Maui is one of the most stunning places on Earth but it is also an expensive destination to visit.
Maui is an island surrounded by the ocean so most things have to be brought here – hence everything from food to gas costs a little bit extra. As more tourists visit this island every year, accommodations and tour companies also increase the prices to meet the demand. (Pssst! Book hotels and tours early on before your trip. They tend to sell out quickly!).
During our 10-day Maui trip, we set aside a budget for several expensive bucket list activities like zip-lining, riding a bike down the Haleakalā Volcano (this one is a must), and a sunset dinner cruise. But the rest of the time, we searched for free or cheap activities to balance out the cost.
From hiking trails & pristine beaches to unbelievable road trips, there are plenty of free and low-cost things to do in Maui – if you know where to go!
In this guide, we cover 25 of the best free (or cheap) things to do in Maui and other travel tips for the ultimate Hawaii vacation!
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!
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 attractions that we cover in this post are located all around the island and some require a bit of driving to get there.
Most rental car agencies are located at the Kahului Airport so you can easily reserve a car for when you land. For car rentals, I recommend going with a premium agency. It’s always best to pay a premium for something like a rental car instead of getting stuck with a nonoperational car halfway through your trip (which is what happened to us).
Check out the highly-rated Enterprise Rent-A-Car at Kahului Airport in Maui!
How Many Days Do You Need?
The short answer – as many vacation days as you can take off from work and squeeze in!
At first glance, Maui may seem like a small island, but there’s a lot of ground to cover.
We recommend that you give yourself at least a week.
We spent 10 days in Maui and felt like we only scratched the surface and left some big bucket list items off our wish list.
If you’re not able to dedicate that much time, you can also stay and spend time in a specific area of the island.
To help you with trip planning, we have divided the activities in this guide into three different regions:
- West Maui
- Central Maui
- East Maui
On our most recent trip, we spent half the time in West Maui and half the time in Central Maui so we could explore different parts of the island. This way we were closer to various activities and didn’t need to spend too much time driving in a car.
Where To Stay?
The most popular accommodation options in Maui include hotels, resorts, and private rentals.
West Maui is a popular area for its chain hotels, resorts, and family-friendly activities. Many first-time visitors choose to stay at a resort on their Hawaii vacation because resorts 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. This is where I stayed on my first family trip to Maui and is a great place for kids, families, and larger groups. 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.
- 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!
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What Should I Pack For Maui?
The weather in Maui is mostly hot and humid. Bring clothing that is easy to layer like shorts, light tops, and plenty of beachwear.
Here are some Maui specifics that we recommend packing:
- On many of these trails and activities, you will be walking 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.
- A travel towel to wipe down sand and shoes before getting into the car.
- It’s easy to get sunburned in Maui. Don’t ruin your vacation with a bad sunburn by wearing plenty of mineral sunscreen and lip balm.
- Polarized Sunglasses & an outdoor hat can also help with the harsh sunlight.
- I always carry a reusable water bottle with a filter, plus extra water for longer day trips.
- Some of these activities can take a while to get done. Bring a portable phone charger in case your phone runs out of battery and you need to look up directions.
- Travel toilet paper and hand sanitizer in case they don’t have any in the visitor bathrooms.
- We purchased two snorkeling sets before heading to Maui. This allowed us to cut costs by skipping expensive rentals and tours.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect, here are 25 amazing free & cheap things to do in Maui!
West Maui is one of the most visited regions on the entire island. If it’s your first time visiting Maui or you only have a couple of days to spare, I recommend getting a hotel in West Maui and spending most of your time here.
The accommodations on this side of the island can be quite expensive but you can balance that cost with some free activities. With world-class snorkeling and easily accessible hiking trails, here are some of the best low-cost things to do in West Maui.
Take A Walk On The Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy 3.5-mile-long trail that runs along the northern shore of West Maui. This trail travels next to the ocean and offers incredible views of the volcanic coastline.
Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy, flat trail that is perfect for families and people of all ages. I call it a great “warm-up” hike because you get to see a bit of what Maui has to offer while also being close to amenities and civilization.
With jaw-dropping scenery and award-winning beaches, the Kapalua Coastal Trail is an incredibly awarding hike to do.
