Crafting the perfect itinerary for Maui before you even step one flip-flop on the island can be the difference between a stressful week of planning and the relaxing vacation you deserve.
With only about a week in Maui, every moment spent making arrangements from your hotel are moments you’re losing from your holiday! They are hours that could have been spent sipping drinks on the golden sands of Kihei, or swimming with turtles in Olowalu, watching the sunrise from Haleakala, or exploring the rainforest-beauty on the Road to Hana.
To ensure you truly maximize your time, we have put together an adaptable 5 – 7 Day Maui Itinerary. Our goal with this guide is to provide insight on the best things to see on the island while also sharing wisdom on how and where to spend your time based on your personal preferences.
We know you are unique, and that your taste and pace will differ from others. Accordingly, we have endeavored to ensure that the proposed itineraries are flexible. Beyond that, we have also made sure to provide direct links to any services you may find useful during your time.
Before you move forward, those of you who will be visiting other Hawaiian islands during your vacation may be interested in queuing up some of our other Hawaii guides to review when you are done here:
- 7 Day Itinerary for Kauai
- Kauai Photography Locations
- Best Places for Sunset in Kauai
- Big Island Photography Locations
- Best Maui Instagram Spots
- Best Instagram spots on Oahu
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 🙂
Getting Around Maui
The best way to explore Maui is by renting a car. While the island is not very large, public transportation options are limited and time is too precious to spend waiting around for buses.
Beyond this, there is a lot of beauty to discover roadside. You will find nearly all of the island to be accessible with a standard 2WD vehicle and the roads are well-maintained. However, some of them, specifically the Road to Hana, can be quite narrow in places. Keep this in mind if you are not comfortable with oversized vehicles.
To that end, many of you may be considering exploring Maui by camper van. While this is certainly a fun option, be forewarned that the island has become quite strict regarding overnight camping.
Map of Maui
The island of Maui is very small and can be explored from one central location if desired. There is almost nowhere on the island that is more than 2 hours from Kahului, for example, and the driving distance from one end to the other would be less than three hours total.
It is also worth noting that Maui is broken into six distinct regions, each of which offers a varied experience:
- South Maui
- West Maui
- Central Maui
- North Shore
- East Maui
The interactive map of Maui below shows all of the points of interest that are mentioned in this itinerary, color-coded and grouped by day. Click here or on the image to open the Google map in a new tab.
Where to Stay in Maui
The most important decision you will make when planning your Maui itinerary is deciding where you will stay.
Keep in mind that the island is very small. The entire drive from the two most distant towns (Kapalua Bay to Hana) is only a 2 hour 45 minute (81 miles) drive!
This means that you have the option to book only one hotel for your entire time in Maui. With that said, you may still wish to arrange stays in 2 or more different cities in order to minimize drive times and to experience a few different places.
The majority of the hotels in Maui can be found in West and South Maui. With luxury beach resorts stretching along its shore and the historic town of Lahaina, West Maui has some compelling reasons to stay here. However, if you plan on doing a lot of exploring, South Maui is more centrally located and the bustling town of Kihei offers a wealth of spectacular beach resorts.
Keeping your definition of an ideal 5 to 7 day Maui itinerary in mind, we would recommend one of the following options based on your personal preferences:
Option 1 – Book (up to) One Week in Kihei
The first and best option for most is to book your entire 5 to 7 night stay near the more centrally located and beautiful beach town of Kihei in South Maui.
The benefit of this option is that you spend less time packing and unpacking each day. The downside is that each day trip requires a return drive back to your home base. This removes the ability to save time and gas by exploring the island in a loop while staying nearby to that day’s destination.
For those who prefer staying in one location, we recommend staying near Kihei. As well as being centrally located, Kihei offers a wide range of accommodation and the town is filled with restaurants and shops. It is also the sunniest, driest part of the island!
You can check the current availability and prices for Kihei accommodation here.
Another consideration would be booking accommodation in Lahaina, West Maui. However, as previously mentioned, this will increase your drive time and distances from many of the destinations you will want to explore.
Option 2 – Book Nights in Multiple Cities
This option allows you to experience multiple resorts or accommodations while spending less time in the car as you never need to backtrack. However, this also means you are losing more time dealing with check-ins, packing, etc.
There is no “best way,” only the best way for you!
Planning your 7 Day Itinerary for Maui
As mentioned, our aim is to keep this itinerary for Maui as flexible as possible. It is with this goal in mind that we have broken down the destinations and activities that we most strongly recommend into manageable day trips.
