A veritable nature lover’s playground, Maui is a wonderland of lush green jungle, gorgeous majestic mountains, and of course, pristine beaches that are regularly voted as some of the best on Earth.
As the second largest of the islands that make up Hawaii, there’s a stunning range of diversity on Maui, from coral-filled coves and windswept surf spots to charming coastal communities.
The laidback island is close enough to some of the other islands that you can easily visit them in the space of a day, opening up the possibilities of discovering volcanoes, a myriad of beaches and sites of historical and cultural interest.
Here are 15 of the best day trips on and around sun-drenched Maui.
Affectionately known as the “Friendly Isle”, Molokai is the fifth largest of the Hawaiian Islands.
With a tiny population of around 7000, the delightfully slow pace of life is an attractive trait in a day trip, particularly for those who are looking for some peace and quiet.
There also happens to be an incredible number of interesting sites for the intrepid traveller seeking some insight into the island’s past.
Head over to Kamalo, where, thanks to the high concentration of native Hawaiians, you can find traditional taro patches and other agricultural marvels.
It is said that hula was also born here, and this ancient dance can be observed at the island’s Ka Hula Piko event, where you can also experience an abundance of delicious, authentic cuisine.
2. Pearl Harbour
The number one attraction in Oahu, indeed, in the whole of Hawaii, the chance to visit the incredibly significant site of Pearl Harbour should not be missed.
The site itself commemorates the lives lost, as well as the precursors and repercussions of the Japanese attack on the harbour in 1941. It is extensive and intriguing in its level of detail.
There are two museums: the “Road to War” and the “Attack Museum,” which depict the events of the Second World War.
The Pearl Harbour Visitor Center gives you the chance to go on narrated tours to various nearby areas, such as Ford Island or the USS Oklahoma memorial center.
Available tour: Pearl Harbor Tour from Maui
3. Molokini and Turtle Town
The surreally beautiful underwater kingdom of Turtle Town is home to blooming coral gardens, fantastical lava formations, and an abundance of Hawaii’s friendly giants – Green Sea Turtles.
With most tours consisting of a catamaran trip to the legendary dive site, you can expect a day of sun-drenched ocean views and captivating underwater vistas.
You’ll also have the chance to explore the nearby submerged volcanic crater of Molokini, where you’ll find over 250 marine species populating the dramatic landscape.
As some of the best dive sites in the world, these destinations are unmissable day trips easily reachable from Maui.
Recommended tour: Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkeling Adventure
Known as a prime destination spot as far back as the 1800’s, when it was used by Hawaiian royalty, Waikiki is famed for its white sand beaches, world-class surf, and spectacular hikes that are enjoyed by locals and travellers throughout the year.
Only a short flight from Maui, a day in Waikiki can be equal parts culture and leisure, if you want it to be.
Aside from the popular Waikiki Beach, you can visit the impeccably restored Iolani Palace, originally built in 1882 – a glittering example of how the Hawaiian monarchy lived.
When you’ve had your fill of natural beauty and culture, you can head on to enjoy some unbeatable retail therapy at the Royal Hawaiian Centre.
A visit to the enormous dormant volcano that created the majority of Maui is humbling to say the least.
The best time to climb to the summit is, without question, first thing in the morning, when the sun rises above the clouds and paints the entire landscape orange in one of the most beautiful sunrise locations on the planet.
The hike is around 30-miles long, and bursting with Hawaiian flora and fauna, making the experience even more rewarding.
Another spectacular highlight happens once the sun has set, when the cloudless sky fills with billions of stars for you to gaze at.
6. Snorkelling at Lanai
The island of Lanai is one of the most sparsely populated of all the islands.
As a result, its original natural beauty has been kept meticulously intact, making it a popular destination for travellers looking for isolated coves and calm days.
It’s also home to some of the best coral reefs in Hawaii, which can be reached and enjoyed in a mere day from Maui.
Soak in the sights of tropical schools of fish, turtles and breath-taking coral in the crystal-clear waters around the island, and remember to take some lunch with you to enjoy on the beach.
