🏝 Perfect 7 Day Maui Itinerary for a First Visit (2024)

7 Day Maui itinerary blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying an image of a golden sand beach at sunset with two empty sun loungers with palm trees in the background.

Crafting the perfect 7-day Maui itinerary before stepping one flip-flop onto the island can be the difference between a stressful week of planning and the relaxing vacation you deserve!

Sophie and I visit Maui every year and always find new things to do! As former landscape photographers by trade, we experience tremendous joy in exploring the diverse ecosystems on “the Valley Isle.”

In this guide, I have outlined the exact 7-day Maui itinerary we followed on our most recent trip. I have also included alternative options to suit your individual preferences.

In addition to the itinerary, you will learn all the pertinent information that first-time visitors must know. This includes sections on how to get around, the best areas to stay in, and more.

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 πŸ™‚

🌴 7-Day Maui Itinerary Overview

As two active explorers, we found the pace and activities in this 7-day Maui itinerary perfect for us.

However, I have designed this guide to be flexible and personally customizable with the understanding that everyone is unique!

My goal is to ensure you get to see all of the fantastic sights on Maui but also have time to relax and enjoy your vacation


7-Day Maui Itinerary Quick Summary

  • Best Areas to Stay: Kihei or Wailea.
  • How to Get There: Fly into Maui Airport (OGG).
  • How to Get Around: Rental car and tours.
  • Must-Do Activities: Road to Hana, Molkini Crater, Sunset Luau, Haleakala NP.
Day 1Arrive and explore locally
Day 2West Maui road trip
Day 3Molokini Crater and sunset luau
Day 4Drive the Road to Hana
Day 5Beach hopping and whale watching or sunset sail
Day 6Sunrise at Haleakala and explore the North Shore
Day 7Check out and depart
Alt. Option 1Take a trip to the island of Lānaβ€˜i
Alt. Option 2Hike the West Maui mountains

NEED HELP WITH MORE PLANNING THAN JUST AN ITINERARY?
🌴 PLANNING A TRIP TO MAUI: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE β˜€οΈ

πŸ– Maps of Maui

The island of Maui is small, meaning you can easily explore the entire island without booking multiple accommodations.

Use the maps below to help you familiarize yourself with the layout and regions of Maui.


Regional Map of Maui

Map of Maui showing the 6 districts in different colors

It is worth noting that Maui is broken into six distinct regions, each of which offers a varied experience.

These regions are mentioned throughout this travel guide, so be sure to take a moment to let it register, and feel free to download our custom-made map!

  • South Maui: Most common tourist destination and best beaches.
  • West Maui: Second most popular place to stay on Maui and best snorkeling.
  • Central Maui: Where you will find the large stores, chain restaurants, and Airport (OGG).
  • North Shore: Great for surfing, wind sailing, and the most secluded beaches.
  • Upcountry: Climb in elevation as you near Haleakala volcano for sweeping views.
  • East Maui: The rainy side of the island; beautiful nature but best to visit as a day trip.

Maui Points of Interest Map

Map of Maui showing the points of interest for 7 day Maui itinerary

The interactive map of Maui above shows all of the points of interest mentioned in your 7-day itinerary.

The destinations and activities featured have been color-coded and grouped by the day we suggest visiting.

Click on the image above or click here to open the Google map in a new tab.

Young girl walks a volcanic beach during her one week on Maui.

🏝 Maui Itinerary Day 1:
Arrive & Explore Kihei/Wailea

Curling wave between lava rock with palm trees in the background at Secret Cove Beach in Maui

You will fly into Kahului Airport (OGG), located in Central Maui. From here, it is just a 15-minute (10-mile) drive to Kihei and another 5 minutes to Wailea.

I strongly suggest seeking accommodation in Kihei or Wailea. These two areas are the best places to stay in Maui based on the services, beaches, and climate you will find there.

Day 1 of your itinerary has been kept very light in consideration of long flights and late arrivals.

Check in to your accommodation, unpack your bags, and then hit the excellent beaches nearby. Allow yourself a moment to switch into your new aloha headspace!

While it may seem silly, I always like to spend the first day of my Hawaii vacation just sitting on a beach and being as mindful as possible of how beautiful life is at that moment.

