15 Best Maui Hikes: A Detailed Guide to Hiking in Maui

Maui Hikes - Haleakalā Volcano

The best Maui hikes! From sunset ascents to lush rainforests – this is your full guide to hiking in Maui. 

Out of the two islands I’ve been to in Hawaii, Maui is my favorite for its wild nature and less developed feel compared to Oahu. 

Some of the following Maui hikes might not be as popular as the ones you’ll find on Oahu, but what they lack in popularity 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, 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 in Maui because the views all over the island are that stunning.

In this Maui hiking guide, you’ll find my picks for the 15 best Maui hikes, as well as a few practical tips for your trip and a look at the best spots to stay around the island. 

And I’m sure after hiking these trails you’ll fall in love with Maui’s nature as much as I did.

Happy adventuring!

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. 

 

Tips for Hiking in Maui

Like any tropical island, Maui possesses a unique landscape that spans different ecosystems. 

You are in easy reach of the ocean, jungle, and mountains, so follow these tips to make sure you’re ready to brave all of the elements.

Maui Tips - Driving the Road to Hana

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.

You can book your rental car here. 

 

Drive Carefully

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 make sure you’re confident with navigating sharp corners if you’re driving.

You also probably don’t want 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 tackling some of the best Maui hikes, it’s good to wear waterproof clothes like a poncho or rain jacket. 

Same for shoes – the last thing you want when you’re exploring those Maui walking trails are wet socks.

If you want to avoid the showers, head towards the drier parts of Maui, like the Central Valley, Kihei, or Wailea. 

Or you can visit Maui during the summer since the weather tends to be at its driest then.

 

Don’t be Afraid to get Muddy

Thanks to the island’s love for on-and-off showers, expect the trails in Maui 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 if you plan to go hiking in Maui on your own. 

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 common sense, take care navigating Maui’s trails, and stick to the path.

 

What to Pack for Hiking in Maui

what to pack for hiking in maui, hawaii

 

  • Rain jacket – For those sporadic tropical rainstorms, it’s good to have a rain jacket with you at all times to stay dry. It’s not always easy to predict the weather in Maui, so always be prepared for anything. 

 

  • Light pants and shirt – With how humid Maui can get, make sure you’re hiking in breathable clothes that are light and don’t weigh you down (the humidity already does that). 

 

  • Hat – The sun rays on the island can be strong, especially if you choose to hike a trail in Maui without much forest cover. Bring a wide-brimmed hat for added protection from that hot island sun. 

 

  • Waterproof sneakers or hiking boots – Put aside the flip flops and make sure to pack some waterproof footwear that will keep your feet dry on the trail. With how wet and muddy Maui can get, it’s important to have shoes with tread that won’t get soaked if it starts to rain. I also highly recommend bringing a pair of cozy Allbirds to treat your feet after a long day on the trail. 

 

  • Swimsuit – You are on an island, after all! Especially if you plan to hike to any Maui waterfalls, always bring your swimsuit so you can cool off after a hot day on the trail.  

 

  • Sunscreen & Sunglasses – Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must if you plan to hike Maui. There’s nothing worse than having to deal with an angry sunburn for the duration of your trip because you didn’t lather up ahead of time. 

 

  • Bug spray – As a tropical island, you can expect to find a lot of bugs on the island. For this reason, bug spray is an important item to remember when hiking Maui – especially if you’re doing any waterfall hikes in Maui. 

 

  • Water bottle – Whether you’re tackling a Maui day hike or going for a multi-day adventure, bring plenty of water with you. With high humidity, your body loses more water and you’ll probably need to hydrate more than you’re used to. 

 

  • Trail Snacks – It’s always good to bring some protein-rich snacks while hiking to keep your energy up and in case a hike takes longer than you think it will. Trail snacks can get you out of a pinch and unnecessary ‘hangryness’ if you get hungry without any food options for miles. 

