Five days in Maui is the perfect amount of time for a Hawaiian vacation that balances a bit of sightseeing with plenty of beach time.
We have thoroughly explored each Hawaiian island, including four visits to Maui. While it is not my favorite, it is easy to see why Maui is the preferred destination for many.
The “Valley Isle” appeals to the broadest set of vacationers. This island offers everything from rainforest to secret beaches to volcanoes. It is equally suitable for an exciting celebration as a relaxing holiday.
In this guide, I will explain everything you need to know for planning the perfect 5-day Maui itinerary. This includes essential information such as where to stay and how to get around, as well as recommendations on the best way to spend each day.
I have also provided alternative options to allow you to customize the itinerary to suit your personal interests.
Disclosure: In order to keep providing you with free content, this post likely contains affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase through one of these links we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. So a HUGE thank you to you if you click one of these links 🙂
🌴 5-Day Maui Itinerary Overview
How to Use This Guide
🔥 As of October 8, 2023, all of Maui is open to tourists with the exception of Lahaina.
🏡 Most travelers prefer to spend the entirety of their five days in Maui in a singular accommodation. Accordingly, the times and distances in this itinerary assume you will stay in the generally preferred areas of Kihei or Wailea.
📸 I have designed this 5-day Maui itinerary to include the best and most popular things to do on the island. However, I have also provided several alternative options as I understand that everyone vacations differently!
🚗 You will find some quick insights and the basic need-to-know information for first-time visitors covered in the following section. Each section will provide a link to a complete guide on that topic.
🌺 If you need help planning your Maui vacation beyond an itinerary, open our ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PLANNING A TRIP TO MAUI in another window.
5-Day Itinerary Breakdown
The interactive map of Maui above shows all of the points of interest recommended in this itinerary, color-coded by day. Click on the image above or here to open the map in a new tab.
Here is a quick overview of the perfect 5-day Maui itinerary:
|Arrive, explore locally around Kihei / Wailea, dinner at a sunset luau.
|Road to Hana scenic drive with stops at waterfalls, beaches, and more.
|Molokini Crater snorkel tour, beach day, end the day with a sunset sail.
|Haleakala National Park & Upcountry, afternoon on the North Shore.
|Check out and depart.
Regional Map of Maui
Maui is broken into six distinct regions. It would be best to familiarize yourself with each before continuing, as I will refer to them by name throughout this guide.
|Most favored tourist destination with the best beaches and weather.
|Second most popular place to stay with incredible snorkeling sites.
|Large stores, chain restaurants, and the airport (OGG).
|Great for surfing, wind sailing, and quiet, secluded beaches.
|Climb in elevation as you near Haleakala volcano for sweeping views.
|Rainy side of Maui. Home to beautiful nature and the famous Road to Hana.
Where to Stay in Maui
Both towns are in the region known as South Maui, which has the best, driest climate on the island. This region also boasts many of Maui’s best beaches, bars, and restaurants.
Of note, the west coast of Maui is the leeward side (dry side). The east coast is the windward side (wet side).
Read our WHERE TO STAY IN MAUI COMPLETE GUIDE for more information on your options.
How to Get Around Maui
The best way to explore Maui is by renting a car!
The roads are well-maintained and easy to drive, though you will want to avoid oversized vehicles on the Road to Hana.
It is also possible to explore Maui by campervan. This option allows you to maximize your time and is relatively budget-friendly. Be forewarned, however, that Maui law enforcement continues to crack down on overnight camping outside designated sites.
Public transportation is available in Maui, but it is not something I recommend relying on during your vacation. Adhering to bus schedules will restrict where and when you can travel.
If you’re uncomfortable driving, booking tours to areas you’re interested in seeing will likely be your best option.
🏖 Maui Itinerary Day 1:
Arrive, Explore Kihei / Wailea, Sunset Luau
Day 1 has been kept very light and flexible due to variable arrival times and flight distances for each of you individually.
While it may sound silly, I feel it is also important to leave space in your schedule to switch into vacation mode!
I recommend checking in to your accommodation and then hitting the beaches for a while before kicking off your vacation with a sunset luau.
