The best Maui hikes! From sunset ascents to the highest peak on the island and lush rainforests on the coast.
Out of the two islands I've been to in Hawaii, Maui is my favorite for its wild nature and less developed feel than Oahu. Some of these hikes might not be as popular as the ones you'll find on Oahu, but what they lack in people they make up for in pure natural beauty. Plus, hiking without a ton of people on the trail can be magical.
Although my favorite experience during my trip to Maui was my unique hike to the top of Haleakala Crater, where I was able to watch the sun set from above the clouds, I had plenty of unforgettable adventures on the Road to Hana and other parts of the island too. There are times you'll probably have to pinch yourself during a hike because the views all over Maui are that stunning.
These are my 16 favorite Maui hikes as well as a few practical tips for your trip and a look at the best spots to stay around the island. I'm sure you'll fall in love with Maui's nature as much as I did!
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Maui Hiking Map
Kapalua Coastal Trail: Most Tourist-Friendly Hike
Length: 2 miles out-and-back
Time: 1-2 hours
A famous hike in west Maui, Kapalua Coastal Trail is a popular hotspot for those staying at the nearby resorts in Lahaina. Drive north past Lahaina to any of the Kapalua’s three parking lots and hike to the gorgeous views of the rocky shoreline and azure coast.
If you want to hang out at Kapalua Beach, bring snorkeling gear to watch the turtles beneath the water!
‘Iao Valley State Park Trail: Most Historic Hike
Length: 0.40 mile loop
Time: 30 minutes - 1 hr
One of the most iconic sights of Maui, ‘Iao Valley State Park Trail and the 1,200-feet tall ‘Iao Needle, stuns all visitors with its lush, green beauty. ‘Iao Needle plays an important role in Hawaii’s history since it was the spot where King Kamehameha fought to unite the islands in a legendary battle.
Nowadays, you can access the Needle by walking a paved path and taking 175 steps up to the lookout point. You can then hike off to a nearby river and have lunch to celebrate your leg workout!
Ka’eleku Cave/Hana Lava Tube: Best Cave Hike
Length: 0.5 mile out-and-back
Time: 30 minutes - 1 hr
Since Maui is home to several volcanoes, much of its terrain has been formed by lava over the past hundreds of years. You can explore these ancient formations in Ka’eleku Cave or the Hana Lava Tube – these lava tubes are more than a thousand years old!
The entry fee is $12, but it’s a great place to take your kids if you want to take a pitstop on the Road to Hana. The cavernous space will provide a reprieve of cool air as you admire the 18th largest lava tube in the world.
Kahakai Trail: Most Child-Friendly Hike
Length: 0.25 mile out-and-back
Time: 30 minutes - 1 hr
Another hike on the Road to Hana, Kahakai Trail conveniently places itself alongside some gorgeous secret beaches. You can access the hike near Ohe’o Gulch (but with no direct access to the gulch itself), near mile marker 42.
Parents and children can leisurely wander through the hala trees and near the beautiful tide pools on this trail. Just be sure not to actually take a dip in the tide pools, since waves can be unpredictable in this part of Maui.
Twin Falls: Best Start-to-Road-to-Hana Hike
Length: 1.5 miles out-and-back
Time: 1-2 hours
A popular first stop on the Road to Hana, the Twin Falls is a hike that allows you to experience the beauty of Maui’s waterfalls in a short span of time.
If weather conditions permit, you can choose to leap off a 15’ cliff at the first waterfall or cross the river to access the second waterfall. Keep in mind that the upper level of the hike closes when it rains and water levels are too high.
Nakalele Blowhole: Best Jaw-Dropping Hike
Length: 0.80 mile
Time: 30 minutes - 1 hr
Another iconic Maui landmark is the Nakalele Blowhole. One of the three natural blowholes in the world, this blowhole shoots geysers that can reach as high up as 100 feet in the air every few minutes.
Since the blowhole and surrounding waves are so powerful, it’s important to maintain your distance and wear sturdy sneakers since you’ll be clambering over rocks. Multiple visitors have sustained injuries by getting too close, so just admire from a distance!
Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail: Hike with the Most Unique Beach
Length: 4.1 miles point-to-point
Time: 2 hours
Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail can be split in a north and south section. Despite what section you decide to hike, make sure you wear close-toed shoes instead of flip-flops to avoid getting cut up by the sharp rocks.
The trail’s biggest draw is the Black Sand Beach, so most people don’t go much further along the trail past the beach. However, if you choose to go the entire length of the trail, you can see blowholes and even a small sea cave that takes you right up to the water.
Hoapili Trail: Best Hike to Take Your Time & Enjoy the Sights
Length: 5.5 miles out-and-back
Time: 2 - 3 hours
Located in Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve, the Hoapili Trail runs along King’s Highway near Kihei in southern Maui. What makes Hoapili Trail unique is that it allows you to hike alongside Maui’s youngest lava flow.