 

  • Waterproof day pack – With Maui’s varied weather, it’s worth it to bring a waterproof day pack with you to keep all your hiking gear, phone, and camera dry. I prefer a day pack for comfort and organization but a dry bag is another alternative if you’re just carrying a few things with you. 

 

  • First aid kit – Whether you’re hiking Haleakala or exploring a lush tropical rainforest, always bring a first aid kit with you. You never know when you (or another hiker) might need it and they’re compact enough these days to not add a ton of weight to your pack. 

 

When is the Best Time to Go Hiking in Maui?

Although Maui is a beautiful island to visit year-round, if you’re looking to explore the hiking trails on Maui, some parts of the year are better than others. 

Maui doesn’t really get cold, with temperatures usually ranging from 75-85°F and rarely going below 60°F.

With that said, it’s probably best to avoid the wet season (November through March) because trails get muddy fast and tropical rainstorms are common. 

The best time to visit Maui for hiking is probably in September and October for good weather, fewer crowds, and cheaper accommodation options. 

Another good time for fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation is April and May, but you might have to deal with slightly more rain than the fall. 

The summer can also be a good time to go hiking in Maui, but the weather is hotter and trails are usually more crowded. 

Vegan ice cream stand on the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii

 

What is the Best Hike in Maui?

It depends on what you’re looking for. 

The good thing about Maui is that the island offers hiking trails for all levels of fitness, from easy walks to multi-day adventures. 

This post includes the top 10 hikes in Maui (and then some) that all provide a good overview of the island. 

If you’re wondering where to hike in Maui and you’re short on time, I’d recommend going for one or two hikes off the Road to Hana, such as the hike to Twin Falls. 

Or hiking Haleakala Volcano, which is probably the most popular hike in Maui. 

Maui volcano hike - Haleakala National Park

 

Can You Swim in Waterfalls in Maui?

If there’s one type of hike to do in Maui it’s a waterfall hike. 

But can you actually swim in the waterfalls in Maui?

The short answer is yes and no. 

Although many waterfalls in Maui are on private land or aren’t meant for swimming in, there are plenty of waterfalls that are great for swimming.

The best Maui hikes to waterfalls are mostly along the Road to Hana , including Twin Falls and Waikamoi Stream and Waterfalls.

If you’re looking for other Maui waterfalls to swim in that aren’t off the Road to Hana, Nemo Falls is another good spot in Ko’olau Forest Reserve on the northeast side of Maui and Alelele Falls in Haleakala National Park. 

Just note that if you’re swimming in waterfalls in Maui, it’s best to keep your head above water due to potential waterborne bacteria. 

can you swim in the waterfalls in maui

 

What is the Nicest Part of Maui?

It’s hard to choose the nicest part of Maui because each side of the island has its own personality and features. 

With that said, parts of West Maui tend to be slightly rainier and windier than the rest of the island. 

But West Maui is also known for having some of the best beaches, stunning landscapes, and is the most popular part of the island for tourists, so it depends on what you’re looking for. 

The best hiking on Maui is on the north and east side of the island, although West Maui has a few good hikes as well. 

The north and west side of Maui is also where you’ll find fewer crowds and more remote landscapes since the west and south sides are much more built up.  

what is the nicest part of maui

 

15 Best Maui Hikes

These are my picks for the best places to hike in Maui, from easy jaunts that are good to do with kids to all-day hikes for the adventurous traveler. 

 

‘Iao Valley Needle Hike

Most Historic Hike

Miles: 0.4  | Elevation change: 200 ft  

Trailhead: Near the parking lot at the end of ‘Iao Valley Road 

Fees: $5 parking for non-Hawaiian residents

Facilities: Public restroom at the trailhead

best hiking trails in maui - Iao Valley State Park Trail

If you’re looking for easy hikes in Maui, the ‘Iao Needle hike is a quick and short walk to a historic rock formation on the island – Kuka’emoku or the ‘Iao Needle.

