9 Of The Best Hikes In Maui, Hawaii For Visitors

Best Hikes In Maui

Maui offers so many incredible opportunities for hiking and getting out in nature. And the best part – hiking is a low-cost activity which is a nice perk for an expensive island like Maui! In this post, we share 9 of the best hikes in Maui and what you can expect on these amazing trails.

We have personally hiked all of these trails so we dish out first-hand information for what you need to know, where to park, what to bring, and other tips to make the most of your time in Maui!

To help with your trip planning, I have divided our hiking guide into three different parts:

  • West Maui
  • Central Maui
  • East Maui

The entire Maui island is just gorgeous but if you’re limited on your vacation days, you may only have time to explore one part of it.

Beautiful waterfall along Twin Falls Trail in Maui.

Here are 9 of the best hikes in Maui, Hawaii for visitors:

Best Hikes In Maui, Hawaii:

West Maui

West Maui is one of the most-visited parts of this island. The trails here are not as wild and rugged as other parts of Maui, but they are easy to access and often offer amenities like restrooms and designated visitor parking lots.

1. Waihe’e Ridge Trail

View of the coastline from Waihe’e Ridge Trail.

Trail Summary:

Waihe’e Ridge Trail is one of the most incredible hiking trails in all of West Maui. This trail has it all – mountains, lush jungle, waterfalls, and jaw-dropping views of the ocean.

The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is a 4-mile-long hike that leads to multiple viewpoints along a mountain ridge. With 1600 feet of elevation gain, this trail does require a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it!

To hike the Waihe’e Ridge Trail we recommend heading out as early as possible. The parking lot for this trail opens at 7 am but has limited spots so it’s best to get there first thing in the morning.

The Waihe’e Ridge Trail starts with a steep climb up a paved path for the first mile before it eases up a bit. The next section travels through gentle switchbacks in a forest until you reach a narrow ridge.

This region gets a lot of rain and fog so expect the last part of the trail to be slippery and muddy – come prepared with good hiking shoes and trekking poles.

Read More: Guide To Hiking Waihe’e Ridge Trail In Maui, Hawaii

2. Kapalua Coastal Trail

Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the easiest hikes in Maui!

Trail Summary:

Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the least technical trails that we hiked in Maui. This is a flat trail that follows next to the ocean rarely leaving the footprint of civilization.

Kapalua Trail is a great ‘warm-up’ option to do if you just landed in Maui and want to head out on an easy coastal walk.

Kapalua Coastal Hike in Maui Hawaii

Kapalua Coastal Trail is a wonderful hike for families and kids because it offers plenty of opportunities for swimming and snorkeling.

This trail starts at Kapalua Bay Beach which is one of the best snorkeling sites in all of Maui. For this Maui trip, we brought along our own snorkeling set that we got on Amazon.

You can also rent snorkeling equipment at Kapalua Bay Beach if you don’t have one or don’t want to carry heavy gear around.  

A few other highlights of the Kapalua Coastal Trail include the:

  • Hawea Point
  • Ironwood Cliffs
  • Oneloa Bay
  • Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is 3.5 miles long if you choose to do the entire trail. Most people end up bringing their beach gear and walking part of the trail until they find a good spot on the shore to set up.

Dragons Teeth Makaluapuna Point
Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail.

I recommend finishing the entire trail and exploring some of the side trails like the Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail. This is a quick trail that leads to interesting jagged rocks resembling teeth from a Dragon’s mouth.

Read More: Hiking Kapalua Coastal Trail In West Maui, Hawaii

3. Acid War Zone To Nakalele Blowhole

Nakalele Blowhole spouting water in the air.

Trail Summary:

Situated at the most northern point in West Maui, the Acid War Zone Trail is one of the best coastal hikes on the Maui island that offers great photo opportunities.

The main attraction of this trail is the Nakalele Blowhole which is a large opening in volcanic rock that dramatically shoots water into the air.

