Maui is not a place to sit around on the beach. It’s a place to go play and be active! Everyone else around will be, so why not join in? Even if you have a budget of 20 bucks you can rent a SUP (stand up paddleboard) and look into the clear blue ocean for turtles! And remember, you can always kill two birds with one stone. For example, in whale watching season don’t book a whale tour. Book a snorkeling tour instead, and you’ll see whales while you’re out there. Here are my 10 favorite adventure activities to do in Maui Hawaii.
Tips for Visiting Maui, Hawaii
- For flights to Maui, check out Kiwi to get the cheapest options. I use it now for all my flight bookings (you can see a full post here), whether it’s domestic or international.
- If you’re not a US Citizen, make sure you check out any visa requirements to visit. I use iVisa for everything related to tourist visas.
- Also, US Healthcare is expensive (take it from a former nurse!). One small, broken ankle could wind up costing more than your whole trip if you don’t have insurance. I highly recommend World Nomads while you’re here, especially with these activities. You can easily get a quote in the box on my sidebar or clicking here.
- For a full guide to Maui beyond these activities, check out my little guide here.
- If you want to look through all the tours you can do, Viator has a huge list!
10 Adventurous Activities to do in Maui Hawaii
1. Helicopter Ride over Maui
My tour with Air Maui really topped the charts of “coolest shit I did in Hawaii.” I think it’s absolutely worth the money. The trip is short and sweet, takes up hardly any of your day, and you get to see a glimpse into so many areas of the island. You can even do the Road to Hana by helicopter in an hour rather than drive it which takes all day.
2. Canopy Zipline Tour
I’d only ever been once before back in Ohio at Hocking Hills with my parents. If you’re an Ohioan, the ones in Maui are a little bigger but no scarier. I chose Piiholo Ranch Zipline. It’s located in the cowboy town of Makawao (779 Piiholo Road) in what they call “upcountry Maui”; I suggest going early to the town, exploring and having lunch before your tour.
Tip for Families: If you’re looking for free activities to do in Maui Hawaii, or things to do with kids, this is free for kids under 12 with an adult accompanying them. They have a couple different options and both seemed pretty in the middle on a scale of hiking to skydiving.
There was a drop after one zip where you have to just walk off the platform and a suspension cable will catch you part way and slow you down to the ground – with this part, I got the same adrenaline as bungee jumping! So, pretty cool.
This is the drop part that I loved, and below you see the staff pulling another zipper (is that a word) in. He was a blast as a tour guide!
The ranch itself goes back all the way to 1830 when missionaries came. During the tour, you’ll hear stories and see the forests of Haleakala. I did the 5 line which was $190 USD. You must wear closed-toe shoes, long pants work best, you can take a camera with a safety strap, and you must be over 8 years old and over 50 pounds (max 275). Tours are rain or shine. I had some rain; they gave us coats and I actually enjoyed the showers.
3. Snorkeling from a catamaran
You HAVE to go snorkeling while in Maui. The coral reefs are cooler than any I’ve seen in places like Thailand, and the water has such good visibility. I chose “luxury sailing charters” Alii Nui and was not disappointed.
When we showed up, it seemed like there were too many people for the boat and they said: “just wait until we’re out and you’ll see there is loads of space…” They were right. When you arrive, it’s early, cold, and breakfast is piled high for everyone, so of course, people jam into the bottom of the boat to eat. As soon as we took off, people spread out over the trampolines and outside the edges of the catamaran. They never take more than 60 people.
Other than the snorkeling being amazing (we went to two locations, gear was great, and wetsuit tops provided), staff was funny and helpful, they were fully stocked with sunscreen, towels, blankets, and fresh water hoses to rinse off, and the FOOD was amazing – even though goPro’s don’t do it justice.
Granted, I just got in from a year in India, but I devoured everything. Full breakfasts with bacon, eggs, croissant, bagels, fruit and more), to snack time (one of my favorite times of day lol) which were veggies, pita and dips, and cookies, to a yummy Hawaiian lunch of pulled Kalua pork, macaroni salad, and more. It was a six-hour tour which was just right to snorkel, lay out and enjoy the boat, eat and mingle. You can also scuba or huka dive from the boat at an extra fee.
I did the morning snorkel deluxe. Arrive at 6:30 am at Ma’alaea Harbor (slip #56, parking is free). The cost is $165 USD and you can book online through the link above. Tip: bring clothing for COLD weather. It was freezing in the morning. Also, yes, booze is included in the price!
