The Best Maui Instagram Spots and Destinations

This photo guide to the best Maui Instagram spots has been created with one thing in mind; showcasing the unique beauty of the island!

When we explore a new place, we make it our goal to seek scenes that are distinctly that place; we look to capture its individual personality and flavor!

If you want bikini shots in a tropical setting, pick any resort at random and go nuts! They are all beautiful and manicured to a disingenuous perfection. If instead, you want to discover those special destinations that are distinctly Maui, and desire compositional inspiration for your Instagram feed, you are in the right place!

And if you are planning on doing some island hopping or deciding which Hawaiian island to visit, you will also want to queue up our Big Island photography guide and our Instagram Photography Guide to Oahu!

Maui Instagram Spots: South Region

Lavarock lines the shore of Mauis most instagrammable beach.
Lava rock lines the short of some of Maui’s main island beaches.

The island of Maui is broken down into several regions; the South region (aka Kihei region) includes the Southwestern corner of the island and is where you will find the most recent remains of volcanic activity. More importantly, the South region is where you will find the best beaches.

If you are wondering where to stay for your visit, one of the many resorts in the South region is probably the best choice for most. While Lahaina is also a great option, you will find the options are not as plentiful there.

Below are a collection of the most Instagrammable spots in Maui’s south region. It’s here where you will find the majority of the postcard-worthy beaches many of you are hoping for.

Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: Paako Cove aka Secret Cove Beach

A stunning sunset seascape at the Instagrammable Secret Cove Beach on Maui.
This photo, titled “Sunset Symphony” is from the shore of the Instagrammable Secret Cove Beach.

Just South of the Big Beach 3rd Entrance is a favorite destination for photographers, locals, and of course, Instagrammers. It’s easy to understand why as some of the most beautiful pictures of Maui have been taken here.

The Secret Cove Beach is so-named because there is no sign for it, and I’m sure once was a secret! However, the odds of you having it to yourself are slim-to-none most times of the day.

Here’s how to find what is perhaps the most prized of the Maui Instagram spots…

Drive past the Big Beach third entrance a short distance until you see a wall on the ocean side of the street. You may notice a break in the wall, providing easy access to this unsigned cove. If in doubt, you can always just type Secret Cove Beach into Google Maps. This should give you a bit more insight into how much of a “secret” this cove is not!

Timing out the wave for that perfect Instagram photo.
Timing out the wave for that perfect Instagram photo.

Bonus: Unnamed Beach
(Near Secret Cove Beach)

The best Maui Instagram Spot for beach photos is Secret Cove Beach.
If Secret Cove Beach is too packed, wander over the lava rock for another little inlet that you may have all to yourself!

If Secret Cove Beach is too packed, there is a Plan B! To find this even smaller, more secret beach, walk to the water’s edge and turn to your right. Wander over the lava rock for another little inlet that you may have all to yourself.

We visited this section of the beach a few times and never encountered another person, even when Secret Beach and Big Beach were busy.

Makena Beach

A drone photo of Makena Beach featuring Little Beach (left) and Big Beach (right).
A drone photo of Makena Beach featuring Little Beach (left) and Big Beach (right).

Comprised of Little Beach and Big Beach, both featured in the photos above and below, Makena Beach is a favorite for locals and tourists alike.

While most tourists stay on the more accessible Big Beach, a trail leads up and over to the secluded Little Beach where locals gather for beach parties. If you are hoping for some Instagram photos of your own, just make sure you go early as this is a nude beach and people often do not take kindly to cameras.

If you happen to be in Maui on a Sunday, get your photos early and head over to Little Beach in the afternoon. Here you can spend the evening watching fire dancing and drum circles… clothing optional, but not encouraged. It’s one of the best free things to do in Maui!

Our favorite view of Makena was from the sky. We used the drone to capture the caldera as well as the lush, tropical colors and coral of the Pacific.

Makena Beach is one of the best Maui Instagram Spots on the island.
Another drone photo showing Makena Beach.

Sugar Beach

Sunsets on sugar beach are what you imagine when you daydream of Hawaii.
Sunsets on sugar beach are what you imagine when you daydream of Hawaii.

There are a number of pristine, quiet beaches along Kihei Road, but the most photogenic of them is Sugar Beach. Like most beaches on Maui, the beauty has been created and maintained by the resorts nearby, but the best law Hawaii has on the books is that all beaches are public. This means that you do not have to be a guest of the resort to sit back and enjoy a beach that is befitting of a Corona commercial.

If you are lucky, you may encounter a sea turtle that has come ashore to rest. As with any wildlife you have the good fortune of meeting, please keep a respectful distance and absolutely never touch the animals!

