When Oahu feels a bit too crowded and Kauai seems a little too quiet, Maui can be just right. The contrast of new and old, bustling and calm, can be found everywhere—from the island’s ancient temples to its shiny new developments. During your stay, you can enjoy a variety of different outdoor activities, from surfing and hiking to touring a lavender farm. Here are five fun things to do in Maui.
Haleakalā National Park
When you make your way to Haleakalā National Park, you almost feel like you’re visiting another planet. Miles of lava rock unravel at every corner, and deep in the crater, you see strange plants—like the silversword—prosper. Every morning, hundreds of visitors make the drive up to the summit to watch the sunrise. If you have the time, you should definitely check it out. But if you can’t get your whole group up that early, you can plan a day hike through the lower valley of Kipahulu. Or, better yet, you can come back at night and witness the spectacular star show.
Waihee Ridge Trail
Another hike that you should check out is the Waihee Ridge in Wailuku, on the northwest side of the island. As you make your way up the 2.5-mile trek toward a cloud forest, you have the opportunity to take some spectacular photographs of the different sides of Maui. During the hike, you pass though a lush rain-forest valley with Makamakaole Falls in the distance. This is a great opportunity to observe native fauna in their natural habitat before reaching the summit at 2,563 feet. After you make it to the end of the trail, you can reward yourself by having a picnic in the clouds, overlooking views of central Maui, Haleakalā, and Mount Eke.
Maui Ocean Center
When you’re in Maui, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the nation’s largest aquarium. Upon entering the Maui Ocean Center, your eyes may be drawn to anything from the coral polyps to the seven-foot sandbar sharks. After you take it all in, you can explore some of the aquarium’s 60-plus revolving exhibits. All of the animals at the Maui Ocean Center are collected from waters around the Hawaiian Islands, and some, like the manō (shark), are blessed by a cultural advisor, as sharks are considered an ʻaumakua (ancestral spirit) in Hawaiian culture.
Hans Hedemann Surf School
No list of outdoor activities to do in Hawaii is complete without a surf session. And Maui has some of the best waves in the world, including Jaws—or Peahi—the birthplace of big-wave surfing. If you’re ready for some of the best rides of your life, you can head to any of the surf spots that dot the coastline. But if you need to learn how to “hang 10,” you can take a lesson at one of Maui’s many surf schools, including Hans Hedemann.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
If you’ve ever gotten a whiff of lavender from a spray bottle, you know just how much of a calming effect it can have on your psyche. Well, just imagine walking through 13.5 acres of that smell, knowing that you can actually take some of the lavender home. If you’re intrigued, you should take a walking tour of the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, located on the slopes of Haleakalā. When you make your way to this unique destination, you’ll see the more than 50,000 lavender plants that flourish among olive trees, hydrangea, protea, and succulents. Stay for hours and bask in their hypnotizing aromas, and you’ll leave feeling relaxed and ready to take on whatever life’s got in store for you.