10 Great Maui Adventures

(We know, because we picked ‘em.)


Compiled by Lehia Apana

The toughest part of creating a list of Maui adventures? Narrowing it down. We’re here to help. Take these suggestions from those who live, work and play on Maui — our staffers. Now, get going.

Waimoku Falls in Maui
“Waimoku Falls proves that you don’t need to embark on some crazy jungle mission to find a spectacular waterfall. Because access is relatively simple, it’s something the family can enjoy together.” — Michael Haynes, Account Executive

Waimoku Falls via Pipiwai Trail

Reaching this remote East Maui setting is like finding a pot of gold at the end of an already spectacular rainbow. Hikers traverse two-mile Pipiwai Trail, cruising past bamboo forests and waterfalls before reaching 400-foot Waimoku Falls. The trail is gentle, but unfavorable weather can make it downright dangerous. Heed warning signs and common sense — avoid standing near the falls, as flash floods and slippery rocks can turn a gentle outing into something from a Survivor episode.

Need to know: Park at Haleakala National Park’s Kīpahulu Visitor Center (open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.); then cross the road to reach the trailhead. The $10, three-day pass is good throughout Haleakala National Park. nps.gov/hale/PlanYourVisit/kipahulu.htm Photo by Bob Bangerter

Lanai day trip
“It always feels like an adventure —maybe because I’ve gotten lost more than once on those back roads. Seeing Keahiakawelo for the first time was magical. The wind there is a such palpable, even sentient, presence, that though ‘Garden of the Gods’ is a marketing label, I could believe it.” — Rita Goldman, Senior Editor

Lanaʻi Backroading

The smallest of the six major Hawaiian Islands, Lana‘i encompasses 141 square miles, of which just 30 are served  by paved roads.  Traversing the rest — hundreds of miles of bumpy backroads — requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle and an iron stomach. A companion who’s savvy at navigating wouldn’t hurt either. Be sure to check out the former fishing village of Kaunolu, the legend-laced Keahiakawelo, and the rugged Munroe Trail.

Need to know: Expeditions (Go-Lanai.com) offers daily ferries between Lahaina Harbor and Lana‘i. Dollar Rent-A-Car (DollarLanai.com) offers Jeeps, which can be sold out weeks in advance; reserve yours early. Be sure someone — family, a friend, the front desk where you’re staying — knows your plans, as cell-phone reception in some areas around the island is spotty at best. Finally, note that there’s no place to replenish supplies outside of Lana‘i City, so pack accordingly. Photo by John Giordani

polipoli maui
“The Haleakala Ridge Trail [a.k.a. Skyline] is a family favorite. As you hike through the trees you can see and hear the endangered ‘i‘iwi flitting from bush to bush, traipse the pine-needle-covered earth, and sometimes find post mushrooms ready for harvesting.” — Becky Speere, Dining Editor

Polipoli Springs State Recreation Area

Polipoli is a hikers’ buffet, serving up an extensive trail system amid old-growth coniferous forests and sweeping views of neighboring islands. The recreation area is in off-the-beaten-path Kula; you may just encounter more wildlife than human life.   

Need to know: Seasonal pig and bird hunting is allowed here; be sure to remain on the trail and wear bright clothing. Polipoli sits at more than 5,000 feet elevation, so dress warmly. Photo by John Giordani

Koieie fishpond
“Visiting Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond is a win-win. Participants enjoy an intimate history lesson and sightseeing while supporting an incredibly worthy project.” — Diane Haynes Woodburn, Publisher

Outrigger Paddling at Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond, Kihei

Ancient Hawaiians were a clever bunch. Proof: Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond. Originally built 400 to 500 years ago, this loko i‘a (fishpond) was a community lifeline that fed generations. Enclosed ponds had  makaha, sluice gates, built into massive seawalls. Lashed together, the upright sticks were far enough apart to allow small fry into the pond, but too close for larger fish to pass back out once they grew fat. The nonprofit ‘Ao‘ao o Na Loko I‘a o Maui (Fishpond Association of Maui) is restoring this sea structure, and invites visitors to explore the area. The ninety-minute canoe ride along the Kihei coast opens with a Hawaiian chant, and includes history and cultural lessons by local experts.

Need to know: Expect to get a little wet. Paddlers must be fourteen or older, and able to swim.  Hop aboard Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Reservations required. $40 per person. Donations are encouraged, and support restoration efforts. MauiFishpond.com Photo by Glenn J. Barr

upcountry bike ride in maui
“The hilly terrain makes this ride a challenge, but the hardest part might be staying focused. You’ll enjoy what is arguably the best panorama on Maui — unobstructed views of the South Maui coastline, plus the islands of Lana‘i, Molokini and Kaho‘olawe in the distance.” — Lehia Apana, Managing Editor

Cycling Upcountry

Maui is the stuff of cyclists’ dreams: miles of paved roads, postcard-perfect scenery and comfortable climate year-round. One of our favorite routes begins near Ulupalakua Ranch Store, then heads southeast towards Kahikinui. Like a giant green umbrella, the massive trees lining the road near the ranch store provide a last respite from the sun before you hit miles of open road. Cycle as far as you like — just remember that the ride back to your starting point is mostly uphill. Upon your return, grab a famous elk burger at the ranch store, or head across the street for a complimentary MauiWine tasting or guided tours of the historic winery estate.

