Hi there! Welcome to the BEST 6-Day Maui Photo Itinerary! We love to plan vacations and we hope this guide will provide you with a well thought out itinerary! We visited Maui directed after our week in Oahu and therefore we had a pretty quick flight. To our surprise, we found that there was a pretty big difference between our time on Oahu and Maui. We found that there were more activities to do on Oahu and more “day trip” options since attractions could be grouped together. However, we found that the fewer activities on Maui meant that we did more relaxing and hanging out at the beach!
We stayed in Lahaina for our entire time on Maui since it was a beautiful but small city. We knew a lot of people who moved accommodations around Maui, but we decided to stay in one place and just do more driving. We like having a stable home base where we are not worried about check-out times and packing every other day.
We always recommend taking your arrival day slowly since travel can be stressful. We always like to grab our rental car and head to the grocery store for some vacation food. The Maui Costco is located right beside the airport and is a great place to grab some lunch and your groceries! Since the Maui airport is centrally located, we decided to start the 2-hour drive to our accommodation on the coast so we could see the ocean.
Our main mission on Maui was to see the Honu or sea turtles! The best beach to see turtles is Maluaka Beach nearer the south end of Maui. We ended up snorkelling here twice during our holiday and saw so many colourful fish! We didn’t see any turtles in the water but this beach definitely had great aquatic marine life and low crowds on the beach! There is only one shaded area on the beach so remember to come early or bring a beach umbrella! After you are tired out from snorkelling, have a fresh water shower in the parking lot and head over to Wailea! You can check out the famous shops and streets on Maui for the remainder of your afternoon!
Paia is a beautiful little town located on the north shore of Maui. A lot of people try to add Paia to their Road to Hana day, but I would recommend making it a standalone activity since that day is already busy. We left an entire morning to explore this small town and felt like we saw everything in that time. It can get busy (especially during the winter surfing months) so we recommend arriving early and nabbing a parking spot. After that you can spend time wandering around the cute colourful shops! We also recommend grabbing some pizza at the Kailua Pig Pizza restaurant. A friend recommended it to us and it was life changing!
After you have had your fill of Paia, we headed over to the colourful surfboard fence located at 221 Baldwin Ave. This isn’t the original surfboard fence but it is the most colourful and closest to Paia.
We then recommend heading to Ho’okipa Beach to see the turtles! We didn’t get to swim with any turtles during our trip but we did get to see these beautiful ones soaking up the sun. There are barriers around the turtles to protect them and give them space, so remember to bring a zoom lens so you can get some close shots!
OPTIONAL: After our busy morning, we headed back for a quick siesta and then decided to snorkel again at Honolua Bay. It is a BEAUTIFUL walk to the beach through big lush trees! The beach itself is a stone beach and not very “lounge” worthy, but the snorkelling was pretty good. We still had better snorkelling at Maluaka Beach, but we were glad we tried this location. If you are tired out from your morning, having a relaxing beach/pool afternoon is probably best!
The famous Haleakala sunrise day! We debating for a long time about whether to do the sunrise or sunset at the Haleakala Crater and ultimately decided to bite the bullet and do the early sunrise. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL! Like a truly wow moment! It was cold at the top so don’t forget to pack a light jacket and hat in your suitcase if you are planning to head up to the crater. Here are some VERY important tips if you want to go see the sunrise:
- Get your permit in advance – these can see out months before to book early! There are also some last minute deals 48-hours in advance on their website.
- Bring warm clothes – it can be very cold and windy, so remember to bring a light jacket and hat in your suitcase
- Go on a NON TOUR BUS DAY – we didn’t even realize that these existed but when we got to the top there were only 30 people watching the sun rise with us. When we asked the park ranger why it was so quiet, he said that normally there are 200+ people watching the sunrise but once a week they don’t allow tour buses and the crowds are much quieter. We had such an enjoyable experience having the place to ourselves and would highly recommend a non tour bus day!
After the Haleakala sunrise you will be very tired! We headed back for an afternoon nap and then headed to Lahaina to explore the town. It is a great relaxing afternoon activity as you can saunter around the cute town eating ice cream! After your time exploring Lahaina, you will probably want to head home and/or watch another beautiful sunset.
