Going to Hawaii has become a very trendy thing over the years, but a lot of us don’t know the little secrets as they are only reserved for locals and people who have been lucky enough to find them. Be it that you know someone that lives there or that you happened to stumble upon a blog post or a site (just like ours) recommending places to go, you are truly some of the luckiest people around!
This can help you plan an eventful trip that is going to live long into your memories and will make you fall in love with the islands just as much as we did!
While it’s true that most people choose to visit Honolulu when first going to Hawaii, due to the island being the biggest out of them all, you should probably turn your attention towards Maui as well. Not only is the island just as beautiful as Honolulu is, but it retains the old island feel that some of the tourist-filled places lose.
Moreover, it is not as crowded as the bigger island and it is the home to some of the most charming beaches and picturesque valleys in the world.
Maui is a haven that many do not know about, which makes it the perfect place to visit if you want to truly experience Hawaii at its core. From secret beaches to unbeaten paths, from serene views to fun-filled snorkeling, we have the best tips for you that will allow you to visit Maui like you were a local!
However, we ask of you to respect the land and the people there: make sure you are careful not to accidentally leave trash behind you and leave the places just as you found them. It is our duty to preserve these amazing places for others to enjoy as well!
Haleakala National Park
One of the locations that you should definitely add to your bucket list is a stop at the Haleakala National Park, both for how amazing the park is but also for all the fun activities you can do around. The main reason you should consider this national beauty is due to just how amazing the sunrise is.
You can make a sunrise reservation (which is explained here, and it is highly recommended you check the site for more information on the park) and then enjoy the amazing view of watching the sky turn all shades of blue, orange, and pink as the sun rises through the fairytale-like cloud and over the volcano.
Believe me, it is a sight to behold and one that you and your close ones will remember dearly. We recommend you also go to the Leleiwi Overlook for it, which is a hidden gem where you can admire the volcano crater better, just a short trek up a trail.
If you plan to see the sunrise, we recommend you pack accordingly (with a warm jacket included) as it is a high altitude and despite it being sunny in Hawaii, the temperatures will be below freezing sometimes, along with the wet and cold atmosphere that is created.
Once you saw the sunrise upon the volcano summit, you can always continue your day with light hiking trails that are desert-like in appearance or even up across the crater. Or you can go explore the Kipahulu District which hosts a lot of protected species of plants.
There are lots of things that you can do here, but make sure to bring water and food. And ensure that your car has enough gas, as the natural park has nothing of the sort available for visitors.
Maui is a haven when it comes to beaches, and here we have a few recommendations so you can get access to the best secret ones, which will help you avoid any crowds. These beaches are the best for just relaxing and enjoying your time on the beach, away from too many people and noise. This way you can truly appreciate the island vibes.
Makena Beach is known as the “big beach” among locals, and it is a popular spot. However, if you are going there, you should look for the less crowded or known spots, Paako Cove and Oneuli Beach. These will save you the hassle of trying to find the smaller beaches in residential areas, but still will allow you to not have to fight to find a spot.
Likewise, on the south shore of Maui, you can find Chang’s Beach, which is found in a residential area of Wailea, a small pocket of sand perfect for relaxing as only locals know about it.
One thing you should not skip on when it comes to beaches, especially if you are passionate about photography, is the different colored sand beaches! You can find beaches with red sand, like Kaihalulu Beach’s, and on Honokalani Beach’s the sand is black, because it is made out of tiny eroded lava pebbles. Not a sight you see every day!
What you may see often on Hawaiian beaches is wildlife: you can encounter sea urchins around the rocks and even jellyfish after full moon nights. Please be careful not to get stung, so if you spot any jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war (the purple colored jellyfish) anywhere around the beach, don’t try to go for a swim, and definitely keep the kids away from them. The risk’s not worth it.
