Maui Real Estate Blog
Things to do on Maui – By Region
Paia Dining and Shopping
Nestled on Maui’s north shore, Pa’ia is a small seaside community, best known for its laid-back, surfer/hippie vibe. Once a bustling plantation town with a population of over 10,000, Pa’ia has shrunk considerably in size but not in character. Today, this funky town is lined with vibrantly colored boutiques, restaurants, bars, art galleries, and coffee shops. Shopping in Pa’ia is one of a kind, with options ranging from high-end art galleries, trendy boutiques to crystal shops. Despite its small size, there are seemingly endless dining opportunities in Pa’ia as well. You can find some of the best pizza on the island here, and you’ll also discover a plethora of cuisines- Mediterranean, Mexican, Thai, and of course, local-style grinds. Pa’ia also boasts health bars, smoothie shacks, and an organic grocery store, reflecting the healthy, active lifestyle of the local population.
Just past Pa’ia sits the famous Ho’okipa Beach Park. Ho’okipa is one of the world’s top windsurfing destinations and is the premier surfing beach on the north shore. However, the north shore is Maui’s most exposed coastline, and conditions are usually more treacherous than they appear, with hidden rip currents and undertows. Therefore, surfing at this particular beach is reserved for experts only! Maui’s north shore is also notoriously windy. Most days, strong trade winds begin to fill in around midday. Once the winds start to kick in, head to the west end of Ho’okipa to watch a fantastic display of professional windsurfing.
Grand Wailea Luau
Maui’s southern region is one of the fastest-growing areas on the island. Studded with opulent resorts, dozens of beaches, and some of the best snorkeling on the island, it’s no wonder why so many residents choose to live in South Maui. Compared to some rural areas on the island, South Maui is a hub for nightlife and entertainment, including numerous luaus. Located on the pristine Wailea strip, the Grand Wailea Luau is one of the finest celebrations on the island. This spectacular show brings the history and legends of Polynesia to life and also features lawn games, an open bar, and an extensive local dinner menu.
Kihei Painting Party
If you’re a traveler to Hawaii, you’ll surely be on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring back home. Look no further than Island Art Party – Maui’s most unique art studio. Island Art Party hosts painting classes with a twist- classes at this studio are also cocktail parties. Your party/painting instructor will walk you through the step-by-step instruction to creating your own masterpiece to take home. Paintings are usually tropical island scenes, but be sure to check out the Island Art Party calendar to pick the piece you want to create.
Snorkel Molokini Crater
Snorkeling is one of South Maui’s biggest attractions. Molokini Crater, a world-famous snorkeling site, sits just a few miles offshore of South Maui. A slew of daily tours runs to the crater, the majority offering full-day snorkel experiences. If you’re a veteran Molokini snorkeler or simply don’t love the thought of spending an entire day on a tour boat, consider Redline Rafting’s 2-hour Molokini tour. This excursion departs from Kihei Boat Ramp, only a 15-minute ride from the crater, and guarantees a full hour of snorkeling at Molokini.
Whether you’re PADI certified or looking to try scuba diving for the first time, there is hardly a better place to dive than Maui. Many Maui scuba excursions begin on the beach, but there are a number of boat tours to take you to more remote locations like Molokini or Lanai. With two harbors on the south shore alone (Ma’alaea Harbor and Kihei Boat Ramp), you’ll be sure to find a scuba tour that works for your level of experience.
While South Maui may be famous for its vibrant reefs, snorkeling isn’t for everyone. Regardless of whether you plan on spending any time under the surface, spending some time on the waters off South Maui is a must-do. Enter Kai Kanani, South Maui’s only catamaran and the only boat in the area to dock on the sand. Guests board from the beach at Maluaka before enjoying two hours cruising around the water. Kai Kanani sailing adventure also boasts live music and a delectable dinner menu.
Shop for a Vacation Rental Condo
South Maui has one of the highest concentration of legal vacation rental properties available on island. There are vacation rental condominiums that stretch along the coastline from Sugar Beach to Wailea. Owners and their guests appreciate the proximity to the ocean, restaurants, golf courses and other amenities. Water enthusiasts flock to the south shore, known for world-class snorkeling, small waves and home to some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth. Long time visitors and even first time visitors may find themselves desiring a vacation rental home on this beautiful part of the island. Use your vacation rental condo for part of the year and rent it the remainder of the time to help offset your costs. See the current inventory of Kihei Condos for Sale and Wailea Condos for Sale.
South Maui’s waters offer the most consistent reprieve from the howling trade winds that hammer the island’s exposed shores most days. These calm conditions make South Maui an ideal destination for a morning kayak adventure with an expert guide. Don’t forget your snorkel gear- several tours will show you around secluded reefs. If you’re traveling during whale season (November to March), you’ll be able to spot plenty of whales in South Maui waters. Whales are federally protected and may not be approached within 100 yards, but if you’re lucky, they might stop by to say hello. It’s not uncommon to be approached by these gentle giants, especially in the early morning when the waters are calm.