Cost: Free to park on the street or you can pay $10 to park at the designated visitor parking lot.
Location: 99 Coconut Grove Ln, Lahaina, HI 96761
Interested in hiking this trail? Read more here: Kapalua Coastal Trail In West Maui, Hawaii
Visit Nakalele Blowhole
Situated at the most northern point in West Maui, Nakalele Blowhole is one of the most unique locations in Maui and is also free to visit!
Located on the edge of the coast, the Nakalele Blowhole is a large hole in volcanic rock. As water washes over this opening, it first erupts and spouts up in the air, then swallows down into the hole.
For those shorter on time, there is a quick trail that leads directly down to the Nakalele Blowhole. If you’re up for a longer adventure, take the Acid War Zone Trail that passes jagged ocean cliffs, tide pools, a lighthouse, and other, smaller blowholes.
Cost: It’s free to park and visit the Nakalele Blowhole.
Location: Wailuku, HI 96793
Explore Magical Forest At Honolua Bay Access Trail
One of the most magical places that you can visit in Maui is the Enchanted Forest along the Honolua Bay Access Trail. This picturesque jungle forest is conveniently located next to the main Highway in West Maui providing easy visitor access.
To see these impressive trees and lush jungle plants, you can walk along the main path which will make you feel submerged in a whole different world.
After exploring the Enchanted Forest, it’s a short walk down to the rocky Honolua Beach where you can hang out, swim and go snorkeling. Along the way be sure to keep an eye out for falling coconuts and wild chicken!
Cost: It’s free to park and hike the Honolua Bay Access Trail.
Did you know that Maui has some of the best snorkeling beaches in the world? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see some incredible sea life during your vacation in Maui!
Kapalua Bay Beach is one of the top beaches for snorkeling in West Maui and is easily accessible to visitors. Here you’ll have the best chance of seeing colorful sea life, fish, and giant sea turtles.
A few other beaches in West Maui that are good for snorkeling include:
- Black Rock Beach
- Honolua Bay
- Ka’anapali Beach
Cost: Free if you have your own snorkeling gear.
Hike The Waihe’e Ridge Trail
Waihe’e Ridge Trail sits somewhere between West and Central Maui. This is a hike that has it all: lush forest jungle, mountains, waterfalls, and views of the ocean.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail consists of many switchbacks that gain 1600 feet in elevation in just 2 miles. This hike is hard and challenging but the payoff is well worth it.
The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is open to visitors from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. You might have the easiest time hiking this trail first thing in the morning before the parking lot gets crowded. If you get there after 8 am and the parking lot is full, you might be sitting around for a while waiting for the first group of hikers to return.
Cost: Free to park at the visitor parking lot
Location: Kahekili Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793
Watch Sunset On A Beach
Watching a sunset on the beach is one of the most relaxing (and free) things to do in Maui. We enjoyed watching the sunset from the patio at our VRBO rental in Lahaina almost every evening but you can also head down to any public beach to do so.
If you’re planning to take sunset photos on the beach, come a bit early to give yourself plenty of time to find parking, walk to the beachfront and set up your photography gear. Many of the public beaches in Maui are blocked off by hotels and resorts but there are access paths that go through the hotels.
Go Cliff Jumping
For those who like thrilling free adventures, you’ll be happy to learn that there are multiple cliff-jumping spots in West Maui.
One of the best cliff jumping spots is located by the Kapalua Cliff House in Namalu Bay. This is a bit of a hidden gem and you will need to take an overgrown side trail to get there. Once we arrived, we sat and watched other more experienced people jump first before attempting it ourselves.
There are a variety of heights to choose from so you can start small and work your way up to some of the higher, more challenging jumps. The rocks are very sharp and slippery so be sure to use caution around the edges. The water here is crystal clear and the setting is truly one of a kind!
Location: 1 Bay Dr, Lahaina, HI 96761
Visit Lāhainā Banyan Court
Planted in 1873 by William Owen Smith, the Lāhainā Banyan Tree is one of the largest Banyan trees in the US. If you’ve never experienced seeing a Banyan tree up close, it is quite the sight and the Lāhainā Banyan Court Park is the best place to do so in Maui.
