As one of the most popular Hawaiian islands, it should come as no surprise that Maui is overflowing with beautiful landscapes and unique experiences. It’s ideal to spend 4 to 5 days in Maui, however, you could spend much longer and still have parts of the island to explore. Here, we’re looking at everything you should know when creating your perfect Maui itinerary.
In August 2023, parts of West Maui were destroyed by wildfires and the historic town of Lahaina was reduced to ash. It is currently not recommended to travel to this part of the island and you should consult travel advisories before making any plans to travel to Maui.
Many locals lost their homes, businesses, and lives. You can show your support by donating directly to local organizations supporting those impacted by the disaster. You can find a list of organisations here.
How Many Days on Maui?
If you’re looking for a vacation that is equal parts spent relaxing and exploring, Maui is a great spot. You can spend countless days on the island and still have more to explore. It’s the second-largest Hawaiian island. Ideally, you visit for anywhere from 5 days to one week.
If you’re short on time, it is definitely possible to spend just 4 days in Maui. While you will definitely have to sacrifice either some relaxed beach days or some activities, it will still give you a good taste of the island and you will certainly be able to enjoy the highlights.
If you have 5 days in Maui, you’ll have enough time to kick back on white sand beaches and explore the island’s natural wonders. You’ll have to prioritize which sites you visit, however.
If you have a rental car, you’ll be able to get around the island relatively quickly, but some activities like driving the Road to Hana require a full day. Choose your activities based on your interests if you’re visiting for 5 days.
Now, if you have 7 days in Maui, you have slightly more flexibility with your schedule. You can explore more towns and regions without feeling rushed. You can more easily intersperse relaxing beach or pool days with setting out to see the island, such as the sites in central Maui, the west Maui mountains, etc.
There are countless outlooks, hikes, waterfalls, and coastline for you to explore. Even then, fitting everything into a week in Maui is a lot. You’ll still want to prioritize how you build your Maui itinerary.
Getting To & Around Maui
You’ll most likely arrive in Maui through Kahului Airport. It’s the only one of the island’s three airports that can accommodate flights from the U.S. mainland.
If you book flights far enough in advance, you can likely find direct routes from major cities on the west coast like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. However, depending on the time of year and when you book, it’s not uncommon to have a layover on another Hawaiian island before reaching Maui.
Renting a car in Maui is pretty much a necessity. There are some guided tours available such as this full-day tour or this nature tour, but you’ll be very limited on what you can see and do. For the utmost freedom and flexibility while experiencing everything Maui has to offer, get a rental car.
That said, book the car as far in advance as possible. The vast majority of tourists who visit Maui will also be renting a vehicle. You’ll encounter fewer options and higher prices if you book too close to your visit. You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices across companies.
Getting around Maui is easy. Paved roads line the entire island. In some sections, the road narrows and becomes windy. Drive carefully in these sections, especially if there are a lot of cars on the road like the Road to Hana.
It takes about 3 hours to get from one side of the island to the other, so make sure you identify gas stations and rest stops on your route.
4 to 5-Day Maui Itinerary
Whether you have 4 days in Maui or 5 days in Maui, you’ll get a trip chock-full of beautiful landscapes and unforgettable sites. Here’s an ideal itinerary for how to spend your time—mix and match it as you see fit.
Day 1 – South Maui beaches
After arriving in Maui, you’ll probably be feeling a little jet-lagged. What better way to remedy your tiredness than with a day spent exploring the beaches near Kihei, some of the best beaches on the island. Kihei is located in South Maui. It’s a relatively small town with lovely nearby beaches.
Kamaole Beach Park III and Keawakapu Beach are two nearby options. They’re close enough to Kihei to give you great access to restaurants and shopping, while still providing ample beach space to lay out, enjoy the sunshine, and relax before diving into your Maui itinerary. You’ll spend the night in Kihei tonight.
Where to Stay in Kihei
Aston Maui Hill – If you’re after a mid-range option near Kihei, then this hotel in Wailea is an excellent choice. They have a range of lovely rooms on offer along with a swimming pool and a fantastic location for exploring Maui! Click here to check availability
Nona Lani Cottages – These cottages in Kihei are another excellent option for those looking for a great place to stay in this area of the island of Maui. They have a number of different cottages to choose from, plenty of amenities and a location within a stone’s throw from the beach. Click here to check availability
Private Rental – A private vacation rental is another excellent option while visiting this lovely Hawaiian island. There are an array of different properties — like this stunning ocean-view condo in Kihei — to choose from no matter what you’re after. Click here to browse Maui private rentals!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Kihei hotels!
Day 2 – Visit Haleakala National Park
Spanning more than 3,000 acres, Haleakala National Park is a highlight of any Maui road trip. It spans from Upcountry Maui to the southeastern coast and stands at 10,023 feet above sea level, making it the third-largest volcano in Hawaii.
Here, you’ll visit the Haleakala Crater and have the option of setting out on many different hiking trails that lead you to unique outlooks. Consider also paying a visit to Alelele Falls, Banyan Tree, and Wailua Falls.
One of the most popular things to do in the park is watch the sunrise or sunset. First, you’ll drive the 10-mile zigzag route to the upper craters and overlooks. This drive is considered one of the most stunning on the island, so make sure to allot plenty of time to stop and admire the view.
Make note that visiting the crater at sunrise or sunset is popular, so time your visit accordingly. You can organise a group sunrise tour if you prefer not to drive.
