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8 Off-the-Sand Maui Activities
With 120 miles of coastline and beaches that often rank among the best in the world, Maui has no shortage of beauty—and no shortage of ways to savor it.
And yet, those new to the second largest Hawaiian island may think that the lion’s share of Maui’s activities requires toes in the sand—and an umbrella in your drink. Our feeling? Maui’s beaches are indeed phenomenal but they’re just one part of this island’s magic. Here are 8 brilliant, beyond-the-beach Maui activities—and why you should give them a try on your next Valley Isle vacation:
Marvel at Marine Life at Maui Ocean Center
Whether you’re more of a city kid than a beach bum—or just need a break from the Hawaiian sun—Maui Ocean Center satisfies a wide range of personality types. Consider the spectrum of marine life this aquarium displays responsible. From Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles to Bandit Angelfish, the three-acre facility has a number of exhibitions that’ll thrill and intrigue you.
Booking through Activity Authority, you’ll be granted a day pass that will give you access to outdoor tide pools, interactive displays, and a 750,000-gallon “open ocean” exhibit, in which you can view everything from Manta Rays to Blacktip Reef Sharks. A treat for both kids and adults, Maui Ocean Center also features a cultural program filled with ukulele lessons, wood carving, and coconut weaving.
Bike Down One of the World’s Largest Dormant Volcanoes
Haleakala underscores the definition of a behemoth. The giant shield volcano, which towers just over 10,000 feet, comprises three-quarters of the island of Maui—and wordlessly lures visitors to its crater. You can do so—and more—with Bike Maui. The reputable company has built a reputation for their terrific customer service, excellent tours, and great fleet of riding machines. Their Sunrise Bike Tours provides transportation to Haleakala’s summit, followed by all the gear you need to bike down the volcano’s slopes. Courage may not be supplied—but the adventure of your life will be a given.
Discover Maui’s Incredible Bounty
Maui Tropical Plantation has been delighting visitors and kama’aina since its inception over three decades ago. It’s no wonder: The 60-acre working farm features a wide array of flowers, herbs, and produce, all of which grow under the majestic West Maui Mountains. Daily tram tours take visitors into the thick of their harvest, while the plantation’s on-site restaurant—the award-winning The Mill House—bases a large part of its menu on the farm’s freshest crops. Looking for the perfect souvenir? You’re in luck: Maui Tropical Plantation also offers first-rate shopping, whether you’re looking for coconut candy or coconut body scrub—or, hey, just a coconut.
Savor the Sight of Maui’s Varied Landscapes
Beaches have made Maui “No Ka Oi” famous, but it’s its dynamism that’s rendered it unforgettable. On Valley Isle Excursions’ Volcanoes of Maui Tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see the island’s tremendously different settings, from the pinnacle of Haleakala National Park to the bucolic fields that comprise Upcountry to ‘Iao Valley—a verdant, sacred place that holds one of the most unique volcanic structures on the island. Not just a sightseeing experience, this thoughtful, well-crafted journey also immerses visitors in knowledge about Maui—its historical significance, it’s cultural and farming practices, and its mythological underpinnings.
Sail Towards the Horizon
Prefer to glide on the water—rather than dive into it? Then a sunset sail is a must on your next Maui holiday. Kai Kanani’s Adventure Sunset Sail is as electrifying as it sounds, transporting guests out to sea during one of the loveliest and most luminous times of the day. The two-hour voyage comes with the stirring ukulele stylings of Dwight Quenga, made-on-Maui wine, a full bar featuring island-crafted liquors, and a menu prepared by Wailea’s premier restaurant, The Market (think: seared ahi, cheese and charcuterie, grilled ribeye, and uber-fresh vegetables). A large part of Kai Kanani’s appeal is the fact that it’s the only catamaran on the island’s South Side—thus giving you and your crew the chance to enjoy the Pacific’s charms in something near solitude.
Hike into the Clouds
True, true—there’s nothing like a walk on a Maui beach at daybreak, when the colors striating the sky, coupled with the morning’s quiet, give early-risers a taste of what Maui must have been like for Hawaii’s first settlers. And yet, a similar sense of understanding and awe can be captured on Waihe’e Ridge Trail, a 2.5-mile, a moderate trek that takes hikers through a canopy of trees along a ridge sandwiched by valleys. Go early to relish the vistas before the mountain mist arrives, but spend a while at the trail’s top: Here, you’ll find panoramic views of the island’s central and northern coastlines. See more top Maui hikes.
Witness One of the Pacific’s Largest Mammals in Action
The North Pacific Humpback Whale is impressive from data alone: Spanning up to 52 feet in length and weighing up to 33 short tons, these species of the baleen whale are nothing if not formidable. They’re also widely celebrated for the shows they put on—from breaching through the surface of the sea to singing complex songs to spy-hopping. Translation? Watching them up close is one of the most memorable experiences you can have in Hawaii. Should you be traveling between November and May, consider a whale watch tour to make this a reality. Or, better yet, book a seat aboard Redline Rafting for the ultimate Maui whale watching experience. Maxing out at 23 guests, you’ll be given an intimate, cozy experience, while the marine naturalists on board will supply you with the info you need to appreciate these marvelous creatures.
Immerse Yourself in the Island’s Lush Rainforests
Golden beaches may carry their own magnificence, but there are few things more remarkable than Maui’s Road to Hana. You may be asking, Can a road really be an event in itself? Oh yes. The fifty-plus-mile route takes you from the windswept stretches of the island’s North Shore to the remote Eastern Side of the island, where dripping rainforests are broken up by lofty waterfalls and sea cliffs ascend into the sky.
While the drive can be done on your own, booking Skyline Hawaii’s Road to Hana Tour will take all the worry out of the endeavor: Conscientious, reliable, and good-natured drivers man the wheel so that you can absorb the beauty around you, while stops along the road’s most notable spots, from the ancient fishing village, Ke‘anae, to the glorious, 122-acre haven that is Waianapanapa State Park, will leave you amazed. Chances are you’ll end the day intent on booking your next Maui trip—this list is just our getting started.
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