If your ideal Maui Instagram spot is a picture-perfect beach, look no further than Sugar Beach!
If your ideal Maui Instagram spot is a picture-perfect beach, look no further than Sugar Beach!

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach is another great place to capture those amazing Maui sunsets.
Wailea Beach is another great place to capture those amazing Maui sunsets.

The picture-perfect Wailea Beach is maintained by the Marriott Hotel. In addition to being a beautiful beach, it also is a great place for whale watching at the right time of year!

From the shoreline, you can clearly see the island of Lanai off in the distance, as well as the Pu’u Kukui mountain looming to the north.

If you are visiting with photography in mind, this is one of the best places for sunset on the entire island of Maui. The lava rock provides some interesting shapes and textures along the shore, and Lanai adds a nice element to the background.

We had the amazing fortune of witnessing a mother whale and her calf playing around in the water for over an hour only a short distance away. This enchanted evening was perhaps the most memorable of all of our time in Maui. If you look at the photo below, you will see the baby calf playing joyfully in the setting sun!

A whale calf plays in the water bathed in the golden light of sunset.
A whale calf plays in the water bathed in the golden light of sunset.

Maui Instagram Spots: West Maui

Snorkeling in West Maui, Hawaii.
If you’re looking to snorkel, grab your mask and head to West Maui!

While the majority of Maui’s Instagram spots and beaches are in the south region, there are many gems and beautiful beaches in the West Maui region as well. More importantly, this is where you will find the best snorkeling around!

If you have a GoPro and are looking for some amazing underwater shots for your Instagram, be sure to bring a snorkel and reef-safe sunscreen.

There are also some great snorkel tours in Maui, to help you capture those perfect underwater Insta moments.

A green turtle or honu seen just under the surface of the water in Hawaii

The West region of Maui begins at and follows Highway 30. Take time to enjoy this stunning coastal drive. The most sizable town is Lahaina, which is where you would likely want to find accommodation. Lahaina is also where you will depart from if you wish to visit the island of Lanai.

The absolute best campervan possible to pair with the best Maui Instagram spots!
The absolute best campervan possible to create that Instagram look.

Olowalu

The coral reef at Olowalu in West Maui is hands down the best place for snorkeling on the island.
The coral reef at Olowalu in West Maui is hands down the best place for snorkeling on the island.

Just one glance at the aerial photos of Olowalu above and below and you’ll realize why this beach is considered the best snorkel location on all of Maui. The reef that thrives here is an immaculate coral garden, teeming with all sorts of aquatic life.

If you happen to have a drone, this is a fun place to snag some aerial photos. Of course, you will also want to grab an underwater camera or GoPro and be sure to actually go for a swim. You are likely to find turtles, colorful fish, and potentially even the occasional monk seal!

It is also important to find reef-safe sunscreen to help protect this beautiful place. I hope most of you know this already but as it is an Instagram guide to Maui, I think it is worth stating clearly that the reef is incredibly delicate. It should by no means be trodden on or collected in any way for souvenirs… that’s what your camera gear is for!

The coral gardens of Olowalu make for an amazing Maui instagram spot.
An aerial view of Hwy 30 and the stunning reef at Olowalu.

Lahaina

Lahaina town is among the best Maui Instagram spots.
A vibrant rainbow shines down over the mountains of Lahaina.

Lahaina is a semi-extravagant beach town tucked into the mountains of western Maui. It is the gateway to the island of Lanai, a popular tourist destination, and the main hub of the region.

The mountains here create a microclimate in the region which tends to remain drier. Rainbows were a regularity as the rainclouds would get trapped in the mountains and mix with the brilliant tropical sun.

If you are interested in shopping and picking up souvenirs, or if you prefer to have a cheeky vacation cocktail in a scene with a pulse over a relaxed beach, Lahaina is the place to stay.

Many popular bars, restaurants, galleries and shops dot the crowed streets any time of year. This makes it the ideal place for those of you looking to mix in a bit.

As for us, we much prefer the quieter, more peaceful places where we can be mostly alone with our scenery and cameras. While it was nice to have a walk around the town, we mostly stopped in to take in the sites and catch a boat to the island of Lanai.

Dramatic lighting bathes the mountains surrounding Lahaina.
Dramatic lighting bathes the mountains surrounding Lahaina.

Olivine Pools

One of the best and least known of the Maui Instagram spots are the Olivine Pools of West Maui.
The savage coastline near the Olivine Pools of West Maui.

