Itineraries: One Day on Maui

By Kyle Ellison

Road to Hana.  Photo:  Hawaii.com member Rob W.

Road to Hana. Photo: Hawaii.com member Rob W.

Let’s face it: On an island with so much to do as Maui, there’s no easy way to experience it all—especially in only one day.

That said, even a single day in Maui is a treat that deserves to be savored, and it’s still possible to pack in some of the island’s best activities.

Looking to rent a car? Special rental discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

One Day on Maui – Drive the Road to Hana

Road to Hana.  Photo:  Hawaii.com member Zack H.

Road to Hana. Photo: Hawaii.com member Zack H.


If you have an entire day on Maui and can only choose one activity, arguably the best activity on Maui is driving the Road to Hana. The secret, however, to a successful trip, is blocking off the entire day and not heading out there in a rush. Take the time to linger at viewpoints and foray into the forest, where muddy trails lead to hidden waterfalls and moments of tropical silence. Swim in Wai‘anapanapa caves and at white sand Hamoa Beach, before trekking through sun-obscuring bamboo to 400 ft. Waimoku Falls. Wrap around the island’s backside on the infamous “back road” to Hana, stopping to taste at MauiWine if you’ve made it there before closing.

Get the Most Out of Your One Day on Maui

Molokini Crater.  Photo:  Hawaii.com member Catherine F.

Molokini Crater. Photo: Hawaii.com member Catherine F.

If, on the other hand, you don’t feel like making the all-day journey to Hana, start the day with a sunrise cruise to offshore Molokini Crater. Some boats, like Kai Kanani, offer morning snorkeling cruises that leave from Maui at dawn, and have you back at the beach in Makena in time for a filling breakfast. With a morning adventure already in the books, head to the island’s funky North Shore for a stroll on Baldwin Beach, admiring the way the turquoise waters stretch out on the soft white sands. Stop for lunch in the town of Paʻia—arguably the island’s best food town—before making the drive up to Makawao to browse the galleries and shops. To bring the day to a colorful close, climb through pastureland, forests, and mists to the summit of Haleakala volcano, and watch the sky erupt in pinks from 10,000 feet in the sky.

One Day on Maui – Explore West Maui

Napili Bay sunset.  Photo:  Hawaii.com member Dan M.

Napili Bay sunset. Photo: Hawaii.com member Dan M.

For travelers based in West Maui, start the day with an early breakfast at The Gazebo restaurant in Napili, or a grab a casual loco moco from Honolua Store. Drive to Mokulei‘a Bay, also known as Slaughterhouse Beach, and spend an hour snorkeling the cove with sea turtles, eagle rays, and octopus. If winter swells are battering the coast, continue north to Honolua Bay just five minutes up the road, and watch as some of the world’s best surfers ride perfectly barreling waves. From here it’s only 20 minutes to thundering Nakalele blowhole, where a column of sea spray powerfully shoots up to 90 feet in the air. For a late lunch—or early dinner—drive back to Napili Bay for happy hour at The Sea House Restaurant, watching the sun slowly fade away on your one-day sliver of paradise.

Don’t forget – special rental car discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

Visit www.hawaii.com/travel for more itinerary suggestions and travel tips.

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