If you’ve ever tried to make a reservation for sunrise at Haleakala, you are probably aware of how hard it can be to snag a spot. However, booking a sunrise tour is an excellent alternative to planning the experience on your own. Haleakala Eco Tours is an esteemed tour company that offers guests the chance to view a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise without the hassle of booking elusive reservations or driving the long, winding road to the summit. If you’re not an early riser, Haleakala Eco Tours also offers incredible daytime summit tours, as well as sunset tours.
Head upcountry to the cool forests on the slopes of Haleakala Crater for a zipline adventure. Skyline Hawaii is one of Maui’s most reputable tour and zipline companies. Their headquarters on Crater Road is one of the closest buildings to the entrance of Haleakala National Park, and their zipline tour is a fun and easy stop before or after visiting the summit. Skyline Hawaii’s zip line adventure offers five lines, some of which travel up to 45 mph over 90-foot drops! Skyline Hawaii is also known for its conservation efforts and was the first zipline operator in the world to join 1% For the Planet.
Pukalani Golf Course
The Pukalani Golf Course is an overlooked Maui gem. Although less popular than the greens in the bustling tourist areas, the Pukalani Golf Course does not lack luxury or views. The greenery covers 160 acres and features an 18 hole layout. Pukalani Golf Course offers both resident and visitor specials, and you’ll also find a clubhouse on the property serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. See the live Pukalani webcam!
Makawao Town is a favorite among visitors and residents to explore, grab a coffee, or do some shopping. Full of charm and character, you never know what you might stumble upon in this Upcountry paniolo town- you might even discover one of the most impressive art mediums on the island. Located in the quiet Makawao Courtyard, Hot Island Glass a glass blowing studio that showcases a fantastic display of glass art. A stop by the Hot Island Glass studio reveals one-of-a-kind glass works of art- from jaw-dropping sculptures to colorful platters and jewelry. Most days, visitors will find the artist, Chris Richards, in-house creating these spectacular pieces.
Glass Bottom Boat
One of the most affordable and accessible ways to discover West Maui’s reefs is a trip on the Reef Dancer, a partially submerged glass-bottom boat. This yellow semi-submarine is iconic to the Lahaina area. The Reef Dancer departs from Lahaina Harbor, and once you reach the deep water, you’ll head below deck to check out the vibrant reefs and schools of fish- if you’re lucky, you might spot some rays and turtles. Each passenger aboard the Reef Dancer gets their own window, so there is no fighting for views. A trip on this unique boat is an excellent option for small children or people who might not be comfortable in the water to explore some of Maui’s most stunning reefs. (Fun fact: local surfers adore the Reef Dancer. Local lore alleges that this yellow semi sub brings set waves to Lahaina’s breaks every time it passes by. So if you’re a surfer, keep your eyes peeled for the Reef Dancer!)
West Maui’s picturesque landscape draws in both residents and visitors with long, stretching white sand beaches and lush mountains. While the beaches are West Maui’s most notable feature, the mountains are rarely explored. The West Maui mountain range is primarily a conservation area, home to some of Hawaii’s most rare remaining native plants and animals. Access is typically reserved strictly for scientists and conservationists. One option to get a peek into this preserved wonderland is via Maui Offroad Adventures. Maui Offroad Adventures offers UTV tours through 1,400 acres of wild, unkempt mountain terrain. A network of trails snakes through forests and grasslands, with occasional stopping points to take in the ocean views. These offroad trails are made up of red dirt, so prepared to get dirty, especially after it rains! (That’s half the fun of this tour, after all). As part of an ongoing restoration project and partnership with Pu’u Kukui Watershed, each guest will plant a Native Hawaiian Koa tree and learn about the cultural and natural history of the area.
Home to a handful of beginner breaks and mellow waves, West Maui is ideal for learning how to surf. West Maui sees waves year-round, but the best season for beginning surfers is in the summer months, with swells rolling in from April until mid-October. Some beginner breaks include Guardrails, Puamana, and Lahaina Breakwall. There is a thriving surf scene in Lahaina Town and no shortage of surf lessons and instructors. Why Maui surf lessons? If you’ve never surfed before or are still a beginner, it’s highly advisable to book a lesson with one of Maui’s many reputable instructors. There are a handful of hidden dangers in Hawaiian waters, like rip currents and undertows, and going with a professional will ensure you make it safely back to the sand.