Need to know:  Maui Cyclery (GoCyclingMaui.com) in Pa‘ia offers group rides throughout Maui, including this Upcountry route. Prefer to explore it solo? Krank Cycles (KrankMaui.com) in nearby Makawao can outfit riders with a road bike and other necessary gear. Photo by Bob Bangerter

La Parous Maui
“I took my visiting aunt to Keone‘o‘io Bay. It’s fun to watch people’s reaction, driving them through Maui’s last lava flow. The area also sports gorgeous views up the mountain: the path of the flow leading down, and up to the rolling green hills of Haleakala’s southern flank.” — Conn Brattain, Style Editor

Keone‘o‘io Bay (La Perouse Bay)

This is where the wild things are. Set at the island’s southernmost tip, where smooth pavement surrenders to blankets of serrated a‘a lava fields, Keone‘o‘io Bay is one of Maui’s last untamed frontiers. Coral reefs fringe the coast. Beyond them, turtles, spinner dolphins and migrating whales thrive in these ombre-hued waters. On dry land, explore an ebony expanse formed by Haleakala’s most recent eruption, said to have been in the late 1700s. Keone‘o‘io was once home to some 300,000 Hawaiians; archeological sites are all that remain.

Need to know: Closed-toe shoes are a must to protect your feet from the jagged terrain. The sun can be fierce; bring a hat, sunscreen, lip balm, and plenty of water. Respect archeological sites by staying within designated paths. Photo by Bob Bangerter

Maui ziplines
“I avoided ziplining for years due to my fear of heights, but finally decided to go for it recently. “It’s exhilarating to fly through the air and feel the speed while taking in scenic views. I highly recommend Ziplining — even if you’re afraid of heights!” — Adelle Lennox, Website Manager


This is one adventure that will literally sweep you off your feet — then launch you through the sky like a modern-day Tarzan. Add in Maui’s world-famous vistas, and you’ve got one heck of a sightseeing tour.

Need to know: With a handful of zipline tours across the island, each offers a unique adventure. Opened in 2002, Skyline Eco-Adventures (Zipline.com) was the first zipline company in the country; try the Zip n’ Dip tour, where guests can splash in a natural mountain pool. Or soar with a partner at Pi‘iholo Ranch Adventures (PiiholoZipline.com), home to Maui’s longest side-by-side zipline. Photo courtesy of Skyline Eco-Adventures

Molokai day trip
“The shoreline road leading to Halawa Valley from Kaunakakai skims the ocean’s edge so closely in certain areas that it is impossible not to be seduced by the numerous fishponds and still, shallow coves. Roaming around the island reveals a microcosm of Maui’s larger climate differences. The lushness of Hālawa Valley contrasts with the dry, red and dusty town Maunaloa. I would go back and stay a night or two to better explore the splendor of Moloka‘i.” — John Giordani, Art Director

Moloka‘i Day Trip

Moloka‘i’s beauty lies in what you won’t find there. This rural and largely Native Hawaiian community has held tightly to its traditions and subsistence ways of life. That means empty beaches, open roads, and plenty of character. Highlights include Kalaupapa National Historic Park, Halawa Valley, and Papohaku Beach.

Need to know: The Molokai Princess (MolokaiFerry.com) leaves Lahaina Harbor Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 6 a.m., and departs Moloka‘i for the return trip at 5 p.m., with travel time approximately ninety minutes. Be aware that voyages may be cancelled up to forty-eight hours in advance if there’s insufficient ridership. Mokulele Airlines (MokuleleAirlines.com) and Makani Kai Air (MakaniKaiAir.com) offer daily flights between Maui and Moloka‘i. Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

Makawao state forest hike
“Stroll through easy-to-follow trails and stop at a picnic table for an al fresco lunch.” — Laura Lewark, Director of Sales.

Makawao State Forest Reserve

Run, walk, or roll — your choice. Makawao State Forest Reserve is an amusement park for outdoorsy types. The experience begins before you step foot on a single trail, as the aroma of Cook pines and eucalyptus trees entices you into the forest, which is also filled with native plant species like halepepe and mamaki. Or see it on two wheels along the Kahakapao Loop Trail — ten miles of twisting, rolling mountain-biking terrain. Experienced riders can zoom down the one-way Pineapple Express trail, while kids join the fun at a practice area designed especially for them. Bonus: Fido is welcome, too.

Need to know: Wet weather can cause slippery conditions. Krank Cycles (KrankMaui.com) in nearby Makawao has a fleet of rental bikes, bike trail maps, and other necessary gear. Photo by Paradise Aerial Photography

Maui deep sea fishing
“I get butterflies from flying across the water on the boat. Besides having an exciting adventure, potentially catching a meal is a nice bonus!” — Shelby Lynch, Assistant Designer

Deep-sea Fishing

Sometimes it’s not enough to wait for fish — you need to travel to them. Offshore anglers can hitch a ride on one of Maui’s many sport-fishing boats, which offer open-ocean trolling throughout the year. Local waters are home to several pelagic billfish species, including yellowfin and bigeye ‘ahi (tuna), and ono (wahoo). Expeditions vary greatly — from private luxury charters to more economical shared boat trips.

Need to know: Leave the bananas at home — legend has it they’re bad luck for fishing, and some captains would rather not chance it. Most fishing boats depart from Lahaina or Ma‘alaea harbors. Check out Start Me Up Sportfishing (SportFishingMaui.com) in Lahaina or Strike Zone (StrikeZoneMaui.com) in Ma‘alaea. Photo by Ryan Siphers


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