Are you looking for a Maui itinerary that will just tell you where you should go? Then you’re in luck! We spent one glorious week on this island’s shores. And I still remember the feeling of the sun on my skin and the ocean beneath my feet. Our trip to Maui was magical. Through the course of one week, we discovered what this island has to offer. And hopefully it will inspire you to do the same!
Caution! You will not be bored. There’s so much to see and do and discover on Maui. So much that you can’t possibly fit everything into one trip. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying! And if you want to experience what Maui has to offer, you need to see her from all sides.
When I think of Maui, I think of…sea turtles. Golden beaches. Rolling waves. Crazy blue water. Huge volcanoes. Beautiful waterfalls. Mesmerizing black sand beaches. Awesome surfing. Humpback whales. Banyan trees. Coconuts. Pineapple. Sunrises. Sunsets. Hiking. Banana bread. Snorkeling. Bamboo forests.
And this itinerary will guide you through it all. But what if you have less than 7 days in Maui? What if you only have 5 or 3? This Maui travel guide will still show you what you can do. And from there allow you to make the choices of what you have to see and what can wait for your next trip.
Because trust me, you’ll leave planning your next one.
Table of Contents
- Maui Itinerary Overview
- Days 1-3: Kihei
- Days 4-5: Paia
- Days 6-7: Road to Hana
- Sample Maui Itinerary
- What to Pack for Maui
- Final Thoughts
Maui Itinerary Overview
Days 1-3: Kihei
The trips where I’ve been the happiest are the trips where I sleep in the same place more than one night. And so we tried to follow this rule as we traveled around the island. Our first stop? Kihei. Located in South Maui, Kihei is a little built up. But if you don’t want to shell out high prices for a crazy expensive resort, then you may want to base yourself here as well.
Day 1: Go Snorkeling
This was our first full day in Maui. And it was the day we wanted to snorkel. Actually…that’s a bit of lie. It was the day I had to see a sea turtle.
You see, I’m kind of obsessed with sea turtles. And I was not leaving Maui without seeing one. And for many, many people it is a similar goal. So I would consider dedicating your first full day to snorkeling and beach hopping to see if you too can fulfill this dream.
Our stops? From north to south: Makena Landing, Maluaka Beach (aka Turtle Town), Big Beach, and ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve. And we ended up seeing sea turtles at each of those beaches except Turtle Town (which seemed a bit ironic).
My first sea turtle spotting was actually at Big Beach. In fact I had just given up on the idea of seeing a sea turtle when I spotted a dark shape moving through the water just out past where the waves were breaking. My breath caught as I watched the shape move. And then, ever so gracefully, a sea turtle head poked above the water and took a breath.
I will never forget that moment.
The best snorkeling spot though? That has to go to Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve. Located at the end of the road and down a rocky path, you might miss this black sand beach. But you guys, no joke, this was the best snorkeling I’ve ever done.
The water was so clear it was like an aquarium. And there were so many fish there that I literally felt like I had to swim out of their way. And sea turtles? Oh yea, we saw three here over two separate trips there.
Read Next: Where to Go Snorkeling in Maui
Also sorry for my lack of photos of said sea turtles. This trip was before we bought our Go-Pro and our other underwater camera broke the first time we took it underwater.
Day 2: Take a Surf Lesson and Explore the Upcountry
There are certain things you have to do when you are in Maui. And for me, surfing was one of them. It was a must do for our Maui itinerary.
And I debated long and hard about what company to go with for my surfing lesson. In the end I choose Maui Surfer Girls and I couldn’t have been happier with the choice. We woke up early and headed to Ukumehame Beach for our lesson. The waves were gentle that day, and I stood up on almost every wave.
Maui Surfer Girls just made it easy. On my first wave, my I remember (shakily) popping to myf feet in one motion. Easy. Simple.
You cannot go with a better surf company.
Read Next: Learning to Surf with Maui Surfer Girls
Interested in a week long surf camp? Maui Surfer Girls has both teen camps AND women camps. I attended a women’s camp in March of 2021. Read the full review to find out about the experience!
On our way back to Kihei, we made a quick stop at Papawai Point. The best part about this viewpoint? You can spot humpbacks playing and jumping from the shore.
Two even came so close that we could hear the puffs as they took a breath.
And the afternoon? Well, it depends what you are in the mood for. Want more beach time? Pick out a spot of sand and relax.
But for us, we needed a brief respite from the sun, so we headed into the upcountry to eat some cheese and drink some vodka. You know, just two of my favorite things.
