Maui Adventure: Hike, Snorkel, Beach and Eats on Maui

Maui is a great destination with tons to see and do! Of course everyone reads about the road to Hana which is absolutely amazing and you definitely need to do that as part of your trip! We have a full post on driving the road to Hana which we have a link to at the end of this post! Here we will tell you where else on Maui to explore during your trip! We explored the island via camper van. We spent our nights at camp grounds and used the van as transportation to make sure we could see as much of the island as possible on this pretty short trip. We had about four and a half days to explore. Here’s our list of what to see and do on Maui outside the road to Hana.
Lava fields at Perouse Bay/Hoapili Trail: Our first full day it was a little rainy in the morning so we decided to drive out to the lava fields and hike. We were one of the only people on the trail that morning. It was really nice to have the place pretty much to ourselves. You are walking on a pretty rocky/uneven path but it is an overall easy hike. You will get great views of the ocean as you walk. As you walk farther you will see large rock cliffs that drop straight into the ocean. We also came across a few small tidal pools among the rocks. We even found one large and deep enough to swim in. We would recommend wearing you swim suit under whatever you are hiking in so that you can easily go for a swim if you would like. Do watch out for sea urchins if you are swimming over here, they are very sharp so you don’t want to step on one!

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Lava Fields Kings Trail: On your way to hike the lava fields you will pass this beach. We stopped here after our morning hike to do some snorkeling. It doesn’t look like much when you walk down to the beach but just offshore you will see amazing coral and lots of fish! Literally as soon as we put our faces in the water we were surrounded by fish here! We also saw a sea turtle and an octopus while we were here.

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Big beach and little beach at Makena Park: These are both white sand beaches and both are beautiful. Little beach is a clothing optional beach so do be aware of that if you are walking over there. It is just a short walk in-between the beaches. There is also a small path that follows the coast past little beach. The path is along lava stone on the coast, it is a pretty walk but we would recommend the lava fields to get your lava experience over this path.

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Hookipa beach: This beach is another white sand beach. It’s a good surfing spot and is right before the start of the road to Hana. There are bathrooms here, showers to rinse off at and picnic tables. We spend a little while here our last afternoon on the island. This beach has a great mix of locals and tourists.

Papalaua State Wayside Park and Ukumehame Beach Park: We stayed at camp Olowalu our first two nights. As you drive along the Honoapiilani highway from Kihei towards Lahaina (or towards camp Olowalu) there are these narrow beaches running just off the road. It is easy to pull off, park your car along the beach and relax during the daytime hours. We also heard this is a great spot for long boarding. These beaches are also great spots to watch the sunset! Camping at Papalaua State Wayside Park is also an option, if you’d like. Check our our Maui by Camper Van post for more information on camping throughout Maui- Maui by Camper Van

 

Papawai Point: This look out is a really great spot for sunset and for whale watching in the winter. Again this is along the Honoapiilani highway as you drive from Kihei towards Lahaina. We watched the sunset here our last night on the island. It is a popular spot (for good reason) so do be aware that the parking lot will likely be full.

 

 

Snorkel tour with Pacific Whale Foundation on Ocean Explorer: We chose to do a smaller tour group that offered more snorkeling spots than some of their other, larger tours. Our group was only about 15 people total which was really nice. It made getting on/off the boat much better than having to wait for everyone in a larger group. The tour starts at 6:30 am. You meet up at the Pacific Whale Foundation where you sign in and they provide you with breakfast as you watch the sunrise over the marina. At 7:30 am you will head down to the boat. You are on the boat a total of about 6 hours. We stopped at five different snorkeling spots on our tour. You get a small snack provided about half way through the tour. You also get lunch on the boat once you are done with your final snorkel. The tour ends back at the marina at 1:30pm. They have water and other beverages available at any time during the tour. You are welcome to get off the boat at each stop or sit on the boat and relax if you want to skip one or more of the snorkels. We had a captain driving the boat and two lifeguards/marine life specialists with us on our tour. Each snorkel one of the life guards would come into the water with us to make sure everyone was okay. They would also help point things out for us in the water. We snorkeled in the “turtle town” area where we saw tons of turtles! We then did another reef off the coast where we saw more turtles and a small eel. From there we did a drift  snorkel (the boat stopped, let us off the circled nearby while we snorkeled since it was too deep to anchor) to see a small place crash and all the fish that are living in the wreckage.  Then we headed to the back side of Molokini Crater (another drift snorkel) where we saw a seal and then snorkeled along the wall there before finishing our tour inside Molokini Crater snorkeling the reef. We would highly recommend this tour! We had a great time on this tour. The Pacific Whale Foundation does a lot of great research and advocacy for the environment/ocean. Part of the money you spend on your tour is going directly to the foundation to allow them to keep doing the good work that they do. The link below will take you to the snorkel tour that we did on their website. From there you can check out the other tours and activities that The Pacific Whale Foundation offers.