Nakalele Blowhole is a natural geological wonder that draws many visitors. But most people quickly see the Nakalele Blowhole without realizing that there is so much more to explore in this area.  

Along the Acid War Zone Trail, you can also see:

  • Colorful lava formations
  • Tide pools
  • A Lighthouse
  • Other blowholes

Parking for the Acid War Zone Trail is located slightly before the Nakalele Blowhole. Once you park, you can head down towards the water and follow the trail that travels next to the ocean.

This trail offers incredible views of jagged ocean cliffs and travels across unique volcanic rock formations called Acid War Zone. The Acid War Zone Trail ends at the Nakalele Blowhole which offers a show of its own!

Visitor Tip: Nakalele Blowhole can be a dangerous place, especially during high tide when sneaker waves can happen unexpectedly. Make sure to keep a safe distance from the blowhole and ocean cliffs.

Read More: Hiking Acid War Zone Trail To Nakalele Blowhole In Maui

Central Maui

Central Maui is an area that you will pass through many times on your trip. This is where the Kahului Airport is located along with the main highway that connects all the top Maui cities like Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kihei, and Hana.

A few must-see locations in Central Maui include the ʻĪao Valley State Monument and Haleakalā National Park.

Sunset at Haleakalā National Park.

Haleakalā National Park was my personal favorite and a place that we kept coming back to several times on our trip.

If you’re looking for an especially thrilling activity, I recommend signing up for the Haleakala Self-Guided Bike Tour! We did this tour one morning and had a great time riding bikes down a 20-mile-long scenic road that starts at the top of the volcano.

4. Sliding Sands Trail

View of colorful volcanic landscapes from the Sliding Sands Trail.

Trail Summary:

Maui is known for its incredible hiking trails, but one trail that stood out to me the most was the Sliding Sands Trail at Haleakalā National Park.

The Sliding Sands (Keonehe’ehe’e) Trail descends 2800 feet down into a volcanic crater floor offering views of red hills, cinder cones, and black volcanic rocks along the way. This is a fascinating place to visit especially for those who enjoy unusual Mars-like landscapes and geology.

Due to altitude and elevation gain, this can be a challenging day hike, even for experienced hikers!

If you don’t want to hike the entire trail, you can always hike as far as you feel comfortable and turn around at any point (which is what we did). Just keep in mind that the terrain coming back up is very steep and can take twice as long.

Sliding Sands is a hike that’s exposed to the sun offering no shade along the way. Avoid sunburns and heat exhaustion by wearing sunscreenlip balm, hiking hat, and bring plenty of water.

Visitor Tip: There is a fee to visit and hike at Haleakalā National Park. Entrance costs $30 per vehicle which is good for a 3-day pass.

Read More: Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Trail At Haleakalā National Park

5. Halemau’u Trail

Halemau’u trail offers a variety of unique scenery!

Trail Summary:

If you like incredible natural scenery (minus the crowds), Halemau’u is another trail at Haleakalā National Park that you’ll want to check out. You can hike the Halemau’u Trail on its own or connect it with the Sliding Sands Trail for the ultimate hike (which is what we did).

The best part about hiking at Haleakalā National Park is that within this park you can experience a variety of landscapes with different eco-systems.

While the Sliding Sands Trail passes through a bare volcanic landscape, the terrain at Halemau’u Trail changes into cloud-covered alpine shrubland full of lush jungle plants and interesting red ferns.

The Halemau’u Trail consists of countless switchbacks carved into the mountainside. During the hike, you’ll get to enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the volcanic valley in the distance as long as it’s not covered by a low-level cloud that hovers in this area.

Visitor Tip: There is a fee to visit and hike at Haleakalā National Park. Entrance costs $30 per vehicle which is good for a 3-day pass.

6. ʻĪao Valley State Monument

Beautiful lush scenery at ʻĪao Valley State Monument.

Trail Summary:

ʻĪao Valley State Monument is one of the best attractions in Central Maui. This is a place of spiritual value to Maui locals and is known for its spectacular scenery.