All of these suggestions can be done at a comfortable pace in one day. If you are squeezing the entire one-week itinerary into a 5-day visit, you will need to move with a bit more urgency than we typically prefer.
If you are planning on staying in one hotel or resort for the entirety of your visit, the order in which you schedule these day trips is mostly irrelevant. Just make sure you book any snorkel trips or paid tours in accordance with the most promising weather, if possible.
Those of you who prefer to stay at multiple locations will simply want to consult the map in the section above and align each day with proximity to your accommodation in mind.
The PERFECT 5-7 Day Itinerary for Maui
Below is a list of day trips and destinations to arrange as you see fit to craft your personal Maui itinerary. Note that we arranged them in an order that makes sense for balancing leisure time and exploration, but these are completely interchangeable.
- Day 1: Arrival. Check in, explore locally. Have a drink.
- Day 2: Go snorkeling in Olowalu and visit Lahaina.
- Day 3: Go hiking in “West Maui” and experience a Luau in Maui.
(Combine Day 2 and 3 for five-day Maui itineraries)
- Day 4: Drive the Road to Hana.
(Consider staying overnight if time permits!)
- Day 5: Explore Haleakala National Park
- Day 6: Beach hopping and whale watching (or a sunset sail).
(Ignore for 5-day Maui itineraries.)
- Day 7: Check out and depart.
- Additional Option 1: Take a trip to Lāna‘i.
- Additional Option 2: Go snorkeling at Molokini Crater.
Now it’s time to get into the details! The section below breaks down each of these options and explains everything about what you will want to see and things to do in Maui.
Maui Itinerary Day 1: Check-in
The major airport that 99% of you will be flying into is Kahului Airport (OGG). The airport is located in Central Maui and is a short, 15-minute (10 mile) drive to Kihei or 36 minutes (24 miles) drive to Lahaina.
If you are planning on staying in at least 2 different locations during your time in Maui, consider seeking accommodation near Lahaina as this is where we suggest spending your first couple days.
Day 1 of this Maui itinerary has been kept very light by design. We recognize that some of you may be arriving late and will have just flown a great distance over from the mainland. Allow yourself a moment to switch into your new aloha headspace on this first day.
Switching off isn’t always as easy as you imagine it to be, so keep your arrival day as easy-breezy as the Hawaiian trade winds themselves.
Maui Itinerary Day 2: Snorkeling in Olowalu & Lahaina
As you may be experiencing a bit of jet lag or still trying to switch into island mode, we recommend a day at the beach for your first full day on Maui. The truly energetic readers among you will be able to squeeze a lot more into your day than we have proposed, just don’t forget that you are on vacation!
Snorkeling at Olowalu Beach
Just half an hour away from Kihei and Kahului is one of the most incredible coral gardens you will ever swim at Olowalu Beach. The best part is that it is completely free! That said, you will need some snorkel gear. We highly recommend buying a snorkel set. With your own gear, you’ll have the flexibility to go snorkeling whenever you like without having to worry about picking up or dropping off rental gear. It’ll also save you money in the long run!
Once you have arrived, find a spot in the sand to call home and enjoy a relaxing day on a beautiful beach, dipping in and out of the water to swim with turtles, tropical fish, and if you are incredibly lucky, perhaps even the endangered monk seal!
Spend an afternoon in Lahaina
When you have finished snorkeling and being a beach bum for the day, consider a trip up the coast to charming Lahaina.
This beachside town is home to perhaps the most vibrant community on Maui. Whether you are interested in shopping, art galleries, or just want to hit a happy hour, Lahaina is the place to be.
For those considering a trip to the neighboring island of Lāna‘i, this is also where you will catch the boat. You can find more information on that further in this guide.
If you are a craft beer lover like ourselves, we implore you to end your day at Maui Brewing Co located 15 minutes up the road. They have some of the best beer we have tasted anywhere in the world, including our personal favorite, the coconut imperial porter. For the avid beer fans, you could even consider a brewery tour to visit the three local breweries on the island!
Maui Itinerary Day 3: Explore West Maui and a Sunset Sail
For clarification, the region of West Maui is actually the entire upper-left region of the island. Northwest Maui would be more accurate, but, alas it is named West Maui!
