I was scrolling through my pictures a couple days ago while sitting in the car for a loooong 11-hour road trip from Dallas to El Paso and realized that I never shared my Maui travel tips and highlights from that trip! That week in paradise was definitely one of my top highlights for the year — and in case you missed it, I spent 2 days on the island of Molokai, Hawaii (read my posts on why you must visit Molokai here!) followed by 3 days on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
If you’ve never been to Maui before, it is absolutely stunning. Pristine beaches, clear blue waters, and swaying palm trees that lull you to sleep — it’s everything you see in pictures and more! It’s no wonder that Maui is a top tourist spot, and while I have personally done a trip to the island with the family to enjoy all the touristy activities a few years ago, I wanted to go back this time and see Maui from a local perspective.
For this trip, I was lucky enough to visit Maui guided by two locals and am so excited to share a list of must-dos that will get you away from the beaten path. Read on for my recommendations on enjoying Maui like a local!
Maui Travel Tips
Enjoy Sea-Life First-Hand
So much of Hawaiian culture is centered around the water, so I loved being able to head out onto the ocean to appreciate it first hand. Hawaiian Paddle Sports guided us on our canoe, directing us where to go and even snapping photos of us on our adventure. We departed from Turtle Town and true to its name, we spotted numerous sea turtles (a couple of which came right up to our canoe!). We came right at the end of humpback whale season and were lucky enough to see a mom and baby humpback whale duo swim not too far out. The water was incredibly calm and our guide taught us how we could even feel the low vibrations of the whales as they swam — it was surreal!!
PRO TIP: Bring reef-safe sunscreen, towel, and change of clothes.
Rise With The Sun
Sunrise at Haleakala Mountain is an absolute must. Be sure to go to bed early and book a reservation as there’s an early wake up time of 3:00am in order to make it in time. We booked our adventure with Skyline Eco-Adventures and can’t recommend them enough — they picked us up from our hotel right on time and took care of everything for us including food and snacks!
Seeing the sun rise up above Haleakala is unlike any other sunrise you’ll ever experience. The colors are phenomenal and it’s truly breathtaking as the sky turns from darkness to smokey blues to warm fiery reds. Local Hawaiians are also there to help lead a chant to welcome the sun and it truly felt like a spiritual experience. Crowds may be inevitable on this adventure, but there’s no better way to truly appreciate the unique beauty that you can only find in Maui.
PRO TIP: Wear lots and lots of layers. Pre-sunset temps are near freezing but once the sun comes up, it gets toasty quick!
Hike + Zipline Through Mountains
Continue to explore Haleakala Mountain and enjoy a zipline tour as come down from the summit. I’ve only zip-lined a few times in the past but there’s no better way to see the island from the treetops! At each zipline platform, I also loved how our guide would point out different flowers and trees that were only found in Maui as well as fun facts that helped us learn more about the rich history of the island. Skyline Eco-Adventures is one of the few groups that also work to conserve the land — I happily volunteered to help plant a few native Hawaiian plants as we finished our ziplining adventure and loved that I could contribute something small while enjoying so much of the island at the same time!
Hike ‘Iao Valley
Close to Haleakala is Iao Valley and it’s an easy short hike that brings you to a majestic needle rock formation that towers above the rain forest floor. While the main attraction has a paved trail, behind it is a lesser known “Secret” Trail that brings you to a shallow creek and swimming hole.
PRO TIP: Bring a swimsuit and water shoes so you can cool off in the water!
End With Sunset At Keawakapu Beach
And finally, the sunsets in Maui are unreal. They’re a beauty that you don’t want to miss and if you want to be beachside without all the crowds, I highly recommend checking out Keawakapu Beach in Kihei. The sands are pristine and the surprisingly isolated stretch of beach makes for a great opportunity if you’re just looking to soak in the moment.
Maui will forever be one of my favorite places to visit. Getting to see the island from a local’s perspective made for a completely different experience than my previous one where we basically stayed on-resort the entire time. Bookmark this post for the next time you’re planning a vacation to Maui and be sure to check out some of these activities that topped my vacation list!
Have you been to Maui before? If so, what are some of your Maui travel tips? Let me know in a comment below!
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Thank you to Maui Visitors Bureau for sponsoring this trip!