9 Of The Best Hikes On Maui Island In Hawaii

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.

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. I recommend going with a premium car rental agency to avoid any issues, tickets or breakdowns during your trip (from our personal experience).

Check out the highly rated Enterprise Rent-A-Car at Kahului Airport in Maui!

Where To Stay?

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 kids and families seeking luxury. 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 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.

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

  • 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 Bring

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

Here’s what we recommend to bring 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 sunscreenlip balmsunglasses, and bring plenty of water for your trip.
  • I always bring travel toilet paper and hand sanitizer in case they don’t have any at 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.

Now that you have an idea of what to expect, here are 9 of the 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.

Waihe’e Ridge Trail

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 setting 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.

Trail Summary:

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

Kapalua Coastal Trail

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

It starts at Kapalua Bay Beach which is one of the best snorkeling sites in all of Maui.

We brought our own snorkeling set to Maui that we got on Amazon. You can also rent a set at Kapalua Bay Beach if you don’t have one or don’t want to carry heavy snorkeling gear around.  

Kapalua Coastal Hike in Maui Hawaii

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.

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.

Dragons Teeth Makaluapuna Point

Trail Summary:

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

Acid War Zone To Nakalele Blowhole

Situated at the most northern point in West Maui, the Acid War Zone Trail is one of the best coastal hikes on this 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 spouts water into the air.

Nakalele Blowhole is a natural geological wonder that brings 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.

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

Trail Summary:

  • Length: 1.3 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Needed: 2 hours
  • Location: Wailuku, HI 96793

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 the volcano for over 20 miles with epic views along the way.

Sliding Sands Trail

Maui is known for 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.

But 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. 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.

Note: 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.

Trail Summary:

  • Length: 11 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: Around 2800 feet
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Time Needed: 6 hours
  • Location: Kula, HI 96790

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

Halemau’u Trail

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 and 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 fern.

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.

Note: 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.

Trail Summary:

  • Length: 7.5 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: Around 2400 feet
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Time Needed: 4-5 hours
  • Location: Halemauu Trail, Kula, HI 96790

ʻĪao Valley State Monument

ʻĪao Valley State Monument is one of the greatest 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.

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.

Note: 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.

Trail Summary:

East Maui

When it comes to East Maui, it’s hard to believe places like this exists. 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.

Twin Falls Maui Waterfall

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!

Trail Summary:

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

Pīpīwai Trail

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.

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

Trail Summary:

  • Length: 3.8 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time Needed: Around 3 hours
  • Location: Hana, HI 96713

Read More: 8 Must-Visit Road To Hana Stops In Maui

Waiʻānapanapa State Park

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 cove 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 thought 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 have a reservation for a designated 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.

Trail Summary:

  • Length: 2 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Needed: 2-3 hours to explore the park
  • Location: Waianapanapa, Hana, HI 96713

Read More: Visiting Black Sand Beach At Waiʻānapanapa State Park

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

  1. 30 Of The Best Things To Do In Maui, Hawaii
  2. 10 Incredible VRBOs In Kihei On Maui’s Sunny South Shore
  3. 8 Must-Visit Road To Hana Stops In Maui, Hawaii
  4. 25 Amazing Free & Cheap Things To Do In Maui
  5. 10 Amazing Places To Stay In Hana, Maui

Interested in stepping up your photography skills? Here is the camera gear that I use and recommend to create amazing travel photos:

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1 thought on “9 Of The Best Hikes On Maui Island In Hawaii”

  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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