Surfing Goat Dairy and Ocean Vodka were the two stops we made. For both of them, we were able to go on a tour without too long of a wait time. And we bought some souvenirs before heading back because they were that good.
I packed away a bottle of vodka in my luggage. That was how much I loved it.
If you’re looking to get away from the beach for a bit and experience another side of Maui, definitely take a trip to the upcountry. These two spots aren’t that far into this area of Maui and can easily be done in an afternoon.
However if surfing isn’t your thing, you could make a whole day out of exploring the upcountry of Maui.
Day 3: Go Whale Watching
If you decide to visit Maui during the winter, then you must add whale watching to your Maui itinerary. When we found out that February was the peak month, we knew we had to dedicate one whole morning to finding the whales.
We booked a tour with Trilogy out of Lahaina and it was the perfect choice. Breakfast, free drinks, a great crew, and, oh yea, the whales. They were spectacular that morning.
Because I remember being nervous about seeing any. As the tour started, I searched the horizon, my eyes darting back and forth, looking for the any sign of the humpbacks. And then, not even 15 minutes into the tour, a whale leaped into the air 200 yards in front of us.
Read Next: Whale Watching with Trilogy Whale Watch
After our tour was over, we spent the afternoon exploring Lahaina. Make sure to stop in the Old Lahaina Courthouse to see the museum and art gallery, and don’t forget about Banyan Tree Square. This tree definitely deserves a spot on your Maui itinerary. It’s over 100 years old, is the largest in the United States, and has 16 trunks.
Think about that. 16 trunks! I didn’t quite understand what that meant until I saw it.
We finished the evening with an awesome sunset. Our favorite spot? Keawakapu Beach.
Where to Eat in Kihei
Kihei Caffe has a line out the door for a reason. Don’t miss it. We went to breakfast here twice.
Jawz Fish Tacos is a food truck located on the main road south of Turtle Town. There may also be a truck at Big Beach as well. The tacos were just okay. But since it’s the only food you can find this far south, it was like a beacon of light as we saw it in the distance. We had just run out of water and I was dreading the 20 minute drive back north to the closest gas station. Jawz saved us that day. Huge bottles of water. Fish tacos. And rainbow shave ice.
808 Deli looks like just your normal deli/sub spot. But definitely don’t let its unassuming nature deter you. This is one good lunch spot.
Eskimo Candy is a good spot if you’re looking for a real lunch spot. It could also be good for dinner. The bowls and local lunch options look amazing here.
Ululani’s has a reputation of being an amazing spot for shave ice. It’s now got several locations around the island. But their shop in Kihei is extremely popular (for a good reason).
Da Kitchen Express is a low key, Hawaiian eatery located in a strip mall in Kihei. This wasn’t our favorite meal, but it was a good, inexpensive option I would still recommend.
Cafe O’Lei is located above a strip mall. It’s a great seafood spot, if a little expensive. This was definitely the fanciest place we ate all week. Prices were high, but the food was good.
Amigo’s was our last dinner in Kihei. We wanted something inexpensive and delicious. And $8 burrito Tuesday sounded marvelous.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar is where you should go if you want to go fancy. It’s reported to have some of the best sushi on the island. We didn’t get to try this place (hello, we suck at reservations and you’ll need them here), but the reviews speak for themselves.
Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop is a place I’ve also heard good things about. Located in Lahaina, it’s a good choice if you’re out that way and you get hungry (for breakfast or lunch or dinner or dessert!).
Where to Stay in Kihei
This is Maui. It’s expensive here. So I wouldn’t come to Maui expecting it to be a cheap destination. Because well, it’s not.
You can save money (this post is geared towards a lower budget), but you won’t find exactly cheap options.
One way we attempted to save money was to avoid pricey hotels and resorts. So we got a private room through AirBnb from a local woman in Kihei. She owned a big house and Airbnbed (is that a verb now?) her guest bedrooms.
However if you want to stay in a more traditional hotel/condo, here are some options I find appealing (and beachfront!!!):
Days 4-5: Paia
After Kihei we wanted to see the other side of Maui. To make the most of your trip to Maui, definitely spend some time in the south and the north.
Staying in both places will give you a good idea of what the island is like as a whole. Plus some of the best things to do in Maui can be found around Paia. And it was so nice to be based here.
Day 4: Visit Ho’okipa Beach & Hike the Bamboo Forest Trail
I hate itineraries that are too rigid. And so this is a free day. What do you want to do?
