Updated July 1, 2021.
Mau’i is “trip of a lifetime” material for many, especially those who thrive in a tropical paradise! It’s home to some unique scenery and things to do, all of which should go on your Mau’i trip’s bucket list. Here’s the best of the best from our trip, which will hopefully inspire you for yours!
1. Helicopter Ride
This is one of the most epic things we’ve ever done in the Hawaiian Islands! We actually got to do it on our fourth anniversary with our dear friends who did our pre-marital counseling! It was absolutely beautiful, despite the rainy conditions, and we got to see the incredible Molokai sea cliffs, which are the tallest in the world!
Read on: Helicopter Over Maui and Molokai
2. Hike the Pipiwai Trail (and the Bamboo Forest)
The Pipiwai Trail is home to a mile of bamboo forest, which can only be described as enchanting! We had the trail almost to ourselves, and it was one of my favorite hikes ever, anywhere in the world. It’s absolutely awe-inspiring, and a must-do on Maui!
More here: The Ultimate List of Hiking Tips
3. Drive the Road to Hana
Every list of things to do on Maui will inevitably include a drive to Hana, and there’s good reason for that! It’s a beautiful drive with tons of epic scenery, including waterfalls, dramatic coastlines, lava tubes, red and black sand beaches, and hikes! There’s something for everyone. Don’t skip it, even if you can only go half way!
Read on: Top 10 Sites on the Road to Hana
4. Spend at Least One Night in Hana
Speaking of Hana, we highly recommend planning to spend a night (or two!) along the road. The Road to Hana can get mighty crowded with everyone trying to do it all in a day, so the benefit of staying the night somewhere in the mix is that you don’t have to rush! You can take your time, hike around, explore the lesser-known stops, marvel at all there is to see and do.
Even better, you can get the stops farther down the road all to yourself while everyone else is starting at the beginning! We started our second day on the Road to Hana way down at the Charles Lindbergh Gravesite, then had the Pipiwai Trail and Bamboo Forest practically to ourselves!
Read on: Why You Should Spend a Night in Hana
5. Eat Fresh, Homemade Banana Bread
If you go to Maui but don’t eat homemade banana bread from a roadside stand, does it really count? I think not! Maui in particular is very proud of their fresh-made banana breads, and one bite will tell you why! We got some at the “Halfway to Hana” stand, along with a ginger shot and a macadamia nut bar, all of which were delicious!
Read on: What to Eat on Maui
6. Visit Charles Lindbergh’s Gravesite
Travelers, this will be right up your alley! Charles Lindbergh was just an air mail pilot before he famously became the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927. He spent many of his later years on Maui, and he’s buried at the Palapala Ho’omau Church in Kipahulu. Pay your respects while you’re on the island.
Read next: Hawaii for History Lovers
7. Hike Waianapanapana State Park
This is one of the most dramatic coastlines we’ve ever seen, and we had it practically to ourselves! Those crashing waves were epic as they sprayed against the rugged lava rocks, and the whole hike was absolutely gorgeous, even on an overcast day!
More here: Hiking Hawaii: Maui
8. Eat at Mama’a Fish House
Whether you’re on the island to celebrate a special occasion or you just want to treat yourself, Mama’s Fish House is the place to do it! We went for our fourth anniversary, and we enjoyed every bite, down to the black pearl dessert! Get your reservations early, and be ready to be welcomed with Aloha!
Read on: What to Eat at Mama’s Fish House
9. Visit the Maui Tropical Plantation
This was a great activity for our last day on the island! We got to take the trolley tour, watch and learn how coconuts are husked for eating, see hundreds of plants, fruits, veggies, and coffee growing, and more! You can even have a meal, shop, or zipline on your visit as well. It’s one of those unique things you can only do on Maui!
More here: What to Eat on the Hawaiian Islands
10. Swim with Sea Turtles
Sea Turtles are best admired from a safe (for them) distance, and you will find no shortage of them on Maui! We love these little guys, and while it looks like we’re very close to him at this camera angle, we are actually about a foot or so away. They can approach you, but you should not approach them, since they are protected!
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit the Hawaiian Islands
11. Explore the Red Sand Beach
This is something you don’t see just anywhere! The red color of the sand at this beach comes from iron… it’s literally rusted from the ocean water and humidity in the air! You can only get here by hiking, but once you’re there, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen!
More here: What to Do on Your Last Day in Hawaii
12. Visit Iao Valley State Park
This is one for anyone! There is a short, paved trail to a viewing area of the pinnacle, that’s going to be fairly easy for just about anyone. The Valley itself is beautiful and lush and green, and there is a small creek that runs through it. It’s just beautiful, and peaceful. It’s well worth a quick stop!
More here: 10 Reasons to Visit Maui
13. Marvel at the Lahaina Banyan Tree
Banyan trees can be absolutely humongous, and the famous one in Lahaina takes up over a city block… and it’s still growing! What started as an 8-foot tall tree planted to commemorate 50 years since the first Protestant Missionary came to the islands has now become a tremendous part of Lahaina’s identity. People come to relax, dance hula, entertain, and just enjoy the shade in downtown Lahaina.
More here: Romantic Highlights of Maui
14. See the Sunrise at Haleakala National Park
This is one of the things my husband Steve and I will have to go back for: sunrise on the summit of Haleakala! You will want to get advance tickets, but you could also score tickets the day before if you’re very diligent and very lucky! I hear it’s a site to behold, being up above the clouds with views in all directions!
Read on: How to Spend 8 Days on Maui
15. Eat at Leoda’s Pie Shop
This bakery and restaurant is a favorite of locals and visitors alike! The monkey bread with a scoop of frosting was out of this world, and the quiches will keep you full till well past lunch! We can’t wait to go back on our next trip to beautiful Maui!
Still hungry? Where to Eat on Each Hawaiian Island
Need more Maui recommendations, packing lists, and tips? Take a look at my Hawaiian Islands Page!
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7 thoughts on “The Ultimate Mau’i Bucket List”
The hike to Pipiwai falls has definitely been a highlight for us
Yes! That bamboo forest was like a fairytale!
Ya and the waterfalls are so tall. It may be one of the most well designed trails in the state.
I agree! It will forever be a favorite!