One of the most iconic sights in Maui, ‘Iao Valley State Park Trail and the 1,200-foot tall ‘Iao Needle, stuns all visitors with its lush, green beauty. 

This ‘Iao Valley State Park hike takes you along a stream and pond that you can go swimming in and features stunning views of the mountains and valley as you make your way to the lookout point. 

‘Iao Needle played 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.

It’s one of the best ‘Iao Valley State Park hiking trails to start with if you’re looking to explore more of the ‘Iao Valley. 

And, since it’s a super short trail at only 0.6 miles, a good additional ‘Iao Valley hike to add on to this one is the 2.5-mile ‘Iao Tableland or ‘Iao Valley “Secret Trail.” 

The hike isn’t *technically* an official trail but it can be accessed behind the lookout point. 

Just note that it does require jumping over a fence and navigating a faint path that’s not always easy to see.  

This secret ‘Iao Valley trail is accessible year-round and features a river, as well as plenty of bird watching opportunities. 

It’s the perfect hike to add on to the ‘Iao Needle if you’re looking to explore more of the ‘Iao Valley hiking trails and you’re up for an adventure. 

Before you leave the area, don’t miss the botanical garden in the park as well. 

Local tip: There are sometimes flash floods in ‘Iao Valley State Park, so stay aware of any quick changes in water level or color if you go swimming in one of the streams.  

 

Ka’eleku Cave/Hana Lava Tube Hike

Best Cave Hike

Miles: 0.5  

Trailhead: 205 ‘Ula’ino Rd (Mile Marker #31.1 on Hana Hwy)

Fees: $12 entrance fee (which includes flashlights and a short orientation)

Facilities: Port-a-potty and picnic table 

maui hiking trails - Kae'leku Cave, Hana Lava Tube

Another easy hike on Maui, walking to Ka’eleku Cave (also known as the Hana Lava Tube), is a unique experience to have on the island.

Since Maui is home to several volcanoes, much of its terrain has been formed by lava over the past hundreds of years. 

And one of the best Maui hikes, if you want to explore these ancient formations, is the walk to Ka’eleku Cave – this lava tube is more than a thousand years old!

The entry fee is $12, but it’s a great place to take your kids if you’re looking for a good 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.

Local tip: Although there are handrails in the cave, wear sturdy shoes since terrain can be uneven. It’s also worthwhile to bring a headlamp with you so you can use a hands-free light source as you navigate the cave. 

 

Nakalele Blowhole/Acid War Zone Trail

Best Jaw-Dropping Hike

Miles: 1.25   

Trailhead: Kahekili Hwy (Hwy 340) – Mile Marker #38-38.5

Facilities: None

best hikes in maui - nakalele blowhole

One of the best West Maui hikes, taking the Acid War Zone Trail to the Nakalele Blowhole allows you to soak up the ocean breeze and see a few unique Maui landmarks along the way.  

As one of the three natural blowholes in the world, the Nakalele Blowhole shoots geysers that can reach as high up as 100 feet in the air every few minutes. 

In other words, don’t get too close or peek your head over the top of it. 

This is one of the best Maui walks to do if you’re interested in seeing a blowhole, but please be mindful. 

Multiple visitors have sustained injuries by getting too close, so just admire from a distance.

There are two parking areas near the Nakalele Blowhole.  

The first one is more accessible and only a short walk from the parking area. 

The second one gives you more of a hike and allows you to see more features in the area besides just the Nakalele Blowhole. 

For this reason, I recommend parking at the second parking lot if you’re up for just over a mile-long hike through slightly rougher terrain. 

From the parking area, you’ll take any of the ATV or dirt bike trails, they all lead to the same destination so it doesn’t matter which one you choose. 

Along these, you’ll come across the Nakalele Point Lighthouse (and the view of the tidepools below just next to it), the Acid War Zone rock formations, stunning coastal views, and finally the Nakalele Blowhole to end the hike. 