We recommend heading to Ioa Valley State Monument at some point during your trip. It is a very easy excursion with small walking trails through the gardens. Many of the longer trails are closed due to maintenance issues from bad weather, but it is worth strolling through the beautiful smaller trails. There are also very interesting historical plaques that we would recommend reading during your visit!
In the afternoon, we recommend either another beach day or a big hike. We had originally planned on doing the Waihe’e Ridge Trail but ultimately bailed since we had just done SO MANY hikes on Oahu. It apparently has some great views and is a moderate/difficult hike if you want some exercise!
In the evening, we recommend heading to a Luau dinner during your vacation. We went to the Old Lahaina Luau and it was excellent! You get to watch a beautiful sunset while learning about the Polynesian culture and eating traditional food. It was an absolute MUST-DO for your vacation to Maui!
Its the infamous ROAD TO HANA day! You will need to leave an entire day (6:00am-6:00pm) to do the Road to Hana. We recommend downloading a Road to Hana app so you can listen to all of the historical information and points of interest offline on your drive. We actually did the Road to Hana backwards so that we could avoid the crowds and complete the biggest activity (Pipiwai Trail) first while we were still fresh! We LOVED going backwards and would highly recommend it to anyone doing this drive.
DISCLAIMER: It is a common misconception that the Back Road to Hana will void your rental car insurance and after lots of research we found that it DOES NOT void your rental car insurance. The back road is 90% paved and gravel/pot holes for the remaining 10% of the drive. If you go slowly over the pot holes you will have no issues at all, regardless of which vehicle you rented. There are also a couple of blind corners that required you to honk your horn – just use common sense and go slowly around these turns.
Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls, & Seven Sacred Falls
The Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls, & Seven Sacred Falls are located in the Haleakala National Park (yes like the sunrise volcano!). You can actually use your park pass from the Haleakala sunrise for admission to this destination on the Road to Hana. We stopped here first since we knew it would be the longest component of our trip and wanted to have lots of energy. Once you get to the parking lot, you can walk a short distance to the Seven Sacred Falls. The Seven Sacred Falls were beautiful but less interesting since you couldn’t get very close. After a number of people were inquired in a flash flood, they have banned all swimming in the pools. We took a couple of pictures and then headed along the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoki Falls. The Pipiwai Trail took us about 4 hours to complete, including some quick stops for photos. It was one of our longest hikes, but the path was REALLY well maintained and very enjoyable. You get to go through an amazing bamboo forest on your hike and ultimately you arrive at the Waimoku Falls. The Waimoku Falls are 400 feet high and truly amazing! We stood under the falls (to the side) for a bit and splashed around in the water. It was the perfect mid-point to our sweaty hike!
Black Sand Beach & Hana
We didn’t actually stop in Hana, which may surprise you. It was a very small little town and there were any sights/attractions that caught our fancy, so we just drove through. Our next stop was Black Sand Beach in Waianapanapa State Park. This is a very popular tourist spot and has great parking and trails. We did the Road to Hana on a very windy day and therefore couldn’t swim at the beach. The stone beach is actually more of a grey colour, but the rocks look black once they are wet. There isn’t a ton of activities here, but we recommend taking your time and walking around the different coves.
Upper Waikani Falls (Three Bears Falls)
We had originally planned on stopping at several waterfalls on our drive, but only ended up stopping at the Upper Waikani Falls (Three Bears Falls). Because we did the loop backwards, there was no one at these falls when we stopped. We swam around for a little bit, took some pictures and then headed back to the car. We were pretty tired after the Pipiwai Trail and were running low on energy. Honestly, the best part about the Road to Hana is the beautiful car ride and driving by all of the beautiful waterfalls. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stop too much and make sure you just enjoy the drive!
As you may remember from our Oahu post, we always leave a Custom Day during our vacations so we can move activities around depending on the weather or add new activities. After being gone for 14 days, we decided to just spend our custom day at the beach enjoying the beautiful weather and eating poke bowls. If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, we would recommend booking a snorkelling boat ride as a fun excursion for this day!
We always find departure day a little stressful. We are usually packing up quite quickly and heading out to return the rental car. One tip – the Maui airport is very small and doesn’t have many good food options. We would recommend grabbing some food to take through security so you have a nice meal on the other side!
Thank you for reading our Maui guide! We hope you have a great trip and enjoyed seeing our photos!