10 Must-Dos While Visiting Maui For the First Time

My favorite time of the year is coming! I love high season. Why? It means the whales are coming! I can sit and watch them for hours. Since this time of year also brings the most visitors, I wanted to give you a list of my 10 favorite “must-dos” while you are here on Maui.

1. Whale Watching

Humpback whales keep things lively off Maui’s west coast each winter, when thousands arrive to court and calve. If you’re in Maui at the time, treat yourself to a whale watching cruise. At one time you were able to adopt a whale through the Pacific Whale Foundation – my husband actually did that for me for my birthday.


Maui is home to some of the world’s best whale watching opportunities

We live in Maalaea and have spectacular whale watching right from our lanai. Whales are also spotted from cliffside lookouts such as Papawai Point, McGregor Point, and from west-facing beaches and oceanfront condos. Snorkelers and divers who duck underwater at the right time can even hear them singing – love songs, we presume! You can even purchase CD’s with whale songs along with the video for souvenirs.

2. The Road to Hana

Of all the gorgeous dramatic drives in Hawaii, this is the Big Kahuna. Plenty of switchback turns, so if you get carsick easily, this may not be your best choice.

Up for a drive?

The Hana Highway winds down lush green valleys and up towering cliffs, curling around 600 turns along the way. Some 54 one-lane bridges cross nearly as many waterfalls – some of them torrents and others so gentle they beg for a dip. But the ride’s only half the thrill. Swim in a Zen-like pool, stroll a ginger-scented trail, and stop for banana bread.

3. Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House is actually a converted beach house in a coconut grove on a secluded white sand beach. Inside, hinged windows open to let in the trade winds, and Polynesian artifacts and original oil paintings decorate tropical hardwood walls. The rooms are filled with spectacular flower arrangements and tapa print cloths cover the tables. Outdoor dining is equally exciting, and everyone enjoys watching the windsurfers performing offshore.

The food is amazing! Mama’s has won many awards year after year for the spectacular food and dining experience. Located by Hookipa, a world-famous surfing location, you won’t want to miss this while you are there. Mama’s is always busy, so be sure and make reservations ahead of time. Entrees start at $50.00 and up.

4. Snorkeling at Maluaka Beach

Don your mask and snorkel on the shores of stunning Maluaka Beach in Makena and start swimming in the direction of the tour boats. Before you get halfway, you’ll likely spot a magnificent green sea turtle nibbling algae on the ocean floor. You may see another swimming gracefully through the surf. Welcome to “Turtle Beach” – where the underwater scenery is nothing short of breathtaking.


Snorkeling is sure to leave a smile on your face!

5. Sunrise at Haleakala

In the early morning darkness, visiting with strangers and wishing for your warmer coat, it’s easy to grumble, “What on earth was I thinking?” Then, suddenly, a soft, orange glow pierces the darkness. Everyone leans forward, holding their breath. Cottony clouds appear, stretching to horizon’s end, encircling your lofty summit perch. Rich tones of amber and red blaze on the crater floor below.


Haleakala: “The House of the Sun”

I am not a morning person and I have only done the sunrise once, but it was well worth it. There are no words to describe it, truly magnificent. One thing you will want to remember is you want to dress in layers. The weather changes rapidly on your drive up to the crater and again when you come down.

6. Go to a Luau

Wow. Without a doubt, my favorite is the Old Lahaina Luau. You will definitely want to make reservations in advance; this is the most popular luau and sells out everynight. The people, the food, the entertainment – all first-class. You won’t want to miss this while on Maui. “Its authenticity, intimacy, hospitality, cultural integrity, and sheer romantic beauty have made this Maui’s top luau.” (Frommer’s Maui)


Don’t miss Maui’s great luaus!

7. Surfing

This is Hawaii – of course you’re going to catch some waves. If this is your first time trying to surf, it is a good idea to take some lessons – it is not as easy as it looks. The ocean here can be very dangerous with rogue waves and strong undertow; be sure and check conditions and never surf alone.


Ready to catch some waves?

Up-and-at-’em surf schools cluster near Kamehameha Iki Park in Lahaina, ready to launch newbies on easy waves beside the breakwall. Got your surf legs? Head to Launiupoko Beach Park for a picture-perfect day.

8. Boat Trip

There are many different types of boat trips leaving from Ma’alaea, Kihei, and Lahaina Harbors. Whale watching, of course, snorkeling trips, sailboats, deep sea fishing, and sunset cruises, just to name a few. Just the other day a 484-pound Marlin was caught from the Piper out of Maalaea.


Available tours include whale watching, snorkeling trips, sailboats, deep sea fishing, and sunset cruises

9. Air Tours

If you have always wanted to take a helicopter tour, this is the place to do it. From the sky, fly above the island on a thrilling and scenic Hawaii air tour. Airplane and helicopter tours take you above the clouds and over historic landmarks, tropical and volcanic landscapes, and so much more. Enjoy brilliant island panoramas, and endless scenic views from this unique bird’s-eye point of view. Tons of fun and they usually offer a DVD of your trip (minimal cost), so you can share the experience and enjoy the trip for years to come.


Fly above the island on a thrilling and scenic Hawaii air tour

10. Sunset

I saved the best for last and you can’t miss it! The sunsets are amazing and free! No matter where you are, the sunsets are everywhere. You may not always see the sun sink into the ocean, but nonetheless, the colors are always amazing, often like a painting.


Maui sunsets are amazing – and free!

If you are real lucky, you may actually see what is called the “Green Flash,” not always visible, and you can’t blink, it usually occurs at the last second the sun sinks out of sight. No matter if you were born here or are just visiting, it is the perfect end to every perfect Maui day.

Ready For Some Fun?

While there are so many more must-dos than simply 10, this list is a good place to start, especially if you’re visiting the Valley Isle for the first time.

If you have any questions about Maui, or about the activities listed in this article, please contact me.

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Yes it is

October 18, 2014

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Yes it is

October 18, 2014

Do you have permission to use those photographs?

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