If you’re looking for a good Maui coastal hike that doesn’t take too long but features good views and unique sights, this is a good one to add to your Maui hiking itinerary. 

Local tip: 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. 

 

Twin Falls Hike

Best Start-to-Road-to-Hana Hike

Miles: 1.5 

Trailhead: Hana Hwy (Hwy 360) – Mile Marker #2.1 

Facilities: Port-a-potties, food stand

Maui waterfalls - Twin Falls Hikes

If you’re hiking Maui, you need to do at least one hike to a waterfall. 

And one of the best waterfall hikes in Maui and a good first stop on the Road to Hana is the Twin Falls hike. 

This hike allows you to experience some of the best Maui waterfalls in a short distance and it’s a good place to stretch your legs at the start of your Road to Hana adventure. 

If weather conditions permit, you can choose to leap off a 15’ cliff at the first waterfall or cross the river to access another waterfall.

There are various side paths and trails you can take to additional waterfalls along the hike as well. 

Although most tourists just stop at the first waterfall and turn back, the Twin Falls area is actually quite big and worth exploring more fully if you have the time. 

Just keep in mind that the upper level of the hike closes when it rains and water levels are too high since there are sometimes flash floods in the area. 

You’ll want to give yourself at least an hour to explore the lush, green landscape and waterfalls, but don’t spend too much more than that if you plan on doing the full Road to Hana road trip in one day. 

This is one of the top hikes in Maui for those who are interested in swimming in a waterfall and maybe doing some cliff jumping while you’re at it. 

Local tip: Pick up some fresh fruit at the stand located at the trailhead. This is one of the best snack stands on the Road to Hana and the perfect place to pick up some refreshing snacks to eat at Twin Falls or later on in your road trip. 

 

Waihou Spring Trail

Best Trail for a Good Leg Workout 

Miles: 2.2 | Elevation change: 850 

Trailhead: Along Olinda Road, just past Olinda Endangered Species Propagation Facility. Park on the side of the road. 

Facilities: Portable toilets near the start of the trail

Waihou spring trail - hikes in maui
The Waihou Spring Trail is located near Makawao in
Waihou Spring Forest Reserve and ideal for an early morning hike.

While the loop itself is easy and short, the switchbacks to get to the springs are tougher to tackle and give you a decent workout. 

Switchbacks aside, the springs and small lava caves at the end are well worth the effort.

It’s easily one of the best Maui day hikes that’s around two miles.  

The Waihou Spring Trail also takes you through an experimental pine, cypress, and eucalyptus forest that was planted in the 1920s.

And it’s home to several native tree species as well, including alaa, halapepe, and koa.

At the lava caves, you’ll find irrigation tunnels that are carved into the rock wall and a lookout over the stream the trail is named after. 

Just note that the trail down to the stream overlook can sometimes be closed due to poor weather or a recent storm, so check conditions ahead of time. 

Local tip: At 4,000 feet in elevation, the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve is usually on the cooler and wetter side, so make sure to bring warm and waterproof layers, as well as sturdy shoes for climbing those switchbacks. 

 

Kapalua Coastal Trail

Most Tourist-Friendly Hike

Miles: 3.5 | Elevation change: 150  

Trailhead: Start from the southern trailhead at Kapalua Bay Beach. There are free parking lots next to the Napili Kai Beach Resort in Kapalua Bay or across from the Ironwood Gates at Oneloa Bay.  

Facilities: Plenty of nearby resorts and restaurants. There are public restrooms at the Kapalua Bay and DT Fleming Beach parking lots.  

west maui hikes - Kapalua Coastal Trail
A famous hike in west Maui,
Kapalua Coastal Trail hike is a popular hotspot for those staying at the nearby resorts in Lahaina. 

If you’re a fan of coastal hikes, this is one of the best hikes in West Maui. 

It’s also one of the best hikes in Maui near Kaanapali on this list. 

So if you’re looking for hiking near Kaanapali, this trail is a good option since the trailhead is only a 15-minute drive away. 