🀿 Maui Itinerary Day 2:
West Maui Road Trip

An aerial view of the coral gardens of Olowalu alongside the Highway 30 heading north in West Maui.
An aerial view of Hwy 30 and the stunning reef at Olowalu.

Every time I visit Hawaii, I find myself waking up early and excited on Day 2 but also jet-lagged.

As many of you will have traveled long distances and may also be dealing with a bit of lag, Day 2 balances a bit of roadside sightseeing with plenty of snorkeling and beach time.

The West Maui region is home to most of the best places to snorkel on Maui, all of which are accessible by car via the Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30). Olowalu and Honolua Bay are particularly spectacular.

Ka’anpalai, Kapalua, and Napili are all towns that host incredible beaches and resorts in the region.

The best thing about these beaches and snorkel spots is that they are my favorite price: free!

If you are more into sightseeing and photography like Sophie and I, your route will follow Hwy 30 all the way around in a nearly full circle. I have featured my favorite stops and viewpoints below.

Most of you will probably want to spend less time in the car and more time in the sand or water. If this is you, Honolua Bay Lookout will be your final stop on Hwy 30, at which point you will turn around and return to Kihei the way you came.


Snorkeling at Olowalu Beach

An aerial view of the incredible coral gardens you can snorkel at Olowalu Beach on your Maui itinerary.
An aerial view of the incredible coral gardens you can snorkel 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 and bringing it with you, allowing the flexibility to go snorkeling whenever you like without having to worry about rentals.

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

A vibrant rainbow touches down on the mountains behind Lahaina.
A vibrant rainbow touches down on the mountains behind Lahaina.

Unfortunately, the historic town of Lahaina was completely destroyed by wildfire on Aug 8, 2023.

What was once considered the absolute best town in Maui to visit will have to be completely rebuilt and will be closed to non-essential travel for the foreseeable future.

Lahaina was the place to be whether you were interested in shopping, art galleries, or just wanting to hit a happy hour.

It was also where you would catch the boat for many tours, as well as the ferry to the neighboring island of Lānaβ€˜i, which is now departing from Maalaea Harbor.

An aerial photo of the sun setting behind Lanai island taken from Maui by drone with Lahaina in the foreground.
Sunset from high above Lahaina.

Maui Brewing Co

If you are a craft beer lover like ourselves, we implore you to stop by Maui Brewing Co. They have some of the best beer we have tasted anywhere in the world, including our personal favorite, the coconut imperial porter.

For avid beer fans, you could even consider a brewery tour to visit the three local breweries on the island!


Beach Time in Ka’anapali

Ka'anapali Beach should be on everyone's Maui itinerary, with its soft sand and turquoise waters.

Ka’anapali Beach is consistently on the list of the β€œBest Beaches in America” and has even won the award in years past.

With powdery, white sand and vibrant turquoise waters, it is no surprise why! Ka’anapali and the adjoining Black Rock Beach are easily some of the best beaches in Maui.

This region is especially popular with couples and families. The soft sand and calm water make it a great place to visit with kids, while its close proximity to some of the best honeymoon hotels in Maui makes it perfect for a romantic getaway as well.

The north end of Ka’anapali Beach, known as Black Rock Beach is great for snorkeling and is a good place to spot turtles in the water.


Honolua Bay

Golden hour lights up this lonely bay in West Maui.
Golden hour lights up this lonely bay in West Maui.

Honolua Bay is a marine life sanctuary at the northern tip of West Maui. It boasts spectacularly clear water and a thriving coral garden that make it one of the best places to snorkel on the island.

If you do not have the time or desire to snorkel here, at least be sure to stop at the Honolua Bay Lookout, which is especially pretty at sunset.

From here, you can either choose to turn around and head back home the way you came, or continue onward around the windy and narrow scenic loop drive.

🀿 FIND OUT MORE:
COMPLETE GUIDE TO HONOLUA BAY


West Maui Scenic Loop

Landscape photography of the savage, volcanic coastline on the Olivine Pools trail in West Maui.
The savage volcanic coastline of the Olivine Pools of West Maui.

From Honolua Bay, you can choose to turn around and drive back to South Maui the way you came or to continue along Highway 30 to complete the scenic loop.

Along the scenic loop are several short hikes, art galleries, cafes, and more. We suggest going slowly to take in all of the beautiful scenery along the way!

Short 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.

