Over the years of coming to Maui, my wife, Lory, and I have come up with an extensive list of our “Favorites.” This list is fluid, so check back to see updates. We also welcome your ideas and comments. After all, Maui No Ka Oi! (If you are looking for our favorite restaurants, click here.)
Some of the links below are directly to the activity but many are to our concierge’s info on the activity. It’s worth it to talk with Concierge Connection, as they will ask the questions you don’t know to ask to ensure you get the perfect activity and provider for your group. The concierge may come up with some new ideas, as well. Our family and many of our guests have had special tours arranged by Sandi, Mona and Concierge Connection.
Blue Water Rafting– A MUST – we LOVED IT! Do the Kanaio/ Molokini Tour – you don’t have to get out and snorkel if you don’t want to (Lory didn’t), but the extended trip to Molokini is well worth it! You can see the fish in the water while you are on the boat. The added bonus is that during whale season (Nov – May), you will get a mini-whale watch too!
Whale Watching is another MUST during Whale season (most tour groups guarantee sightings mid-Nov until early May). There are many options, but by far the best we have found is Maui Adventure Cruises. They use large inflatable outboard engine boats (similar to the Coast Guard) so you are very close to the water. You can stick your Go Pro in for some cool underwater shots! They do not take too many people, so you can get up close and personal!! Check out this action from our Facebook Page of a competition pod going under our boat.
Another good one is the Pacific Whale Foundation, but they are larger boats that pack on a lot of passengers. This means you are further from the action, with many heads in the way of your breach views.
One my folks have loved is Trilogy. They have great Molokini and even sunset snorkels. A fast, gorgeous catamaran and great food, knowledgeable and fun staff.
Zipline (totally amazing- LOVE it!!) is a great time and allows you to “fly through the air.” This activity is gaining popularity on Maui, so you should book in advance as they fill up quickly, especially if you are coming during High Season. I have done the one in Ka’anapali and the one by Haleakala- both are awesome. Skyline Eco is our favorite.
The Road to Hana—Crazy, twisty roads on sea cliffs- but BEAUTIFUL!!! Make sure to pick up the CD that you play as you drive. This will tell you where to pull off to take one of the many hikes to the BEAUTIFUL waterfalls!!! Also make sure to check out the black sand beach (there is a red sand beach as well)! You don’t want to miss: Keanae Peninsula, “heavenly hana” town, Wainanapanapa State Park (Black Sand Beach), Pools of Oheo (Seven Sacred Pools)-AMAZING! You can swim under a waterfall here! You can stop any ABC store, or even Costco, K-Mart or any grocery or gift store to find a CD. Or you can buy my favorite, R2H, here.
Deep Sea Fishing—We caught 5 mahi mahi and 2 ahi tuna last January by taking a 9-hour private tour. You can do shared tours as well, and pack a lunch and beverages, too. Don’t forget to take your sea sickness pills before leaving, because the ocean can be choppy out near the DNR’s buoy. Start Me Up is by far my favorite. Located in Lahaina.
Canoeing & Snorkeling—A fun cultural trip to bring you back to the ancient Hawaiians is the Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe and Snorkel Adventure. Better known as the Maui Sailing Canoe this is a fun time for all to go out on the water, snorkel and experience the ocean as the Hawaiians did many years ago. I’ve seen dolphins, whales, turtles and tons of other fish! They leave from Polo Beach in Wailea, just in front of the Kea Lani Hotel.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) can be a ton of fun. Go in the morning when the ocean is as smooth as ice. You can rent boards, or if you are new and just want to try it out, there are good SUP Schools here, too.
Beach Rental Equipment — After you have mastered the SUP from your lessons, you’ll want to rent one. Or perhaps you’ll want your own mask and fins or you just do not want to pack your stuff. The Snorkel Store is a great Maui resource for beach rental equipment. Use this code at check out for a $20 savings ($20wev).
Haleakala Crater/Volcano is amazing! Lots of hiking trails, you can even bike down the volcano. Also, the best sunrise EVER!! Wear LAYERS- if you go to watch the Sunrise, the mountaintop is SUPER COLD in the winter months until the sun comes up. The National Park Service has good info.
Sunsets—Our area offers some of the best sunsets I have ever seen!! Best seen from Wailea of course. Try to get dinner reservations around sunset with an ocean view!!! My favorite is to head down to the main pool at Ekahi Village with some pupus (Hawaiian for appetizers) and beverages.
Helicopter Tours offer one of the best ways to see Maui and the surrounding Islands. Breathtaking! Lory and I do one almost every visit. The best tours are West Maui & Molokai, Maui Spectacular and Maui-Big Island. Check out Blue Hawaiian for the best rides.
Vodka, Beer and Wine Tasting – Typically I think of Sonoma County or Napa County California for wine or maybe Austin, TX for craft beers, but Maui has a few of each that can be a fun day that not only includes a great adventure to UpCountry, but some good eats and drinks. Here are a few to try out.
Need to find a place to eat after having fun? Visit our list of Favorite Restaurants.
If you are like me, you cannot come to Maui without playing some golf. Not only are Maui’s golf courses in great shape year round (though do check on aerification schedules) and vary in challenge, they also offer some amazing views. If they are not on their lanai, whale watching or snorkeling, you’ll probably find my folks on the golf course, too.
Golf on Maui can be expensive, even with special rates. many courses offer a “replay” rate and afternoon play can be almost half price This is because the trade winds blow, making for some very interesting golf. Our secret: Find courses that are sheltered from the trades, making them a great deal in the PM.
All courses are well cared for, and the scenery can’t be beat. Staying with the Pauli Family Condos gives you a good rate at the three Wailea courses. Weather on this end is more predictable (less rain, more sun) than the west coast (Kaanapali and Kapalua). Also, don’t be scared of rain clouds on top of Haleakala. This volcano is our friend and will keep most of the rain on top and in Hana.
The Wailea Golf Courses offer 3 great 18-hole courses. If you stay at Ekahi, make sure you ask for the “Wailea Resort” discount. The three courses here are the Gold and Emerald (both located at Gannon’s Restaurant) and the Blue (previously at Mulligans but now at Manoli’s above the Shops of Wailea). My order: Gold, Blue, Emerald.
Another great south Maui golf course and a little more economical course is the newly minted Maui Nui Golf Course. Previously the Elleair Golf Course. They have a great ocean view from their “19th hole” and are across the street from The Maui Brewing Company – my preferred 19th hole for drinks and food. Pro Tip: If you are coming for an extended time, Maui Nui will negotiate a multi-day / tee time package.
If you want to play where the PGA does, head over to Kapalua Golf and take on the Plantation Course, home to the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions. There are two world class courses here, and a great restaurant too, so if you want to play you can also try the Bay Course. Their pro shop is always open so you can look like you played here even if you did not (with $500 + green fees, the golf shirt might be a better deal). If you do tee it up here, you’ll take on a course that tamed Tiger and many professional golfers.
Other Maui Golf
The Kaanapali resort area has a few courses. I find them to be the most crowded and not too scenic. You can see whales in season at the Wailea courses, and Maui Nui.
The other public courses near Wailea that I like are the Kahili Golf Course (on the foothills of the West Maui Mountain) The Dunes at Maui Lani and an upcountry gem the Pukalani Country Club (they have public rates).
The last thing you need to know about Maui is golf clubs. Personally I bring my clubs with me when I travel. However all of the resort courses will offer rental clubs. However, if you want to play good clubs then check out the Maui Golf Shop in Kihei. They rent out new, current and good clubs at great rates.