The Olivine Pools is of the few hidden gems remaining on the island of Maui. They provide a fantastic setting for some Game of Thrones-esque Instagram shots is the Olivine Pools off the Kahekili Highway.

Fiery red and black lava rock create a savage, dramatic coastline with some amazing coastal surges. The rock is very sharp, so take caution if scrambling over them. Most importantly, understand how quickly and aggressively the tide can come in here and do not put your back to it for a photo during big swells.

While we focused mostly on the landscape, this would be a beautiful scene to introduce a red or white dress and shoot for that “Goddess of the Sea” feeling, especially if you are fortunate enough to get a good sunset!

Sunset from the Olivine Pools.
Sunset from the Olivine Pools.

Maui Instagram Spots: Road to Hana

Among the best Maui Instagram spots are the numerous waterfalls near Hana.
Waterfalls chasers could spend weeks exploring the jungles on the road to Hana.

No visit to Maui is complete without a trip to Hana. Palm Tree laden beaches are a dime a dozen on the Hawaiian islands, but the photographic treasures that await you in the Hana region are unlike anything you will find anywhere else in the world!

Be aware that the Hana region tends to receive a lot more rain than anywhere else on the island. As a result, this region also boasts many of Maui’s waterfalls, as well as some of the most fascinating natural landscapes you will find anywhere in the world!

The Hana Highway itself can be unbelievably busy and is a narrow route with few places to turn off. To truly enjoy your drive and allow yourself time to appreciate the sights, we suggest leaving very early or very late, avoiding midday as much as possible.

If you have the option, stay one night somewhere near Hana and break the drive into two days. This will allow you to travel during off-peak hours and actually appreciate the sights.

The sheer cliffs line the Road to Hana of Maui, Hawaii.
The narrow road to Hana is best enjoyed during off-peak hours!

Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: The Rainbow Eucalyptus

Our first stop on the Hana Highway was at the incredible, jaw-dropping Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. Be warned that these are very easy to miss if you are driving at full speed and not keeping a keen eye out for them.

With that said, be sure you have this amazing place pinned on your map as it is definitely one of the most Insta worthy places in Maui! Whether you want to photograph just the trees or include yourself in the photo, there is so much opportunity to interact and get creative.

While these rare beauties are not native, it feels fitting that the Rainbow state is now home to the Rainbow Eucalpytus!

Upper Waikani Falls

Another Instagram worthy Maui waterfall is the Upper Waikani Falls of Hana.
The beautiful Waikani Falls are a literal cannot-miss on the road to Hana.

The good news about Upper Waikani Falls is that you cannot miss it! It is visible from the road as you drive over a bridge soon-after you begin your journey to Hana.

The bad news is that there is almost nowhere to park anywhere nearby. Unless you happen to be traveling at an unusual hour as we have suggested, you will likely be unable to stop and visit.

If you’re willing to walk a little way, however, there is a small pull-off just up the hill from the falls with space for a couple of cars. This is where we parked and walked in from there. Please do not be one of those tourists that park in the passing lanes!

While I’m sure the locals or those determined enough could find a way to walk up to the falls themselves, there is no easy access from the bridge.

Makapipi Falls

A skyfire sunset above Makapipi Falls in Maui.
A sky fire sunset above Makapipi Falls.

While there are apparently dozens of waterfalls hidden away along the road to Hana, most require a more local knowledge of the island. However, Makapipi Falls is another one you will see right from the road and happened to be the one we found ourselves photographing as the sky caught fire.

Much like Waikani Falls, there is no immediate access to the waterfall. Unless you have a lot of time and thorough knowledge of the area, leave that swimwear in the car and get what you can from the road.

A drone photo captures Makapipi Falls from an otherwise impossible angle.
A drone photo captures Makapipi Falls from an otherwise impossible angle.

Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: Black Sand Beach

The black sand beach of Hana is one of the most interesting and beautiful beaches in all of Maui.
The black sand beach of Hana is one of the most interesting and beautiful beaches in all of Maui.

If you are a camper or van-lifer, be sure to schedule a night at the Waiʻānapanapa State Park; home of the island’s most pristine black sand beach.

We spent 2 weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii and had seen a few black sand beaches already, but this one is very different. The vibrant, lush greens of the tropical vegetation contrast magnificently against the opal-black rock. This was one of our favorite places on Maui to snap off both landscape and Instagram photos.

Do yourself a favor and spend one night here, if possible. Not only will this allow you to wake up and take in sunrise at one of the prettiest beaches on the island of Maui, but it will also allow you to drive and visit places that will be unbearably crowded later on in the day!

