The Perfect 2024 Maui Itinerary by Locals

Even though we live here, we are amazed by Maui’s beauty every day.

Seeing the sun rise reflected on sculpted volcanic slopes. Watching boats head out on calm seas to nearby islands, snorkeling and dive sites. Driving along a highway that hugs the salty shoreline, dotted with surfers. Seeing a myriad of blues and greens in one wave. Gold, black and red sand beaches, with people playing, picnicking and lounging. The surprise of a double rainbow in the West Maui mountains. We love sharing Maui with you, and want you to get the best out of your vacation time with us.

On a related note, many of the sample itineraries you might Google are written by people that don’t live here, making us cringe at the inaccuracies, especially when there are important events that affect travel like COVID-19 in past years, or the Lahaina and Kula fires that we are still recovering from. As local residents, and an island company in business on Maui for over 40 years, you can trust us to have up-to-date local information, not to mention personal care for your stay.

So, what are the best things to see and do on Maui in 2024? We have updated the 7-day itinerary that covers all parts of the island, and a range of activities. Of course you can customize it to fit your own interests. We’ve provided some alternative activities for each day.

Day 1- Arrival Day

No matter where you originate, getting to an island in the middle of the Pacific is a long journey. We recommend the first day is spent getting some supplies, settling into your condo, and enjoying the beach and places near your condo. Breath in the fragrant, relaxing atmosphere of Maui.

You will be arriving in the town of Kahului in central Maui, which is also the main business hub on the island (see our Island Overview map). Since all Destination Maui Vacation condos have fully equipped kitchens, it is a good idea to pick up some groceries and beverages to carry you through the evening and morning, and don’t forget to buy some reef-safe sunscreen!

For morning arrivals: Stop for groceries, get settled in your condo and plan to experience your first Maui sunset on the beach. Grab a quick bite out and save dinner reservations for another night when you can more fully enjoy it.

For evening arrivals:  Stop at a 24-hour grocery such as Safeway for initial supplies (in Kahului if staying in Maalaea, in Kihei is staying in South Maui. The Safeway store Lahaina is also open if staying in West Maui).

Day 2 – Hit the Beach + Make Reservations + Explore Town

A wonderful part of the Maui experience is enjoying our beautiful beaches. Use jet lag to your advantage and hit the beach early. Not only are beaches less crowded, morning is the best time to go, before the trade winds kick up mid-day. Check out our Beach Guide, or hit the sand and surf closest to your condo. If you plan to do a lot of snorkeling, you should rent your gear. Most snorkel and dive shops offer a weekly rate.

After the beach, it’s time to think about lunch. Many people love the cost savings of preparing meals in the condo, and dining on the lanai. This is a good time to do a little planning and make reservations for any upscale dinners out for the week. We’ve listed some of our favorite dining spots to get you started.

While you are thinking about reservations, you might want to book some activities. Our website has the most comprehensive Things to Do section around, including Maui’s top activities, to help you decide what is the best fit your traveling ohana. We also have a separate Snorkeling and Diving page, Golfing guide, Hiking page and much more! Destination Maui Vacations has a recommended activity vendor to book through so you don’t have to waste precious vacation time shopping around- just book your tours and activities using this exclusive link. BTW- we do not earn a commission, just providing a good recommendation for our guests.

A great adventure to do early in your stay is Maui Ocean Center aquarium. This marine park- voted in the top 10 aquariums in the world- takes you on a journey of Hawaii’s ocean life and culture. A visit is a really good primer before heading out snorkeling or diving. Since most of the exhibits are indoors, this is also a good activity to do if there is a rainy day during your trip, or to escape a hot afternoon.

The afternoon is a great time to wander through the ritzy shops in Whaler’s Village in West Maui, or Kihei’s Kalama Village on the South side, with over 30 open-air shops. Pick up some fresh island produce at one of the many farmer’s markets. Check out these Shopping Tips for the best places to go. Grill outdoors oceanside at your condo complex. You may want to rest up for day 3!

