Adventure Itinerary: One Week in Maui

Adventure Itinerary: One Week in Maui, Hawaii

Travelers flock to Maui for many reasons. Some visitors are drawn to the island’s luxury resorts dotting its tropical beaches or its premier shopping and restaurants. But for us, Maui is more than a tropical paradise – it’s an adventurer’s paradise. From hiking to mountain biking to surfing and snorkeling, outdoor enthusiasts won’t be short on things to do and places to see. The following is a 7-day itinerary that provides a sampling of Maui’s best active pursuits mixed with a couple of its more relaxing ones:

Black Rock at Kaanapali BeachBlack Rock at Kaanapali Beach

Day 1: Aloha! Welcome to Maui 
  • Arrive at Kaluhui Airport in early afternoon.
  • Stop at Whole Foods or Safeway, less than a 10-minute drive west of airport, to stock up on snacks and water.
  • Check into hotel, get settled, and spend afternoon relaxing by the beach or the poolside.
  • Watch the sunset and torch lighting at Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach near the Sheraton Hotel.
  • Dine on a wholesome, vegetarian dinner at Choice Health Bar.

Big Beach in Makena State ParkBig Beach in Makena Beach State Park

Lava Fields in La Perouse BayLava fields at La Perouse Bay

Day 2: Beaches and Trails in South Maui
    • Drive 45 minutes south to Kihei and grab a filling breakfast at Kihei Caffe. Rent snorkel gear from Maui Dive Shop or another local outfitter.
    • Head 15 minutes south to Wailea and spend the morning lounging and offshore snorkeling at Big Beach in Makena Beach State Park.
    • If you feel like a change of scenery, stop at Secret Cove on Pa’ako Beach just south of Makena. This cove is not so much of a secret place anymore as it’s a popular spot for newlyweds to pose for wedding photography.
    • Beat the midday sun and return to Kihei for lunch. We suggest getting carry-out from the scrumptious salad bar at Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods and enjoying it under a shady palm on Kalama or Waipuilani Beach Park up the street.
    • Spend the afternoon exploring other beaches in South Maui or touring Kihei. In the later afternoon, drive south to La Perouse Bay to hike and watch sun set along the ruins and lava fields – remnants of Haleakala’s most recent eruption in 1790.
    • On the way back to hotel, grab a Mexican dinner with a Hawaiian twist at Maui Tacos in Kihei or Lahaina.

Backside of Hana Highway

Day 3: Road to Hana
  • Leave by 7:00 am for a day driving around the eastern, less developed side Maui, starting on Hana Highway. Stop at Whole Foods in Kahului for a buffet breakfast and to stock up on snacks or grab them in the charming north shore town of Pa’ia. This is a good point to fill the car tank up with gas. Once you start traveling the backside of Hana Highway, you will probably lose cell phone coverage so make sure to download offline maps or carry printed ones.
  • Spend the rest of the day exploring the windy 64.4-mile long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360. This trip is all about the journey. Stop wherever catches your fancy: scenic lookout points, roadside stands, waterfalls, landmarks, and hikes. We suggest researching the major sites you want to hit in advance since there is so much to see. Our favorite highlights are the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park and the 2-hour Pipiwai Trail located near the Pools of Ohe’o.
  • Most people back-track up Hana Highway after visiting the Pools of Ohe’o, but we prefer continuing on Route 31 for a road trip along the backside of Haleakala (allow 2-3 hours). Around mile marker 39, the road narrows and becomes bumpy for about 10 miles. It becomes smooth again near Kaupo where you can grab drinks and a popsicle from the historic Kaupo Store.
  • Savor the rugged, windswept scenery of the beaches and volcano at lookout and pullout points. This part of the island is a beautiful area to witness sunset.

Get our tips and driving tour of the Road to Hana here»
Snorkeling at Turtle Arches, Maui

Day 4: Snorkel/Scuba Tour + Kalapua Coastal Trail
  • Take a snorkel or SCUBA tour, most leave in the early morning, around 7:30, when the water is calmest. Boats usually visit two sites: the crystal clear Molokini Crater and a second reef for spotting sea turtles. During the winter, whale watching is included. We recommend booking with the intimate and family-owned Aqua Adventures. Paddlers may prefer kayak and snorkel excursions along the coastline, offered by companies like Maui Ecotours.
  • Spend the afternoon relaxing. About 1-1.5 hours before sunset, head to the Kapalua trailhead, accessible from the free, public lot next to Napili Kai Beach Resort. Meander through the beaches, villas, and jagged lava terrain as the sun dips behind the ocean.
  • On your return from the trail, stop at Maui Brewing Company for a refreshing beer or dinner.