🍍 Maui Itinerary Day 3:
Molokini Crater, Beaches & Sunset Luau

Day 3 of your one week Maui itinerary has been arranged to create the perfect mix of adventure, relaxation, and culture!

You will begin the day with a half-day snorkel tour to a beautiful marine nature reserve where you will snorkel the impressive Molokini Crater, chalked full of underwater life.

When you get back, take some time to enjoy the golden sand beaches of Kihei or look for the stunning Maui Secret Beach; our favorite beach on the island!

End your day by engaging all the senses with a sunset luau, enjoying delicious Hawaiian food and traditional stories told in the form of song and dance.


Molokini Crater Snorkel Tour

An aerial view of snorkeling boats at Molokini Crater, Maui

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 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

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

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 Crater and South Maui Coast Adventure from Kihei: 5/5 ⭐
    Get an early start and be one of the first to Molokini Crater. Departing at 7am,  this 5 hour tour includes breakfast and lunch. After snorkeling the crystal clear waters of Molokini, you’ll head to β€˜Turtle Town,’ stopping on the way to see some recent lava flows at La Perouse Bay.
  • Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkel Tour with Lunch: 4.6/5 ⭐
    Starting at either 6:30am or 7:30am, this tour last 5-6 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!
  • Afternoon Snorkel to Coral Gardens or Molokini Crater: 4.4/5 ⭐
    If you’re not an early riser, or are looking for a shorter time commitment, this afternoon tour starting 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.

Beach Day in Kihei or Wailea

Travel blogger Sophie Clapton poses for a photo during a one week trip to Maui, captured at Makena Cove Secret Beach in Wailea.

Kihei and Wailea-Makena are the major towns in the South Maui region, which has the best weather and beaches on the island.

You will have some free time to enjoy between the snorkel tour and sunset luau, which we recommend spending by relaxing on any one of the regions incredible beaches.

There are 15 beaches in Kihei alone, plus many more in Wailea. Our personal favorite is “Maui Secret Beach”, also known as Makena Cove Beach. It is not only the most beautiful beach on Maui, but also one of the quietest.

🏝 READ MORE:
15 BEST BEACHES IN KIHEI


Experience an Authentic Sunset Luau in Maui

Performers on stage in traditional costumes against a fiery sunset sky at The Feast at Mokapu sunset luau in Maui
No Maui vacation is complete until you have experienced a traditional luau!

A quintessential experience for everyone visiting Hawaii for the first time is to witness a modern rendition of a traditional luau.

Unfortunately, what most considered the best, most authentic luau in all of Hawaii, the Old Lahaina Luau was damaged by wildfire on August 8, 2023. It remains to be seen when, or if, it will reopen.

Still, there are several excellent options to choose from that showcase the beauty of Hawaiian culture through food and traditional dance. The one we experienced on our visit was the Andaz Resort’s sunset luau called The Feast at Mokapu“, which we highly recommend.

Come hungry, Hawaiian food is incredible and the portions are large.

You can also browse the highest rated luaus in Maui here.

πŸ“Έ READ MORE:
MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES IN MAUI

πŸš™ Maui Itinerary Day 4:
Drive 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.

You will want to allow at least a full day for exploring the Road to Hana in its entirety. In fact, many visitors will even opt for an overnight visit!

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. Set your GPS for the stops below and make sure you return to your accommodation via Kaupo.

πŸš— DISCOVER MORE IN OUR COMPLETE GUIDE:
25 BEST STOPS ON THE ROAD TO HANA


Driving the Road to Hana

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 Road to Hana has approximately 620 curves and 59 bridges, 46 of which are one-lane bridges. Due to this, many are uncomfortable driving this road.

It has also earned the nickname “Divorce Highway” because of the arguments it has caused between couples! However, it is paved throughout, and if you drive cautiously and within the speed limits you are unlikely to have any issues.

If you’re not comfortable driving the Road to Hana, you may wish to consider an organized tour.


Rainbow Eucalyptus

Sophie admires the vibrant colors of the rainbow eucalyptus trees on the Road to Hana.

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)

A view of Black Sand Beach Waiʻānapanapa State Park (aka Black Sand Beach) just after sunrise.
A view of Black Sand Beach Waiʻānapanapa State Park (aka Black Sand Beach) just after sunrise.