Day 3 – Haleakala + Upcountry Maui

haleakalaYou 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 flock to 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 5:30am in June and just before 7am in January, meaning for some locations during the summer you would have to be up before 3am to catch the sun coming up.

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” in our guide: What to Know Before You Go.

If starting your adventure at the summit of Haleakala, make your next stop an early lunch at Kula Lodge, surrounded by spectacular views (try one of the outdoor dining pods), Stop in the  Kula Marketplace next door.  Venture on to Ulupalakua next. The road just getting 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.

If exploring Upcountry first, stop on the way up the mountain for a pineapple tour or a distillery tour in the little rural burg of Haliimaile. Tip- you can buy ready to ship pineapples without touring. Also when at Haliimaile Distilling Company, make sure and check out the outstanding blown glass at Makai Glass Studio next door. Haliimaile also boasts one of the best restaurants on the island, Haliimaile General Store. While spendy, stopping for lunch is a much more budget friendly option for this dining experience. 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 or kicking back at your condo.

Some who are prone to car sickness, or those with health issues preventing them from visiting the summit of Haleakala can follow this day’s itinerary starting with Kula Lodge.

Day 4 – Ocean Exploration

Choose one of the many ways to enjoy Maui’s ocean. To get face to fin with marine life, book a snorkel or diving charter out of Maalaea harbor. Note Lahaina harbor is closed due to fire for the foreseeable future. One of the most popular snorkeling spots is Molokini crater- a volcanic islet just off the South Maui coast. For those that don’t relish putting their face in the water, consider a glass bottom boat tour on Calypso. With huge viewing windows, this adventure allows passengers to view underwater marine life without getting wet or feeling claustrophobic. Land-lovers can also get their fill of marine life at Maui Ocean Center aquarium, including a 180 degree walk through pelagic viewing tunnel, with sharks, manta rays and deep-water fish swimming overhead.

Alternately, you could grab your snorkel gear and head to one of the snorkel spots accessible from the beach. Check out our Snorkel and Dive Guide for more info.

After relaxing from your ocean day, how about heading out to a show? Check out our Live Shows page for unique island performances.

Important note: You will not be able to safely visit Haleakala crater (or any elevation above 2000ft) 18 – 24 hours after scuba diving, so either visit the crater first, or have a day buffer in between.

Day 5 – Explore 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 start and avoid some of the traffic, 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.

Day 6 – Relax + Short Adventure + Luau

After the previous day’s journey to Hana, you likely want to sleep in, or spend a relaxing morning on the beach or by the pool. There are also a couple of short adventures you can go on. 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.

Or, if you are more of thrill seeker, plan a zipline tour, parasail, paraglide or try surfing or stand up paddle boarding. A round of golf on an oceanfront course is another option.

If you have not attended a luau on Maui, it is highly recommended. Prepare for a full evening of entertainment, including Pacific Island dances, chants, storytelling, and an abundance of food and beverages. We’ve collected resident and visitor feedback and listed the best island luau’s here. If you plan to drink (the alcohol tends to flow freely) please plan on taking a taxi or Uber to and from your luau.

Day 7 – Saying Aloha

For this final day, we suggest you do some prepacking in so you can just enjoy the island. Get in one last morning beach walk, perfect your tan by the pool, and dine in an oceanfront restaurant.

If you have a late flight, you have more time to explore or revisit some of your favorite places. But it also presents a problem with what to do with your luggage. You can request a late check out (more likely during low season than high season). When your luggage is in your rental car, make sure it is all in the trunk for safety. Another really outstanding option is to use a luggage locker. They are popping up all over the island! Check out this Yelp page for recommendations.

Final Notes:

  • This itinerary is easy to implement if you are staying in our resort areas in West or South Maui or Maalaea on the Central Coast. 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 within a day of 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. We welcome your return.



2024-01-08T09:36:47+00:00January 8th, 2024|Beach, Condos, Entertainment, Environment, Ocean, Travel|

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