My Top 10 Adventure Activities to Do in Maui Hawaii

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

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.

Check out Helicopter Tours on Viator here

air maui review

air maui review

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.

See all similar Zipline tours here

adventure activities to do in maui hawaii

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.

adventure activities to do in maui hawaii

adventure activities to do in maui hawaii

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.

adventure activities to do in maui hawaiiThis 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! 

adventure activities to do in maui hawaiiThe 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.

See similar snorkeling tours here

activities to do in maui hawaii

activities to do in maui hawaii alli nui sailing 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.

activities to do in maui hawaii

activities to do in maui hawaii alli nui

activities to do in maui hawaiiOther 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.

activities to do in maui hawaii alli nui foodGranted, 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.

activities to do in maui hawaii

alli nui activities to do in maui hawaii

activities to do in maui hawaii alli nuiI 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!

activities to do in maui hawaii

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.Surf Clinic with nancy emersonI 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.

If spots are booked up during your stay, check out more surfing places here

Surf Clinic with nancy emersonsad these are blurry :(

Surf Clinic with nancy emersonWe 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.

Surf Clinic with nancy emerson

Surf Clinic with nancy emerson

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:

Surf Clinic with nancy emerson

Surf Clinic with nancy emerson

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.

best value for money hotels in maui the sheratonmake sure to wear sunscreen!

If you want some more guidance, check here for SUP lessons

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.

If you’d prefer, there are tons of different tours for the Road to Hana.

exploring hana guide to hana

exploring hana guide to hanaWe 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 ;)

exploring hana guide to hana

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.

If you want, you can even go on bike or mountain bike tours

(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.

Check out other horseback riding tours here

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.

Here are some scuba diving tours

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!

Check out the different Haleakala tours here

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.

2018-06-22T14:41:22+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

10 Comments

  1. Martha July 8, 2015 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    I ate my weight in macadamia nuts from the Big Island and bird nerded it up in Kauai, but I haven’t been to Maui yet. Thank you for this list of soooo many great reasons to go.

    • Rachel Jones July 9, 2015 at 5:26 am - Reply

      and I didnt make it to Kauai, so we both have to go back!

  2. Asher Fergusson July 8, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Great list Rachel!

    I surf or SUP almost everyday. They’re such amazing sports! And last winter I SUPed in 18ft waves! That’s when my legs started shaking from adrenaline ;)

    There are plenty of incredible snorkeling places accessible from the beach for free. One place I know is teaming with giant turtles and another regularly gets pods of 50 dolphins!

    Also Iao valley is epic. It’s the second wettest place on earth but somehow it’s always sunny (I the peaks catch the clouds). It’s just 10 minutes from where I live so we go there all the time!

    Thanks again for the list. Some of which I’m yet to do even tho live here!

    Cheers

    Asher

    • Rachel Jones July 9, 2015 at 5:28 am - Reply

      Holy shit 18 foot!! that’s intense, good on ya!! Wish I would have seen some dolphins, shame I didn’t realize where you were based until after I left.

  3. This definitely makes me want to move Maui up to the top of my travel “to do” list. Some great adventures. I did a catamaran trip in Puerto Rico and it was one of my favorite experiences we had there. Love being on the water. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rachel Jones July 9, 2015 at 5:29 am - Reply

      It’s great seeing the island shores from the sea. Moving to Maui is on my list now too.

  4. Harini July 9, 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Canopy Zipline is on my Bucket List too. This post is making me want to visit Maui one day.

  5. Sher July 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    omg! i have to get myself to maui. i don’t even know which activity i’d do first they all sound amazing. canopy zipline + snorkeling would have to top the list though!!

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

  6. […] are so many different activities you can do in Hawaii. I’ve written about adventurous activities in Maui while also writing about the amazing spas you can visit. Since you could be hiking one day and […]

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