Itineraries: Maui Travel Guide

By Kyle Ellison

Secret Beach, Maui. Photo: member Andrew C.

Here’s one thing to know about Maui: consider yourself lucky if you even get to spend a day on the island, but there’s no amount of time that will ever be enough to feel that you don’t have to return. Maui is a place of exceptional relaxation but also a source of anxiety, as the wealth of places to see and explore can truly feel overwhelming. To help you structure a trip to the island, consider the following sample itineraries, based on length of stay.

1 Day Itinerary


Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ron Garnett.

Even with only a single day in Maui you can squeeze in a lot of adventure. Start the day with an express tour of snorkeling at Molokini Crater, as some boats, like Kai Kanani, have you back before 9 a.m. From there just focus on one part of the island, whether it’s experiencing Lahaina, beach-hopping in Wailea or simply taking the entire day to drive the Road to Hana.

2 Day Itinerary

Hiking Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui. Photo: member Rolando M.

Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui. Photo: member Rolando M.

2 days in Maui is best spent experiencing mauka and makai — taking one day to explore on land and the other to soak in the sea. For the land portion of the two-day adventure, consider a hike with Hike Maui or tackling the Waihe‘e Ridge Trail and stop in Pāʻia to shop and eat in the island’s happiest town. The second day will be spent on the water and start early with a catamaran cruise to Honolua Bay or maybe a surf lesson with Hawaiian Paddle Sports or Maui Surfer Girls. End the day with an evening show at Old Lahaina Luau, and let the sunset bring your two-day island adventure to a close.

3 Day Itinerary

maui beaches

Keawakapu Beach, Maui. Photo: Tim Wilson.

With 3 days on Maui, you can start to explore a little bit more in depth. Definitely take one day to drive the Road to Hana — allotting the entire day — and the other two to focus solely on one corner of the island. If based in South Maui, hike the Hoapili Trail and watch the sunset from Makena State Park and spend your other day snorkeling and relaxing at Mokapu or Keawakapu Beach. If based in West Maui, spend a day exploring the island’s northwestern coast and another relaxing at Kāʻanapali Beach before catching a lūʻau that night.

4 Day Itinerary

Walking the pools at the Grand Wailea. Photo: member Chantell B.

If you’ve got four days on Maui, you can start considering splitting your stay into two different parts of the island. Spend 2 days around Lahaina, for example, and another 2 down in Wailea, or 2 in a resort setting at glitzy Kā‘anapali before 2 more days on the North Shore. You can also dig a little bit deeper into Maui’s history and museums, maybe stopping at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku or Hale Pa‘i in Lahaina.

5 Day Itinerary

Haleakala, Maui. Photo: member Sherri S.

5 days in Maui is starting to get closer to a classic island itinerary. In addition to the beach time, snorkeling, hiking and lūʻau we’ve already mentioned, add in a day for exploring Upcountry — the island’s pastoral ranchland. If you’re ambitious, start the day with sunrise at Haleakalā Crater and then make your way down to O‘o Farm for the gourmet luncheon and farm tour. Follow the serpentine, pasture-lined road out to ‘Ulupalakua, where MauiWine offers complimentary tastings of their grape and pineapple wines. Finish the day with dinner in Makawao, the heart and soul of Upcountry.

Maui 6 Day Itinerary

Beautiful sunrise along the shores of Hana on the island of Maui. Photo: Alena Nicholas Photography.

The biggest change with a 6-day itinerary is spending a night in Hana. You now have enough time to properly experience the eastern end of the island — rather than trying to cram it all in by visiting in a single day. Start with a walk on Baldwin Beach and then grab some breakfast in Pāʻia before casually making the drive to Hāna and stopping multiple times. Splurge on a room at Travaasa Hāna or find a small bed and breakfast and wake up early the next morning to watch sunrise from a black sand beach. By choosing to stay a night in Hāna, you can make it out to the Pipiwai Trail before all the day visitors arrive and possibly have the Pools of Ohe‘o completely to yourself.

Maui 7 Day Itinerary

Secret Cove sunrise, Maui. Photo: W. Tipton.

A week in Maui is the quintessential amount of time on the island. You can hike Haleakalā and watch the sunrise, visit Molokini Crater, and spend at least a couple of days enjoying the journey to Hāna. Spend a solid beach day in Makena just snorkeling and soaking up sun, and sample the beaches on the northwestern coast like hidden Mokulei‘a. You can squeeze in some golf, go paragliding in Kula — maybe even learn to scuba dive — and possibly even spend a day exploring the island of Lānaʻi.

Kula, Upcountry Maui. Photo: member Victoria D.

The funny thing about a place like Maui, where there’s simply so much to do, is that spending more time here doesn’t exactly accomplish a feeling of completion, but ironically only makes you realize how much there still is to do. Many of Maui’s visitors return for a second, third and fourth time, intoxicated by the tropical illusion they’ll check all their empty, unchecked boxes — only to find there’s never enough time to truly see it all.

For more suggested itineraries and day trip ideas, please visit our travel section:

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