Aloha and welcome to Maui! Fewer people on the island this fall mean roads are less crowded too- a great time to take a few road trips!
Road Trip 1 – Haleakala Crater
You may have heard the sunrise atop Haleakala- a 10,000 ft. dormant volcano- is spectacular, and it is. However, it is also chilly and can be socked in with fog, meaning you will have gotten up pre-dawn for nothing. Plus, so many visitors choose to go up the volcano for sunrise, you now need an advance reservation between the hours of 3am and 7am. Keep in mind it will take between 2 – 2.5 hours to get from your condo to the summit of Haleakala. Sunrise is around 6:15 mid October, meaning you’ll be getting up before sunrise and driving in the dark.
We recommend either arriving at the summit around 9am then touring Upcountry Maui afterward, or tour Upcountry then go to Haleakala for sunset, which requires no advance reservations. The weather is more predictable for sunset- if it looks cloudy and rainy, pick another day to visit. You can read all about going on the Haleakala “road to the sun” here: What to Know Before You Go.
Road Trip 2- Upcountry Maui
You can explore Upcountry Maui on the same day as visiting Haleakala Crater, but there is more than enough to see and do Upcountry to warrant its own road trip. Here are a few ideas:
Stop at Kula Lodge for an early lunch surrounded by spectacular views (try one of the outdoor dining pods), and stop in the Kula Marketplace next door- one of the best places to get island gifts. Venture on to Ulupalakua. The road here is spectacular, with bi-coastal views. Tour the grounds of Maui’s Winery and the country store across the street- all part of Ulupalakua Ranch and steeped in island history.
Other Upcountry options include touring Ocean Vodka or Haliimaile Distilling Company (note both these locations close at 5pm). Alternatively, visit the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao filled with one-of-a-kind shops, then wind your way down to the laid-back surfing town of Paia, and loop back to the southwest shore for sunset, and a spectacular dinner out.
Road Trip 3 – The Road to Hana (and beyond to Kipahulu)
Maui’s road to Hana represents many of the iconic features that are uniquely Hawaii- a journey through a thick rainforest, spectacular waterfalls, dramatic seascapes, the most unspoiled Hawaiian town, ample opportunities to hike, explore white, red and black sand beaches, caves and tropical pools. Here’s the key thing to remember- the road to Hana, including stops and going past town to Kipahulu (the back side of Haleakala) is an all-day adventure. Don’t plan anything else. It is worthwhile to prepare a quick breakfast and bringing some road snacks so you can get an early, fitting in as much as you can during daylight hours. Our Road to Hana Guide provides our best local recommendations for what to see and do on this journey.
Tip: Experience the road to Hana within three days of your trip to Haleakala summit because the entrance fee that you paid will still be valid for entrance into the Kipahulu region of this National Park.
Caution: You should not leave valuables in your car, especially in sight. Unfortunately, break-ins do happen. It is best to travel light and take your wallet, keys and camera with you in a day pack when exiting the car.
Road Trip 4 – Iao Valley State Park
Looking for a half-day adventure? Make a picnic lunch and head to Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui, another spot with deep cultural significance, with a towering, needle like mountain and lush valley with a stream, plus some nice paved walking trails. Next door at Heritage Gardens at Kepaniwai Park there are ample picnic tables and more cultural information.
You will still have ample time to fit in another island activity, spend some time shopping or plan to catch sunset on the beach.
Road Trip 5- Big Beach and La Perouse Bay
Big Beach is known for its beautiful white sand and clean water. It’s a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. However, the shore break can be dangerous, even when the waves aren’t big. Snorkeling is only possible on a flat day.
Big Beach is bordered by lava to the southeast and Puʻu Olaʻi, a volcanic cinder cone, to the northwest. The beach has a steep foreshore due to the high surf that occasionally hits the beach. The beach is located in Makena Beach State Park and is open daily from 5 AM–7 PM.
- These road trips are easy to implement no matter where you are staying on Maui. You can view All the Resorts we offer, separated by island area.
- You can switch days around to suit your schedules and weather forecasts. Just remember not to SCUBA dive the same day as visiting Haleakala summit, and keep your visit to the summit and the Kipahulu region of Hana within three days of each other to avoid double payment of the National Park entrance fee.
- If you have less than seven days, just pick what sounds most interesting to you. With more than seven days, we recommend fully exploring the Things to Do section of our website and adapt this itinerary to fit your time and interests.
In Hawaii, aloha means hello and goodbye. By the end of a week’s stay on Maui, you likely will make an emotional connection to the island- the other meaning of aloha- love. You may not be ready to say farewell at the end of your stay, but we know if Maui gets into your heart, you will be back.