We recommend having a sunrise shoot here and then quickly making your way to the next stop to ensure you have our two favorites beaches on Maui to yourself…

Sunrise over the opal-black beach of Hana.
Sunrise over the opal-black beach of Hana.

Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: Red Sand Beach

The most interesting Instagram spot on Maui is this otherworldly red sand beach.
The most interesting Instagram spot on Maui is this otherworldly red sand beach.

Locally known as Kaihalulu Beach, this is one of the most interesting places you will find anywhere on this planet! Have you ever seen an actual red sand beach?! It was one of the best places in Maui for us.

While the pinkish-red tint is clearly the most unusual and captivating feature, the water here also mixes into beautiful shades of aqua, green, and blue.

Because it is is not particularly well-signed, this beach can be a bit tough to find. It was once a secret beach but is now pretty well known and is also clothing optional.

If you took our advice and were able to stay the night at Black Sand Beach, then you should be one of the first to arrive at Red Sand Beach as well; we even had the place all to ourselves for about 20 minutes!

To find this natural marvel, park along the street near the community center and look for a yellow gate. This will lead you to a large grassy area that you will walk through, looking for the dirt trail that will be signed. Follow the trail about 10 minutes and you will arrive.

We have traveled a lot of places, but neither of us had ever seen anything like Kaihalulu Beach before. For that reason, it was our #1 favorite Maui Instagram spot.

Seven Sacred Pools

The Seven Scared Pools of Oheo is the most popular Instagram spot on Maui.
The Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo is one of the most popular Maui Instagram spots.

The last stop on the road to Hana will be at the Seven Sacred Pools, aka The Pools at ‘Ohe’o. Be prepared for a LOT of people as this is the single most popular tourist spot on the island.

The Seven Sacred Pools are also part of the Kīpahulu District of Haleakalā National Park, meaning you will be paying $15 for entry and may have to pay an additional fee to park.

The tricky thing about this place is that it can be absolutely beautiful, but that depends on so many things. When we visited, the water had mostly dried up, meaning the ‘Ohe’o pools were just empty holes. The water was also a muddy brown and not terribly inviting. Swimming here is also not recommended for safety reasons, although it remains a popular spot to swim.

How many Instagram-worthy photos you are able to capture here will largely depend on the conditions you get. If you are short on time, this would probably be the most missable stop along the road to Hana, though we do recommend at least popping in if time permits.

There is also a bamboo forest that you access from this area, but it requires a fairly hot and strenuous hike!

Maui Instagram Spots: Upcountry

As we did not find ourselves compelled to take any photos in the Maui Central region, the final region to pin in your map is the “Upcountry,” which covers most of the non-coastal section in the middle of the island.

You will inevitably drive around and through the upcountry on your way to more exciting and photogenic Instagram spots, but there is exactly one place that most visitors make a point of saving time for…

Haleakala

Sunrise at Haleakala, a shield volcano that created 75% of the island of Maui, is probably the one shot that most photographers covet most dearly.

From what we’ve heard, sunrise from the crater is supposed to be an amazing experience. However, we had no idea that you needed a permit to visit, nor were we prepared for a multi-week waiting period! If you would like to visit this iconic spot for sunrise, be sure to book well ahead of time.

For permits, pricing, and more info, visit the Haleakala National Park Service website.

Haleakala volcano crater, Haleakala NAtional Park, Maui Hawaii
Haleakala Volcano
Image: Adobe Stock

Maui Instagram Spots Bonus: Whale Watching

A humpback whale slaps the water during a fiery Maui sunset.
A humpback whale slaps the water during a fiery Maui sunset.

If you visit Maui during the right time of year, you are bound to see a LOT of whale activity as they migrate through the islands. As of the time of our visit, drone regulations were very relaxed on the islands and provided the best way to see these amazing animals up-close without bothering them.

As most of you will not have a drone and should expect the rules to become more strict, there are also plenty of opportunities to capture them from one of many whale watching tours, or even from the beach!

The west coast will provide most of your opportunities for whale-watching on the island, particularly the passage between Lanai and Maui.

A humpback whale breaches in the distance off the shores of Maui.
A humpback whale breaches in the distance off the shores of Maui.

Final thoughts on the best Maui Instagram spots

An Instagram worthy photo of palm trees on Maui.

As you can see, the places for capturing the best Instagram photos on Maui are a lot more diverse than your simple palm-tree paradise… though there are plenty of those as well!

As our visit to the Hawaiian Islands included visits to every island except Molokai, we were able to observe how much each one varied. Maui was where we discovered the best Instagram spots! It did not happen to be our favorite island when it came to experience, but was certainly the one that provided the greatest diversity of photo ops!

