Alright, so admittedly, one day on Maui isn’t enough. But is any length of time ever really enough on Maui? Exactly. Millions of people from around the globe visit Maui each year, but a portion of those are only able to visit for a single day, often due to cruise ship time constraints, work trips, or simply a quick island-hopping excursion.
Whatever your reason, we have excellent suggestions to make the most of your day! With so much beauty to experience in so little time, it helps to know how to maximize your time in paradise.
What to do with 1 day on Maui
First off, you’re going to need a car. While there is public transportation on Maui, as well as taxis, it’s very limited and you’ll waste a ton of time and/or money getting from A to B, something you can’t afford with such a short amount of time for exploring. Uber can work, but you’ll want to schedule each ride and be prepared. Overall, it’ll probably be cheaper to rent a car.
Depending on the time of day you’re here, you’ll also likely be limited to the types of places and activities you can experience. Below we provide two itineraries based on daytime and evening visitors, and hope you enjoy our suggestions!
Both Lahaina & Maalaea Harbors – 48 years, Maui’s 1st sailboat company.
Maluaka Beach Entry – One Maui’s more luxurious and roomy vessels.
Kihei Boat Ramp – Get to Molokini fast and be close to the water for whales!
Whale Watch or Snorkel
During whale season (December to May), it’s worth getting on a boat just for our humpbacks’ homecoming. BUT, you’ll also see whales on the way to and from snorkel destinations.
Molokini Crater is a favorite snorkel spot with amazing visibility and protected waters. The neighbor island of Lanai is great to visit to with some of the best diving among the Hawaiian Islands.
Ether way, seeing Maui from the ocean gives a unique and relaxing vantage point of our islands.
Beach/Explore & Lunch
Which Beach should I hit?
After Flying a Plane:
Backtrack a little to the entrance for Baldwin Beach Park, a huge, gorgeous white sand beach near Paia Town. Walk to the east for relaxed swimming at Baldwin Cove, or simply take a long walk in the sand to enjoy spectacular views of the turquoise waves and distant West Maui Mountains. At this time of day, you’re even likely to enjoy a section of beach all to yourself! Lifeguards are on duty and public bathrooms are available.
After South Side Boat Trip:
Located conveniently in central Kihei, you can’t come to Maui without enjoying some well-deserved beach time! Pull out that swimsuit, towel, and reef-safe sunscreen and relax in the golden sand and calm waves. Kihei is known for its swimmer-friendly beaches, and snorkeling is best at each end of the bay. Lifeguards are on duty at the Kamaole Beach Parks, and public restrooms and showers are available. Bonus: During the winter months, this doubles as an excellent place for whale watching!
After West Side Boat Trip:
Head up to Kaanapali Beach. There you’ll find long stretches of perfect beach and beautiful water. It’s usually calm here, but if there are waves, you can head to Kapalua Bay which is a bit more protected.
Can I do a Farm Tour?
Head to the Maui Tropical Plantation for shopping, food, and farm tour! We suggest their tram tour, where you’ll witness a coconut husking demonstration, as well as learn more about the flora and fauna of Maui. Browse our Country Store and onsite boutique shops to stock up on unique souvenirs, or visit the Kumu Farms stand to sample fresh, organic Maui produce. For the ultimate adventurous traveler, we also recommend reserving a spot with Maui Zip Line, where you’ll be treated to 5 zip lines over the plantation grounds!
How about lush mountains like Jurassic Park?
Take a drive through historic Wailuku Town to the gorgeous Iao Valley State Park, located along a scenic road through lush jungle and steep walls of the West Maui Mountains. Spend some time walking the grounds, enjoying views of Iao Needle, Iao Stream, and more, and brush up on your Maui history in one of the most magical areas on Maui.
Where can I find local food?
If you’re gonna try local food, you should get it from one of the best chefs on Maui: Zach Sato. At Havens in Kihei (and soon in Pukalani and Kahului), you can try a number of delicious noodle dishes like Saimin, fresh temaki like unagi and avo, and smoked ahi Mac salad on the side. And if that doesn’t do it for you, grab a Paniolo smash burger.
How about some healthy food?
Our favorite spot for delicious, healthy comfort food is Sprout Vegan Cafe in Wailea. This isn’t your ordinary vegan spot. You’ll find fresh and bright dishes like their “Tuna” Sandwich, California Burrito, Tofu Poke Bowl, and unforgettable Haupia.
Where can I eat a casual lunch from a master chef?
Chef Jeff Scheer is well known across our islands and on the mainland for being one of the most creative and dedicated chefs in Hawaii. Known for putting The Mill House on the map, Chef has opened Restaurant Marlow in Pukalani serving the best pizza on Maui (wood-fired sourdough Neapolitan-style), along with favorites like meatballs en sugo, and wood-fired octopus. Then pop over next door to Maui’s newest brewery (with epic views): Mahalo Aleworks.
Luau Show or Haleakala Stars
Luau Show & Feast
There are many reasons why attending a luau is considered a Maui Must Do! Island music, authentic hula, history and lore, sunset over the ocean, delicious food and drink, and top it all off with fire dancing! This will be one of your families fondest memories.
Sunset at Haleakala
We highly recommend checking out the night sky! While stargazing from atop Haleakala Volcano is the best option, the sunset can be incredible too. Book a private sunset trip with Haleakala EcoTours and enjoy views from the top of the world!
Still have questions? Want more?
Though we highly recommend you download a few podcast episodes from The Aloha 360 for the plane, it’s even better to listen while still at home. Get excited about visiting our islands with local tips and tricks from Leslie and John.
Mahalo for reading, and we look forward to welcoming you to Maui, no matter how long you’re able to stay!