4. Surf like a local!
I really wish my photos would have turned out better for this, but sadly most are blurry as the zoom was messed up on my camera, or actually, I think I just need a new camera.I went surfing with Nancy Emerson Surf Clinic. She is a pro surfer herself and has been a Hollywood stunt double. She has schools in Oahu, Maui, and the Gold Coast. She’s not only the first school to open in Maui, but she focuses on safety and teaching people about the ocean instead of just throwing loads of people in the sea on boards and collecting cash.
It’s individualized attention from the pros and the most there would ever be are 5 people if you choose the least expensive option. My instructor was huge and could probably have blocked a wave for me with his body if he tried haha, but he was like a lifeguard and also gave me a push for each wave since at first people can’t really paddle hard enough to catch the fast waves.
sad these are blurry :(
We had a land lesson first then spent over 2 hours in the water even though my lesson was only two hours (my instructor was a really good surfer, and I think just loved being in the water so neither of us was keeping time). We only stopped because I literally couldn’t paddle anymore. My arms were so tired and my legs were shaky. But, thanks to snowboarding almost my whole life, I got up on the first wave and by the third was turning. It was amazing, and I’ve been daydreaming about surfing ever since.
Their lessons were one of the most memorable parts of my trip, and I highly recommend taking lessons through her clinic. Lessons start at $95 for two hours. Also, while doing land lessons I looked over and saw THIS GUY:
5. Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) & Kayaking
Something that anyone can do! You just need to get used to balancing on the board and start out in really, really calm water. We saw a turtle go by and since the water is so clear, you can see all the cute fish underneath. It’s also a great workout! Renting was once as cheap as $10 so it’s easy to just do on a whim anywhere. One well-known company to rent from is called Hawaiian Paddle Sports who you can also get kayaks from.
make sure to wear sunscreen!
6. Road to Hana
This road starts near Paia and goes up to the small isolated town of Hana on the east coast. We weren’t in AWE of the road to Hana, but it was very cool. Luckily, our hotel Paia Inn gave us a printed out personalized guide of what to stop and see because the signage isn’t great. Alternatively, you can buy CDs that explain the stops along the way. You’re going to need something to tell you which mile markers to slow down at. Also, they make it out like you need a lunch, and there’s NOTHING on the way, but there were loads of stalls selling food. Still, we took a lunch because we didn’t know. Mana food is amazing and has delicious sandwiches and salads. For car rentals, check rentalcars.com; they compare all the major car hire sites.
We stayed in Paia, but if you aren’t, then save time to see this cool little town. Also, go to Ho’okipa to watch the kite-surfers (most famous windy surf place in the world). The first bits are Twin Falls, a Bamboo Forest, and painted Eucalyptus trees. Basically, after that, we just drove. We didn’t stop for, well anything until we got to Hana Bay. To be honest, it was raining and all the cars were driving slow, so we got kind of bored. The views were covered by clouds. We’re used to Indian traffic, and it was exhausting not to be able to pass people ;)
You need 3 hours to drive out there. If you make stops, then you need a whole day dedicated to this drive and you should get started early in the morning.
7. Bike to the beach
I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid, and Ben sort of hates riding bikes, but we did it anyways ha! Our apartment at Spreck’s Plantation had a few lying around so we went to the beach, and it was really fun. There are bike rentals all over the island and bike lanes making it safe.
(and now a few things we didn’t do, but are great options for your trip to Maui!)
8. Horseback riding
I really wanted to do this but didn’t have time. I was looking at Mendes Ranch because it is in the mountains and views of the ocean too. Most of the ranches in Makawao don’t have sea views.
9. Scuba diving
We didn’t have it in our budget to do it while out on our Alli Nui tour, but you could on that boat or you can use a variety of companies. Actually, if you want to snorkel, but with a smaller group of people, like 6-8, you can look into Snorkel Safari, a company I wanted to try but didn’t have time.
10. Drive up and hike Haleakala
This is a volcanic crater that’s famous to see at sunrise, and it’s a drive… which means waking up at 4:30 am. I’d just been to Bandung seeing huge craters that were amazing, and we didn’t want to get up early, so skipped. I know people will think that’s crazy, but sometimes when you travel you have to do what you feel like. I have a feeling I’ll be back and able to do this another time. You can mountain bike down from this!
If you’re going to be on the island a while, it’s worth taking the time to read up on the local secrets in Maui and find some ways to get off the beaten path – we hired a local guy one day to show us some secret places and it’s one of our favorite memories. You can read my whole guide to Maui here.
Pin 10 Maui Adventures for later so you never run out of things to do in Maui while you’re there!
Disclosure: Some of these activities invited me in exchange for a review and exposure on my blog- all opinions are always my own! This post also contains affiliate links.
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