If you’ve never been to Maui before, planning your first trip can be overwhelming. When should you go? Where should you stay? What should you do? Instead of scouring the internet for your answers, we’ve packed everything you need to know before traveling to Maui into one post. Here, we’ll answer the basic questions, like trip planning and where to stay. Then we’ll delve deeper and round up can’t-miss things to do and how to make it all come together. Here are your Maui travel tips.

Maui Travel Tips Waterfalls



Practical Trip Planning



Tip #1: Figure Out The Best Time To Visit Maui For You Personally

Before you come to Maui, narrow down why you want to visit in the first place. Do you want to see whales? Are you coming to realize your lifelong dream of driving the road to Hana? Are you chasing warm weather?

Maui Travel Tips Activities

To maximize your trip, determine which season aligns with your Maui travel goals. If you want to watch whales, come in winter. If you want endless sunny beach days, consider coming in summer, Maui’s dry season. For an in-depth guide, check out this ‘Best Time To Visit Maui’ post by our friends at Maui Accommodations Guide.



Tip #2: Fly Into Kahului Airport, OGG

There are actually three airports on Maui: Kapalua Airport (a small commuter airport), Hana Airport (which is basically just an airstrip), and Kahului Airport. Kahului Airport is the main airport on Maui, serviced by most major American airlines.

Maui Travel Tips Airport

Some people like to fly to Oahu and then connect to Kapalua Airport if they’re staying in West Maui, but Kahului Airport will have the best prices and dozens of direct daily flights to and from the West Coast.



Tip #3: Rent A Car!

Renting a car on Maui is a MUST. Maui may seem like a small island, but there is a lot of ground to cover. Renting a car allows you to explore the island at your own speed.

Maui Travel Tips Rental Car

You can find cars from big-name rentals like Avis or Enterprise, or you can go with Turo or a locally-owned company like Kihei Rent-A-Car.



Tip #4: Stay In South Maui Or West Maui

South Maui (Kihei, Wailea, Makena) and West Maui (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili, Kapalua) are visitor hot spots. Here you’ll find an endless array of restaurants, activities, sunny beaches, and fellow travelers.

Maui Travel Tips West or South Maui

There are also many accommodations in these areas, from vacation condos to five-star luxury resorts. You can find great deals on condos in both locations. View the best South Maui Condos and West Maui Condos.



Tip #5: Visit In Winter Or Early Spring For Whale Watching

If you have your heart set on whale watching, visit Maui during whale season. From December to April, Maui is the best place in Hawaii for whale watching.

Maui Travel Tips Whale Watching

If you do visit in whale season, go on a whale watch with Kai Kanani. Their service alone makes them one of the best tour boats on Maui. Plus, if you don’t see whales on your tour, you can rebook for free (conditions apply).



Now For The Fun Part… Best Things To Do!


Tip #6: Do Not Miss Haleakala Crater

If anyone asks me what the best thing to do on Maui is, I always say visit Haleakala Crater. Haleakala rises to 10,023 feet, which in itself is impressive. The views from that elevation— coupled with Haleakala’s expansive volcanic crater— make it one of the most stunning destinations in the world.

Sunrise and sunset are popular times to visit Haleakala National Park. Sunrise requires advanced reservations, which are hard to come by. Most people now opt to watch the sunset from the summit, but it is becoming increasingly overcrowded and less enjoyable than it once was.

Maui Travel Tips Haleakala

For that reason, I recommend taking a sunrise tour with Haleakala EcoTours. Yes, you will spend a little extra money taking a tour. But you’ll forgo the hassle of getting a reservation and the looong early morning drive to the summit.

If you’re more interested in exploring Haleakala’s miles of hiking trails, consider a hiking excursion with Humble Tours. This tour treks three very different hiking trails within the park, giving you a unique perspective and understanding of Haleakala that most visitors miss out on.



Tip #7: Go Snorkeling!

This might seem like a basic Maui travel tip. But seriously— don’t miss out on snorkeling! It’s one of the best (and easiest) things to do on Maui.

You can snorkel off the beach at places like Honolua Bay, Maluaka Beach, and Olowalu. Just be sure to assess conditions and your skill level and always snorkel with a buddy. Check out the Maui Snorkel Report for today’s conditions, recommendations, and ratings for different snorkel spots around Maui.

Maui Travel Tips Snorkeling

You can also take a snorkeling boat trip, which can be a lot of fun— and great for newer snorkelers or solo travelers. Redline Rafting is a great option. Redline takes small group tours to Molokini Crater, and they’re one of the first boats to the crater in the morning. This allows you to explore Molokini’s underwater world before it gets overcrowded.



Tip #8: Spend Some Time On The Water

And while we’re on the subject of snorkeling… Give yourself some time above the water while on Maui. The views of the island from offshore are to die for.

If you’re the adventurous type, grab a paddle and hop on a kayak tour. This is a unique way to explore the coastline, and most kayak tours include snorkeling stops.

Maui Travel Tips Kayaking

If you prefer a relaxing trip, look no further than Maui Custom Charters. As the name suggests, Maui Custom Charters offers private, customizable sailing charters aboard their 42-foot sailboat, Nova. It doesn’t get better than cruising through Maui’s waters aboard your own luxurious sailboat.

Maui Travel Tips Sailing



Tip #9: If You’re Trying To Experience The Road To Hana In One Day, Just Book A Tour.

Some Maui visitors swear up and down that driving yourself is the only way to experience the Road to Hana. Others believe taking a tour is the best option.