Since this a longer hike, bring water, a hat, and snack to keep your energy levels up. More importantly, wear sturdy shoes so you don’t slip on the loose rocks on the lava-formed path.
Pipiwai Trail/7 Sacred Pools: Best Waterfall Hike
Length: 3.5 miles out-and-back
Time: 2 - 3.5 hours
An iconic waterfall hike in Maui, the Pipiwai Trail or Seven Sacred Pools on the Road to Hana is not to be missed. The trail takes you through the densely-shaded bamboo forest. You’ll get to hike past a couple of waterfalls before reaching the piece-de-resistance: Waimoku Falls.
Since Pipiwai Trail experiences frequent showers, the path can get muddy so be careful of slipping and bring shoes with good grip!
Waihe’e Ridge Trail: Most Picturesque Trail
Length: 4 miles out-and-back
Time: 3 - 4 hours
Waihe’e Ridge Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Maui for good reason. As you scale this ridge, you’re taken far above sea level (and even into the clouds sometimes) until you reach the peak of the ridge. The views overlooking the endless greenery, ocean, and Makamakaole Falls will take your breath away.
Since this trail is on the windward side, expect muddier/rainier conditions than in other parts of Maui!
Waihou Spring Trail: Best Break-a-Sweat Hike
Length: 1.8 miles out-and-back
Time: 1 - 2 hours
Waihou Spring Trail is located near Makawao and great for an early morning, heart-racing hike.
While the loop itself is easy and short, the switchbacks to get to the springs are tougher to tackle. However, if you triumph over the switchbacks, you will make it to the springs and small lava caves at the end!
The surrounding forest is home to a number of tree species, including alaa, halapepe, and koa.
Polipoli Park: Best Hike for Admiring Trees
Length: 4.1 mile loop
Time: 3 - 6 hours
Polipoli Park is 10 acres of jungle goodness in the Kula Forest Reserve. The reserve is populated with beautiful tree species such as pines, cypress, redwood, and China-fir. Polipoli Park has four hiking trails: the Haleakala Ridge Trail, the Plum Trail, the Polipoli Trail, and the Redwood Trail.
You can combine these trails to make your hike as long or short as you want, but one thing to note is that finding the trailhead can be quite difficult. You will want to drive to Polipoli Access Road and use four-wheel drive to climb up the switchbacks until you get to the end of the road.
Pali Trail: Best Leg-Burning Trail
Length: 4.3 miles out-and-back
Time: 4 - 5 hours
Popular with trail runners and wildlife enthusiasts, Pali Trail attracts hikers with its lovely views of the Maalea Coast, Haleakala, and the Central Valley.
A lot of people like to start from the West End near Lahaina, but the panoramic views just get better the closer you get to the central isthmus. It is strongly recommended that you park cars at both ends of the trail since this hike tends to be quite hard on the legs.
Mahana Ridge Trail: Best Running Trail
Length: 10.4 miles out-and-back
Time: 4 - 6 hours
Mahana Ridge Trail will delight avid runners. This trail sits near Lahaina on the west coast of Maui and is home to gorgeous blooms of wildflowers.
You can start at D.T. Fleming Beach, which leads you to the Maunalei Arboretum and eventually connects to the Hanalua Ridge Trail. This trail features a lot of loops with feral pineapple plants or Japanese cedars. Once you encounter the cedars, that’s a good place to turn back.
Haleakala Crater (Halemau’u or Sliding Sands Trails): Best Otherworldly Hike
Length: 11.2 miles point-to-point
Time: 5 - 6.5 hours
The crown jewel of Maui, Mount Haleakala is an enormous shield volcano whose crater resembles that of the moon’s landscape.
If you choose to embark on Maui’s iconic volcano hike, the Sliding Sands Trail or Halemau’u, this trail will lead you directly into the crater. Since you’ll be experiencing a lot of elevation change and sunlight, it’s best to start early in the day as you navigate the stunning extraterrestrial terrain.
BONUS: The Haleakala Crater is home to the Hawaiian silversword, a rare plant whose spiky, silvery-grey leaves radiate a stalk of brilliant purple flowers.
Kaupo Gap: Best Multi-Day Hike
Difficulty: Very Hard
Length: 12 miles out-and-back
Time: 8+ hours
Accessible from the Sliding Sands Trail in Haleakala Crater, Kaupo Gap is a marathon of a hike and best done over the span of a couple of days. First, make sure you have the proper parking and camping permits if you plan to spend a night in the Gap. Since you’ll climb up miles of elevation, it’s recommended to climb up rather than down since the trail can be quite steep.
However, if you’re making your way down the Gap, most people spend the night at the Paliku cabin so that way they can begin their descent earlier in the day.
Two things to note about Kaupo Gap is that 1) you can spot rare wildlife like the Nenes, and 2) the trail hasn’t been maintained well for awhile so take care when navigating the overgrown brush.