Arrival in Maui
The airport you will be flying into is Kahului Airport (OGG). It is located in the Central Maui region but is only a 15-minute drive to Kihei and another 5-ish minutes to Wailea.
As mentioned above, I recommend arranging your accommodation in the Kihei or Wailea region for all five days in Maui. These areas have the most tourist services, bars and restaurants, accessible beaches, and the best weather on the island.
The West Maui region is another popular option for booking a hotel. Ka’anapali and Kapalua are the best areas to consider if you decide West Maui is the right choice for you.
🏨 RECOMMENDED RELATED GUIDE:
BEST AREAS TO STAY IN MAUI AND HOW TO DECIDE
Explore Kihei / Wailea
The South Maui region is home to the best beaches and climate on Maui.
After you have unpacked, grab your flip-flops and head to one of the many beautiful beaches of Kihei or Wailea.
Another option is to skip the sand for now and use this time to get acquainted with the local town instead, especially if you need to stock up on supplies!
Kihei has a variety of bars, restaurants, shops, and services that will be available throughout your stay.
My personal favorite place for a great beer and electric atmosphere is the family-friendly Maui Brewing Co.!
Witnessing a modern rendition of a traditional Hawaiian luau is a quintessential experience for anyone visiting Hawaii.
On our most recent trip to Maui in 2022, Sophie and I attended the Andaz Resort’s “Feast at Mokapu” sunset luau and enjoyed our experience thoroughly. We highly recommend this option!
The Old Lahaina Luau was considered the best, most authentic luau in the entire state of Hawaii. Unfortunately, it suffered wildfire damage on August 8, 2023, and is closed for the foreseeable future.
Still, there are a handful of excellent options to choose from that showcase the beauty of Hawaiian culture through food and traditional dance.
You can browse the highest-rated luaus in Maui here.
🚗 Maui Itinerary Day 2:
Road to Hana Scenic Drive
Most people who have never visited Maui imagine little more than tropical beaches. However, it is known as “the Valley Isle” for good reason!
Maui is home to a variety of ecosystems. On Day 2, you will explore a lush rainforest teeming with waterfalls and an assortment of natural gems along the famous Road to Hana.
Be sure you allow at least a full day to explore the Road to Hana in its entirety.
In fact, I recommend that nature lovers with a little extra time consider an overnight stay in Hana or at Waiʻānapanapa State Park (Black Sand Beach).
The journey from Kihei and back will be about 5 hours and 128 miles of driving, not including time for stops. Be sure you get an early start to allow plenty of time for sightseeing!
Tips for Driving the Road to Hana
You can do the drive as a complete loop or as a there-and-back.
However, many rental car agreements forbid you from driving beyond the town of Kaupo. Beyond this point, the roads become dangerously narrow and poorly maintained.
If you decide to drive the full loop beyond Kaupo, I strongly recommend that you move clockwise to go with traffic, not against it. This journey begins in the town of Paia.
As there is a lot to consider, we recommend reading our ROAD TO HANA ITINERARY to find more helpful information for arranging your day trip.
Best Stops on the Road to Hana
Along this scenic drive, you will encounter dozens of beautiful natural features, including waterfalls and unusual beaches. The best stops to consider include:
- Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees at Mile Marker 7
- Twin Falls
- Upper Waikani Falls
- Pua’a Ka’a Falls
- Black Sand Beach (Waiʻānapanapa State Park)
- Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)
- Waioka Pond (Venus Pool)
- Seven Sacred Pools (Pools of ʻOheʻo)
- Pipiwai Trail
As there is a lot to say about this incredible drive, we recommend reading our COMPLETE ROAD TO HANA GUIDE to learn more about the best stops, tips, and information for the excursion.
📸 SUGGESTED RELATED GUIDE
25 BEST STOPS ON THE ROAD TO HANA
🤿 Maui Itinerary Day 3:
Molokini Crater, Wailea Beaches, Sunset Sail
Day 3 will be a fun-filled day of activities on, near, or under the water!
This tour should have you back in the early afternoon, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the South Maui beaches and relax.