The Lāhainā Banyan Tree spans the entire city block. A park has been built around it to provide space for visitors to walk around and enjoy its beauty. There are also benches for resting and public restrooms across the street.
This Banyan tree has aerial roots that grow in all directions and turn into tree trunks once they reach the ground. While it looks like there are 16 different trees at the Lāhainā Banyan Court, all of the tree trunks are part of the same original tree.
Cost: Free to visit
Location: 671 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
Go Whale Watching
If you’re planning a trip to Maui in the winter months, one of the best activities that you can do is go whale watching. The top months for Maui whale watching are usually between December to April.
To step it up a notch, for around $50 you can go on a whale-watching boat tour in Lahaina. This company offers smaller 2-hour whale-watching groups of up to 16 people. With a knowledgeable crew and raving reviews, your chances of seeing whales are pretty high on this tour!
If you don’t want to sign up for a guided boat tour, you can often spot whales from the shore. Some of the best locations for that are the beaches along the shores of West Maui, especially Kaanapali and Lahaina.
Cost: Free to $50
Visit Black Rock Beach
Situated at the northern end of a hotel strip in Kaanapali, Black Rock Beach is a great spot to visit for swimming, laying out, and snorkeling.
We brought our snorkeling gear, plenty of snacks for the afternoon and spent a couple of hours swimming around the lava rocks where we saw colorful Hawaiian fish and corals. If you like cliff diving, you can walk down to the end of the rocks where you can enjoy a bit of exciting cliff jumping.
The only challenging part about visiting this beach is the lack of parking. The beachfront is blocked off by hotels, although there are some public parking lots and paths that you can take to get through.
Location: Lahaina, HI 96761
Have Drinks At A Brewery
If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a couple of beers, the Waikiki Brewing Company in Lahaina is a great place to do so! The industrial setting and open-door concept allow guests to enjoy unobstructed views of the ocean that look especially beautiful at sunset.
The Waikiki Brewing Company in Lahaina is also a great spot to go for food. With drool-worthy items like smoked wings, ribs, brisket and smoked pulled pork, our entire group agreed that this was some of the best food we had in Maui.
Cost: $5 for a draft beer
Location: 900 Front St B-1, Lahaina, HI 96761
Take A Surf Lesson
If you’re looking to do something active that doesn’t break the bank too much, consider signing up for a surfing lesson.
Surfing schools like Outrageous Surf ScHool provide 1.5-hour-long lessons that come with surfboards, booties, and rash guards for just $52 per person. These lessons are great for those who have never been surfing before or want to get comfortable in the Maui waves with a local before renting a board and going on their own.
After the lesson, you can spend some time relaxing and unwinding in the sun daydreaming about the waves you just caught.
Cost: Around $50 for a lesson
Enjoy A Piña Colada (Or Two…Or Three)
If you enjoy cocktails, you can’t go to Maui and not have at least one Piña Colada. Piña Colada is a drink that was invented in Puerto Rico but is sold at just about any restaurant, bar, and boat cruise in Maui. It comes blended with pineapple juice, coconut, and rum so it looks tropical, it smells very fruity and is especially refreshing on a hot summer day.
I recommend trying out the Lava Flow version which is a Piña Colada mixed with strawberries. The red strawberry puree is made to look like erupting lava flowing through the glass.
Kimo’s Maui is one of the best spots for beachfront lunch and Piña Colada’s along Front Street in Lahaina. If you’re looking for other late-night cocktails in West Maui, The Dirty Monkey is a popular spot that stays open late.
Cost: $10-$15 per drink
Central Maui is an area that you will pass through many times on your trip. This is where the main Maui airport is located along with the Highway that connects all of the top cities.
The most popular town for accommodations in Central Maui is Kihei. Kihei makes a good base location because from here you can reach different parts of the island within a few hours’ drive.
Marvel At ʻĪao Needle
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.
The most popular attraction here is the ʻĪao Needle, a 2250-foot-tall mountain peak. This large peak is part of a ridge that eroded away due to streams and waterfalls. To get the best view of this peak you can follow a 0.5-mile-long path up 133 steps to a designated viewpoint. This is a short family-friendly trail for people of all ages with a shaded resting area at the top.