As you may have noticed, Day 2 already covered much of West Maui. However, beyond the point where most tourists go are some beautiful hikes and incredible coastline. Just be aware that the road is very windy and narrow, so take your time.
Hiking in West Maui
We suggest spending Day 3 driving north on Highway 340 through West Maui Natural Reserve Area. Along the scenic drive are several short hikes, art galleries, cafes, and more. The idea is to take your time and make a day out of it.
Hikes to consider along the way include:
- Waihee Ridge Trail: A steep 2.5 mile hike into the clouds for fantastic panoramic views.
- Olivine Pools Trail: A short half-mile walk to a spectacular and savage coastline (see photo above.)
- Ohai Trail: An easy 1.2 mile walk with scenic views, often used by locals for dog walking and bird watching.
Experience the best Luau in Maui
A quintessential experience for everyone visiting Hawaii for the first time is to witness a modern rendition of a traditional luau. Fortunately, Maui is home to what many consider the best and most authentic luau in all of Hawaii, and you’ll find it right in Lahaina!
We cannot recommend Old Lahaina enough. They showcase the beauty of Hawaiian culture through food and traditional dance in the best dinner show you will find anywhere.
Come hungry, the food is just too good to stop eating long past the point of feeling full!
As this is the best luau in Maui, it will often be fully booked!! If your dates are not available, these are the next best luaus in Maui, and while they do not have the reputation of Old Lahaina, they still have rave reviews!
READ MORE: Most Instagrammable Places on Maui
Maui Itinerary Day 4: The Road to Hana
Even if you throw out the rest of our proposed activities or only have one day in Maui, the one thing you simply must include on your itinerary is driving the Road to Hana.
While most imagine Maui to be just beaches and a tropical paradise, there is also a lush rainforest on the eastern side that is teeming with waterfalls, unusual beaches, and an assortment of natural gems.
Be warned that exploring the Road to Hana in its entirety will require a full day, or even an overnight visit for some! The entire journey from Kihei through Hana and back via the scenic loop through Kaupo is 5 hours and 128 miles of just driving. In other words, be sure you get an early start!
Along the way, you will encounter plenty of beautiful features along the roadside including a collection of waterfalls. Below are the destinations we specifically recommend making time for in addition to what you’ll see out the car window.
It is recommended to begin the loop clockwise, so set your GPS for the stops below and make sure you return to your accommodation via Kaupo.
Just past Mile Marker 7 on the Road to Hana is a small collection of incredible “rainbow eucalyptus” trees. These are not native, originating from the Philippines, but they are amazing to see in person and absolutely worth a stop.
Depending on the light and time of year, you may not immediately notice them roadside as the colors can be quite subdued on cloudy days or in poor light.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled to the left around the mile marker sign so you do not miss them like so many others! We’ve also pinned their location on our Google Map above to help you find them!
Black Sand Beach (Waiʻānapanapa State Park)
If time permits, consider staying the night at the Waiʻānapanapa State Park campground. Sunrise at the black sand beach is truly magical!
If that is not an option, at least stop in to witness the spectacular scenery. Lush green palm trees sway harmonically, contrasted vibrantly against the jet black volcanic sand.
While there are multiple black sand beaches in Hawaii, this is hands down the most photogenic.
Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)
There are a few mandatory warnings to visiting Kaihalulu Beach, also known as Red Sand Beach. The first is that the trail can be quite dangerous and should only be attempted by hikers with full physical ability. If the region has experienced heavy rain recently, do not attempt this hike at all.
The next is that this is a clothing-optional beach. Accordingly, do not be surprised to find other visitors enjoying their day in the buff.
Last, there is some debate as to whether or not this beach is legally accessible as the trail crosses over private land. However, every beach in Hawaii is legally mandated to have public access if available meaning the trail itself is legal to walk.
While things may have changed since our visit, we were able to find parking eventually (which took some effort) and thoroughly enjoyed this rare spectacle. It was easily one of the best places to photograph in Maui with its deep red colors contrasting spectacularly against the azure waters and luxuriant greenery.
We’ve been to a lot of places in this world but never seen anything quite like Red Sand Beach in Maui!
Seven Sacred Pools (ʻOheʻo Gulch or Pools of ʻOheʻo)
Technically, the ʻOheʻo Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools, falls within the Haleakala National Park boundaries. This means that you will be required to pay an entrance fee to enter if you do not have a National Parks pass.