I recommend a sunset sail that includes dinner, drinks, or both to end the day.
Molokini Crater Snorkel Tour
Located off the south shore of Maui and rising 300ft (91m) out of the water, Molokini is considered one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world!
As a protected marine reserve, the conditions are pristine and the reef is abundant with marine life. While snorkeling, you can spot manta rays, an array of tropical fish, sharks, and turtles that inhabit the coral reef.
Most tours also include a stop at Turtle Town; a long stretch of coastline in the southern district of Makena. As the name suggests, it is known for its high population of green turtles, or honu as they’re known locally!
Top Rated Molokini Snorkel Tours
Below are a few of the top-rated Molokini snorkel trips. Each will have different start times and slightly different inclusions, so make sure you compare them to find one that’s right for you.
Tours often sell out in advance during peak season. Schedule your reservations early to avoid disappointment.
- Molokini Crater and South Maui Coast Adventure from Kihei: 5/5 ⭐
Start early and be one of the first to Molokini Crater with this 5-hour tour! The boat departs at 7am, with breakfast and lunch provided. After snorkeling the crystal clear waters of Molokini, you’ll stop to see recent lava flows at La Perouse Bay on your way to Turtle Town.
- Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkel Tour with Lunch: 4.6/5 ⭐
Starting at either 6:30am or 7:30am, this tour lasts 5-6 hours and takes you to both Molokini and Turtle Town. The tour includes your snorkeling gear, flotation devices, breakfast, and lunch. There’s even a slide on the boat for some extra fun!
- Afternoon Snorkel to Coral Gardens or Molokini Crater: 4.4/5 ⭐
If you’re not an early riser or want a shorter tour, this afternoon option begins at 1pm and may suit you better! The tour lasts 3 hours and will take you to Coral Gardens or Molokini Crater, depending on sea and weather conditions. The crew will provide snorkel equipment, but lunch is an optional extra.
South Maui Beaches
Once you’ve returned from your snorkel tour, it is time to relax and soak in the aloha!
The Kihei and Wailea-Makena areas in the South Maui region both have dozens of paradisiacal golden-sand beaches to choose from. All you have to do is pick a favorite!
As South Maui has the best beaches on the island, you really can’t go wrong, but our favorites are:
- Kamaole Beach Park: Three sections, all family friendly with full facilities.
- Makena State Park: Large beach with plenty of room and full services.
- Secret Beach (Makena Cove): Incredibly photogenic, hidden beach.
- Chang’s Beach: Home to the Maui Sunday drum circle.
- Sugar Beach: Quiet beach at the northern end of Kihei.
- Wailea Beach: Manicured beach in front of the Grand Wailea Resort.
🏝 EXPLORE MORE:
BEST BEACHES IN KIHEI MAUI
Maui Sunset Sail
Travel reviewers consistently name Maui as one of the most romantic destinations in the US, and it doesn’t get much better than a sunset sail!
Whether you are on a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or celebrating a special occasion, a sunset sail off the west coast of Maui will be something you never forget.
Those of you visiting during whale migration season (November through April) may even have the good fortune of spotting a passing humpback!
Pro Tip: Be sure to watch as the sun crosses the horizon for a chance to witness the mythical “green flash.”
🌋 Maui Itinerary Day 4:
Haleakala, Upcountry, North Shore
As this will be your final full day on Maui, we recommend making the most of it!
Your day will begin at the incredible Haleakala National Park summit, which is the most famous place for sunrise in all of Hawaii.
Whether you wake up for sunrise or sleep in, we recommend exploring the park and the beautiful Maui upcountry to begin your day.
The most popular ways to see Haleakala National Park are:
After enjoying the volcanic highlands, you will return to sea level to wander around one of Maui’s most charming historic towns in Paia. This is the perfect place to pick up some unique Hawaii souvenirs and gifts.
Haleakala National Park
Volcanoes forged the Hawaiian islands, and the most beautiful place to immerse yourself in this volcanic nature is at Haleakalā National Park.
The park is divided into the Kīpahulu District and the Summit District.
While driving the Road to Hana on Day 2 of this itinerary, you will visit ʻOheʻo Gulch in the Kīpahulu District. On Day 4, you will explore the Summit District.