https://www.pacificwhale.org/cruises/maui-snorkel/molokini-wild-side-eco-adventure/

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Food:

We are foodies and typically food is a huge part of travel for us. But this trip was shorter and we were camping and moving around the island quite a bit. Food was not our top priority here. We ate a lot of snacks in the camper van and stopped along the way for more full meals as needed. Here are a few of our recommendations for where to eat on Maui:

Paia Fish Market: This place has great fish burgers! Also make sure to try some Maui Brewing Company beer while your here! This was our first stop after we picked up our Camper Van! The portions are huge and the prices were fairly standard, definitely not an expensive meal but very good!

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Da Kitchen in Kahului or Kihei: This restaurant is BYOB. It has great kalua pork! The portions are huge! We both ordered an entrée for dinner and could have easily just split one meal.

 

Star Noodle in Lahaina: This place was one of our favorite restaurants we stopped at. They have really good food! We planned to eat in for dinner however when we arrived at 6-6:30ish there was an hour wait for a table. We ended up ordering take out which  only took about 15-20 minutes to prepare. We took our food back to our campground and enjoyed it there instead. Moral of the story, make reservations if you plan to eat dinner here and avoid the long wait time.

Jawz Taco Truck at Makena Park: This is a great option for a quick lunch on the go as you explore the island. We headed to Makena park after hiking the lava fields our first day. The trunk arrived to the park about 12:30 pm. We had pork and fish tacos here and both were really good but we preferred the pork.

For Food recommendations and recommended stops along the road to Hana check out our full Road to Hana post here: Road to Hana Camper Van Adventure

There is definitely more to Maui then we listed here. Another big thing to do is head to the top of Haleakala for the sunrise. We heard very mixed reviews on this so we decided to skip it on this trip. We have read that sunset on the top of Haleakala can also be really great and can be less crowded. If we had one more full day we would have added one of these two options to our itinerary. But now we saved something for the next time we are in Maui!

 

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-TFWYs

Road to Hana Camper-Van Adventure

The Road to Hana is a must do for any trip to Maui. A lot of people do the road to Hana in one day which you can certainly do. If you have more time to spend in this area there is definitely a lot to see and do! We wanted to make sure we had time for as many stops as we wanted so we took more time on this side of the island during our trip. Places to stay are limited along the road to Hana, there are a few very small hotels in the town of Hana its self but that is really all we saw. We rented a camper van for our trip which worked out very well since there are a few places to sleep along the way. We stayed one night at Camp Kaenae YMCA which is just short of halfway to Hana. We then drove the rest of the road the following day and spent one night at the Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park which is past Hana (this is the park where the 7 sacred pools are located). You could also tent camp at these locations if you have camping equipment available to you. We found the camper van to be perfect since it served as our transportation and our lodging. We didn’t have to worry about setting up and taking down a tent. We could simply get up and drive off to keep exploring. We rented our van through North Shore Vans and would highly recommend them.

We have broken this post up into our “must do” stops and then at the end are some extra stops worth including if you have more time. Most of the best stops are towards the second half of the road to Hana. We actually started the road the Hana drive around 2pm since we knew we were staying at about the halfway point. The second day we had a full day to explore, and we were already pretty close to everything we really wanted to see. This worked out very well and we found we were in much less traffic since most people start early in the day at the beginning and only dedicate one day to this trip.