Need more beach time? Pick a spot of sand, lean back, and enjoy. Haven’t seen Maui’s upcountry yet? Consider a driving tour to its various farms. Need more surf time? Rent a board and hit the waves. Want to spend more time in Paia? Head out of Kihei early and explore this cute little town.
The choices are endless.
But what did we do? Well, when we woke up on that Wednesday, our Maui itinerary was wide open. Our only plan for the day was to leave Kihei and check into our new AirBnb in Paia.
But before leaving South Maui, we decided to hit up our favorite snorkeling spots again – Makena Landing and Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve. And yes – we did see more turtles.
That afternoon we headed north. Our first stop was to Ho’okipa Beach. We pulled over at the lookout on the eastern side to watch the waves. And the waves were HUGE that day. Some of the biggest I’ve ever seen in person, they pounded at the beach and rocks.
And the blue. That was the most startling. The water was so blue it looked fake.
After taking in the beauty of Ho’okipa Beach, we hit up one of the top spots on the Road to Hana – the Bamboo Forest Trail.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most fun things do in in Maui and so is a must for our Maui travel guide. But since this trail is long-ish, we decided to go ahead and tackle it that afternoon. And though we didn’t make it to the end of the trail, we did see two of its four waterfalls (with the second one all to ourselves).
But this is not an easy trail. In fact many tourists fall and twist their ankle and have to be air-lifted out. So don’t tackle this unless you are experienced hiker, are in good shape, and don’t mind getting dirty.
Because I was muddy all over. Knees, shins, hands, fingernails, elbows, forehead, etc. Covered in mud. After passing the first waterfall, I remember scrambling up one of the muddy banks, giving the “rope” some serious side eye since it did not look sturdy enough to hold my weight.
But then, through the bamboo on the side of the trail, I saw it. The second waterfall.
There’s something special about having your own private waterfall.
Day 5: Hike Haleakala
Haleakalā. It stood over us for the first four days of our trip. Beckoning to us. Calling to us. And finally, on the fifth morning, its day had come.
Most people come to the mountain to watch the sunrise or the sunset. But there’s so much more to this place. First off, a stop at each of its magnificent viewpoints was a must for our Maui itinerary. Leleiwi Overlook, Kalahaku Overlook, the Visitor Center, and Pu’u’ula’ula Overlook were the ones we loved the most.
I remember walking up the slope to the building at the top of the Pu’u’ula’ula Overlook was harder than it should have been. (Due to the elevation.) But then my feet slowed as the entire crater came into view. It was magnificent. Like really breathtaking.
Also it’s really, really cold at the top. I remember packing warm clothes and then realizing when I opened the car door that it was not enough. The wind bit through my long sleeve shirts and leggings.
But if you want to really see Haleakala, to get to know this mountain, then a descent into its belly is required.
We walked 2 ½ miles down the Sliding Sands trail towards the crater bottom. And to say the landscape looked alien, wouldn’t quite do it justice. Yes, it did look out of this world. But it was also beautiful. Reds, browns, yellows, greens, and blacks all swirled together.
Haleakala definitely deserves at least a day of your Maui itinerary. For many it is one of the the top things to do in Maui.
You could definitely go up for sunrise (just realize you could be leaving your accommodation at like 3am to get there in time). But if you do want to see the sunrise from Haleakala, you’ll need to make a reservation. Because it’s often considered to be the thing to do on Maui. So make sure to get on the list.
Read Next: Hiking Haleakala: Sliding Sands Trail Guide
Where to Eat in Paia
La Provence is located more in the upcountry than in Paia. But if you are headed for Haleakala and have a hankering for some of the best pastries I’ve ever had, consider a quick stop here.
Baked on Maui is right outside of Paia on your way to the Road to Hana. We made sure to grab a quick breakfast here, as well as packing away some sandwiches for lunch later.
Paia Fish Market looked low key. A line snaked out the door when we arrived. And we had to fight for two spots at the 8 picnic tables that lined the walls. But with one bite, I was hooked. The simple Fish and Chips were fantastic – probably the best thing I ate all week.
Cafe Mambo is colorful and eclectic. We were pulled in by the open windows and the fragrances wafting out of them. And my crispy duck burger? Fantastic.
Mamas Fish House is where you want to go when you want to go fancy. You will absolutely need to make a reservation (like before you get to Hawaii) because it’s super popular. But the views and food are mind blowing.