The drive to the summit takes about 2 hours without stops. Accordingly, you will need to get an early start, especially if you want to be there for the iconic Haleakala sunrise experience. Permits are required for sunrise visits and are difficult to get, but they are guaranteed with sunrise tours.
Those who prefer to visit independently and drive themselves will find the official Haleakala NPS website helpful for planning. On their site, you will find everything you need to know about the park, including reservations, hikes, planners, maps, and park alerts.
If you have one, be sure to pack your NPS annual pass. Otherwise, consider buying one if you expect to visit at least three NPS sites this year!
⭐️ Pro tip: Pack warm clothes! You will be at 10,023 feet (3,055m) in elevation, so it’ll be much colder than the beach, particularly at sunrise!
Haleakalā National Park Guided Tours
Take the stress out of scoring reservations and driving switchbacks in the dark with a tour to Haleakalā.
There are several tours available which offer slightly different experiences. Some of the top tours to Haleakalā include:
- Sunrise and breakfast tour to Haleakalā: 4.6/5 ⭐
This highly-rated tour will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the summit to watch the sunrise where coffee and pastries await. It is a great option if your Maui itinerary is tight, as it frees up the afternoon for beach hopping or whale watching.
- Guided hike of Haleakala crater with lunch: 4.8/5 ⭐
Explore two popular hiking trails and learn about Maui’s heritage with an expert guide.
- Haleakala and ‘Iao Valley tour: 4.6/5 ⭐
Take in the highlights of Upcountry Maui and witness the otherworldly landscape of Haleakala. After enjoying the national park, you will explore ‘Iao Valley where you will encounter the impressive ʻĪao Needle.
- Haleakala Sunrise Downhill Bike Tour: 5/5 ⭐
After a ride in a van to Haleakala for sunrise, you will ride downhill at your own pace, stopping for photos and a light breakfast along the way.
If you’re not interested in going for sunrise, you can save money by booking a tour that starts a little later.
When you have descended from the summit of Haleakala National Park, you will find yourself in the highlands region known as the Maui Upcountry.
The Upcountry region is home to some quaint and charming tourist attractions for you to consider visiting before driving down the mountain.
Some of the top attractions in Maui Upcountry include:
- Makawao: Small “cowboy town” with cute shops, cafes, and restaurants
- Kula: Another popular tourist town in the region
- Maui Gold Plantation: Offers tours of an active pineapple plantation
- Hali’imaile General Store: Don’t be fooled by the name; this “general store” is actually a premier farm-to-table restaurant with exceptional reviews!
- Ocean Vodka Distillery: Enjoy vodka tastings with outstanding sweeping vistas.
Maui North Shore
While the South and West Maui regions get most of the attention, there are a handful of incredible tropical beaches on the north shore of Maui that rank among the best on the island.
Better yet, these hidden gems tend to be far less crowded than those in Kihei, Wailea, or Ka’anapali.
To end Day 4, we recommend taking a trip to Paia to wander around the charming historic town. From there, head to Baldwin Beach Park or one of the many secret beaches nearby to enjoy some downtime until dinner.
For your final dinner on the island, book a reservation at Mama’s Fish House, considered the best seafood restaurant in Maui!
You can find out everything you need to know about the region, such as the best beaches (including the secret ones), restaurants, and more, in our COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE MAUI NORTH SHORE.
✈️ Maui Itinerary Day 5:
Check Out & Depart
We didn’t want to include any specific recommendations for your final day on Maui since the amount of time you have available depends entirely on your departure time.
Fortunately, the Maui Airport (OGG) is small and doesn’t require too much time to get through!
Wake up early to watch the sunrise, or take one final trip to your favorite beach.
Time permitting, get back into the water to say goodbye to your honu friends! Or, order way too big a breakfast and enjoy that final indulgence before catching your flight.
If you have at least a half day or more, consider one of the “Alternative Activities” presented in the next section.
🥾 Alternative Options & Activities
If you have extra time and/or are not interested in some of the proposed activities included in the 5-day Maui itinerary above, consider adding or substituting some of the popular alternatives featured in this section.
