Hawaii: Top 18 Must Do Things in Maui
From attending a luau to getting “lei’d”, let me help make your trip even more amazing. I’ve compiled a list of the top 18 MUST-DO-CAN’T-MISS things to experience and see while in Maui.
1. Attend a Luau
I feel like there are a few “must do things in Maui” that well . . . you “must do”. Orrrrrrrr your trip to Hawaii really didn’t count (harsh reality, but true). One of which is to attend a luau and the other is to drive the Road to Hana (stay tuned, we’ll get to that in a sec.)
Originally called ‘aha‘aina, luaus were a a religious gathering meal. Fast forward to today and luaus have morphed into a traditional Hawaiian party and feast featuring entertainment, delicious kalua pig (pork slow cooked in an underground oven), poi (purple-colored dish made from taro root), Hawaiian fried rice, beer and more. And while you are eating, sit back, relax, mingle with your table-mates and enjoy the show of traditional Hawaiian tribal music and dancing.
2. Drive to the Road to Hana
My second can’t miss and must-do while in Maui thing is to drive the Road to Hana. ***Hands down don’t skip this one.***
No seriously. Don’t skip this one.
So why is Hana so special?
Easy. Hana is a small town nestled in the tropical mountains of Maui. And “the road” (aka. Hana Highway), is a narrow winding route leading you to/from Kahului to Hana town. Along the way, you’ll see waterfalls, forests of bamboo, black sand beaches and more.
I’ve put together an ultimate guide to driving the Road to Hana that includes a full list of routes, itineraries, can’t miss stops, tips, tricks, an interactive map and more. Make sure to check it out here before your trip to Maui.
Which brings me to . . .
3. Cruise Around the Island in a Jeep
Everything is better in a Jeep. No seriously. There’s a reason why Hawaii is the land of Jeeps. There’s nothing like removing the top and driving the Road to Hana or just simply cruising around the island. Hawaii is literally paradise and “having the top off” the Jeep just makes the adventure that much more special. But be prepared . . . Jeep rentals aren’t cheap. In fact they are quite over priced (in my opinion).Hawaii is literally paradise and 'having the top off' the Jeep just makes the adventure that much more special. Click To Tweet
4. Take a Dip in the Ocean
Why fly all the way to Hawaii only to spend your time in a pool when you have the South Pacific Ocean just steps away?
There are so many beaches in Hawaii, I literally lost count. And guess what, they are free. Yup! All beaches in Hawaii are public and free.
5. Support a Local Farmer or Fruit Stand
The local fruit and coffee in Hawaii is simply DE-LI-CIOUS!! Many local fruit stand owners will personally grow fresh mangos, passion fruit and other tropical fruit themselves (sometimes even in their own yard).
And get this, it’s not uncommon to see a fruit stand with no one manning it. Say what???!! What’s awesome about this system is that many locals believe in the honor system. Meaning, they trust that you will pay/leave money for the fruit you’ve enjoyed from their stand.
6. Walk on a Black Sands Beach
The black sands of Maui are such a vibrant and rich jet black shade. Never ever have I seen sand this deep ebony before and so soft. It’s simply beautiful.
Just make sure to wear flip flops or some sort of shoe because the black sand attracts heat and it gets hot hot hot!
7. Walk on a Red Sands Beach
Have you seen red sand before??? Imagine the red dirt of Oklahoma or Arizona in sand form. Crazy, right? Before visiting Maui, I had absolutely no idea that red sand even existed. Well it does on Koki Beach and Kaihalulu Bay (aka Red Sands Beach) in Maui.
So What Causes Red Sand?
Short answer: Iron and erosion. Full answer: the cindercone (or hill) that forms the cove of these 2 beaches is rich in iron and the waves constantly crashing against it, cause the hill to erode creating red sand.
8. Visit the World’s Largest Banyan Tree
So I must confess, the Lahaina Banyan Tree wasn’t in my original plans when visiting Maui until my traveling companion mentioned going. And my attitude towards paying it a visit was pretty “meh”. But when I got there, the Lahaina Banyan Tree was something to behold.
Talk about a quick attitude adjustment (on my part).
The Lahaina Banyan Tree is the largest banyan tree in Hawaii. It was planted on April 24, 1873 and has grown to a height of 49.2 feet with 16 trunks and covers a circumference of 0.25 miles. Simply put, WOW!
9. Chow-down on Fresh Hawaiian Pineapple
Along with attending a luau, I firmly believe that another litmus test of “did your trip really count?” is to eat a fresh pineapple while in Hawaii. If you by chance happen to leave the islands without tasting a fresh Hawaiian pineapple, you have seriously missed out.