Haleakala photo by David SchroederHaleakala Crater photo by David Schroeder

Day 5: Haleakala National Park
  • If you don’t mind leaving around 3:00 am, bundle up in warm clothes and go to Haleakala Crater to watch the sunrise and fog lift over the volcanic landscape. If early mornings aren’t your thing, avoid the largest crowds and head to the summit for sunset instead.
  • Spend the rest of your day mountain biking down the volcano or admiring the views and wildlife from one of the over 30 miles of hiking trails in the national park. Trails range from 10-minute treks to full day ones.

Iao Valley State Park by JanhatesmarciaIao Valley by Janhatesmarcia

Day 6: Beach or Forest
  • The ocean is calmest in the morning, making it the best time to schedule a surf or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) session near Lahaina. It’s best to arrange rentals at least a day in advance since many of the shops are not open until later in the day.
  • If you’re burned out by the beach, try a morning hike on one of the emerald trails in Iao Valley and see the Needle before the afternoon clouds roll in and block the view.
  • Spend your last afternoon relaxing or lazing by the sea. Or get your last dose of action by hiking Waihee Ridge Trail for sweeping vistas of the valley and ocean.
  • Treat yourself to dinner at a nice restaurant. We like Roy’s in Kaanapali for its fusion of Hawaiian and Asian fare and offering of a separate, creative à la carte vegan menu.
Day 7: Departure Day
  • Take a last morning stroll along the beach and partake in a filling breakfast before leaving.
  • Depart from Kahului Airport and catch a last glance at Maui’s tropical terrain as you fly over the island.

Kapalua Trail in West MauiKapalua Trail in West Maui

RESOURCES

SEE
SOUTH MAUI | WAILEA AREA

Big Beach in Makena State Park

A pristine, golden sand beach that boarders turquoise waters on the south side of the island. There are three parking lots, the first two are paved and last one a series of dirt spots. Makena Rd, Kihei, HI • dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/maui/makena-state-park/

La Perouse Bay

An enjoyable area to walk along shoreline that leads through charcoal-colored lava fields spewed by Haleakala’s most recent eruption around 1790, archeological ruins, pebbly beaches. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter some pygmy goats. The reserve and parking lot is located at the end of Makena Road past Wailea’s resorts in south Maui. alltrails.com/trail/us/hawaii/la-perouse-bay-to-cape-hanamanioa

EAST MAUI

Road to Hana

A 64.4-mile of curvy highway that wraps around the eastern side of Maui that’s full of natural and historical landmarks. roadtohana.com

Wai’anapanapa State Park

A lush and wild park off the Road to Hana with easy trails through dramatic, Jurassic-like scenery. Nature lovers will find a black-sand beach and majestic volcanic formations. 70 Waianapanapa Rd, Hana, HI • dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/maui/waianapanapa-state-park/

Maui Black Sand BeachWai’anapanapa State Park’s black sand beach off Hana Highway

Pipiwai Trail

A four-mile, round trip hike off Hana Highway – located in same national park as Pools at Ohe’o – the that leads up a ridge past a mighty banyan tree, through dense bamboo forest, and ends at the vertical Waimoku falls. Allow a minimum of two hours to complete the whole trek. Kula, HI www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/kipahulu.htm

Haleakala National Park

A stark volcanic park and sub-tropical rain forest with miles of trails at the summit and coast. The climate is cool and windy at the summit – it can even receive snow in the winter – so make sure to layer on warm clothing and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. www.nps.gov/hale

WEST MAUI | LAHAINA AREA

Kapalua Coastal Trail

An easy but spectacular 3.5-mile hike that meanders through three of Maui’s prettiest beaches, strings of resort villas, and a jagged volcanic field known as Dragon’s Teeth. Allow an hour-and-a-half to explore, it’s a great location to watch the sunset. The more scenic portion starts at the Kalapua Bay trailhead from the free public parking lot next to Napili Kai Resort. The trail is also accessible from the public lot at D.T. Fleming Beach. 99 Coconut Grove Ln, Lahaina, HI • www.kapalua.com/activities/hiking-trails

Read our post about hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail here»

Iao Valley State Park

A lush, 4,000-acre valley in west Maui that offers a couple of hiking trails and views of the Iao Needle. Wailuku, HI • dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/maui/iao-valley-state-monument

