Top 5 Outdoor Activities in Maui

The Hawaiian island chain ranks high on the list of the world’s most beautiful tropical paradises. People from all over come here to enjoy the pristine beaches, rich Hawaiian culture, warm climate, and natural scenery of the Central Pacific. The island of Maui in particular attracts the most tourism in Hawaii for these reasons and more. You can spend a day in Maui hiking up volcanoes and sliding down cascading waterfalls, or you can opt for a more relaxing getaway by chilling on the beach with a cold beverage and a good book.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your Maui vacation, the majority of your time should be spent outdoors. There aren’t many places in the world that can compete with the natural wonders of this island, so take in as much fresh air and as many breathtaking views as possible. If this sounds like the getaway for you, book your flight and check out one of the many oceanfront Maui rentals throughout the island. Then you can start planning out your itinerary by reading up on these top 5 outdoor activities in Maui.


Whether you are a novice surfer or new to this water sport, surfing is one of the best ways to experience Maui. There are plenty of local spots around the island known for big waves, but beginner surfers will first want to check out the beaches with calmer waters. Beaches that cater more to beginners can be found all throughout the island, but most are found on the western and southern beaches, specifically at Kaanapali, Lahaina, and Kihei. You can sign up for private or group lessons to learn basic techniques and maneuvers.

Even if you are brand new to the sport, be sure to spend a day at Hookipa Beach or Honolulu Bay. During certain months of the year these waters host professional surfing competitions, bringing in pro surfers from all over the world. Although the waves are much too large for less advanced surfers, watching these competitions is always a good time.

Helicopter Tours

Seeing Maui from the air is nothing short of breathtaking; this is why so many tourists sign up for a helicopter ride at some point in their trip. You’ll see plunging valleys, towering mountains, blue waters, and green rainforests all within an hour or two, and you’ll get the chance to explore parts of the island you never would be able to from the ground. There are plenty of Helicopter tours to choose from, but one of the best is Air Maui Helicopter Tours.

This tour company offers different packages depending on what you hope to see from the air. The most popular is the flight over Hana and Haleakala. Your air time will include a tour of the famous Haleakala Crater and the Hana rainforests. A completely different option is to tour West Maui and Molokai, where you’ll see sea cliffs and waterfalls all throughout the island’s north shore.

SCUBA and Snorkeling

It is no surprise that SCUBA diving and snorkeling in Maui is considered to be a top outdoor activity for tourists. Snorkeling is most popular on the southwestern coast of Maui, especially at a spot called Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach. There are plenty of spots around the island to rent quality snorkeling gear, but it is recommended that you sign up for a tour. A chartered boat will take you to a variety of snorkeling sites to see the diverse fish, corals, stingrays, turtles, and sometimes even sharks.

With such vibrant waters and diverse marine life, travelers hoping to get in some diving are in luck. Just about all the dive shops can be found on the western and southern coasts of the island where the water is calmest. But the ultimate diving spots are around Molokini Island, which has actually been dubbed a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District due to its huge diversity of land and sea species. Make a reservation at the highly rated Maui Dive Shop. This shop makes regular trips to Molokini, and other popular sites like Back Wall, Cathedrals, and several wreck dives.

Hiking and Camping

Most people associate Maui with coastline and beaches, but there are actually just as many mountain adventure activities offered here as well. One of the best hikes on the island can be found at ‘Iao Valley State Park. Most people make the journey through the park just to see the ‘Iao Needle, a historical site where the Battle of Kepaniwai was fought in 1790. There are plenty more places to explore, however, and you should consider spending an entire day here. Throughout ‘Iao there are picnic areas, swimming holes, and tons of hiking trails that will take you through lush rainforests – you might even end up at a waterfall or two!

If volcano hiking is an interest of yours, look no further than Haleakala National Park. Haleakala is best known for its enormous dormant volcano, and if you take the time to come here you can actually take trails into the crater.  The fun won’t stop here; this 30,000 acre park is home to tons of walking trails, some that pass through waterfalls and swimming areas. The four-mile-long Pipiwai Trail winding along the southern coast is one of the best hikes to enjoy the Hawaiian flora and fauna.

Boat Tours and Whale Watching

Whale watching is only possible between the months of December and April, so plan your trip accordingly if you are hoping to see these majestic sea creatures. Every year around this time, there is a huge migration of humpback whales from Alaska that come to the Hawaiian islands to birth and nurse their newborns, so if you charter a boat for a whale watching your chances of seeming them are high. There are several tour companies to choose from, but the most reputable are Ultimate Whale Watch and Snorkel and Pacific Whale Foundation.

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