Though we always recommend spending as much time on Maui as humanly possible, we realize that the majority travelers to the Hawaiian Islands are on a limited time schedule and must (reluctantly) return to the real world sooner than later.
Fortunately, we’ve rounded up our top recommended Maui activities, sweet adventure spots and foodie delights to help make the most of your one week adventure on The Valley Isle. And yes, while our itinerary does lean a little toward our preference for craft food and drinks, the fact that you’re reading this blog in the first place makes us feel alright about it. Let’s explore.
The Best of Maui in One Week
DAY 1: Beach + Sunset Cocktail Cruise
We know how it is. You’ve been freezing your antlers off in Canada or sitting in days’ worth of traffic in Houston and have been dreaming about that first refreshing dip in the big blue Pacific for months. We’re not going to make you wait any longer. On day one, no matter what time your flight arrives, the first priority is to take a leisurely dunk in the ocean! Some of our favorite swimming spots are Kam III in South Kihei, Changs Beach in Wailea, Baldwin Beach in Paia, and Ka’anapali Beach and Napili Bay in west Maui.
If you arrive in plenty of time for sunset, we also recommend starting your trip off strong with a sunset cocktail cruise – including whale watching in winter months – with Kai Kanani, who depart directly from the beach in Makena and offer world class service.
DAY 2: Iao Valley + North Shore Maui
After your recent time travel via airplane, chances are you’re going to wake up earlier than normal. Make the most of your morning and head out for coffee and breakfast in the charming, historic area of Wailuku Town – we love the haupia scones and hapa latte from Maui Coffee Attic, banana pancakes at Tasty Crust and wai side poi bowl at Farmacy Health Bar – and head toward Iao Valley State Park, located just a few miles away.
Take a couple of hours to explore the park grounds, which include a botanical garden, Iao Needle viewing platform, unofficial hiking trails and the flowing Iao Stream. Nothing beats coffee with this view in the morning light.
Afterward, head to the stunning Maui Tropical Plantation grounds for a farm-to-table lunch at The Mill House, which overlooks a sparkling tropical lagoon and landscaped gardens, as well as the West Maui Mountains. We love their rotating menu of locally grown and sourced items, and could easily spend a whole day here exploring the Plantation’s many hidden gems.
Alternately, drive northeast to Paia for a walk around Maui’s hippiest hangout, stopping to check out work by local artists in a few local galleries and shopping around at some of the island’s coziest boutiques. Take a walk along Baldwin Beach, watch the surfers and kite boarders at Ho’okipa Beach Park, take a class at Infusion Barre Maui, hit happy hour and live music at Cafe des Amis, try the fish tacos at Paia Fish Market, or lounge on a garden patio at Paia Bay Coffee. Whatever you do, you can’t really go wrong.
DAY 3: Upcountry Maui + Craft Tour
It’s day 3, and it’s time to take your Maui craft experience to the next level by joining us for our newest Upcountry Tasting Tour! After meeting up at the lush Maui Tropical Plantation for a sampling of locally grown and roasted coffee at Mill House Roasting Co., you’ll hop in our comfortable van for a quick, scenic drive to Surfing Goat Dairy. Here, you’ll feed local goats and sample craft artisanal goat cheeses, eat a farm-to-table lunch with a view, and continue your journey Upcountry to MauiWine for a private tour and wine tasting.
Next, we’ll take you to Kula Country Farms for a scenic visit to one of Maui’s top local farmers’ markets to sample fresh fruit, vegetables and baked goods before touring the production facility of Hali’imaile Distilling Company, an award-winning distillery on the slopes of Haleakala Volcano. Finally, you’ll travel back to The Mill House Restaurant for farm-to-table pupus and craft cocktails overlooking a sparkling lagoon and the West Maui Mountains.
DAY 4: Road to Hana
Do not, repeat, do not plan more than one activity on the same day you plan to drive the Road to Hana. If you do it right, it should and will take the majority of the day, and you’ll be so tired by the end that you’ll likely miss anything else you’ve planned anyway. Don’t let this discourage you, however. The Road to Hana remains one of our favorite activities on Maui, and we’ve done it no less than a dozen times before.
Set your alarm clock early and head out before the rest of the tour groups and other travelers for the best results. Make a quick pit stop for road trip snacks at Kuau Store and skip Twin Falls, as it is often crowded and holds up the progress in your road trip early, in our opinion.
Walk the grounds of the Garden of Eden, stop for a swim (or waterfall view) at Upper Waikani Falls (“Three Bears Falls”), eat lunch at Nahiku Marketplace, explore the lava tube and black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park, go for a swim or sandy lounge at Hamoa Beach, and head to the Kipahulu portion of Haleakala National Park for your final east side adventure, the 4 mile round trip hike along Pipiwai Trail. The bamboo forest, banyan trees and cascading waterfalls are breathtaking and a can’t miss, so make sure you leave plenty of time to make it happen! Drive back, shower, and most likely fall asleep immediately knowing you just completed one of the world’s best road trips.
DAY 5: Surf, Snorkel, Kayak, Canoe, Paddleboard
No, we don’t expect you to be Aquaman. Pick one or two of the above and go for it. Take a private surf lesson, head out for a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe or kayak tour or rent a stand up paddleboard.
Take a unique Molokini snorkeling tour – including the less visited back side – with experienced guides at Redline Rafting, who also include stops at Turtle Town and the Forbidden Coast (when the weather permits). Spend the day frolicking on various gorgeous Wailea beaches and find out why Maui is a beach lover’s paradise. Whatever you do, reserve some time to explore the beauty of the ocean!
DAY 6: Lanai + Haleakala Stargazing
This time around, we’re going to recommend something a little different that most travelers miss completely. While it seems a little overzealous to explore a whole new Hawaiian Island in a single day, rest assured that it can be done if you plan your time well. Hop on the 6:45am ferry from Lahaina Harbor to Lanai’s Manele Harbor – hey, we never said we wanted you to make the most of your time after 10am – and take a walk to the nearby Hulopoe Beach for snorkeling (and dolphin spotting, if you’re lucky) and Pu’u Pehe, also known as Sweetheart Rock, for an amazing view you’ll never forget. Pack a lunch or go all out with a meal at the adjacent Four Seasons Resort.
Grab the 2pm ferry back to Lahaina and head Upcountry for a glass of bubbly with a view at Kula Lodge before meeting up with your guide for our final recommended guided activity: a stargazing tour at the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala Volcano, the largest dormant volcano in the world. While most people only make it up for sunrise, sunset is equally as impressive and often much less crowded. Jackets and warm weather gear is provided, and you’ll be treated to insane telescopic views with the aid of a professional astronomer named Jan. How’s that for your last night on Maui?!
Photos courtesy of Jenny of Surfing on Feelings.
DAY 7: Say Aloha
Listen, we’re not here to tell you what to do with your final hours in tropical bliss. Maybe you want to go ziplining on Haleakala. Maybe you want to go for a scenic hike or take a helicopter tour or read a book in a hammock or roller skate in your bikini.
Perhaps you’d like to treat yourself to a massage or attend a Little Beach naked sunset party or drown your sorrows in shave ice or shop for local souvenirs. Basically, take this time to do whatever floats your boat, especially if that means floating in an actual boat. You do you.
Mahalo for reading, and we hope you enjoyed our one week Maui itinerary!