Be aware that as of April 2021 reservations are required for visiting Waianapanapa State Park, including the Black Sand Beach!

You can find everything you need to know about reserving a spot in our Reservations Guide to Black Sand Beach.

If time permits, consider staying the night at the Waiʻānapanapa State Park campground as part of a 2-day Road to Hana itinerary. 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.

πŸ–€ FIND OUT MORE:
COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAUI BLACK SAND BEACH


Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)

Behold the incredible colors of Red Sand Beach; one of Maui's greatest natural treasures.
Behold the incredible colors of Red Sand Beach; one of Maui’s greatest natural treasures.

There are a few mandatory warnings to visiting Kaihalulu Beach, also known as Red Sand Beach.

The first warning is that the trail can be quite dangerous. Do not attempt this hike unless you have full physical ability, and do not attempt it with children.

If the region has experienced heavy rain recently, do not attempt this hike at all.

A swimmer jumps into the water at Red Sand Beach in Maui.

The next thing to know is that this is a clothing-optional beach. Do not be surprised to find other visitors enjoying their day in their birthday suits.

Last, there is some debate as to whether or not this beach is legally accessible. The trail crosses over private land, but it is complicated.

Every beach in Hawaii is legally mandated to have public access if available. This means that the trail itself is legal to walk, in theory.

While things may have changed since our visit, we were able to find parking eventually. It did, however, take some effort.

Still, this is easily one of the best places to photograph in Maui and totally worth it! The deep red colors contrasting spectacularly against the azure waters and luxuriant greenery is unforgettable.

❀️ FIND OUT MORE:
COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAUI RED SAND BEACH


Seven Sacred Pools (Κ»OheΚ»o Gulch or Pools of Κ»OheΚ»o)

Long exposure photography of the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo in Maui.
A view of the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo.

Technically, the Κ»OheΚ»o 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 Κ»OheΚ»o 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 along the Pipiwai Trail and numerous waterfalls you can hike to from here. Unfortunately, most of the falls were dried up during our February visit.

πŸ“Έ READ MORE:
CAMERA GEAR FOR EPIC TRAVEL PHOTOS

πŸ‹ Maui Itinerary Day 5:
Beach Hopping & Whale Watching or Sunset Sail

A whale tail splashes the water on a whale watching tour in Hawaii.

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.

If your week in Maui corresponds with whale migration season, which typically spans November to May, you will have the opportunity to get out on the open water and see one of these gentle giants (reasonably) up close.

Use Day 5 to recover from a long day on the Road to Hana, spending time enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian beaches and whale watching from the shores or on a tour.

Alternatively, those of you who prefer the rainforest to the beaches can use this light day to extend the Day 4 Road to Hana itinerary into an overnight visit.

Below were our favorite beaches in Maui that were not already included elsewhere in the guide.


South Maui Beaches

A large gathering of people enjoy a sunny day on Maui at Kamaole Beach.

The Kihei beaches are some of our favorites when if you are looking for something that provides some amenities, such as lifeguards, bathrooms, and showers.

In particular, any of the three Kamaole Beaches are great options for anyone traveling with children and spending a day at. There are picnic tables and facilities nearby.

🏝️ FIND OUT MORE:
COMPLETE GUIDE TO KAMAOLE BEACH PARK


Wailea Beach

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.

We absolutely fell in love with Wailea Beach, having enjoyed one of those most magical moment of our trip right off the shore.

While photographing sunset at the water’s edge, we watched a mama humpback whale playing with her calf as the sky caught fire.

We cannot promise you’ll have quite the same experience, but we can promise you a beautiful beach awaits!


Secret Cove Beach (aka Pa’ako Cove)

A stunning sunset seascape at the Instagrammable Secret Cove Beach on Maui.
The most photogenic beach on the island of Maui is Secret Cove Beach.

For the photographers out there, “Secret Cove Beach” is the most photogenic on the island. In fact, it even made the list of the Top 5 beaches for Photographing Hawaii. It is located just south of Big Beach.

Secret Cove Beach derives the name because there is no sign for it, and because it was probably once lesser-known.

It is also known as Maui Secret Beach, Pa’ako Cove or Makena Cove. 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. Keep your eyes on the wall on the ocean side of the street. You will eventually notice a break in the wall which provides 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 β€œsecret” this cove is not!