Along the trail, you’ll enjoy the best parts of West Maui hiking. 

These include dramatic coastlines, lava formations (don’t miss Hawea Point and Makaluapuna Point), three beaches (Kapalua, Oneloa, and DT Fleming), a seabird preserve, dunes, and during the winter you might even spot a whale near the coast.

Give yourself at the very least an hour and a half to two hours to do the full out-and-back hike. 

However, I’d recommend giving yourself even longer for photo opportunities and time at the beaches and lookout points. 

This is one of Maui’s most scenic coastal hikes, so it’s worth it to take your time to appreciate the views.   

To get to the trailhead, drive north past Lahaina to any of Kapalua’s three parking lots and start your hike alongside the gorgeous views of the rocky shoreline and azure coast.

Since there is very little shade along the trail, it’s best to hike in the early morning or right around sunset.

This is also one of the windiest parts of Maui so make sure to bring a windbreaker.  

Local tip: If you have time to hang out at Kapalua Beach, bring snorkeling gear. This is a great spot to watch the sea turtles beneath the water. 

 

Pipiwai Trail/Seven Sacred Pools Hike

Best Waterfall Hike

Miles: 4 | Elevation change: 800  

Trailhead: Hana Hwy (Hwy 31) – Mile Marker #42. 

Fees: $15 entrance fee 

Facilities: Picnic tables, toilets, info center, and camping  

Best hiking trails in Maui - Seven Sacred Pools/Pipiwai
An iconic waterfall hike in Maui, the Pipiwai Trail (or Seven Sacred Pools hike) is in the
Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park. 

And it’s easily one of the most popular attractions in East Maui.  

This is one of the top Maui hikes for chasing waterfalls, with several that can be found throughout the hike. 

The main features of the trail include a densely-shaded bamboo forest, Makahiku Falls, an enormous banyan tree, ancient Hawaiian ruins, and eventually the towering Waimoku Falls at the end of the hike.  

So, how long is the Seven Sacred Pools hike/Pipiwai Trail? 

I’d give yourself at least two hours to do the full hike and more if you plan on enjoying the scenery and making multiple photo stops. 

Although it’s often closed due to poor conditions, try and stop by the Seven Sacred Pools/Pools of ‘Ohe’o swimming hole before starting the hike, especially if you’re visiting early so you can avoid the crowds.  

If you’re looking for Maui waterfall hikes, this is one of the best ones you can do since some of the most impressive public waterfalls on the island are along the trail.  

Note that Pipiwai Trail experiences frequent showers and the path can get muddy so watch your footing and bring waterproof shoes with good grip.

Local tip: Since this trail is in Haleakala National Park, the entrance fee you pay to get in can be used to hike any of the Haleakala summit hikes as well. Just make sure to save your receipt! Also, since this is such a popular spot to visit in Maui, there are usually a lot of people. Plan to get here early in the day to avoid most of the crowds. 

 

Waihe’e Ridge Trail 

Most Picturesque Trail

Miles: 2.5 | Elevation change: 1,700 ft  

Trailhead: Kahekili Hwy/Hwy 340 – Mile Marker #6.9

Facilities: Port-a-potty at the trailhead, picnic table at the end of the trail before turning back.

Waihe’e Ridge Trail - hikes on mauiWaihe’e Ridge Trail, located in West Maui Forest Reserve, is one of the most popular hikes in Maui for good reason. 

As you scale this ridge, you’re taken far above sea level until you reach the peak looking out over Waihe’e Valley and the West Maui Mountains. 

There are a couple of hikes that take you above the clouds in Maui, one is the hike to the Haleakala summit and the other is this trail along Waihe’e Ridge.   

This is all to say that you can expect a whole lot of good views overlooking endless greenery, ocean, and Makamakaole Falls that will take your breath away. 

The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is one of the best West Maui hiking trails for those who are looking for panoramic views in every direction and bird watching opportunities. 