Ululani’s also has a location in Paia! So if you haven’t gotten your shave ice fix, you have another chance.
Where to Stay in Paia
Since we were on a budget, we stayed at another AirBnb. Again just a private room in a house since we didn’t have the money to get a private apartment.
It was doable but if you’re looking for a more traditional accommodation, your options are very limited in Paia. I would suggest booking very early.
- Nalu Kai Lodge Paia Hotel
- Paia Inn
- Kuau Inn
- The Inn At Mama’s Fish House
- Mangolani Inn
- Lumeria Maui
- Aloha Surf Hostel
- Haiku Plantation Inn: Maui Bed and Breakfast
Days 6-7: Road to Hana
If you’re ready for the drive of your life then you know its time to take on the Road to Hana. Most people come just for a day trip, but that’s no where near enough time. Even our two days were busy and hurried. You definitely want to make this a big part of your Maui travel plans.
Day 6: Drive to Kipahulu & Visit a Black Sand Beach
The Road to Hana. This is the other side of Maui. Its wilder side. Tight turns, steep cliffs, pounding waterfalls, and black sand beaches are just some of the things you’ll see here.
Most people dedicate an entire day to it, but you’ll have to skip a bunch and won’t be able to really expose any stop. We discovered its curves, nooks, and crannies over two days, and even then we had to pass on certain sights.
But the one Road to Hana sight that was at the top of our Maui itinerary? The Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park. Because it’s here, located at the end of a 2 mile trail, where you can find Maui’s tallest waterfall: Waimoku Falls.
The hike was hot and sticky and muggy. Those 2 miles felt like a very long hike. I remember the sweat pouring down my face, and failing as I tried to smear it away. Luckily I wasn’t that tired, but the humidity…it was really killer.
I kept wondering, when would we reach the waterfall? A man 15 minutes back had said it was only 5 minutes further. And we still had not reached it
And then, I heard it. Not a thunderous roar, but a gentle, steady one. Looking up, and up, I finally spotted the top of the waterfall through the trees above me. We had made it.
The hike back was not nearly as bad (they never are) And we were able to cool off in one of the lower trail’s freshwater pool. (Which are sometimes closed due to water levels.
Our day ended at Waianapanapa State Park. Spending a night (or two), is definitely necessary if you want the real Road to Hana experience. But since hotel prices can be high, we decided to camp at Waianapanapa. Having its perfect black sand beach to ourselves was definitely worth sleeping on the hard ground.
Day 7: Stop Along the Road to Hana
Our last day in Maui. Waking up for the sunrise in Waianapanapa was tiring but worth it. Pink and orange bathed the ocean around us in a soft glow.
Watching the light play across the top of the water was beautiful.
We explored the state park a little bit more later that morning, but we knew we had to hit the road soon. Our time was running out. Our flight was leaving that afternoon.
We had gone out that morning for a small hike through the park. And I knew it was time to turn back. Ryan was already disappearing among the rocks.
But I wanted to stay, to linger there a moment longer. The ocean at my back, rolling green hills at my front, and me standing among lava rocks. It was quiet. So quiet. Mesmerizing.
On the way back to the airport, we made sure to stop at all of the Road to Hana spots we had missed the day before.
My favorites that morning? Wailua Valley State Wayside and Three Bear Falls.
Where to Eat on the Road to Hana
Ke’anae Landing Fruit Stand (aka Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread) had the best banana bread I’ve ever head. Hands down. Do not forget to stop here. You will regret it!
Huelo Lookout is a small roadside stand near the beginning of the road to Hana. If you still need some shave ice or pineapple or a coconut, then be sure to pull over.
Hana Farms used to have pizza on Friday and Saturday nights, but that is no more. Now they are open for lunch everyday and dinner on Friday night. There’s no pizza on the menu, but their other options look good.
Where to Stay on the Road to Hana
Okay so it’s not exactly cheap out here either. But you have a few options. Since we were on a budget, we decided to camp at Waianapanapa State Park.
And it was amazing. Mostly because you get the park after all the day trippers have left (and before they arrive). The campground itself has like no amenities other than a toilet, so be prepared for that.
However there are some more traditional options in Hana. Here are my favorites:
- Heavenly Hana Paradise
- Kailani Suite at hana Kai Resort
- Travaasa Hana
- Hale Nanea – Hana Paradise Cottages
And don’t forget there’s always AirBnb options as well!
Sample Maui Itinerary
Yea, this is a long post, and maybe you just want to see at a glance what you should do each day. I got you.
