party or feast, especially one accompanied by entertainment such as traditional Hawaiian music, hula, and sometimes fire dancers.
It may feature food such as poi, kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, and haupia. Beer, wine, and tropical mixed drinks are included in the ticket price.
Check out some of our favorites:
Feast at Mokapu
A luxury family style luau at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.
Old Lahaina Luau
A famous luau that is known for its Hawaiian culture and history, located in Lahina. (Another favorite of our guests Xavier & Katie!)
Feast at Lele
An intimate & romantic luau with private tables and premium service located in Lahina.
The Grand Luau at Honua’ula
A classic show with a buffet, hula lessons & other activities located at the Grand Wailea.
Te Au Moana
A classic show with a buffet located at the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott.
There you have it – our big, top 5 list!
Which of these sounds the most exciting to you? Where would you head first?