9 of the Best Adventurous Things To Do in Maui
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From animal sightings under the sea to high-flying helicopter tours over a volcano, Maui adventures are hard to beat. The Hawaiian island is famous for its beaches and resorts, but you don’t have to spend your whole vacation on the sand.
Enter these adventurous things to do in Maui that take you into craters, along coastal cliffs, and out on the ocean in search of green sea turtles and humpback whales.
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Swim in a crater
The Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped marine sanctuary just off the southern coast of Maui. Hundreds of species of fish gather at the reef here, as well as dolphins, eels, green sea turtles, and birds.
The crater is only accessible by boat, and the best way to see it is with a half-day tour to Molokini. These typically include a professional guide, snorkel gear, and snacks or lunch on board.
Trek to a waterfall
Known as the Garden Isle, Maui is home to some pretty incredible waterfalls. Many of them are located on the remote eastern side of the island, a zone resplendent with rainforests. If you want to try a self-guided Maui adventure, following the Road to Hana will lead you to waterfalls like Waikani, Twin Falls, Hanawi, and Wailua. One of the most impressive drops on the island is Waimoku Falls — it’s 400 feet tall and can be found 2 miles deep into the forest in the Kipahulu district of Haleakala National Park.
Another fun option is to discover falls with an expert local guide on a waterfall and rainforest hiking tour. Excursions take you to east Maui where you can hop in for a swim in some waterfall pools and enjoy a picnic lunch with a view.
Zip through the forest: one of the top adventurous things to do in Maui
Ever dream of flying through a forest of eucalyptus trees? A Maui ziplining adventure will make it happen. A maze of suspension bridges and high lines connect tree towers on this family-friendly ziplining tour in Upcountry Maui. By the end, you can fly at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour while spinning and gliding through the canopy.
Summit a mountain
The highest point on Maui, Haleakala towers 10,023 above sea level and often drops below freezing at the tip. While the panoramic views of the island’s coastline from the peak are jaw-dropping at any time of day, sunrise is actually the most popular time to head up the dormant volcano.
Crowds gather each morning to be the first to see the star-dotted night sky fade into hazy dawn before the sun breaks the horizon in a golden glow. You have to make a reservation with the National Park Service to drive up to the summit for the morning show, or you can book a Haleakala sunrise tour, which includes transportation from your hotel up the winding mountain roads in the dark.
Sunrise times vary from about 5:30 AM to 7:00 AM depending on the time of year, but you’ll want to arrive much earlier to see the night sky first.
Drive cliffside roads
The Road to Hana is a must-see Maui adventure, and one of the most popular things to do on the island. The 65-mile route on the remote eastern end of the island leads to the tiny town of Hana, but it’s the journey along hundreds of hairpin turns and narrow bridges with dramatic drops into the ocean that make the drive a bucket-list topper.
Along the way, you can stop at botanical gardens, bamboo forests, black sand beaches, and banana bread stands. Plus, there are tons of waterfalls to see right by the road. Once you arrive in Hana, you can grab lunch from a local food truck before hitting the beach, heading back, or continuing on to see Wailua Falls and the Seven Sacred Pools at the ‘Ohe’o Gulch.
If you want to enjoy the scenery without worrying about driving all the winding bends, a guided day trip with a local expert will take you to the best spots on the route.
Kayak and snorkel
A combo kayaking and snorkeling Maui adventure offers the chance to hit the waves and swim with sea turtles. Paddling out from the south coast, you’ll get to stop at a few different prime locales, where you’ll find reefs teeming with sea life. Kayaks, paddles, life jackets and snorkel sets are all included, so you don’t have to worry about renting any gear.
Hike a volcano
Haleakala National Park’s summit district has over 30 miles of hiking trails that allow you to explore its dormant volcano. The best way to reach the crater floor is via the Keonehe’ehe’e trail, which leads down 2,500 feet from the Haleakala Visitor Center.
Craving even more adventure? Look for bike tours that take you flying down Haleakala’s winding mountain roads.
Fly over Maui
Some of the prettiest parts of Maui can’t be reached by road or trail. So how do you see the most remote waterfalls, rainforest and volcanic landscapes? Book a Maui helicopter tour that flies you along the coast, around Haleakala and over lush forests peppered with epic waterfalls. You may even get the chance to see 1,000-foot-tall Honokohau Falls in the western mountains, which is thought to be the highest waterfall on Maui.
Most helicopter rides last about an hour, so they’re also a great way to see most of the island in a short chunk of time, in case you aren’t able to get out to areas like Hana and Haleakala.
Search for whales
You’ll have to visit in winter for this adventure in Maui, but spotting humpback whales off the coast is one of the coolest and most adventurous things to do in Hawaii. Thousands of the majestic creatures gather here from December to April and you can take a whale-watching boat trip to go in search of them. Even if you don’t manage to see these giant creatures, you might get to see wild dolphins, seals or green sea turtles on the trip.