TOUR OPERATORS

Aqua Adventures

A family-owned company with a friendly crew that offers half-day morning snorkel and Snuba tours to Molikini Crater and Turtle Arches. The group size never exceeds 36 passengers and a smaller, faster vessel ensures the tour arrives earlier than other charters and gets a longer time exploring the reefs. During the winter, guests also have the opportunity to whale watch. Tours depart from slip 51 at Maalaea Harbor Slip (between Lahaina and Wailea) and include a continental breakfast and sandwich lunch plus drinks. www.mauisnorkelsnuba.com

Maui EcoTours

A local outfitter that offers a number of kayaking snorkel excursions as well other adventure activities that include windsurfing, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kitesurfing and hiking tours. (808) 270-5015 • mauiecotours.com

VEG-FRIENDLY FOOD

There are a wide variety of veg-friendly restaurants in Maui. Due to hours of operation conflicting with our schedule, we were not able to visit all of them. Since you may be out and about during the day, we suggest packing a lunch of prepared foods from a local natural foods market before you set out on your journey. Here are a few convenient places we sampled plus a guide to more restaurants: Roy's in Kaanapali, MauiTeriyaki Tofu from Roy’s

Choice Health Bar

Vegetarian café that serves organic fare, juices, and smoothies. The breakfast menu features giant açai fruit bowls and dinner and lunch options include garden entrees, salads, and an elaborately stacked roll of sushi. 1087 Limahana Pl, Lahaina, HI • (808) 661-7711 www.choicehealthbar.com

Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods

Local Kihei organic grocer with a healthy hot bar, salad bar, and bulk food section for quick, convenient breakfast, lunch, and dinners. 2411 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI • (808) 875-4356 • www.hawaiianmoons.com

Hana Fresh Farm Stand 

A yummy destination on a journey on Hana Highway. The open-air business is located after mile marker 34 at the entrance to Hana. It sells locally grown produce as well as focaccia paninis, entrees, salads, yogurt fruit bowls, and smoothies. 4590 Hāna Highway • Hana, Hawaii 96713 • hanahealth.org/hana-fresh

Kihei Caffe

A local café that serves up huge breakfasts, smoothies, and humongous cinnamon rolls. Orders are taken at the counter, then customers can find their own seats on the al fresco patio. 1945 South Kihei Road, Kihei, HI 96753 • (808) 879-2230 • www.kiheicaffe.com

Maui Tacos

A friendly, no-frills island taco chain with options that range from shredded beef tacos to vegetarian black bean and potato burritos. Several locations throughout Maui. www.mauitacos.com

Kihei CaffeKihei Caffe

Maui Brewing Company

A brewpub and restaurant that sources as many local ingredients as possible with several gluten-free and veg options available on its menu. 605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, HI 96753 • (808) 213-3002 • mauibrewingco.com

Roy’s

A celebrated fine dining restaurant with a seasonal, locally-sourced menu that fuses Asian and Hawaiian cuisines. Vegans and vegetarians can request a separate menu with dozens of plant-based options that aren’t advertised on the website. 2290 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina, HI 96761 • www.royyamaguchi.com

Whole Foods

A large natural food grocery chain close to airport that’s convenient to load up on a quick bite, snacks or picnic food from the buffet bar, prepared foods, and sandwich departments. 70 East Kaahumanu Avenue #B, Kahului, HI 96732 • www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/maui

Vegetarian Society of Hawaii Restaurant Guide

A guide to local veg-friendly restaurants and markets in Maui and the other Hawaiin islands. www.vsh.org/Veg-Friendly-Maui.htm

Ever visited Maui or plan on going? Share your recommendations or questions in the reply section below.

Lara Dalinsky
Lara Dalinsky

Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of discovering the world. She recently relocated to Seoul, South Korea, where she hopes to explore some of Asia for the next couple of years. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as a freelance Art Director in graphic design. In her spare time, she contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, instructs Zumba, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.

 

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  1. Matt
    MattJuly 7,16

    Love it, curious to know what you think of ours which covers 1-9 days in Maui: https://lookintohawaii.com/hawaii/47682/maui-itinerary-intro-information-maui-hi

  2. Jim G
    Jim GAugust 8,16

    Not a bad itinerary, but do Halekala Crater on Day 2, your first morning there. Most travelers from the US will have jet lag, and wake up before sunrise. Take advantage of your natural biorhythms and do the 3:00AM wake up that day. Plus, as Mark Twain noted in his travels to Hawaii over 100 years ago, the Haleakala sunrise is one of the most sublime things on earth. Absolutely be there before sunrise to see the natural light show as the sun emerges through the low clouds. Sunset is nice from there, but the Haleakala sunrise is exquisite.
    You can go to the brach afterwards or on a later day.

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