Option 1: West Maui Road Trip
The West Maui region has some of the best snorkeling, beaches, hikes, resorts, luaus, and towns on the island. It is my favorite place to hike on the island as it features far smaller crowds than the Hana region.
Those of you who enjoy sightseeing can take a scenic road trip along the Honoapillani Hwy, which joins the Kahekili Hwy to form a complete loop around the entire West Maui region.
If you are more interested in snorkeling, beaches, and resorts, I recommend moving at a slower pace and enjoying stops along the Honoapillani Hwy. You will want to turn around at Honolua Bay Lookout to return home rather than taking the long, windy loop road.
Best Places to Visit in West Maui
These are the best places to visit on a West Maui road trip, in the order that you will see them while doing a clockwise loop along the Honoapillani Hwy and Kahekili Hwy:
- Olowalu: Excellent snorkel spot with magnificent coral gardens.
Lahaina: Considered the best town in Maui before being destroyed by wildfire.
- Ka’anapali: Home to the best resorts and beaches in West Maui.
- Napili / Kapalua: Two other luxury resort towns with excellent beaches.
- Honolua Bay: Marine sanctuary, considered the best snorkel spot on Maui.
- Honolua Bay Lookout: Great sunset spot and turnaround point.
- Olivine Pools: Dramatic volcanic coastal landscape.
Option 2: Hiking the West Maui Mountains
While most visitors vacation in Maui to relax, there are always those few whose idea of paradise lives on the trails.
For those of you who want to include hiking in your 5-day Maui itinerary, you can find the best trails within the West Maui mountains.
In particular, the short 0.6-mile hike along the Iao Needle Trail found within ʻĪao Valley State Monument is especially spectacular. However, it doesn’t require much effort.
Other popular hikes in the area include:
|A short, paved walk to the Iao Needle formation
Entry & parking reservations are required for non-residents.
|A short walk along the coastal bluffs with sweeping vistas.
|An exciting climb through deep ridges in the heart of the region with incredible panoramic views.
|A long walk through a lush green valley.
|A challenging trek with a 2,000ft elevation gain that begins at the beach and goes deep into the rainforest.
Option 3: Day Trip to the Island of Lanai
Those with the time and desire should consider a short day trip or even an overnight visit to the neighboring island of Lāna‘i.
It is often referred to as the Pineapple Island as it used to have an island-wide pineapple plantation that produced 75% of the world’s pineapples!
You will be able to see Lāna‘i throughout your time on Maui off in the distance. The island has some very unique points of interest, including two renowned golf courses and some photogenic beaches, but it is not quite the tropical paradise that the other major islands are.
That said, the best reason to visit Lanai is to experience a change of pace from the tourist buzz of Maui.
You can take the ferry to Lanai for $30 each way; tickets are available from the Go Lanai website. Since the devastating fires destroyed Lahaina, the ferry for Lanai now departs from Maalaea Harbor instead.
Option 4: Road to Hana Overnight Trip
If seeing all there is to see on the incredible Road to Hana is a priority and/or you would like to stay somewhere different during your five days in Maui, consider spending one night in Hana.
An overnight visit allows you to see a lot more of the beautiful eastern shoreline while avoiding most of the traffic that backs up on this small road throughout the day.
As a bonus, you get to spend the night in a lush rainforest that feels like an entirely different world from the rest of Hawaii.
If you are considering this alternative option, I recommend reading our 1-2 DAY ROAD TO HANA ITINERARY which explains how to amend your schedule to include an overnight stay.
Option 5: Whale Watching Tour
If you are visiting during whale migration season (November – April), you can consider a whale-watching tour to occupy half a day on your 5-day Maui itinerary.
To be clear, you will not NEED to take a tour to see whales during this time. They can often be seen right from the beaches and viewpoints, though typically at a much greater distance than you’ll see them from a boat tour.
🎒 Packing for 5 Days in Maui
For the complete rundown on what to pack for Maui, open our COMPLETE MAUI PACKING GUIDE. You will find printable checklists as well as 25 items you probably haven’t thought to bring with you.