Cost: 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.
Location: 54 S High St, Wailuku, HI 96793
Read Next: 9 Of The Best Hikes On Maui Island In Hawaii
Watch Sunset At Haleakalā National Park
If you’re looking for a scenic place to watch the sunset, head up to Haleakalā National Park. The top of Haleakalā Volcano sits at around 10,000 feet above sea level offering incredible panoramic views of Maui and the coastline.
This is an especially popular spot to visit for sunrise and sunset when photography settings are at their best. Haleakalā National Park is also a great location to experience cloud inversion. Seeing one was a dream of mine and lucky for us, there was a magical cloud layer hovering below us during our sunset visit.
Depending on your base location, it does take a couple of hours to drive up the narrow mountain roads to the summit. Be sure to head out early and give yourself plenty of time so you don’t miss it! It can also be quite chilly at the top – bring a jacket and some warm clothing or blankets to wrap into while enjoying the sunset.
Cost: 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.
Location: Haleakala Hwy, Kula, HI 96790
Lounge At Makena Beach
Visiting a beach in Maui is one of the best low-cost things to do. While some beaches are free, others require a small fee for parking.
For those staying in Kihei, Makena Beach is one that you don’t want to miss! This pristine white sand beach is part of the Mākena State Park with a designated parking lot that often hosts local food trucks.
Makena Beach is very long and offers plenty of space and privacy for visitors to lounge and soak in the sun. Do note that this beach has a strong current and powerful waves that break near the shore. This is great for bodyboarding or bodysurfing, but not so great for snorkeling or casual swimming.
Cost: $5 per person to park at the visitor’s lot, or you can park on the street outside and walk to the beach.
Location: 6600 Makena Alanui, Kihei, HI 96753
Go Souvenir Shopping In Kihei
Want to find affordable souvenirs to bring back home? At Kīhei Kalama Village you can browse through boutique shops and outdoor souvenir stands to get the best price on gifts for loved ones at home (or get something for yourself!).
We found some really cute shirts and bags for around $10-$20 in many different styles and colors. The store owners were very welcoming and if they didn’t have the style of items that we were looking for, they gave us recommendations on where we could find them.
Cost: $10-$30 for most items. A free visitor parking lot is located across the street on S Kihei Rd.
Location: S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
Have a Donut At Komoda Store And Bakery
Komoda Store and Bakery is a local store in the small town of Makawao that is famous for cream puffs, donuts on a stick, and other freshly baked goodies. Walking by on the street you might not think much of this shop if it wasn’t for the line that usually wraps around the corner.
Komoda Store and Bakery has been making yummy sweets since 1916. We stopped by here during our bike ride down the Haleakalā Volcano to load up on carbs and some delicious sugar energy.
Cost: Around $1.00-$1.75 per item
If you love pristine natural scenery, you’ll want to set aside some time to spend in East Maui.
With volcanic black sand beaches, windy roads, and jungle waterfalls, there is so much to experience in East Maui! And the best part – most of the attractions and hikes here are free or very cheap!
Drive The Road To Hana
The Road to Hana is by far the most epic drive that you can do in Maui. The hikes, waterfalls, and viewpoints along this route are mostly free while some attractions like Botanical Gardens, State Parks, and National Park trails require a small fee.
Most visitors start the drive in Kahului City and end it at the Pīpīwai Trail. This route covers around 60 miles of a windy coastline with steep cliff drop-offs.
The drive itself takes around 2.5 hours each way (without any stops) so you can expect to spend a lot of time in a car. The road to Hana travels next to the ocean providing stunning views along the way but the drive is slow and challenging with many sharp hairpin turns.
Visit Black Sand Beach
The Black Sand Beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park is one of the most epic spots along the Hana Highway in East Maui. For some, visiting Black Sand Beach is an adventure of its own although most people combine it with other Road To Hana attractions on the same day trip.
To visit the Waiʻānapanapa State Park you will need to have a reservation and pay a small fee ahead of time. If you don’t have a reservation, you will be turned away which can feel pretty devastating after driving for hours to get there.
