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14 Not-So-Touristy Things to Do in Maui

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Maui has been voted the “Best Island in the World” by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine for ten consecutive years. Readers of Travel & Leisure magazine have voted it “World’s Best Island” for five years.

And for good reason. 

Known as “The Valley Isle,” Maui has more miles of swimmable beach than any other Hawaiian island. (Hawaii Snorkeling Guide)

The warm sun, deep blue water, methodical rhythm of ocean waves, white sand beaches, Hawaiian traditions, and a variety of outdoor activities make Maui a perfect place to get away from the stress and chaos of everyday life.  

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Before traveling to Lanai with my husband’s company, we stopped in Maui to spend a few days at the home of some close friends. I can officially say it was the most relaxing and rejuvenating trip I’ve had in a very long time. The experience was completely different because we were a part of “local” life.

If you’re ever in Maui, here are some ideas for 14 not-so-touristy things to do in Maui. 

For a “Perfect Day in Maui”

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1) If you’re in or near Lahaina, start off with a hot beverage at Maui Grown Coffee Company (a favorite of locals).

 The Peaberry coffee is excellent. Chai Lattes are divine. Not too sweet. Bonus: Prices are about half the cost of Starbucks. Relax on the porch or head down the road toward your next stop – Iao Valley.

Maui, Iao Valley

2) Iao Valley

(Cost: $10 for a 1-7 passenger vehicle)

A paved path winds through botanical gardens with a gorgeous view of Kuka`Emoku. This is also the site of the historical battle of Kepaniwai. The “hiking” trail was much shorter and easier than we expected, but the views made the stop here worthwhile.

3) Get Some Gelato at Ono Gelato Company in historic Pa’ia.

Surprisingly, Ono’s gelato was as good as the ones we ate in Italy. (They use an authentic Italian recipe.) Popular flavors are Macadamia Nut Coffee Crunch, Sandy Beach, Dark Chocolate, and Lilikoi Quark. Pa’ia is a charming historic town with rustic storefronts, local art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. I bought a great summer dress at Boutique Aloha.

4) Stop for lunch at  Mama’s Fish House

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mamasfishhouse, maui

 Let me just say this place has the “wow” factor. Makes me understand why Oprah and Helen Hunt eat here.

maui, mama's fish house

The first fresh fish restaurant on the island, Mama’s was hands-down our favorite place to share a meal.

  • Polynesian artifacts/decor
  • An award-winning menu and exquisite food
  • A postcard view of palm trees on a white sand beach
  • Friendly staff who made us feel like local patrons

Need I say more?

mama's fish house, maui

For lunch, we chose the Crispy Mahimahi Roll, Macadamia Nut Crab Cakes, and Ahi Sashimi Salad. They were all amazing! Expensive – but amazing.

5)  Twin Falls. (Cost: $0.00)

twin falls, maui

 

Between the towns of Paia and Huelo on Highway 360, Twin Falls is the first waterfall on the road to Hana.

When it rains, the trails to Twin Falls become very slippery. Flash flooding can happen quickly. Don’t attempt to hike if it’s raining!

Wading through the stream to the waterfall pool is treacherous. There’s an uneven, rocky creek bed beneath the surface of the water. Be careful! The pools below the falls are shallow so don’t dive into them, but be sure to swim in them! 

6) Watch first class surfers, windsurfers, and kite surfers at Ho’okipa Beach Park.

maui, travel, ho'okipa beach park

(Cost: $0.00)

Ho’okipa Beach Park  is the windsurfing capital of the world. You’ll find it as you drive back toward Pa’ia – just before you reach Mama’s Fish House.  

There are two parking areas near the beach park. One at the top of the bluff. Another down in the beach area by the pavilion.

If you aren’t an expert surfer, just sit back and enjoy the view. Seriously. There are crosses on the hillside overlooking the water proving the power of these waves.

This is crazy fun – and it doesn’t cost a dime!

Watching the windsurfers and kite surfers flit back and forth across the water was my favorite experience of the entire trip. My husband had to drag me away!

7) Watch the sunset.

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(Cost: $0.00)

Finish the day by driving over to one of the great beaches on Maui’s west side. 

Check out Kaanapali Beach for the daily Black Rock sunset cliff dive ceremony.  

Spectacular white sand beaches also stretch along the beachfront in Wailea,  Kihei, and Makena.

An important note: The number of shark attacks near Makena Beach has increased – 8 in 2013 with two deaths.

More Things to Do in Maui:

8) Rent bikes and ride through the town of Lahaina.

(Ohana Bike RentalWest Maui Cycles)

On Front Street you’ll discover a nice outdoor shopping area, restaurants, and beautiful views of the  harbor. Quaint homes line the streets. Be sure to take a bike lock if you want to stop anywhwhere.

9) Take a hike 

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I’m an outdoors girl. One of the things I enjoyed most about Maui is the fact that life seems meant to be lived outside. Hiking is just one of the ways to do that.

Check out these  hiking trails in Maui. 

Click here for the 3 most awe-inspiring hikes.

The photo above is from a hike on a quiet little trail used mainly by locals in Lahaina. (Launiupoko Trail) 

10) Golf at The Plantation Course at Kapalua – one of the top golf resorts in the world.

You never know who you might meet. My husband golfed in a tournament raising funds for a local private school and ran into these guys:

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Mick Fleetwood

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Alice Cooper

11) Windsurf, dive, snuba, or snorkel.

With incredible weather and beautiful blue water, Maui is the perfect place for these activities.

We recommend Trilogy Excursions

  • Ranked #7 of 129 activities on Maui
  • 2014 Certificate of Excellence
  • 5 stars from Trip Advisor

Okay – Things That Are a Little More “Touristy” 

12) Watch the sunrise from Haleakala.

13) Watch the whales

North Pacific Humpback Whales migrate to Hawaii December through March. The largest concentration of whales are off the coast of Maui. February is mating season – the  peak time for whale-watching.  (Pride of Maui Whale Watching Cruise)

14) Drive to Hana

The drive to Hana past rain forests, waterfalls, botanical gardens, and beautiful ocean views is a popular tourist activity. To do it right, you need an entire day for this excursion. Some suggest spending the night in Hana.

Why we chose not to drive all the way to Hana:

  • Three hour drive
  • 617 hairpin curves
  • 56 bridges
  • 52 miles

What’s your favorite thing to do in Maui?

Aloha,

Lisa

One Comment

  1. Matt says:

    Love the article, nice choices here too. Curious to know what you think of our Top Hawaii Touristy Things That Locals Love list here: https://lookintohawaii.com/hawaii/48681/top-hawaii-touristy-things-that-locals-love-information-all-islands-hi

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