πŸŒ… FIND OUT MORE IN OUR COMPLETE GUIDE:
MAUI SECRET BEACH (MAKENA COVE)


Makena Beach

Makena Beach, featuring both Little Beach and Big Beach) as seen from the skies.
Makena Beach, featuring both Little Beach and Big Beach as seen from the skies.

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.

🌊 FIND OUT MORE:
COMPLETE GUIDE TO LITTLE BEACH MAUI


Whale Watching

The tail of a humpback whale splashes above the water with a vibrant orange sunset sky in the background.
Be sure your Maui itinerary includes at least one sunset sail, especially during whale season!

If you are visiting Maui during whale migration season, which is typically November through May, you may have the good fortune of spotting a passing humpback throughout your week on the island.

For some, just seeing them in the distance will be enough. However, there is something humbling about being on the water to see them up close and truly experience their grandiose size.

A whale watching boat tour is great any time of the day, with each time slot offering its own unique benefits.

For example, early morning boat tours will typically have calmer water which makes it easier to spot whales further away. Tours in the middle of the day, meanwhile, will have brighter overhead sunlight which allows you to see through the water and spot whales near the surface.

You can even take a whale watching tour later in the day to combine it with a sunset cruise!

We recommend choosing the time for your whale watching tour that best conforms to your personal preferences and itinerary.

πŸ–οΈ FIND MORE INSPIRATION:
101+ DREAM DESTINATIONS FOR YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST


Maui Sunset Sail

Sunset sail on the final day in Maui.
Watching the day come to a beautiful end on the Trilogy Sails sunset cruise.

Of course you can watch sunset anywhere, but it is important to treat yourself on vacation and a sunset sail is a truly special experience.

Maui is considered one of the most romantic destinations in the US, and it doesn’t get much more romantic than this!

That said, it is a great way to end a day even if you are on a family vacation. Kids are welcome!

⭐️ Pro Tip: Look for the mythical “green flash” right as the last bit of sun drops below the horizon!

πŸŒ‹ Maui Itinerary Day 6:
Haleakalā NP, Upcountry, & Maui North Shore

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, famously considered the best place to see sunrise on the island.

Whether you are willing to be there for sunrise or not, you will want to begin your final full day on Maui at Haleakala NP.

After exploring, you should have plenty of time to see some of the highlights of the Maui Upcountry region, North Shore region, or both!

The Maui North Shore is home to a fun little town called Paia as well as a plethora of Maui’s best secret beaches.

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ DISCOVER MORE:
COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAUI’S NORTH SHORE


Haleakala National Park

Looking out over a volcanic landscape from the summit of Haleakala Volcano in Haleakala National Park in Maui Upcountry.
Experience the colorful volcanic nature of Maui at Haleakalā National Park.

The park is broken up into separate districts, with Κ»OheΚ»o Gulch residing in the KΔ«pahulu District.

You will already be exploring the Κ»OheΚ»o Gulch region on Day 4 when you drive the Road to Hana. Instead, Day 6 will focus on the Summit Region.

You can arrange your visit as a self-guided drive or by booking one of several tours; sunrise and bicycle tours being the most popular.

Being onsite at the Haleakala Oservatory for sunrise requires a reservation, but can be done without a tour if you are lucky enough to get a permit. Tours guarantee you a spot.

Be warned that this is a long drive from everywhere on the island and there are no gas stations within the park!

If you book a tour or 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. You will find everything you need to know about the park, including reservations, hiking information, as well as planners, maps, and important park alerts including closures.

For those that have one, be sure to pack your NPS annual pass or consider buying one if you’ll be exploring several 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 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: 4.6/5 ⭐
    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 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 taking time to enjoy the national park, you will go on to explore ‘Iao Valley and witness the impressive Κ»Iao 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.

Maui Upcountry

Low clouds blanket the summit of Haleakala Volcano in this photo from the Maui Upcountry region.

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 prior to 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 is actually a premier farm-to-table restaurant with exceptional reviews!
  • Ocean Vodka Distillery: Enjoy vodka tastings with exceptional, sweeping vistas.

Maui North Shore

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle rests on the shore of VOR beach below tall palm trees on the island of Maui.

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 6 of your Maui itinerary, we recommend taking a trip to Paia to wander around the charming historic town there. It’s the perfect place to shop for some last minute Hawaii souvenirs and gifts.