Also, pack layers with you. From where you’re likely staying along the coastline to the top of the crater is over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Ensure you’re aware of the signs of altitude sickness and pack extra layers.
If you want to travel off the beaten path, hiking in the backcountry of the park is an unforgettable experience. You are required to get a permit before setting out. Make sure you’ve done your research to know what gear and supplies to have on hand depending on the route you choose.
After spending the day exploring the park and its surrounding areas, head back down to sea level and over to Hana. Here is where you’ll stay the night.
Where to Stay in Hana
Heavenly Hana Paradise – This hotel is a fantastic choice for mid-range visitors in Hana. They have a number of comfortable rooms to choose from along with an excellent location for exploring all that this area of the island has to offer. Click here to check availability
Kailani Suite – Located at the Hana Kai Resort, this property is an excellent place to stay if you want to be right on the ocean. Located close to some of the best things to do in Maui, they have everything you may need during your stay. Click here to check availability
Private Rental – If you’re after a self-catering option in Hana, there are lots of private rentals – like this lovely home on Hana bay – available to choose from in and around the area. Click here to browse more Hana private rentals!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Hana hotels!
Day 3 – Drive the Road to Hana
Driving the Road to Hana starting in the town of Hana in east Maui is technically doing the route backwards.
Depending on how you structure your overall Maui itinerary, you could switch it so you’re driving it in the opposite direction. The route tends to be one of the most densely packed roads on the entire island. Once you start driving, it’s not hard to see why.
The Road to Hana passes through one of the most lush sections of the island. That said, you’re driving along a cliffside. The road is narrow, and curvy and quickly becomes congested with other drivers. It’s important that you get an early start today and drive carefully.
It’s recommended that you make 6 to 8 stops during the day. Some of the highlights include Twin Falls, Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees, Waikamoi Nature Trail, Wailua Valley Lookout, Hanawi Falls, Wai’anapanapa State Park and Black Sand Beach. If you have some time, the Hana Lava Tube is an excellent addition to your drive itinerary.
This will be a long day, so plan to stay somewhere along the coastline close to the town of Paia and Kahalui, where the road ends. You can also organise a small group tour if you prefer not to drive.
Where to Stay in Paia
Paia Inn – This beachfront hotel on the north coast of Maui is an excellent option for a bright, clean and comfortable place to stay on the island. It has a great location for exploring the area and plenty of great amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Private Rental – Those after their own private space while in this laid-back surfing town will love all of the vacation rentals – like this charming cottage – all over Paia and the surrounding area. Click here to browse more Paia private rentals!
Howzit Hostel – Budget and solo travelers on Maui’s north shore will love this highly-rated hostel in the town of Wailuku. They have a range of dorms available along with a great location, self-catering facilities and a good social atmosphere. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Paia hotels!
Day 4 – Explore the Upcountry
Have a leisurely morning before heading toward the Upcountry. Upcountry Maui is a truly unique part of the island.
It’s located in the center of the island near Haleakala National Park. There are four main towns in Upcountry Maui: Makawao, Pukalani, Kula, and Ha’iku. Each has its own charm and personality.
There are plenty of ways to spend your time in the Upcountry. Visit a pineapple farm (Maui and Oahu are the only two places in the United States where pineapples grow), the Ocean Vodka Distillery, the Maui Bees bee farm, or a farm-to-table lunch.
Wine tasting is another option or visit an alpaca farm. Farmer’s markets are all over the Upcountry, Kula Farmers Market in particular, so make sure you pop in to try some local produce and goods. There are plenty of local shops. If you’re in the market for souvenirs, here is the place to find them.
Once you’ve wrapped up in the Upcountry, head back down to the coast to Paia, where you’ll spend tonight. This is one of the best places to stay in Maui for a tranquil, laid-back vibe.
Day 5 – Check out Paia
Paia has a reputation for being the laid-back surfer town in Maui. For your fifth day in Maui, spend the day here replacing. Take some time to walk around the town and admire its charm.
Grab a bite to eat at Mama’s Fish House. Pack a beach bag with sunscreen, snacks, and a towel then head over to Baldwin Beach Park or Ho’okipa Beach Park for a leisurely afternoon in the sun.
If you haven’t yet gotten a chance to try surfing during your visit to Maui, this is the place to do it. While snorkelling is not as popular on this side of the island, there are still plenty of places to rent gear and explore under the water.
There are plenty of small local shops throughout Paia, so you could also grab shaved ice and spend a few hours wandering through art galleries and shopping.
If you have 5 days in Maui, here is where you’ll wrap up your itinerary. Paia is near Kahului where you’re most likely going to catch your flight out of Hawaii.
Have More Time?
If you have a little more time to spare, here are some ideas for how you can spend your time in Maui. Of course, you can easily spend several days relaxing in the sun. However, if you want to get out and explore more of the island, consider starting at Kapalua Bay Beach.
This coved beach is perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and stand-up paddle boarding. If you want a beach day with plenty of space to spread out, head to Big Beach.
You can also take a short walk along the Kapalua Coast Trail. The trail traces along the coastline and spans 1.76 miles from end to end. If you want more hiking opportunities, try the Pipiwai Trail.
It can be one of your stops along the Road to Hana. This four-mile out-and-back trail that takes you through a bamboo forest, to two waterfalls, and to find an enormous Banyan tree.
Your visit to Maui will be one full of stunning white sand beaches and beautiful lush forests. No matter how long you have to spend, you’ll leave the island having experienced somewhere truly unique.
Are you planning a trip to Maui? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!