Here are some of the essential things to consider packing for your 5 days in Maui:
- Camera: Maui is a stunning place and you’ll want to capture many moments. We use the Sony a7riii and love it. However, beginners may prefer an entry-level DSLR to start with.
- Waterproof camera: With incredible snorkeling and waterfalls to explore, you may take more photos underwater than on land! I recommend either the GoPro or Olympus TG6.
- Reef-safe sunscreen: Hawaii is the first state to require reef-safe sunscreen. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reef-safe and most bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
- Beach towel: You will want to take a towel with you for use at the beach. We always have a travel towel with us as they are small, dry quickly, and don’t collect sand.
- Hiking shoes: Maui has some incredible hikes! Hiking sandals are ideal as they keep your feet cool and can be worn in the water.
- Snorkel gear: If you’re planning on doing a lot of snorkeling while in Hawaii, it may work out cheaper and easier to bring your own snorkel and mask and fins than renting them each day. You can also buy these items as a snorkel set which works out cheaper still.
- Mini first aid kit: Whether hiking or swimming in the ocean, it’s good to have a mini first aid kit around just in case.
- NPS Annual Pass: If you’re planning to visit Haleakala National Park, don’t forget to pack your NPS annual pass to avoid the entry fee.
🙋♀️ FAQs for a 5-Day Maui Itinerary
This section answers some of readers’ most frequently asked questions when planning their 5-day Maui itinerary.
Simply click the drop-down arrows to reveal answers.
Is 5 days in Maui enough?
5 days in Maui is the perfect amount of time to visit, whether your ideal vacation involves exploration and sightseeing, relaxing on the beach, or both. Maui is very small, with the two furthest points on the island only a 2-hour drive from each other.
What can you see with only 5 days in Maui?
5 days in Maui is enough time to see all of the highlights, assuming you are active and willing to rent a car. This includes a trip to the West Maui region, a drive along the Road to Hana, a half day on the Maui North Shore, a trip to Molokini Crater, a visit to Haleakala National Park, and plenty of time to enjoy the beaches of Kihei and Wailea-Makena.
Where is the best place to stay for 5 days in Maui?
Kihei or Wailea in the South Maui region are the best places to stay for 5 days in Maui. This area has the best weather and beaches, as well as the most restaurants, shops, and a variety of accommodation.
Ka’anapali in West Maui is the second most-popular choice and is an especially good option if you do not plan to rent a car for your time in Maui.
How much does it cost for 5 days in Maui?
The average cost of a 5-day visit to Maui is about $3000 + flights per couple.
Expect accommodation to be in the $200-$300 range per night on Maui, meals & drinks to be about $100 per person per day, rental cars to be around $50 per day, plus tours and misc expenses.
🌺 More Maui Travel Guides
The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below 🙂
If you have found this guide on the perfect 5-day Maui itinerary useful, you will also want to check out some of our other guides to the island.
In this list, you will find essential planning guides to help you prepare for your upcoming Hawaiian vacation.
- MAUI PACKING LIST: A printable essential packing list + 25 useful items to consider
- 7 DAY MAUI ITINERARY: How to see the entire island in one week
- WHERE TO STAY ON MAUI: The best places and areas to stay on the island
- PLANNING A TRIP TO MAUI: Step-by-step guide for planning your first visit to Maui
- ROAD TO HANA STOPS: The Top 25 places to visit on the Road to Hana
- ROAD TO HANA ITINERARY: How to plan for a 1-2 day self-drive.
- BEST MAUI PHOTO SPOTS: 15 best places for photographing Maui
- SECRET BEACHES OF MAUI: The 10 most incredible hidden beaches on the island
- MAUI SUNSETS: The Top 10 places & activities for watching sunset in Maui
- KIHEI BEACHES GUIDE: Photos, locations, and descriptions for all 15 beaches in Kihei
- BEST SNORKELING IN MAUI: Best snorkel spots, tips, tours, and more.
💬 Final Thoughts
The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below 🙂
We truly hope you have found this guide helpful and inspiring in creating the perfect 5-day Maui itinerary for your upcoming holiday.
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