Maui is known as “The Valley Isle.” It is Hawaii’s second largest island, but it’s still small enough that you can easily explore the whole island from a single base point. Most visitors stay in West or South Maui where the beaches are, and then do day trips from there.
Click here to see an excellent map of the island.
Here is the best 7-day itinerary that I've put together for an amazing vacation in Maui! This itinerary includes all of the major sights and activities, but keep in mind that there’s so much to see and do that it’s not possible to fit everything into just one trip – many people start planning their next trip back to Maui before the first one is even done!
Day 1: Arrival Day
You’ll probably be tired from your long day of travel, so I wouldn’t recommend planning any scheduled activities on day one. You’ll mainly just want to unpack and settle in before grabbing some dinner and enjoying a relaxing evening.
Day 2: Haleakala at Sunrise
Because of the time difference (Hawaii is four to five hours behind CST depending on the time of year), I recommend visiting Haleakala at sunrise on day two since you’ll probably be up early anyway.
This is one of the most beautiful places in the world to watch the sunrise! Haleakala is a dormant volcano and the summit is more than 10,000 feet above sea level providing breathtaking 360 degree views. After taking in a spectacular sunrise, you can spend some time hiking one of the many trails in the national park (one of most popular trails is Pipiwai).
EXPERT TIPS: You need to make reservations in advance for sunrise viewing. Click here to learn more. Also, be sure to pack some snacks and dress in warm layers as it can be quite chilly at the summit.
Day 3: Whale Watching
Maui offers some exceptional whale watching opportunities with humpback whales migrating to Hawaii each year to mate and birth their calves. You can often see whales from the shoreline, but the best way to see these majestic creatures is on a boat cruise. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s not to be missed!
EXPERT TIP: Whale watching season runs from November to April, however, peak whale watching season is typically from January to March.
Day 4: Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a scenic drive along the coast with narrow twists and turns through lush rain forests and past cascading waterfalls. Here, the journey is the destination.
You may want to consider doing this as a guided tour so you can fully enjoy the scenery. But, whether you choose to have a guide or drive it on your own, be sure to give yourself enough time because although it might seem like a short drive, it will likely take all day with all of the scenic lookouts and other places to stop along the way.
EXPERT TIPS: Be sure to start your day early to avoid the heaviest traffic. And, bring some cash with you for buying homemade treats from local stands along the drive.
Day 5: Attend a Luau
A traditional luau typically includes a buffet dinner followed by a show. Many include a lei greeting and an opportunity to learn about the Hawaiian “imu” (underground oven). Hula dancing is used to tell the stories of the Hawaiian culture and is usually the highlight of the evening for most.
EXPERT TIPS: Old Lahaina Luau is known to be the most authentic Luau experience in Maui. Keep in mind, however, that this means the show does not include fire dancing as fire dancing originated in Samoa – not Hawaii. If fire dancing is a must for you, then there are plenty of luaus available on the island that feature other Polynesian cultures in addition to the Hawaiian culture.
Day 6: Snorkeling in Molokini Crater
The crescent-shaped Molokini is a sunken volcano about two miles off Maui’s southern. The water is crystal clear giving you the best opportunity to see an abundance of incredible marine life.
EXPERT TIP: If your excursion includes a visit to Turtle Town along the coast, then you can have an up-close experience with sea turtles.
Day 7: Departure Day
Enjoy your last day soaking up this beautiful island before flying home. Most return flights leave at night and arrive the following morning. Some hotels offer late check out (often for an additional fee) but not all of them do.
EXPERT TIP: This can be the perfect day to explore the town of Lahaina and do some last minute souvenir shopping. Keep in mind that it can get crowded if there is a cruise ship in port.
Other top activities to consider adding to your itinerary:
Take surf lessons
Visit the sacred Iao Valley State Park (perfect for history lovers)
Get dressed up and have dinner at Mama’s Fish House
Take in a gorgeous sunset at Kapalua Bay
Visit a local farmer’s market (click here to see a list of options)
Spend the day at Napili Beach
Visit Banyan Tree Park
Participate in a foodie tour
Check out a "Maui Friday" town party (click here to learn more)
Visit the Maui Ocean Center (good activity for a rainy day)
And, like I always say, relaxing on the beach is an activity too : )
I'd love to help you create a custom itinerary that fits your unique interests and travel style, so contact me today and let's get started!
Related blog posts:
CLICK HERE to schedule your complimentary vacation planning session.