Quick Tips for Hiking in Maui
Like any tropical island, Maui possesses its own unique landscape that spans different ecosystems. You are in easy reach of the ocean, jungle, or mountains, so follow these tips to make sure you’re ready to brave all the elements.
Rent a car
As the second-largest island in the state of Hawaii, Maui has a lot of ground to cover but sadly no easy way of getting around with reliable public transit (I tried!). If you want to explore the island in its entirety (especially the Summit of Mount Haleakala), driving is the way to go. Luckily, it’s very easy to rent a Jeep or convertible from the airport once you land!
On the topic of driving, roads twist and turn like no other in Maui. The Road to Hana is especially notorious for its narrow roads and proximity to the cliffside, so it’s best to make sure that the driver behind the wheel feels confident with navigating sharp corners.
The last thing you want is to get caught driving on the Road to Hana (or any of the coastal roads) at night since these areas tend to be remote, have poor lighting, and are subject to frequent high winds and intermittent tropical showers.
Get used to the rain
Maui is home to multiple sub-climates, with the northern windward coast receiving rain on a nearly daily basis. If you plan to spend time outside hiking, it’d be a good idea to wear waterproof clothes like a poncho or rain jacket. Same for shoes – the last thing you want to walk in are wet socks.
If you want to avoid the showers, you can head towards the drier parts of Maui, like Central Valley, Kihei, or Wailea. Or you can visit Maui during the summer since the weather tends to be at its driest!
Don’t be afraid to get muddy
Thanks to Maui’s love for on-and-off showers, expect the trails to be quite muddy. Don’t wear your nice shoes or flip-flops if you want to avoid mud squelching between your toes. Athletic shoes or hiking boots with treads are recommended, especially since hiking paths aren’t always the most-defined out in the jungle.
Don’t hike alone
Or at least let someone know where you are at all times. Some of Maui’s hiking trails are far out from any nearby towns and cities, limiting your access to people, supplies, and cellphone signal in case of an emergency. Use your common sense, take care navigating the trails and stick to the path.
Maui Hiking Tours
Since there are so many hiking trails available in Maui, it’s a good idea to start off with a hiking tour if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the many options.
Are you a fan of taking a dip during a good hike? This tour will take you to three to five waterfalls where you can swim in the refreshing pools or cannonball off the rock ledges.
Don’t miss out on this iconic hike as this tour takes you to through the lush Iao Valley. Afterward, you can explore Maui’s Upcountry region, sample ocean vodka and rum, and visit the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens and Lavender Farm.
Want to create your own adventure? Have a local help you customize your own hiking journey and enjoy the natural wonders that Maui has to offer! And by natural wonders, we’re talking about waterfalls, bamboo forests, lava flows, mountains, and ocean galore!
Where to Stay in Maui
As a popular resort spot, Maui thankfully does not lack cool accommodations. Listed below are some options that range from budget-friendly to all-out luxe.
If you’re just looking for a place to sleep and potentially make new friends, Hakuna Matata Maui Hostel is a cozy place to check out! Not only do you get AC (a blessing in humidity), but the staff is friendly, WiFi excellent, and location close to Lahaina Historic District.
During the summer months in peak season, a private twin/double room can go as high as $116/night. However, there are cheaper options available for around $60/night if you don’t mind staying in a mixed or female-only dorm.
It’s hard not to be won over by Lahaina Beach House as you enter through the floral arch that marks its entrance. Equipped with air-conditioned rooms and shared bathrooms with free toiletries, this hostel is especially popular with couples who want to stick close to Lahaina.
Single beds in the dorms can go up as high as $60/night, and a private twin room as high as $140/night. However, if you book with Lahaina Beach House, you can cancel for free up to a week before your trip.
If you want to live the high life at a beachside resort, the Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas are 11 acres of pure tropical beauty and relaxation. Not only do the Villas have multiple pools and a day spa, but you can easily walk over to Kaanapali Beach in less than 15 minutes or go to Kaanapali Resort Area to do some shopping!
Rooms go as low as $275/night during the summer, but you will have to pay in the mid $300s/night if you want a room with an ocean view.
This majestic property is literally located on the beach and lets you live your best self in a “luxurious cabana-style suite.” You can stroll on over to the beach, play a game of golf at Wailea Golf Course, or plunge down the 126-foot high waterslide by one of the hotel’s many pools.
For this luxury accommodation, rooms often range from $900-$1,200/night depending on what sort of view and size you want. However, for some bookings, you can cancel for free as late as three weeks before your trip!
PRACTICAL INFO FOR MAUI
Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).
Buy your Maui Guide here.
Looking for more travel inspiration for Arizona? Check out these related posts!
- 50 Best Things to Do in Lake Tahoe (For Every Season) - July 7, 2020
- A Detailed Tieks Review (for 2020): Are Tieks Worth It? - July 2, 2020
- Best 4 Person Tent for Camping and Backpacking in 2020 - June 29, 2020