There are several points of interest in ʻOheʻo Gulch worth visiting, but the sacred pools were our favorite. These beautiful tubs make for fantastic swimming holes and are beautiful to photograph.
Additionally, there is a bamboo forest and numerous waterfalls you can hike to from here. During our visit, however, most of the falls were dried up and not worth the time we spent trying to reach them.
READ MORE: Camera Gear for Epic Travel Photos
Maui Itinerary Day 5: Haleakalā National Park
The Hawaiian islands were forged by volcanoes, and evidence of this will be visible throughout your time in Maui. One of the most beautiful places to get immersed in this volcanic nature is at Haleakalā National Park.
The park is broken up into separate districts, with ʻOheʻo Gulch residing in the Kīpahulu District. You will already be exploring ʻOheʻo Gulch on whichever day you dedicate to driving the Road to Hana if you choose to drive it as a loop. Instead, for this day trip, we will focus on the Summit Area.
Be warned that this is a long drive from pretty much everywhere on the island! Also, note that there are no gas stations within the park and that being onsite at the observatory for the increasingly popular sunrise view now requires a reservation. However, it is worth it as it offers the best sunrise experience on Maui!
If you are lucky enough to land a reservation for sunrise at Haleakalā Observatory, you will need to arrange your entire itinerary and sleep schedule around this. From Kihei to Haleakalā Visitor Center is a 1h 25 minute (45 mile) drive through winding switchbacks.
If you plan on visiting independently, we recommend exploring the official Haleakala NPS site. Here you can find everything you need to know about the park, including reservations, hiking information, as well as planners, maps, and important park alerts including closures.
Pro tip: Pack warm clothes! You will be at 10,023 feet (3,055m) in elevation so it’ll be much cooler than the beach, particularly at sunrise!
Take a guided tour to Haleakalā National Park
Take the stress out of scoring reservations and driving switchbacks in the dark with a tour to Haleakalā. There are several tour options, offering slightly different experiences. Some of the top tours to Haleakalā include:
- Sunrise and breakfast tour to Haleakalā: This highly rated tour will pick you up from your hotel and take you directly to the summit to watch the sun come up. Here you will have coffee and pastries waiting, before returning to your hotel by late-morning. It is a particularly great option is your Maui itinerary is tight, as it frees up the afternoon for beach hopping or whale watching.
- Guided hike of Haleakala crater with lunch: Explore two popular hiking trails and learn about Maui’s heritage with an expert guide.
- Haleakala and ‘Iao Valley tour: Take in the highlights of Upcountry Maui and witness the otherworldly landscape of Haleakala. After taking time to enjoy the national park, you will go on to explore ‘Iao Valley and witness the impressive ʻIao Needle.
Maui Itinerary Day 6: Beach Hopping and Whale Watching
If you only have enough time for a 5 day Maui itinerary, you will need to pack some beach hopping into one or more previous days. Those with the luxury of time, however, should take a leisurely day at the tail end of the trip to relax and enjoy paradise.
Maui is home to some of the best beaches in the world. For some of you, you came to soak in the aloha vibes. If that is you, find your favorite beach, ask for a drink menu, and let the day pass you by as you mindfully appreciate every calming breath.
Other readers may be more like us with an adventurer’s spirit that gets restless if not active.
Below were our favorite beaches in Maui that were not already included elsewhere in the guide.
The Kihei region was home to our favorite beaches when we were looking for something built up that provided some amenities.
In particular, we were absolutely in love with Wailea. From the shore, we watched a mama whale playing with her calf as the sunset. While we cannot promise you’ll have quite the same experience, we can promise you plenty of island vibes.
Sugar Beach is also a lovely place to spend the day with your toes dug into the soft sands embrace.
Secret Cove Beach (aka Pa’ako Cove)
For the photographers out there, “Secret Cove Beach” is the most photogenic on the island. It is located just south of Big Beach.
Secret Cove Beach is so-named because there is no sign for it, and because it was probably once lesser-known. While it still receives fewer visitors than other beaches nearby, expect to have company any time of day.
To find it, 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!
Consisting of Little Beach and Big Beach (both of which can be seen in the photo above), Makena Beach is a favorite for locals and tourists alike.
The easier to access is Big Beach and thus sees far more visitors. However, there is a trail leading up and over to the secluded Little Beach as well. Be aware that this is a clothing-optional beach.
Our favorite view of Makena was from the sky. We used a drone to capture the caldera as well as the lush, tropical colors and coral of the Pacific.
