Incredible Maui

| February 27, 2024

There are certain places in the world that becomes a challenge to write something about that has not already been discussed in extensive detail by some writer. Maui is one of those places on earth, which unsurprisingly due to its majestic beauty and frequent visitors, leaves very little to expose to the first time travelers. Having said that one of the main challenges I faced when exploring things to do in Maui for a short vacation (less than 6 days) is optimal way of seeing the essence of the entire island when traveling with a family. Below you will find a typical itinerary which is based on my experience that should enable you to see as much as possible of the key attractions of Maui within this short time while also allowing you some R&R time with family during the trip.

Stay Central

Kahului is the main city centre of the island and while most of the prominent tourist resorts are located in Lahaina , Kaanapali, Maalea and Wailea, staying centrally allows you to explore the entire island by segmenting out the different routes per day. Since the main thoroughfare is essentially a circular road with a median that divides through the centre, you can hit up the major spots per day by routes. It is not recommended to do a day-trip roundtrip on the island, if nothing else because of rental car restrictions on traversing the unpaved portion on the southern part of the island. Make sure to rent a suitable vehicle at the airport well in advance since without a vehicle it is very difficult to get around the entire island.

Day 1 – Trip to Hana (total 8 hours roundtrip)

Hana is often overlooked by first time visitors as it is located on the far east end of the island and there are not many major tourist resorts on that side. But the drive to Hana is absolutely breathtaking through the windy mountainous terrain. The road difficulty is moderate so it is suitable for most drivers. Make sure to take your time during elevation changes should you feel air sickness onset. On the road to Hana you will find the famous Black Sand Beach and the Red Sand Beach (located in Hana). Make sure to search the exact locations on Google Maps before heading out as the signs are not always clear exactly where the beach is located.

Another excellent detour on this route is the Hana Lava Tube experience that will take deep dark underground (not a steep climb involved) within a former lava formation of a cave. Dining options on the route are sparse so make sure to carry sufficient water and food supplies and have a full tank of gas since there are very few rest stops on the way.

The rental companies do not allow the vehicles to be taken past Hana because the road is rough and unpaved so any vehicle damage maybe your responsibility and receiving road side assistance will be a challenge. Should you wish to venture that southern tip of the island, it is recommended to take a overnight rest stop at Hana and resume the journey next day as there are not that many iconic stops on that route.

Day 2 – Day trip to Haliimaile

The road trip to Hana will be exhausting so it is recommended to have a bit of downtime next day and visit the Maui Pineapple Tour and Plantation, which offers a rare experience of seeing how Pineapples are grown and harvested. Along this route you can also experience Chocolate, Coffee plantations. If you travel further south towards Keokea you will enter Maui’s wine country region which offers a very different landscape than on the outer periphery and is one of the most relaxing drives on the island.

Day 3 – Haleakala National Park

If you had to skip something in order to make a visit to this volcanic mountain summit, then do it! This is one of the rarest and most natural wonders on earth and people hike, camp, drive to the summit for the famous sunrise, or sunset. Please check all park guides on access, permits etc. but in general, the sunset is easiest to do as you can combine it with your drive to Pineapple Tour or you can make a separate drive if you prefer to spend a longer time hiking around the summit.

Day 4 – Lahaina / Wailea

The old town of Lahaina is a very nice to visit with family and is a relatively short drive from Kahului. You can spend and entire day here with various activities and shopping and dining options for all family. Be sure to check out the former bombing site used during World War II where the sand is charred black due to all the bombing.

Day 5 – Kaanapali

If you plan on doing the northwest segment of the island keep in mind that this route is one of the most challenging and possibly deadliest roads that exists and requires advance driving experience. The roads are windy, narrow, steep, sharp curves, trucks barreling down in opposite direction, blind spots and total lack of emergency services along most of the way. However, if you do, and many do, it is absolutely spectacular one to make.

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Category: Budget Adventure Travel, Hawaii, USA Jaunts

About the Author ()

Larkycanuck is the pseudonym for the spirited, spontaneous and zestful Canadian. The Blog is focused on showcasing budget adventure travels for working families. Larkycanuck has traveled to over 15 countries, 38 cities in 10 years. He has never quit a job to do this. He travels with his wife and on some trips with the house rabbit (Pepper).

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