Suggested tour: Lanai: Half-Day Hawaiian Snorkeling Adventure
7. Road to Hana
One of the most jaw-droppingly stunning excursions available on any of the Hawaiian Islands is the gorgeous road that runs from West to the East on the northern coast of Maui, ending at the sleepy town of Hana.
The Road to Hana takes you on a breathtaking rollercoaster through vibrant rainforest and jungles, past waterfalls, and to stretches of highway where the treeline opens and offers incredible views of the ocean.
With numerous tours on offer, it’s easier than ever to enjoy the iconic road trip, though renting your own car is infinitely preferable, as it gives you the freedom to pause, marvel and even get out and relax at your favourite spots.
Available tour: Full-Day Sightseeing Tour of the Road to Hāna
8. Rainbow Falls
Though you’ll need to catch a flight, the journey only takes around one hour, and the falls themselves are one of the most iconic in Hawaii.
What gives these 80-foot cascades their name are the rainbows that are clearly visible most mornings.
They give the already beautiful falls a surreal ambience favoured among both professional and amateur photographers.
Rainbow Falls’ other winning trait is the fact that you can view the cascade from almost any angle, with the small bordering jungle being exceedingly easy to hike and discover new viewpoints.
9. ‘Iao Valley State Monument
If you’re looking for complete detachment from Maui’s towns and want to discover some otherworldly geological marvels, then head up to ‘Iao Valley State Monument, where you’ll have the chance to explore over 4000 acres of rainforest-carpeted mountainscapes.
The highlight of the park is the ‘Iao Needle, a stunning volcanic spire that rises high above the flora and fauna around it, measured at around 1200 feet.
10. Polynesian Cultural Center
Only a short flight away from Maui, on the north shore of Oahu, you’ll find one of the island’s most popular and, indeed, most intriguing cultural attractions.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is made up of six traditional island villages that embody the spirit of Polynesia and span over 40-acres of lush, tropical splendour.
Get the chance to mingle with these distinct Pacific cultures and enjoy a range of activities, from craft-making to canoeing.
11. Maui Pineapple Tours
Popular because it’s the only place in the entire United States where you can tour a functioning pineapple plantation, Maui Pineapple Tours gives you the chance to discover the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation.
Found in the town of Hali’imaile, tours involve learning about the process of growth, cultivation, and harvesting of the delicious pineapples found on Maui.
With tasting sessions and complimentary souvenir pineapples, it’s an unmissable day trip for those with a sweet tooth.
12. Ho’okipa Beach Park
An unmissable day trip for beach lovers, the pristine white sands of Ho’okipa Beach Park attract all manner of visitors.
But the name of the game here is, without a doubt, ocean sports.
Generating some of the best waves in the whole of Hawaii, Ho’okipa has hosted Red Bull and Aloha surf competitions, to name a few, as well as being frequented by amateur and pro-surfers alike.
Spending your time in the sea or relaxing on the beach watching the action in the Hawaiian sun is an excellent way to spend a day in Maui.
13. Kīpahulu District
Officially listed as part of Haleakala National Park, the Kīpahulu District is a wonderland of archaeological sites, waterfalls, panoramic ocean views and dive pools.
People tend to visit more than once due to the unique trails that you can take through the lush rainforest.
The Pīpīwai, Kuloa Point and Kahaki trails all offer something different, though the most popular is the Kuloa Point Trail because of its final destination at the ‘Ohe’o Gulch.
Here you’ll find the Seven Sacred Pools, which are a network of swimmable pools and waterfalls.
Differing somewhat from the traditional luau, ‘Ulalena is a theatrical production that depicts a fairly complete history of Hawaii’s roots, civilisations, monarchy and more, through the medium of theatre.
The traditional dances, music and mythology is beautifully produced, and said to be much more evocative and authentic than the average beach luau.
For a taste of culture and top-class entertainment, ‘Ulalena is definitely worth checking out.
15. Lahaina Banyan Court Park
A hotbed of cultural and historically significant attractions, Lahaina Banyan Court Park is an old missionary town.
As a result, it is an excellent place to learn about the early days of American settlement here.
You’ll also find a beautiful 150-year-old Banyan Tree – the largest and oldest surviving in Maui – spreading out for almost an acre over Lahaina Town.