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! Our guide to photographing Maui will cover all the most beautiful places on the island.
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, Kauai photography locations guide, and our Instagram Photography Guide to Oahu!
Map of the best places for photographing Maui
In order to help you find all the best locations for photographing Maui, we’ve put all the places we mention in this blog post on the map below. Click here or on the image below to open the interactive map in Google Maps.
Maui Instagram Spots: South Region
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 in Maui, 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
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!
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Most Instagrammable Places in Oahu
Bonus: Unnamed Beach
(Near Secret Cove Beach)
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 while exploring and photographing Maui and never encountered another person, even when Secret Beach and Big Beach were busy.
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.
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 beer 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!
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Stunning Kauai Photography Locations
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 photographing Maui in mind, this is one of the best places for sunset on the entire island. 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!
Maui Instagram Spots: 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, providing unique opportunities for photographing Maui underwater!
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.
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.
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!
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Best Big Island Photography Spots
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 that 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 crowded 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.
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. You can find 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!
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Best Places for Sunset in Kauai
Maui Instagram Spots: Road to Hana
No visit to Maui is complete without exploring the Road 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. You can even stop at one of the top-rated all-inclusive resorts if you fancy a bit of indulgence!
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.
Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: The Rainbow Eucalyptus
Our first stop on the Hana Highway was at the incredible, jaw-dropping Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees at Keʻanae Arboretum. 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 Eucalyptus!
Upper Waikani Falls
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.
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 photograph what you can from the road.
FIND MORE INSPIRATION: 101+ Dream Destinations for your Travel Bucket List
Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: Black Sand Beach
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 for photographing Maui, both for 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…
Best Maui Instagram Spot Award: 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 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 $30 per vehicle or $15 per pedestrian for entry. It is worth noting that as it is a National Park, if you have one, you can enter using your Interagency Annual National Park Pass.
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!
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: 200+ Beach Quotes and Instagram Captions
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…
Sunrise at Haleakala, a shield volcano that created 75% of the island of Maui, is probably the one photo of Maui 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.
It seems like we missed out as there are plenty of things to do in Haleakala National Park, including some great hikes. Plus, it’s considered one of the best national parks to visit in January (the time of year we visited!). However, I guess it gives us a good excuse to go back though.
For permits, pricing, and more info, visit the Haleakala National Park Service website.
Maui Instagram Spots Bonus: Whale Watching
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.
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: 145+ Sea Quotes
Camera Equipment for Photographing Maui
While it is possible to capture some great photos nowadays with smartphones, for the best possible photos you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:
- Camera: We use the Sony a7riii and have loved it ever since the first photo we took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start learning manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Lens: The lens we use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. We also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
- Waterproof camera: With incredible snorkeling and waterfalls to explore in Maui you may find yourself taking more photos from underwater than on the land! We recommend either the GoPro or Olympus TG6, both of which we use.
- GoPro Dome: The PolarPro FiftyFifty Dome allows you to capture creative Maui images that are half underwater and half above water with your GoPro. You can see an example of this in the turtle shot above (under the West Maui heading).
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you are shooting in low light, at night or for any other long exposure photography. When traveling, we use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when we require something more stable, we use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on reflective surfaces, helping to bring out the colors. The best CPL and ND filters we have found are the Quartzline from Polar Pro.
Tips for Photographing Maui
Now you know where to go to get those perfect Instagrammable shots of Maui. So it’s time to give you some tips on how to capture them.
Don’t forget your camera!
Of course, having good camera equipment will help to capture those perfect photos in Maui. However, you can still get some great shots with just your phone. The images in this blog were taken with the Sony a7riii, DJI Mavic Pro, or GoPro.
Check out our post on travel photography camera gear to see what everything we used to take the photos in this post. If you are looking to invest in a camera, then you may also be interested in this blog post about the best cameras for blogging.
Choose the right lens
You will likely want a zoom lens to allow you to change your focal distance. In addition, you may want to consider a wide-angle lens to capture some of the wider scenes. The lens we use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. We also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
Bring a tripod
A tripod can be valuable for a couple of reasons, with the most obvious being its designed intention as a way to hold your phone or camera. It’s also great if you want photos of yourself or to include everyone you’re traveling with. It will allow you to compose your photos and use a timer or the help of a friend or stranger to hit the shutter button for you.
The other service a tripod is that itmagically provides is a bit of authority. Though by no means a given, most people are less inclined to step in front of your shots when they see you look professional!
When we have a lot of walking to do, I use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry.
Protect your camera / phone
If you plan on taking your camera to the beach or on boat trips, you may want to consider a rain cover. This is not a waterproof case, but it is substantially cheaper! A rain cover can reduce the risk of saltwater and sand getting on your camera.
For those of you using your phone, a cheap waterproof phone pouch is great for keeping your phone safe.
Take to the sky
If you have a drone, then you’ll definitely want it for photographing Maui! The island looks absolutely incredible from the sky.
A drone is a big investment so it’s not the right piece of gear for everyone. However, if you are interested in aerial photography, Maui is an incredible place for it. Our aerial photos in this post were taken with the DJI Mavic Pro. But we’ve recently upgraded to the DJI Mavic Pro 2 and love it! It’s also worth checking current drone restrictions as these are constantly being updated.
For those that don’t have a drone but still want to get a birds-eye view, consider a helicopter ride over the island. Again, this isn’t a cheap option but will offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience to capture some unique Maui photos.
Get out and shoot as early as possible
For the best chance of getting pictures without a ton of tourists in them, you’ll want to get to these locations as early as possible. Of course, it’s not going to be possible to only visit each place in the morning. Therefore, you’ll need to prioritise the shots you want the most and the places that will be busiest.
Wear comfortable shoes
Maui has some beautiful hikes so you’ll want to ensure you pack some comfortable shoes. Ideally, bring a waterproof pair of hiking shoes as rain is not uncommon in some areas of Maui. Or consider some hiking sandals that can also be worn in the water.
Bring spare batteries and memory cards
You don’t want to miss that perfect Instagram photo of Maui because of a full memory card or exhausted battery. Make sure you have an empty memory card, full battery, and spares! If you’re using your phone then invest in a power pack to keep you going.
Final thoughts on the best Maui Instagram spots
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.
For those of you heading to the garden isle, you may find these Kauai guides useful:
- Best Kauai Photography Locations
- Ultimate Kauai Itinerary
- Beautiful Kauai Sunset Spots
- Guide to hiking the Kalepa Ridge Trail
Finally, if you’re visiting Oahu, don’t miss these incredibly beautiful photography locations in Oahu.