Where to Next?

Do you have the good fortune of being an island-hopper like ourselves? If you plan on visiting Kona or Hilo next, check out our Big Island photography guide for all the most beautiful places on the Big Island.

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18 Comments

  1. April 7, 2020 / 7:18 am

    I have to say that I have a big problem with this post. I have been wanting to go to Hawaii for ages but the flights are always above 1000€ from Europe and that’s more than I am willing to pay… And you just made sure I have to go. Not because of instagram but because Maui seems to be a piece of heaven on Earth. What a list of magnificent places! Thanks for sharing and giving us the travel blues!

    • April 7, 2020 / 7:29 pm

      Haha sorry Jenn!! You won’t regret it though. Make your airfare worth it by including some of the other islands too 😉

  2. April 11, 2020 / 1:30 am

    Oh my! Where do I even start with which photo I loved best! You sure managed to make Maui look like the most beautiful place on earth! Those beaches are really out of this world. Secret or not, I’d love to visit them all! We saw rainbow Eucalyptus tress in Oahu too and I was so fascinated. And I have never seen a black sand beach let alone a red sand beach! I can see why that was your favourite part of the trip.

    • April 11, 2020 / 4:34 pm

      Thank you so much! The island is so beautiful, it makes the photography a lot easier. I hope you do great to visit them all 🙂

  3. April 11, 2020 / 1:41 am

    Wonderful photos and great recommendations along the Hana Highway. I loved the eucalyptus grove, and you’re right that it’s easy to miss! I made of a list of must sees by mile marker from Paia to Hana to keep us on track.

    • April 11, 2020 / 4:43 pm

      That’s a great tip to make sure you don’t miss anything! The eucalyptus trees are so cool right?!

  4. April 11, 2020 / 2:35 am

    I don’t really need to mention photography as I always love yours but this made me dream and wanna book tickets soon. Also how pretty was that campervan, omg!! I love your blog posts.

    • April 11, 2020 / 4:48 pm

      Thank you lovely! I’m glad you enjoyed it and hope you can make it to Maui soon xx

  5. April 11, 2020 / 2:51 am

    Your photos are absolutely stunning!! I’ve always dreamt of visiting Hawai’i but I haven’t made it there just yet 🙂

    • April 11, 2020 / 5:47 pm

      Thank you so much! I hope you do get to visit Maui, it’s beautiful!

  6. April 11, 2020 / 6:13 pm

    Such beautiful photos and wow, all these spots look so Instagrammable indeed. I haven’t been to that side of the world yet but I wish to go after reading this 💗

    • April 11, 2020 / 6:31 pm

      Thank you. It’s such a beautiful place! All the Hawaiian islands are gorgeous.

  7. Maryla Fossen
    June 11, 2020 / 9:25 pm

    OMG! What a great post! Thank you for sharing all this information! I love your van 🙂 Where did you rent it?

    • June 13, 2020 / 10:59 am

      Thank you Maryla. If you’re referring to the beautiful, brightly painted VW, she just rents it out for birthdays and photoshoots rather than to camp in. However, I believe she’s moved to Florida now with the van! It’s so pretty, you can check her out on Instagram @hellomissmaven

  8. Maryla Fossen
    June 11, 2020 / 9:37 pm

    How many days are you recomending to stay on Maui?

    • June 13, 2020 / 11:02 am

      We spent about 10 days on Maui (and about 6 weeks total across 5 of the Hawaiian islands). We felt this was plenty of time to see all the main sights and have some downtime on the beach and sipping cocktails at a bar! How long you need will vary depending on what you’d like to do there and what pace you’d like to see things at.

  9. Michelle
    June 22, 2020 / 5:49 am

    Lovely photos!! You said Maui wouldn’t be your first island of choice on experience. Which island would you recommend for first timers visiting Hawaii?

    • June 27, 2020 / 9:35 am

      Thank you so much Michelle! That’s a tough question as it really depends on your interests as the islands are so diverse. All the islands are beautiful and everyone seems to have a different favourite! Our favourites were Kauai and Oahu. Kauai has the most truly spectacular scenery and felt the wildest. While Oahu had both incredible beaches and stunning mountainous backdrops. The Big Island offers the widest range of diversity in terms of landscapes, being home to 11 of the 13 world climactic zones. However, many would argue Maui has some of the best beaches in the world and it has plenty of resorts if you’re looking for a more relaxing Hawaiian vacation.

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**All photos contained in this photography-based travel blog are copyright of Adam Marland & Sophie Clapton. 
They are not to be used for any purpose without the expressed, written consent of their owners.**