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Must dos:

Keanae Peninsula mile marker 16-17-  Take the turn off down to this peninsula and the little town. The views of the ocean are amazing! The town was struck by a tsunami in 1946 which destroyed everything except the church. You can still see this traditional stone church when you visit. Also while you are here we would recommend stopping at Auntie Sandy’s for some banana bread still warm from the oven!

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Tree Bears falls mile marker 19.5- This waterfall is absolutely beautiful. When the rain has been heavier and more water is rushing over the falls it appears as one waterfall. When it hasn’t been as rainy the falls are separated into three which is where the name three bears falls comes from. If you are a little bit adventurous you can wander down under the bridge and get right up close to the falls. There is not really a path, you will be walking on rocks, it can be a bit muddy but overall it isn’t too challenging. We both walked down here and there was one other couple walking around on the rocks while we were there.

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Nahiku mile marker 25- Follow the turn off down the small, windy road to the very small town of Nahiku. There isn’t much “in town” but once you are there you can park and walk down to the shore. You will get beautiful views of the ocean with large black lava rocks and huge waves crashing up on the rocks. From the main look out point to the ocean you can follow the small path on the left side (if looking at the ocean) down to a small tidal pool that is protected from the waves. It is a bit rocky so we didn’t swim here but were told by a few locals it is a good place to go for a swim.

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Black Sand Beach at Waiapanapa State Park mile marker 32- This is definitely a more popular stop so be prepared for more people. It is for good reason that everyone is stopping here! You should definitely walk to the beach and go for a swim, from there we highly recommend walking to the left (if you are looking at the ocean) and hiking along the black lava rocks. Here you will get great views and the further you walk you will get away from the crowds and have the path to yourself. Our favorite picture from our whole trip was taken along this path!

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Kaihalulu red sand beach in Hana mile marker 34- We had heard that the path to this beach can be dangerous. We even read a few blog posts that said they didn’t visit this beach because of the dangerous path. We found the path to be completely fine but that being said if it was really rainy we could see how it could be pretty sketchy. There is a fairly steep drop off down the ocean from the path and the pebble ground is likely slippery after/during a lot of rain. The walk to the beach is fairly short. The beach is beautiful once you arrive. There are several large rocks blocking the larger wave making this a nice place to swim. We have heard that this is a clothing optional beach so if that is something that bothers you do be aware of that. Parking is also pretty restricted, but it was a Sunday when we were there and parked at the preschool near the Thai food truck and walked from there (also, grab some Thai while you’re at it!)

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Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park mile marker 42:

Seven Sacred pools- We actually enjoyed the Venus pools (which are on our list of additional stops) better than these pools however if you are only dedicating one day to this than the day goes quickly so you’ll have to make some tough decisions on where to stop and what to skip. This park has the best hike on Maui (in our opinion) so overall the park is a must do! The seven sacred pools were open for swimming when we visited however in the past they have closed at times so do be aware of that. The pools are beautiful and worth seeing. They are freshwater, if you are camping in the park there are not showers so a dip in these pools is a nice way to rinse the salt water off if you have been exploring and swimming all day.

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PipiWai Trail-  This was over favorite hike on Maui! It is a 4 mile hike through bamboo forest and up to Waimoka falls which is a 400ft waterfall. The trail is easy to follow but it is uphill most of the way. As you get closer to the end where Waimoka falls is the trail can get a bit wet and muddy. Definitely wear your hiking shoes/boots for this hike. If are giving yourself more than one day on the road to Hana we would recommend getting to this trail early. We started our hike around 7:30-8AM and we didn’t see anyone else until we were on the second half of the hike back after seeing the falls.

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Additional stops worth making if you have time: 

It is worth saying that some of these stops are also really cool and we loved them! Just because they are on this part of our list shouldn’t deter you from stopping. But if you are doing this trip in one day and trying to make it back before dark then your time really will go quickly!