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 sea food restaurant on Maui!

You can find out everything you need to know about the region including the best beaches (including the secret ones), restaurants, and more in our COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE MAUI NORTH SHORE.

πŸ›« Maui Itinerary Day 7:
Depart

A plane departing from Maui in brilliant sunlight.
Saying “aloha” to Maui.

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!

🀿 READ MORE:
BEST SNORKELING LOCATIONS IN MAUI

πŸ₯Ύ Alternative Options & Activities

Option 1: Day trip to Lānaβ€˜i

Those with the time and desire should consider a short day trip or even an overnight visit to the neighboring island of Lānaβ€˜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 Lānaβ€˜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 Go Lanai website. Since the devastating fires in Lahaina, the ferry for Lanai now departs from Maalaea Harbor instead of Lahaina.


Option 2: Hike the West Maui Mountains

A photo of the Iao Valley with clouds blanketing the peaks of 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 7 day Maui itinerary, the best trails can be found in the West Maui mountains.

In particular, the short 0.6-mile hike along the Iao Needle Trail found within Κ»Δͺao Valley State Monument is especially spectacular, though it doesn’t require much effort.

Other popular hikes in the area include:

TRAILDISTANCEDESCRIPTION
Iao Needle0.6 milesShort, paved walk to the Iao Needle formation
Entry & parking reservations are required for non-residents.
Ohai Loop1.2 milesShort walk along the coastal bluffs with sweeping vistas.
Waihe’e Ridge4 milesExciting climb along deep ridges in the heart of the region with incredible sweeping views.
Launiupoko Valley
4.5 milesLong walk through a lush green valley.
Mahana Ridge10.4 milesLong, difficult trek with 2,000ft elevation gain that begins at the beach and goes deep into rainforest.

πŸš— Getting Around in Maui

A young woman standing at the back of a van amidst a row of palm trees in Maui.
You will need a vehicle to get around the island of Maui.

The best way to explore Maui in a week 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 popular and scenic 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 campervan. While this is certainly a fun option, be forewarned that it is quite difficult in 2023. The island has become increasingly strict with overnight camping laws and enforcement.

If you’re not comfortable driving, then booking tours to areas you’re interested in will likely be the best option for you.

πŸ›– Where to Stay in Maui

Beach resort near Kihei with a couple walking through.
There are numerous resorts in Kihei that provide central locations and stunning beaches.

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!

The majority of the hotels in Maui can be found in the regions of West Maui and South Maui.

This 7 day Maui itinerary is best followed with a stay in South Maui. It is centrally located and the bustling town of Kihei offers a wealth of spectacular beach resorts and tourist ammenities.

The appeal of West Maui is that it has a lot of resorts that are located directly on top of the beaches, which is great for families and those who only care about a beach holiday.

We recommend opening up our Where to Stay on Maui guide for a complete breakdown of the best regions and accommodation. We have also broken down considerations for your itinerary below.

πŸ› EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW:
WHERE TO STAY ON MAUI


Option 1 – Book One Week in Kihei

Wailea Beach is a great place to stay in Kihei for a week in Maui.

The first and best option for most is to book your entire 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 than if you chose to stay in multiple locations.

You can check the current availability and prices for Kihei accommodation here.

Another consideration would be booking accommodation in Ka’anapali in West Maui. This is the second most popular place to stay and has the most beachfront hotel rooms. The downside is that Ka’anapali is in a remote section of the island and gets a bit more clouds than Kihei.


Option 2 – Book Nights in Multiple Cities

Andaz Resort Maui is a great place to stay in the area

Your other option is to stay more mobile and consider several shorter stays in Ka’anapali, Kihei, Hana, and perhaps even a night on the island of Lānaβ€˜i.

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!

πŸŽ’ Packing for a week in Maui

Snorkel is packed for a week in Maui

We have created this complete guide to packing for Maui with downloadable and printable checklists, as well as 25 inventive and helpful items to improve your time on the islands.

If you just want the essentials, here are some things that you will want to consider taking with you to 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 wish to consider an entry level DSLR to start with.
  • 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.
  • 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 reef-safe and most of their 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 the ideal choice 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.
  • NPS Annual Pass: If you’re planning to visit Haleakala National Park without a tour then it is worth packing your NPS annual pass to save paying the entry fee.