And although relatively short, this is one of the more strenuous hikes on this list with a quick elevation gain over a couple of miles. 

Make sure you’re mentally and physically prepared for the calf-burning workout this trail provides.  

Also, since Waihe’e Ridge is on the windward side, expect muddier and rainier conditions than in other parts of Maui. 

It’s a good idea to wear waterproof hiking boots or shoes that have a good amount of grip since the trail is steep and can be slippery in poor weather or after a rainstorm.   

Are you noticing a common thread to all of these Maui hikes? 

Basically, you should just always plan to bring waterproof gear. 

Give yourself at least an hour to an hour and a half to do the full Waihe’e Ridge Trail, or more if you’re not a regular hiker. 

Local Tip: Wear bright colors when hiking this trail. Local hunters sometimes hunt off the trail near Waihe’e Ridge, so stick to the main path as a hiker. Also, the trailhead can be hard to find. You’ll be looking for the easy-to-miss Maluhia Road near the 6.9-mile marker on Hwy 340, across from Mendes Ranch. Although there is a parking lot right next to the highway, you’ll want to park at the gravel lot a little less than a mile further that is right next to the trailhead. 

 

Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail

Hike with the Most Unique Beach

Miles: 2.1   

Trailhead: Start at Ka’inalimui Bay

Facilities: Restrooms, picnic tables, showers, campgrounds 

Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail - Maui trails
Another one of the best Maui hikes, the Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail is located in
Wai’anapanapa State Park and can be done as part of a Road to Hana road trip or visited on its own.  

Head northwest from Ka’inalimu Bay to follow “King’s Highway” along the rugged lava coastline. 

As a side note, if you’re hiking this trail you’re going to want to wear proper closed-toed shoes instead of flip flops since the lava can be sharp. 

The trail isn’t clearly marked but do your best to follow the smooth stepping stones along the jagged lava and you’ll be heading in the general direction you’re meant to go.  

The trail’s biggest draw is Black Sand Beach (Pa’iloa Beach), which is a beautiful spot to spend an hour on a sunny day. 

Swimming isn’t recommended with how strong the surf is, but it’s a good place for a beach beer and a book to soak up those sun rays.   

Most people don’t go much further along the trail after Black Sand Beach, but if you have time, it’s worthwhile to hike the full trail to Red Sand Beach. 

Red Sand Beach is generally much calmer than Black Sand Beach so a better spot to go swimming. 

Plus, it’s usually less crowded since most non-locals don’t go further than Black Sand Beach. 

When I was there last, there was only one other couple on the beach. 

Along the way, you’ll come across blowholes and a small sea cave that takes you right up to the water.

The Road to Hana offers some of the best hiking on Maui and the Wai’anapanapa Coastal Trail is no exception.  

Add this hike to your Maui itinerary if you want scenic ocean views, unique beaches, blowholes, and breezy views of classic Hawaiian scenery. 

Local tip: Although street parking is free near Wai’anapanapa State Park, parking tickets are common so make sure to read street signs. We ended up getting a ticket because we parked too close to a stop sign. 

 

Polipoli Park Hikes

Best Hike for Admiring Trees

Miles: 3.5 | Elevation change: 200 ft  

Trailhead: At the end of Polipoli Access Road

Facilities: Pit toilets

Hikes in Maui - Polipoli Park
If you’re looking for Maui rainforest hikes, Polipoli Springs State Recreation Area is 10 acres of jungle goodness in the
Kula Forest Reserve

The reserve is populated with beautiful tree species such as pine, 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.

Since all of these trails are relatively short and loop together, you can make your hike as long or as short as you want. 

I would recommend starting on the Polipoli Trail. 

From there, you can take the Haleakala Ridge Trail to the Plum Trail and finish on the Redwood Trail that leads back to the parking area for a nice 3.5-mile loop. 

One thing to note is that getting to the trailhead can be an adventure in itself. 