Royal Lahaina Luau
Located on the golden shores of Ka’anapali, the Royal Lahaina Luau showcases the diverse history and cultures of island communities across the Pacific. Guests will indulge their senses in the sounds, sights, and tastes of Polynesia. Home to an all-you-can-eat buffet, lei-making lessons, professional entertainment, and of course, a gorgeous sunset backdrop, the Royal Lahaina Luau is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Whale watching in season
Humpback whales migrate thousands of miles from arctic waters to Hawaii to give birth. The shallow, calm waters surrounding Maui are a sanctuary for humpback whales, and they can be found in abundance in the winter months. Lahaina is known as one of the best spots on the island for whale watching. Luckily, Lahaina Harbor is home to a handful of tour boats, including double-decker catamarans that promise amazing views. Whale sightings are so common on these tours that you can go again free of charge if no whales are spotted.
Lanai and Dolphin Adventure
The warm tropical waters around Maui are home to an abundance of marine life. However, one area, in particular, is known for its large population of Hawaiian spinner dolphins. There are hundreds of resident spinner dolphins that call the channel between Lahaina and Lana’i home. Hawaii Ocean Project offers a Lana’i snorkel and dolphin tour. Departing in the early morning out of Lahaina Harbor, Hawaii Ocean Project’s 70-foot double-decker boat shuttles guests to a secluded Lana’i reef for snorkeling and a chance to see playful pods of spinner dolphins. After visiting Lana’i, you’ll head back towards Maui for lunch and a second round of snorkeling.
For many visitors, heading back to Kahului Airport and boarding a plane is a sad affair. However, at Fly Maui, climbing aboard a plane at the airport might lead to one of the most memorable moments of your life. Fly Maui is a local flight school that also offers discovery flights. A discovery flight is essentially lesson one of flight school. Students are accompanied by a certified flight instructor for a 50-60 minute spin around the island. With the help of your instructor, students will take off a Cessna from Kahului Airport. Then, you’ll head out to Hana airport while getting a feel for steering and adjusting altitude. Despite being in the pilot’s seat, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in the lush east Maui scenery below.
Iao Valley is best known for its stunning scenery, steep emerald valley walls, and the 1200′ rock formation known as the Iao Needle. Iao Valley is easily accessible, and there is even a paved path that runs through the park (although there are lots of stairs along the route). Just below the state park area is Kepaniwai Park, which is home to the Heritage Gardens. These gardens honor the multitude of cultures that make up modern Hawaii. You’ll find Japanese temples, Chinese statues, koi ponds, taro patches, and more. The entirety of Iao Valley is rooted in Hawaiian history- the valley is an ancient ali’i (royalty) burial ground. It was also once the site of one of the most bitter battles in Hawaiian history, during King Kamehameha’s effort to unite the island chain.
Take Maui’s natural beauty and then double it- that’s what you get when viewing the island from above. It is for this reason helicopter flights are one of the most sought-after experiences on the island. A helicopter flight is one of the only ways to experience the west Maui mountains, composed mainly of conservation land and valleys that are entirely inaccessible by foot. A helicopter flight into the West Maui Mountains is the only way to view Honokohau Falls, the tallest waterfall on the island. The Molokai Sea cliffs, East Maui, and Haleakala are popular helicopter flights as well.
Ultimate Air Trampoline Park
The Ultimate Air Trampoline Park is an absolute favorite among local Keiki. The trampoline park is a great rainy day activity, and it’s also a perfect stop for families with kids before they hit the airport. Thanks to Ultimate Air’s central location, it is easily accessible from all sides of Maui.
Put your mystery solving skills to the test at Mystery Maui. Located on Market Street in Wailuku, Mystery Maui is home to not one but two escape rooms. Both rooms can host up to six guests, but choose your team wisely! These rooms will challenge your competitive and cooperative skills.
Road to Hana
The road to Hana is in the running for the most popular attraction on Maui. Hana Town is 52 miles from Kahului, with dozens of bridges and hundreds of turns. The Road to Hana is best known for its lush landscape and countless waterfalls. While driving the road to Hana is a bucket list item for many, it can be a harrowing experience for nervous drivers. Taking a tour is the most relaxing way to experience the road to Hana. Not only does this road get incredibly crowded in peak hours, but it can be challenging to keep your eyes from trailing off the road when you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery. traveling on a Road to Hana tour will allow you to experience all the beauty of east Maui without spending hours in the driver’s seat, and you’ll likely learn more about the area than if you were to drive yourself. Tour options are abundant, ranging from half-day, halfway to Hana, and full-day full loop tours. Driving yourself adds more cars to the road, which upsets the local Hana community.
Listen to this top 50 stops from The Aloha 360 Podcast
If you’re planning to drive to Hana yourself, listen to the “Top 5 Road to Hana Stops” by Aloha 360 podcast for a complete itinerary. Mapping your route can be a bit overwhelming, simply because there is so much to see and just not enough hours in the day to see it all. Some of Aloha 360’s favorite stops include tropical botanical gardens with views ribboning waterfalls and state parks with crystal clear ponds for swimming.
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