🧐 7 Days in Maui Itinerary FAQs

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions when planning a trip to Maui and creating an itinerary.

Drone photo of Makena Beach in Maui
How many days do you need in Maui? Is 7 Days enough?

5 days is enough time to explore Maui at a rapid pace, but 7 days is the perfect amount of time. The entire island is small with the tip of the north shore to the farthest point south less than 3 hours apart. If you follow a well-planned itinerary, you will be able to see it all in this short amount of time.

Is 10 Days in Maui too much?

You do not need 10 days in Maui to see all of the island, though you may enjoy the extra time if you prefer to travel slowly. Alternatively, you may want to consider splitting your time between two islands with 5 days at each to experience more of Hawaii.

How do you see Maui in 7 days?
  • Day 1: Arrive, explore locally.
  • Day 2: West Maui
  • Day 3: Molokini Crater & sunset luau.
  • Day 4: Road to Hana.
  • Day 5: Beaches, whale watching, sunset sail.
  • Day 6: Haleakala NP, Maui North Shore
  • Day 7: Check out & depart
Do you need a car in Maui?

There are public shuttles and buses available, but driving is the best way to get around in Maui. Public transportation will not go to many of the best places on the island and is time-restrictive.

Travelers should rent a car if at all possible.

How long does it take to drive around Maui?

Were you to simply do a full loop around the entire island of Maui, the total drive time would be about 9 hours without stops. To drive the most direct route from the northern-most point to the southern-most takes about 3 hours.

🐠 More Maui & Hawaii 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 πŸ™‚

If you found our guide useful in planning your itinerary for Maui, you might also enjoy our other Maui guides:

A classic Maui sunset framed by palm trees.
Discover the best places to end the day with our Top 10 Destinations for Maui Sunsets Guide.

Other Hawaii Travel Guides

Additionally, we have a variety of resources for many of the other Hawaiian Islands for those of you looking to do some island hopping:

✈️ Traveling to Hawaii in 2023

Turquoise waters and white sand beach surrounded by black lava rock as sen by airplane when traveling to Hawaii

Impact of 2023 Wildfires in Maui

Much of the island of Maui was tragically impacted by wildfire in August 2023. However, the island has been completely open since October 8, 2023, with the lone exception of Lahaina which will remain closed indefinitely.

Domestic Travel to Hawaii

There are no current domestic restrictions for domestic flights to Hawaii. Additionally, the REAL ID enforcement date has been pushed back to May 7, 2025 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Travel to Hawaii

For those traveling from international destinations with direct flights to Hawaii, you will only need to follow federal requirements for international visitors to the USA. There are no additional State of Hawaiβ€˜i requirements.

As of May 12, 2023, visitors to the U.S. no longer need to show proof of a negative test or proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

You will need to ensure you either have a valid ESTA or visa for entry.

πŸ’¬ Our Maui Itinerary Final Thoughts

Magical sunset from Kihei Beach on Maui.
Another magical sunset from Kihei.

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 πŸ™‚

We hope you have found this guide useful in creating and planning your perfect 7 day Maui itinerary.

Now we’d like to hear from YOU!

Was there any information that you found confusing, inaccurate, outdated, or missing?

Or perhaps this is the best guide you’ve found on the topic and had all of your questions answered?

Regardless of your thoughts, we want to hear them! Help us to help future readers like yourself by providing your feedback in the comments below.

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 in the section above.

πŸ“Œ Enjoyed our Maui Itinerary Guide? Pin it! πŸ™‚

Maui itinerary blog post cover.  "Maui itinerary, how to spend 7 days in Maui" text overlaying an image of black sand beach.
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Written by
Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

13 thoughts on “🏝 Perfect 7 Day Maui Itinerary for a First Visit (2024)”

  1. I was in Maui this year on my honeymoon and reading through your post brings back wonderful memories! We stayed in West Maui and haven’t been to Kihei yet, so this definitely inspires another trip to Maui. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  2. I’m really looking forward to our trip back! There are still some great spots on the island, which I haven’t had a chance yet to explore. Your blog post was very helpful in learning more before coming over again and checking them all out firsthand πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  3. This is an excellent resource! I have been to Maui many times but first trip since Covid started and bringing a friend. You hi lighted and organized everything perfectly for us. Thank you 😍

    Reply

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