Hawaii Hidden Trails
What many locals (as well as aspiring locals) love about Hawaii is the fact that you can always go from relaxing on the beach to roaming the thick forests on the same day! It makes it an amazing location not just for living, but also for visiting, and believe us, as much as one can love laying down on the beach, it’s good to break up the tanning session with some hikes as well!
The Maui landscape is very diverse and there are numerous trails, for all different levels of experience, so you don’t have to worry about them being too hard or too exhausting while you are there to relax and have fun. What can make things a bit difficult is the fact that the popular choices get crowded quite fast and it takes away from being able to enjoy the hike.
One not so popular but gorgeous trail is the Waihou Spring Trail which will take you through a forest reserve with a lot of shade. A welcomed rest from the hot sun, which can also get a bit more difficult if you want to take the quiet hike towards the actual Waihou Springs.
There are also a ton of waterfalls that you can hike to, some of the most impressive ones can be found along the Road to Hana and a beautiful “hidden from the path” waterfall is the one to Kopiliula Falls, which starts at the 21-mile mark on the road.
If you choose to hike, just make sure you don’t end up like those reckless tourists that make the local news: know your limits so you do not get injured or lost and have to get rescued. Moreover, make sure you bring enough water, a snack, and sunscreen, so you can enjoy the hikes to their full potential and still be comfortable!
Surfing Time or Snorkeling Adventure
Be it your first time trying surfing or maybe you’re already a pro, there are countless beaches where you can catch waves in Maui, especially since besides Oahu, this is the island with the most amazing waves! If you are a beginner, make sure you catch some lessons with one of the local surfing schools, like the woman-run Maui Surfer Girls. Everyone’s patient and you get to learn the bases from a licensed instructor so no one gets injured.
For beginners, we suggest you go to the Guardrails beach, which is less crowded than the other popular beginner waves spots Breakwall and Launiupoko. For more experienced surfers, Olowalu is great as it breaks in certain spots, making it easy to avoid crowds both on land and in the water.
And, if you just want to watch or join the pros, Honolua Bay, is known for its glassy barrels and all the advanced surfers are floating on water like magic!
If surfing is not your cup of tea, don’t fret! We have the best places to go snorkeling. As Maui is less crowded than Oahu and it has way calmer waters, it is the best place for snorkeling out of all the Hawaiian islands. The south shore of the island is the best place to go.
Be it that you know your way around snorkeling and go to La Perouse Bay, which is lesser-known but an amazing spot for even spotting dolphins (bring your closed-toe shoes), or you book a diving trip around the Molokini Crater, Maui has you covered for an amazing experience.
Sometimes we do not want to do the whole tourist thing and be predictable: of course, we will take advantage of the beaches, the waves, the hikes, the shopping, and the snorkeling! You cannot do those anywhere and they care about things for which Hawaii is famous. And while they are enjoyable, sometimes maybe doing something less physically taxing and more relaxing can benefit us just as much!
This is why you should give visiting some Maui local farms a try! Some of them offer tours and you can really see how the locals are living, what the people in Hawaii are up to, and how they take care of the land. There are multiple places you can visit, but there are two stops you truly have to take into consideration if you are serious about getting the authentic Maui experience!
One farm you should truly not miss, whether you are a foodie or not (but you will like it even more if you are passionate about cuisine), is the Maui Gold Pineapple Plantation. You can book a tour with them, and thus learn not only about Hawaii’s plantation history and iconic pineapple export but also more about the cuisine and history of the island as you’ll have lunch and libations at the Haliimaile Distilling Company.
A soulful enriching experience for the whole family!
However, if you would like to explore the calmer side of the islands you can visit the botanical farm, Alii Kula Lavander, which specializes in growing lavender plants. Spend the day among the fragrant lavender fields, but make sure you plan your trip accordingly as they are open to the public only four days a week from 10 am to 4 pm, and sometimes have special events that you can attend.
If a trip to Hawaii might blow a hole in your wallet this year, you may want to read all about our budget-friendly weekend getaways!