Pineapple comes in many forms here. Take your pick from fresh cut, dole whipped (YUMMMMMMM), frozen, ice cream and etc. The choices are endlessly delicious.
10. Get Lei’d . . . with a Fresh Flower Lei
We’ve all heard the jokes about getting “lei’d” in Hawaii. They are old, I know. I know. Buuuuuuut getting “lei’d” with a fresh lei in Hawaii is another rite of passage. I will say that for me, it wasn’t like the movies. Meaning, I didn’t have a fresh lei placed around my neck as soon as I landed. In fact, I personally didn’t get “lei’d” (the puns are endless) until I attended my first luau, which was a few days into our trip. And the lei, I received was simply beautiful. So beautiful, I named her “Princess Leia” (get it???!!! Please smile, because you know that’s funny!)
11. Get Lost in a Bamboo Forest
Not literally. Please don’t get lost. Just meander a little bit though the bamboo forest lined paths. And keep an eye out for fresh ginger root growing on the ground too.
12. Walk Amongst the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
When planning my trip to Maui, one of the natural things I just had to see were the magical rainbow eucalyptus trees. This picture above doesn’t even do them justice. They are sporadically scattered along the drive to Hana but you can see a forest of them at the Ke’anae Arboretum. And if you catch them at the right time, the bark will be spotted with colors of vivid blues, reds, yellows, greens and oranges. Here’s how amazing the rainbow eucalyptus trees can look in full color.
13. Eat Spam (Voluntarily)
Have you heard the news? Spam is an actual thing in Hawaii. Not sure what the draw is to Hawaiians and Spam is but the bond is real. Spam even can be found on the menu at McDonald’s. Interestingly enough, our Spam came by way of a fried saimin noodle dish and it was DELICIOUS! So go ahead, give Spam a try.
And remember: These days, it’s no longer your grandmother’s Spam.
14. Eat a Fresh Banana Bread
The Hawaiian shaved ice isn’t the only thing homemade and delicious in Hawaii. In my opinion, the banana bread sundae is the real MVP and the coconut candy earns a well deserved 1st runner up (more on that next). DO NOT MISS the banana bread sundae. #lifechanging and I’m pretty confident you’ll thank me later. Here’s my favorite: Halfway to Hana
15. Coconut Candy
I’d like to say that I have a picture of said “coconut candy” but I don’t because, well . . . I ate it all. All of it! Short of licking the package (which I’m totally not above), I consumed every last yummy morsel and crumb. So what does this mean? It means that it was
good excellent, you need to try it and that ‘s why it made the list. The end.
16. Swim Next to a Waterfall
. . . or 2 or 3 of them. Hell, swim next to all of them (but be safe).
It was TLC who famously warned us to “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” but I’m here to tell you, they were wrong. Think about it this way, why would you come all the way to Maii to not chase waterfalls? Especially when there are so many waterfalls to chase and to choose from. If you wanna see and swim next to waterfalls (and you can), I would strongly suggest driving the Road to Hana. There are so many along this route, I seriously lost count.
17. Enjoy a REAL Fresh Mai Tai
Leave the syrups and liqueurs at home because a fresh Hawaiian Mai Tai is something to everyone needs to experience. From the Tahitian word maita’i, meaning “excellence”, I would have to agree that having a fresh Mai Tai is an excellent way to relax and celebrate your Hawaiian get away.
18. Watch a Hawaiian Sunrise or Sunset
I know it’s a vacation. And on vacation, who wants to wake up at sunrise to catch . . . a sunrise??!!! Buuuuuuut trust me, you don’t want to miss this experience.
Why sunsrise? For a few reasons: Sunrise is one of the only times you’ll get to see the beach or (any sights) virtually unobstructed with fellow tourist. Also, some of the best pictures are taken during the light of golden hour (within the 1st hour of sunrise). The tones displayed during golden hour are the most vivid and beautiful palette of colors. And lastly, quietly siting and relaxing in the peace and tranquillity of the waves rolling in and the sun rising is a great way to start your day.
Still not convinced about sunrises? No worries, sunsets are pretty awesome too. Just remember the best pictures are at golden hour (within 1 hour of sunset).
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. I truly enjoyed Maui and I hope you will too. Feel free to leave comments below with any other must do things in Maui. Or just to say “hi”, I don’t bite (as long as I’m properly fed).
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-XOXO (as always)