Psst! Reservations for the Waiʻānapanapa State Park can be made here: Gowaianapanapa.com
Cost: The current cost to visit Waiʻānapanapa State Park is $10 for car parking plus $5 per person in the car. So, if you have 4 people in your car, you’re looking to pay around $30 (plus tax).
Location: Waianapanapa, Hana, HI 96713
Swim In A Waterfall
After hiking in hot weather, nothing sounds better for cooling off than a swim in a refreshing waterfall!
Twin Falls is an epic hiking adventure nestled deep in the jungle of East Maui that leads to two different waterfalls. Jaw-dropping waterfalls, lush scenery, colorful plants, and multiple stream crossings are just a few of the things that you can expect to experience along this trail.
The Twin Falls Maui Waterfalls are located on a private farm that is open to visitors. It is free to hike this trail but as a Thank You, you can purchase something from the farm stand at the entrance or leave a small donation for bathroom upkeep.
Location: 6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
Hike The Pīpīwai Trail
The Pīpīwai Trail is a fascinating trail to hike in East Maui because here you get to experience a variety of attractions: a magical bamboo forest, multiple waterfalls, viewpoints, and a giant Banyan tree. This is considered to be one of the best trails in Maui so be sure to set aside some time to explore it!
The Pīpīwai Trail is part of the Haleakalā National Park so you will need to pay the $30 vehicle entrance fee to hike it. It is not free but it’s still somewhat of a cheap activity to do.
If you have extra time after hiking the Pīpīwai Trail, be sure to stop by The Pools at ‘Ohe’o which are located a short walk from the visitor center.
Cost: $30 for a 3-day National Park vehicle entrance pass.
Location: Hana, HI 96713
Read Next: 9 Of The Best Hikes On Maui Island In Hawaii
Indulge In Freshly Baked Banana Bread
If you’re a foodie, Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread stand is a worthwhile stop to check out in Maui! Going back as far as 1983, this local family business has been baking fresh, warm, aromatic banana bread loaves for generations. This has become a staple stop for people driving the Road to Hana in East Maui and a great spot to grab quick, cheap snacks or lunch.
Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread Stand is located in the Keʻanae Peninsula and will require a short detour from the Hana Highway to get there. This is a very popular stop so there is usually a line to order the Maui-famous banana bread, but don’t be discouraged as the line moves very quickly.
Cost: The banana bread loaves cost $7 each.
Location: 210 Keanae Rd, Ke‘Anae, HI 96708
Explore Roadside Waterfalls
While the Twin Falls might be the most popular waterfall in East Maui, there are plenty of other waterfalls to discover. Most waterfalls like Kopiliula Falls and Wailua Falls can be easily seen from the road while others require a short hike to reach them.
Many waterfalls in Maui have easily accessible trails that lead down to the waterfall base. If you’re heading out on a waterfall adventure, be sure to bring your bathing suit so you can jump in for a refreshing swim!
Stop By The Rainbow Trees
The Rainbow Trees in East Maui is a stunning stop that doesn’t cost a penny. These trees are located along the Hana Highway so visitors can stop and explore them freely without paying any entrance fees.
These Rainbow Trees grow in a cluster next to the Hana Highway just past mile marker 6.5. There is one large grove here with around 20 Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees, but there are more trees further up along the highway.
The Maui Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees are made of many different colors due to peeling tree bark. The green layers are the newest ones while the maroon, orange, and red are the oldest layers.
Location: Rainbow Trees, Haiku, HI 96708
Maui is an expensive destination, but by visiting these free and cheap locations, you won’t be coming back from your vacation stressed out about bills and budget.
Looking for more Maui inspiration? Be sure to check out some of our popular Maui travel posts below:
- 9 Of The Best Hikes On Maui Island In Hawaii
- 8 Must-Visit Road To Hana Stops In Maui, Hawaii
- 10 Incredible VRBOs In Kihei On Maui’s Sunny South Shore
- 10 Best VRBOs In Maui For A Perfect Trip To The Valley Isle
- Visiting Black Sand Beach At Waiʻānapanapa State Park
- 16 Easy Things To Do In Hawaii Volcanoes 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.