Here’s my take: if you’re planning on staying the night or spending multiple days in Hana, drive the road yourself.

Maui Travel Tips Road To Hana

If you’re trying to cram the experience into one day, take a tour. Your tour guide will know all the best stops, you won’t have to worry about making a reservation for Waiʻanapanapa State Park, and better yet, you can enjoy all the beautiful sights without diverting your focus to the road. Here are some of the top Road to Hana tours.



Safety Tips


Accidents happen, even in paradise. Here are some top safety tips for first-time visitors.



Tip #10: Pay Attention To Weather Alerts.

This includes high surf warnings, high wind advisories, brown water advisories, and flash flood warnings.

Maui Travel Tips Flash Flood

It’s a good idea to check the weather before heading out on an excursion. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a flash flood while hiking in Hana or get pushed out to sea by strong winds while snorkeling. The Maui 24/7 Facebook page is a good resource, as well as the National Weather Service.

This blog post also expands on some of these points and includes more helpful information about what not to do on Maui.



Tip #11: Keep Valuables Out Of Sight While Exploring

Smash-and-grab crimes are common on Maui, especially in remote areas. However, I’m happy to report that they are almost entirely avoidable.

Keep all your valuables out of sight if you’re leaving your car. The car should be empty: no backpacks on the seat, no wallets on the dash, and don’t even leave a cooler visible. You don’t want to give anyone any reason to suspect your car is worth breaking into.

Maui Travel Tips Theft

If you must keep luggage or valuables with you, put it in your trunk before you leave your accommodation and don’t open it once you park. Some unsavory characters will wait in remote visitor destinations, watch as people stash stuff, then bust into their trunks.

Otherwise, leave the valuables at your accommodation or store them somewhere like Bounce Luggage Storage while you explore.



Tip #12: Never Turn Your Back To The Ocean And Learn How To Assess Conditions Before Swimming Or Snorkeling

The ocean is a powerful force, especially when you’re on an island in the middle of the Pacific. It’s important to know what to look for to keep you and your family safe.

If you’re unsure about ocean conditions, talk to locals or a lifeguard; they’ll be happy to help you. Maui lifeguards are stationed at Hoʻokipa Beach Park, Baldwin Beach, Kanaha, the Kamaʻole Parks, Makena State Park, Hanakaoʻo Beach, and DT Fleming.  Most of these spots are pretty dangerous, especially Ho’okipa and Makena.

Maui Travel Tips Shorebreak


I could write a thousand pages of helpful Maui travel tips. But if you’re a first-time visitor, this post will get your ball rolling in the right direction. Repeat visitors: What’s your best Maui tip? Let us know in the comments!


4 Responses

  1. Rod

    The island of Maui is a great place to visit and experience the less crowded sandy beaches of this tropical paradise. The area from Kihei south is a spectacular oasis of adventure. The three beaches of Kamaole 1-2-3 are super good beaches of fine white sand with a beach trail that connects each and goes north and south to many other beaches like Maalaea in the north to La Prouse in the south. At the north end of Kihei sunbathe on Sugar Beach and watch a gorgeous sunset. Take a whale watching excursion from Maalaea or snorkel adventure. Near Sugar Beach walk the Kealia Coastal Boardwalk to view birds and turtles. A great place to beginner surf in Kihei is at Cove Beach Park where constant rollers break over the shallower foreshore. For a beautiful walk go to the seaside walkway at Wailea from the Shops area. You can walk north or south to several great beaches to snorkel or swim. On your trip along South Maui be sure to stop at Makena Landing to view turtles on the gravel shore or snorkel and swim with them at Turtletown nearby. There are a couple nice beaches to the south of here to snorkel and swim. One is the black sand beach beneath the cinder cone Pu Olai which you can climb for splendid seascape views. Drive a little further south to Makena State Park to view the 3000 feet long sandy Big Beach. From here climb over the toe of Pu Olai to Little Beach. Just past the third entrance to Makena is Secret Beach which is gorgeous to photograph. Keep driving south of Makena until you come upon an expansive moonscape of an old lava flow that goes out into the sea. After six or seven kilometres you will come to the end at La Prouse Bay a very rough, rustic sea area with good snorkelling. I just love this South Maui area to seek adventures all within 10 – 15 miles. Lots to do along this roadway with several great amenities at a lower cost in a more laid back environment mingling with locals. A side trip to Iao Valley with the Iao Needle formation is worth the time to be in a lush, green rainforest ecosystem. The trip to Haleakala Crater at 10,000 ft. is very worthwhile and a must to see with the farmlands of Kula on the way. Paia town is a nice change of pace in a surfer , hippy labelled space of beaches, shops , bars and restaurants. A little ways along the Road to Hana you should stop at Hookipa Beach to view turtles and windsurfers of world class. Not far down the road is Twin Falls , a nice place to hike and view waterfalls and swim in the pools on the lush, green northshore of Maui. A must try is the Road to Hana, very winding , scenic, unique featured like a red sand beach. A trip to the West Maui beach areas is a must , stopping in touristy Lahaina with shops, pubs and eateries. Continue on to Kapalua Bay to snorkel in the horseshoe sheltered bay with excellent underwater views where you swim with turtles. A drive to the north end a bit further is a treat with rustic, rough seascapes and a blowhole. On the way back , visit a Pinapple Plantation at Wailalu area. Just some fun ideas.

  2. Jan Olesko

    This information was very helpful! The 4 of us 70 and very active people have never visited Maui….so, your input has a positive ring to it for us!
    Maybe during low season. We are Canadians and we like it a bit cooler anyway!


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