Whale Watching / Sunset Sail
As this is your final night in Maui, it is important that make the most of it. This will be the final opportunity to take home a lasting memory!
In our opinion, the best way to guarantee an evening to remember is with a sunset sail.
Whether you are on a family vacation or a romantic getaway, few experiences will top a sunset sail off the west coast of Maui. If you are there during whale migration season, which is typically November through April, you may even have the good fortune of spotting a passing humpback or witness the “green flash” as you sit back and enjoy a Hawaiian sunset.
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Muai Itinerary Day 7: Depart
We didn’t want to include any specific recommendations for your final day on Maui since the amount of time you have available is entirely dependent on your time of departure.
Fortunately, OGG Airport is small and near to many of the places we have recommended visiting throughout this travel guide. Wake up early and watch the sunrise, or sneak in 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.
Oh, and don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs!
Additional Option to Consider: Day trip to Lāna‘i
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. While the island has some points of interest, including two renowned golf courses, it is not quite the tropical paradise that the other major islands are. However, you will
From Lahaina you can take the ferry to Lanai for $30 each way, tickets are available from Go Lanai website.
Additional Option to Consider: Snorkel trip to Molokini Crater
Go on an underwater adventure and snorkel the extinct volcanic crater of Molokini. 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.
There are a variety of different tour companies that offer snorkeling trips to Molokini Crater. Most trips 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 tour will have different start times and slightly different inclusions, so make sure you compare them to find one that’s right for you. It is also not uncommon for tours to be fully booked during peak season, so it is worth booking in advance.
- Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkel Tour with Lunch: Starting at either 6:30am or 7:30am, this tour last 6 hours and takes you to both Molokini and Turtle Town. The tour includes your snorkeling gear, flotation devices, as well as breakfast and lunch. There’s even a slide on the boat for an added bit of fun!
- Molokini Crater & Turtle Town Snorkeling or Snuba Tour: Another morning tour, this trip starts at 7am and lasts 5 hours. Explore both Molokini Crater and Turtle Town either by snorkel or snuba before enjoying an al fresco lunch. Make sure you also take advantage of the water slide and water toys and pool noodles!
- Afternoon Snorkel to Coral Gardens or Molokini Crater: If you’re not an early riser, or are looking for a shorter time commitment, this afternoon tour strating at 1pm may suit you better! This tour lasts 3 hours and will take you either to Coral Gardens or Molokini Crater, depending on sea and weather conditions on the day of your tour. Snorkel equipment is included, however, lunch is an optional extra for this tour.
Packing for a week in Maui
While your individual packing list will vary depending on the type of vacation you intend to have, there are a few essentials that you will want to consider taking with you to Maui.
- Camera: Maui is a stunning place and you’ll want to capture those moments to cherish. We use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with 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 getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Waterproof camera: With incredible snorkeling and waterfalls to explore 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.
- Swimsuit: Whether swimming in waterfalls, rivers or the ocean, you’ll want a swimsuit to enjoy the water in Maui.
- Reef-safe sunscreen: Hawaii is the first state to require the use of reef-safe sunscreen. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reefsafe and most of their bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
- Beach towel: Hotels will provide towels for use within their grounds but you will want to take a towel with you for 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 so you’ll want to ensure you pack some comfortable shoes. Hiking sandals are ideal for Maui as they keep your feet cool and can also be worn in the water.
- Reusable water bottle: We don’t travel anywhere without a reusable water bottle. Remain hydrated without wasting single use plastic bottles! Most restaurants and hotels will refill bottles for you.
- Snorkel gear: If you’re planning on doing a lot of snorkelling 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 out hiking or just on the beach, we always have a mini first aid kit in our bag just in case. You never know when it may come in handy (particularly as I’m clumsy)!
Our Maui Itinerary Final Thoughts
We hope you have found success from our Maui guide in creating and planning your perfect 5 to 7 day itinerary. We have visited all of the Hawaiian Islands and found ourselves taking more photos on Maui than anywhere else.
The blessed among you will not be saying farewell to Hawaii, but simply hopping on a short flight to another island. If this includes you, be sure to check out our other Hawaii travel guides:
- Best Maui Instagram Spots
- Big Island Photography Locations
- Best Instagram spots on Oahu
- The perfect 7 day Kauai Itinerary
- Kauai Photography Locations
- Best Kauai Sunset Locations
See something we missed? Let us know in the comments below!