Venus pools mile marker 48- This was one of our favorite stops! if you have time for one of the additional stops we have listed this would be the one we suggest! The Venus pools are a short walk from the road. Finding a parking spot along the road can be challenging, and mind the sings as some people had tickets on their windshields. There are giant rocks surrounding the major pool where you will see people jumping/diving into the water from various heights. If you aren’t brave enough for that you can easily get into the water without jumping/diving. Just beware that it is a bit tricky to get out of. The pool is quite large with lush jungle on the far side giving it a perfect Hawaii feel!

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Twin falls mile marker 2- these falls are smaller than some of the others we stopped at. But they are still beautiful and you can swim in them. There are two separate waterfalls here. you will see a fairly large parking lot at this stop with a fruit stand. From there you follow the path along to the falls. Both waterfalls are just a short walk from the parking lot.

Waikamoi Ridge Trail mile marker 9.5- This trail is 1.1 miles. It is near the beginning of the road to Hana. It is a nice trail and if you really want to get out and explore it is a good option for a short hike but we don’t feel it is a “must do”.

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Hanamanu Bay mile marker 14- This is a smaller black sand beach than the park we listed above.  We have heard there is a narrow road you can turn off on if you want to actually get down to the beach but we did not do that this trip. You will get amazing views of the beach along the drive and there is a look out point on the drive back from Hana so you can stop and get a great picture of this beautiful bay!

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Keanae Arboretum mile marker 16- This place is where you can walk right up and see a patch of rainbow bamboo trees. These trees are beautiful to see up close. The arboretum is also full of other beautiful plats and flowers. It is a fairly short walk through the main part of the arboretum so this stop won’t take you too long. It would be easy to add on if you have extra time.

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Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside mile marker 22- This stop is a pretty popular one so be prepared for it to be more crowded. There are bathrooms here so it’s a good place to stop. There is also a small waterfall you can swim in here.

Wailua Falls mile marker 45- Another beautiful waterfall. You can get views of it from the car as you drive by. If you have extra time you can park nearby and explore for even better views.

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There are a few good look out spots along the way with views of the ocean and the volcano, if you have the GyPSy Guide app for Hana which we recommend (more details on that at the end of this post) the audio guide will point out these spots for you.

Food Recommendations:

If you are camping along the way do take into consideration that there aren’t a ton of places to stop for food/groceries. We recommend packing snacks and stopping for food when you pass an opportunity! There is a small grocery/convivence store in Hana to stock up on things as needed but don’t expect them to have everything a larger grocery store would have.

Ka Haku Smoke shack mile marker 10.2- This place does close fairly early in the afternoon so do be aware of that. The first day when we drove by at about 3-4pm it was closed. We stopped here on our way back from Hana closer to 11:30-noon and it was open. The chicken and ribs are both really good! This is a simple place, just a parking lot with some picnic tables and two guys working the grill. Doesn’t look like much but it is worth a stop!

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Halfway to Hana Stand mile marker 17- This small stand has coffee, water, juice, snacks and great banana bread! This was our breakfast after staying at the YMCA.

Nahiku Marketplace/food trucks mile marker 29- There are multiple options for food here, we arrived around 11 AM when everything was just opening up. We had some great BBQ. There is also a small gift shop here if you would like to pick something up to take home with you. If you can plan to be here later in the afternoon then all the options would be open for you.

Thai food by Pranee in Hana mile marker 34- This place is amazing! It is right in Hana. We got food to go from here for dinner the night we were camping in the Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park. We would highly recommend eating here!

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A few other random tips:

Bring bug spray!

Bring snacks because as we said, depending on what time of day you drive by these places food stands and shops may or may not be open.

Be aware that you will lose cell phone service shortly into the drive so download any maps or information you think you may need before you start the drive.

One last recommendation we have is to download the GyPSy Guide app for Hana. It costs $5-6 but is totally worth it. Open the app and once you start driving the guide will begin talking. You will get some history and general information about the area as you drive. The guide will also point out each stop for you with a bit of information to help you decide if you want to stop or not. All the stops along the road are not super well marked so it would be very easy to miss things without the guide telling you when to stop.  Also of note, we have listed the closest mile marker for each stop but some of these stops are not right at the mile marker. You will have to keep your eyes open for where each stop is truly located.

 

Take your time and enjoy the drive!
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– TFWY’s