There are a couple of short trails that you can hike at the ʻĪao Valley State Monument. The most popular trail is a 0.5 mile-long path up 133 steps that leads to a lookout point of the ʻĪao Needle. This is a short family-friendly trail for people of all ages with a shaded resting area at the top.

View of ʻĪao Needle from a viewing platform.

The ʻĪao Needle (Kuka‘emoku) is a 2250-foot tall mountain peak that was created as the result of water erosion.

After viewing the ʻĪao Needle be sure to roam around the botanical gardens and take a walk down to the river.

Visitor Tip: It costs $10 to park at the ʻĪao Valley State Monument. Free parking can be found along the road but be careful of passing cars as you exit your car and walk around.

East Maui

When it comes to East Maui, it’s hard to believe places like this exist! From volcanic sand beaches to remote jungle waterfalls and rugged coastlines, East Maui is truly one of the most remarkable places on the entire island.

East Maui also offers plenty of hiking trails including the popular Pīpīwai Trail and the Twin Falls Hike.

7. Twin Falls Maui Waterfall

The stunning Twin Falls in Maui.

Trail Summary:

For a short, yet exciting hiking adventure, head out to the Twin Falls Trail in Maui! This is a quick trail that leads to two stunning waterfalls which are perfect for cooling off in the tropical, hot weather.

The Twin Falls Maui Trail is located on a private farm at the beginning of the Road to Hana Highway in East Maui.

The trail starts at the Twin Falls Maui Farm Stand which is a cute roadside shack selling fresh fruit, smoothies, and juices. It’s free to hike the Twin Falls Trail but as a thank you, you can leave a small donation or buy something from the farm stand.

This 1.8-mile-long trail follows a wide path through a lush jungle forest. The first waterfall is located 0.2 miles in with an option to take a side trail down to the waterfall base.

After visiting the first waterfall follow the main path to the end where you will be greeted by the second waterfall. This is a great place to jump in for a refreshing swim so come wearing a bathing suit underneath your hiking clothes.

With multiple river crossings and views of colorful jungle plants, there isn’t a boring part of this trail!

Read More: Hiking Twin Falls Maui Waterfall Along The Road To Hana In Hawaii

8. Pīpīwai Trail

Exploring lush scenery along the Pīpīwai Trail.

Trail Summary:

The 3.8 miles long Pīpīwai Trail is an extremely popular stop along the Hana Highway. Pīpīwai Trail is a stunning hike that has a little bit of everything – waterfalls, bridges, viewpoints, and overgrown jungle plants.

The main attraction of the Pīpīwai Trail is the beautiful bamboo forest that feels very magical. Here you can also stop by a giant Banyan tree to take a few photos and be amazed by its expansive, massive branches.

The Pīpīwai Trail has 900 feet of elevation gain and can be difficult due to slippery, rocky surfaces. Many people get injured on this trail so caution should be used, especially near waterfalls and steep drop-offs.

To hike the Pīpīwai Trail you can park at the Kīpahulu Visitor Center. If you have extra time after, be sure to stop by The Pools at ‘Ohe’o which are located a short walk from the Kīpahulu Visitor Center.

Visitor Tip: This trail is part of the Haleakalā National Park so you will need to pay the $30 entrance fee.

9. Waiʻānapanapa State Park

Volcanic black sand beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park.

Trail Summary:

The Black Sand Beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park is one of the most iconic spots in East Maui. This location is recognizable for a small beach made of black volcanic sand that looks especially contrasting against the blue ocean and surrounding green vegetation.

The best views of the Black Sand Beach can be found along a coastal trail that travels next to the ocean cliffs. There are also other walkways and paths through Waiʻānapanapa State Park offering jaw-dropping views of the coastline.

To visit Waiʻānapanapa State Park you will need to drive several hours on the Road To Hana Highway and must have a reservation for a designated entrance time slot. Without a reservation, you will be turned away which can feel pretty devastating after driving there for hours.

