First off, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a tourist. From the Eiffel Tower to Stonehenge, Central Park, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Disney World and Mexico City’s Zócalo, there are an abundance of reasons to play tourist in every corner of the world, and even more reasons to keep adding to your list of enchanting travel destinations.
Even those who step off the plane clad in matching aloha print outfits, clutching their snorkel gear and brimming sun hats, are welcomed with plenty of warmness, and well… aloha. For those traveling to Maui as a group, however – whether as part of a wedding group, business retreat, friend getaway or even a family reunion – there are plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path to experience the lesser seen, more authentic side of The Valley Isle outside of the standard luau gatherings and resort pool parties.
The Best Non-Touristy Group Activities on Maui
Whether it’s your first or 25th trip to Maui, there’s always a new way to appreciate the beauty of its sweeping tropical landscapes, fascinating culture, and opportunity for adventure.
Private Sailboat Tour
For those traveling with a group of 1 to 6 people, we highly recommend hopping aboard the 44′ Islander Sailing Yacht, Shadowfax. Moored at the centrally-located Ma’alaea Harbor, long-time local Captain Mike invites you aboard for a tour of your choice: a 4 Hour Snorkel Sail, 2.5 Hour Sunset Sail, Private Charter, and even an Interisland/Live-Aboard Charter for an overnight sailing excursion.
A sailor with over thirty years under his belt, Mike is extremely fun and friendly, and offers an assortment of local pupus and cocktails, as well as snorkel gear and stand up paddle boards. In addition, tours during the months of December to April often double as whale watching tours! We’ve spent many hours on the water here on Maui, and believe this is not only one of the best value tours around, but also one of the most enjoyable thanks to the authentic sailboat and stunning views.
Go Camping on Lana’i
Known as The Pineapple Isle, Lana’i is one of our favourite Maui County getaways, located just 9 miles away and reached in under an hour by the public ferry from Lahaina. With approximately 3,000 residents, Lana’i is also the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island in Hawaii.
While most travelers don’t have space to pack their full camping gear setup, Camp Maui-X offers convenient camping equipment for rent – including tent, pillows, a cooler, sleeping bags, head lamps, chairs, BBQ grill, etc. – perfect for bringing to Lana’i for an overnight stay (or more).
Simply hop off the ferry and take a quick walk to Hulopo’e Beach Park campground, and enjoy beach bliss in remote solitude while enjoying nearby attractions like Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) and the occasional Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin sighting in Hulopo’e Bay. For those who don’t consider themselves much of the camping type, there’s also two nearby Four Seasons Resorts to choose from, though we think camping on Lana’i is plenty dreamy all by itself.
Take a Cooking Class
Though group cooking classes might be a popular staple in travel destinations like Southeast Asia, the Caribbean or Europe, they often get overlooked as an opportunity for an adventurous group activity on Maui. Headed by Chef Yasko at her private home in the hills of Kula, guests who attend Chez Klio cooking classes will be treated to a rotating menu of Asian-style cuisine.
Her patience, helpfulness, and knowledge of various cooking techniques goes above and beyond, and will leave you with a whole new kind of skill to take home as a souvenir. Guests must be 16 and over, and also like dogs, as she has a sheepdog who’s also named Klio.
See Marine Life from an Outrigger Canoe
Drawing inspiration from ancient Wa’a, the outrigger canoes originally used by Polynesians to reach the Hawaiian Islands, travelers can now experience the local marine life from a Maui outrigger canoe tour with the experienced ocean guides at Hawaiian Paddle Sports.
Start your morning with a cultural lesson on the beach before heading out on the Pacific, where you can choose to stop and snorkel with Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles at South Maui’s Turtle Town, admire the vast reef system and humpback whales in West Maui, paddle to the Marine Life Conservation District of Honolua Bay, or for the hardcore adventurists, take on the paddle to Molokini Crater, one of the best snorkeling areas in all of Hawaii.
Rent a Cabin on the Road to Hana
Instead of driving the Road to Hana and back in a day, why not rent a cabin and stay the night! While there is more than one gorgeous campground to choose from, cabins are perfect for a no-fuss, overnight budget solution. Reserve a cabin or cottage at YMCA Camp Keanae for groups of all sizes, or drive a little further and reserve a cabin at the lush Wai’anapanapa State Park, home of Maui’s most scenic black sand beach, lava tubes, hiking trails and freshwater caves.
Take time to explore as many nearby stops as possible, and wake up to one of the most stunning sunrise views in all of Maui thanks to your scenic east coast location.
Participate in the Blue ‘Aina Program
Started by Sail Trilogy as a way to keep Maui’s reefs and beaches litter-free, as well as educate the community and give back to local non-profits, the Blue ‘Aina Program is one of the most unique and generous activities you can participate in as a visitor to Maui. While it’s all too easy to come and soak up the sunshine on your nearest beach, the Reef Cleanup Program includes donations to important environmental companies around Maui to help keep the island looking (and functioning) the way it should.
For a $30 per person, 100% of which is donated, guests will meet in Lahaina for a beach clean up before heading out on a Sail Trilogy catamaran for an underwater reef cleanup. Guests will be treated to lunch and refreshments aboard the boat, and feel the gratitude of participating in a beneficial local activity all while enjoying spectacular views of the coastline, reef, and endemic marine life.
Tour a Local Winery, Brewery or Distillery
Alright, this is where we come in. Last but not least, we would absolutely love for you to join us on one of five Maui tour options (including a custom private tour). Not only is this the most convenient way to taste the various craft wine, beer and liquor varieties handcrafted by top professionals around the island, but also one of the most fun ways to see the island alongside your friends, family and colleagues.
From games and prizes on our Maui Craft Tours van to behind-the-scenes tours, local cuisine, tastings and stunning views, we’ve got the perfect tour for your next off-the-beaten-path group outing on Maui.
Mahalo for reading, and we hope you have an unforgettable time on Maui in the near future. A hui hou…