How to Spend a Perfect Beach Vacation in Maui
Maui is an island in the Central Pacific, part of the Hawaiian archipelago. Sprawling Haleakala National Park encompasses the island’s highest peak, volcanic Haleakala, as well as the pools and waterfalls of Ohio Gulch, accessed via scenic, winding Hana Highway.
The island's 30 miles of beaches include golden-crescent Kapalua, sheltered from strong currents by lava-rock promontories.
The island of Maui
While there’s no one beach on Maui, the west side is where you’ll find the true luxury; here the beaches are groomed to perfection with lava rock and pristine, tropical sand.
At a bare three miles long, Makalapua’e Beach, near Kapalua, is the oldest surf break on Maui, attracting surfers, bodyboarders, and stand-up paddlers from around the world.
In addition to this surfing haven, visitors can head to Kapalua to hike the trails that cut through the dense jungle of the Haleakala National Park.
On a leisurely day trip from Lahaina, the "lawn chair capital of the world," one can stroll the historic Kukui Grove Park or play golf at the Pali Ridge Golf Course. Looking for a solid respite from the sun?
Look no further than Windward Oahu's Kahului Harbor.
#things to do in Maui
Haleakala National Park An hour from Maui’s international airport, the 17,500-acre Haleakala National Park is the island’s highest and most iconic park—it’s where you find Haleakala, the island’s dormant volcano.
A visit to the summit (“on the saddle”) requires a special permit, and after that, it’s an extra 30-minute hike up from the rim.
Over-the-top rewards await the adventurous: From the summit, there are 360-degree views of Maui and the islands of Molokai and Lanai, with a heavenly sunrise spotlighting Haleakala’s crater.
For those who wish to reach the summit at sunrise, don’t despair—if you’re doing the hike at night, you won’t miss it.
Getting there at sunrise provides a mystical, unforgettable experience.
Top beaches in Maui
Kapalua Beach Park is an isolated crescent of white sand about half a mile south of the Kapalua Golf Club. With a gentle wave-swept beach and golden-sand dunes, it is the best beach on Maui.
There is a four-bedroom cottage for rent ($1,200 per week) with an outdoor shower, a hot tub, and an in-ground barbecue, where beachgoers can gather for pre-dinner beverages.
Perfectly positioned to enjoy the tropical sunsets, the views of a palm-fringed bay and the Napali Coast are another draw.
Canoe Trail Beach Park is an isolated spot of dark-sand ocean swimming punctuated with brown-and-white lava-rock pillars.
If you are fortunate enough to get to the beach at sunrise, you’ll see abundant starfish, while others are busy feasting on tiny crustaceans.
Different ways to get around in Maui
Hawaii’s island-hopping bus service is a great way to see more of Maui’s beaches. Built on large, touring buses, the line connects four locations with a scheduled stop and light snack stops.
Maui Island Rail An adventurous option for remote beaches, the Maui Island Rail takes visitors to remote beaches, such as Kahului’s Black Sand Beach, a short distance from the center of town.
Cycling tours of Maui Riding along the west coast from island to island is a popular family pastime.
Hawaii Bike Tours (hopsawaii.com) organizes groups of up to eight tourists on bike tours of the island, taking them from Haiku in the north to Lahaina in the south.
Guests meet the guide at a designated hotel, then pedal their way out of town and along the coast.
Hotel options for a perfect vacation
Lali's Kai With ocean views and tropical landscaping, Lali’I Kai captures the essence of Hawaii. A boutique resort, the complex is built around an oceanfront swimming pool.
Aura New to the island, Aura combines contemporary design with rich Hawaiian art and furnishings. Set at the base of a dramatic lava flow, the hotel opened in March 2018.
Where to eat Alii Point Rising above Haleakala National Park, Alii Point's dining is also perched at the summit of Maui's tallest mountain.
The restaurant offers stellar views of the mountain as well as four oceanfront dining rooms and a full bar. Alinea At Alinea, chefs Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas work with exotic, locally sourced ingredients.
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