Reservations for the Waiʻānapanapa State Park can be made here: Gowaianapanapa.com.

The current cost to visit this park is $10 for car parking plus $5 per person in the car. You can book the reservation up to 14 days in advance and no later than 1 day before your visit (no same-day reservations are allowed).

I recommend booking the reservations early on so you can pick the best time spots for your visit!

Read More: Visiting Black Sand Beach At Waiʻānapanapa State Park

How To Get Around In Maui

Having access to a car in Maui is a must if you want to explore outside of your hotel. The trails we cover in this post are located all around the island and will require a bit of driving to get there.

Most rental car agencies are located at the Kahului Airport so you can pick up your rental car when you land. We recommend booking with Discover Cars which offers the best car rental deals and 24-7 support!

Where To Stay In Maui?

The most popular lodging options in Maui include hotels, resorts, and private rentals. During our 10-day vacation, we stayed in different parts of Maui so we could explore and hike around the entire island.

West Maui is a popular area for its chain hotels and resorts. Many people choose to stay at a resort on their Hawaii vacation because they offer incredible amenities that make your stay comfortable and easy.

Outside of the hotel zones, the lodging options are more limited so you have to rely on private rentals through websites like Airbnb and VRBO.

Here are some of the most popular cities for staying in Maui:

  • Lahaina. Lahaina is known for having a long beachfront hotel zone that has many incredible hotels to choose from. This is where I stayed on my first family trip to Maui and is a great place for families with kids seeking all the comforts in one place. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort And Spa is a highly-rated resort that’s situated right on the beach and offers sweeping ocean views.
  • Kihei. Kihei is a wonderful beach town that has a laid-back vibe. Kihei also has a lot of top-rated hotels to choose from, along with plenty of budget accommodations. Kihei is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a fun spot that has nightlife, bars, and a lively atmosphere. During our time in Kihei, we rented a private VRBO vacation home that came with a large kitchen for cooking meals, a pool, and a hot tub.

Read More Here: 10 Of The Best VRBO Vacation Rentals In Kihei

  • Hana. As you go east, the Maui coastline becomes more rugged and the towns much smaller. Hana is one of the best towns to stay at on the East end of the island if you enjoy outdoor adventures and more solitude. Hana is at the center of the scenic Road to Hana Highway and a short drive from the Pīpīwai Trail. Check out our post here that covers 10 Amazing Places To Stay In Hana For Your Maui Adventure!

What To Pack For Maui

The hikes that we cover in this post are not very technical or extremely difficult but having proper gear and clothing can certainly make hiking in Maui more enjoyable!

Here’s what we recommend bringing along:

  • The weather in Maui is mostly hot and humid. Wear clothing that is easy to layer like shorts and light tops.
  • On many of these trails, you will be trekking across muddy, wet terrain. It’s best to wear hiking sandals or trail running shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring an extra pair of shoes and socks to change into for the drive back.
  • It’s easy to get sunburned in Maui. Don’t ruin your vacation with a bad sunburn by wearing mineral sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, and bring plenty of water for your trip.
  • I always bring travel toilet paper and hand sanitizer in case they don’t have any in the visitor bathrooms.
  • Trekking poles can help with hiking up steep inclines and across slippery surfaces.
  • Portable phone charger in case your phone runs out of battery.
Hiking along the Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Trail at Haleakalā National Park.

Looking for more Maui travel inspiration? Here are some of our other popular Maui posts to help you with trip planning!

Enjoying the sunset from the top of Haleakalā National Park.

Interested in stepping up your photography game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:

  • Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, and durable – in other words, amazing!
  • Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
  • Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
  • Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
  • Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra-fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
  • Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set.
  • Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.

Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!

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1 thought on “9 Of The Best Hikes In Maui, Hawaii For Visitors”

  1. Thank you.
    I have never seen a review of the trail behind Paliku cabin within Haleakala to the ridge above, continuuing along ridgetop to a tussock grassland, fabulous views of island chain, lava tubes, bog, heiau.

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