- Grab an early breakfast at Kihei Cafe (sunrise if possible).
- Head out for a morning of snorkeling. Spots to hit up: Makena Landing, Maluaka Beach (aka Turtle Town), and ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve.
- Lunch if possible at Jawz Fish Tacos food truck.
- Spend the afternoon at Big Beach (Makena Beach).
- Dinner at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar if you want to go fancy. (Reservations required!)
- Head out for your morning surf lesson with Maui Surfer Girls.
- Stop at Papawai Point on your way back.
- Lunch at 808 Deli or Eskimo Candy.
- Afternoon at Surfing Goat Dairy and Ocean Vodka.
- Dinner at Da Kitchen Express and shave ice at Ululani’s.
- Spend the morning on a whale watching tour with Lahaina. (If it’s not the right season, thinking about doing another tour out of Lahaina. I’ve heard good things about Pacific Eco Adventures.)
- Explore Lahaina in the late morning and early afternoon. Grab lunch at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop.
- Spend the rest of the afternoon beach-hopping in Kihei (Kama’ole Beach Parks and Keawakapu Beach). Definitely stay for sunset.
- Dinner at Cafe O’Lei (reservation), 808 Deli, Eskimo Candy, or Amigo’s (if you’re on a budget and need a quick and easy meal).
- Spend the morning/afternoon doing what you like. (We spent the morning snorkeling and then grabbed lunch at 808 Deli.)
- Drive to Paia.
- Stop at Ho’okipa Beach.
- Hike the Bamboo Forest Trail if you’re up for it.
- Dinner at Paia Fish Market or Mamas Fish House (reservations!).
- Wake up early and grab breakfast at La Provence. (Or wake up really early to do the sunrise at Haleakala.)
- Stop off at the popular viewpoints as you head to Haleakala.
- Hike the Sliding Sands Trail.
- Spend the afternoon exploring Paia.
- Dinner at Paia Fish Market or Cafe Mambo. Dessert at Ululani’s.
- Grab early breakfast (sunrise) and sandwiches to-go at Baked on Maui.
- Drive the Road to Hana, stopping at a few stops.
- Grab banana bread at Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread.
- Reach Kipahulu by noon. Hike to Waimoku Falls.
- Cool down (if possible) in the lower pools after the hike.
- Head to Waianapanapa State Park. Explore the black sand beach and camp down for the night.
- Wake up and grab breakfast at the Hana Farms stand.
- Explore more stops on the Road to Hana as you head back.
- Be sure to stop at Huelo Lookout for some last bit of Maui.
- Fly home!
What to Pack for Maui
So this is a beach vacation. So you’ll need like all of that beach vacation stuff. And I don’t actually remember exactly how much of such and such a clothing we brought.
Instead I want to focus on those specific things you might want to bring for this trip (that you may not think about when you’re packing).
Reef-Safe Sunscreen. So like normal sunscreen is really bad for the environment and coral. And actually is illegal in Hawaii now. So you’ll want to pick up some reef-safe sunscreen. And if you want to go the mineral sunscreen route, here are the two I use: ThinkSport and Stream2Sea (for my face because it’s tinted).
Rashguard. So if you plan on doing a lot of snorkeling, you may just one to grab a rash guard instead of slathering your torso with sunscreen religiously. Save the tanning for the laying on the beach. (I’ve gotten horrible burns from snorkeling.)
Snorkel Gear. If you’re a big snorkeler, you may want to bring your own snorkel gear. I have my own now (which I bought at a scuba shop so it’s like intense). But if you can bring your own, you’ll save money on renting and will have more freedom on when you can snorkel. This set doesn’t have fins (space saver), but you can always look for a set that does.
Beach Bag. You’ll want a good bag for hauling your stuff to and from the beach. One with a cooler and mat may be a bit extra, but they’re freaking handy to have.
Our 7 days in Maui was amazing and breathtaking, but they were not nearly enough. There’s so much more I want to do and see. I want to see the surfers in Honolua Bay. I want to camp inside of Haleakala’s crater. I want to drive the backside of the Road to Hana.
But Maui was more than just a list of things to do and see. There was also a feeling we had when we were there. The people. The land. The ocean. It just felt right.
There are places that call to you. Places that always seem to be right behind you, tapping on your shoulder the moment they think you might forget them. There are only a few places in the world that have that kind of pull over me.
Could Maui be one of those? Perhaps. Maybe I just need to go back and see.