It involves driving along Polipoli Access Road and using your four-wheel drive to climb up switchbacks until you get to the end of the road. 

Note that a four-wheel-drive is required by the reserve in this area of the park.

If you’re looking to explore the Maui forest, this is one of the most unique hikes on Maui to experience. 

It’s also where you’ll find coastal redwood forests similar to those in California

Local tip: The recreation area is 5,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level and usually has very wet conditions so make sure to wear waterproof hiking gear. This is also an area where hunters are common so wear bright clothing and don’t go off trail.

 

Lahaina Pali Trail

Best Break-a-Sweat Hike

Miles: 5-10 | Elevation change: 1,600 ft  

Trailhead: You can either start from the Maalaea (Eastern Trailhead) or Ukumehame Trailhead (Western Trailhead) – I recommend the Maalaea side if you’re doing the out-and-back five-miler. 

Facilities: None

west maui hikes - Pali Trail
Popular with trail runners and wildlife enthusiasts,
Lahaina Pali Trail attracts hikers with its lovely views of the Maalea Coast, Haleakala, and the Central Valley.

Although this is a great hike in Maui, it’s also one of the hardest hikes on the island due to its distance and steepness at some parts of the trail. 

There are multiple ways to hike the Lahaina Pali Trail, some choose to do the full 10-mile hike from one end to the other. 

Other hikers choose to do an out-and-back to the summit and return the way they came for a five-mile hike. 

If you go this route, you’ll simply turn back once you get to the giant wind turbines at the top.

If you want to do the full hike, you can park one car at each end and hike one-way for 10 miles.   

If you’re doing the out-and-back hike, I’d recommend starting from the Maalaea side for more panoramic views and stunning vistas. 

Just note that this is the more difficult side to hike, so it’ll be a more intense workout for better views.

Another thing to note is, if you’re starting on the Maalaea side, you’ll have to walk along the highway for a mile before starting the hike unless you have a four-wheel drive. 

However, if you have a four-wheel drive, you can park at the four-wheel drive parking lot and start right at the beginning of the trail. 

If you’re hiking on the Ukumehame side, you can expect a slightly longer but easier hike that still has good views, they just won’t be quite as stunning as the Maalaea side.  

However, whale sightings are common on this side, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for movement off the coast. 

The Pali Hike is steep, windy, and mostly unshaded, but, on the plus side, you’ll be rewarded with constant panoramic coastal views as you hike up lava rocks. 

Because of how strenuous this hike can be, give yourself at least 3-5 hours to complete the five-mile out-and-back hike and twice as much time for the full hike.  

It’s also good to do the Pali Trail early in the day for a more comfortable hike. 

This area is very dry compared to the rest of Maui and brush fires are common. 

Check conditions ahead of time and don’t have any open flames on the trail. 

The Pali Trail is one of the best hikes in Maui near Lahaina, so if you’re staying on the southwest side of Maui don’t miss out on doing at least part of this hike. 

Local tip: The Pali hike gets hot and sweaty fast. Bring double the water you think you need and plenty of sun protection since most of the trail is unshaded. Car break-ins are known to happen at the trailheads so don’t leave valuables in your car. 

 

Hoapili Trail

Best Hike to Take Your Time and Enjoy the Sights

Miles: 5.5 | Elevation change: 200 ft 

Trailhead: At the end of Makena Road, past La Perouse Memorial Park. 

Facilities: None

Hoapili Trail - Best Maui Coastal Hikes
If you’re looking for a different kind of Maui hiking trail, the
Hoapili Trail offers a unique hiking experience on the island. 

Whereas most of the other Maui hikes on this list go through the rainforest and involve waterfalls, it doesn’t get much more hot and barren than the Hoapili Trail. 

If you think “hot’ and “barren” translates to an ugly landscape though, you’ll be happy to know this is still a scenic hike with an abundance of crystal blue ocean views. 

Located in Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve, the Hoapili Trail is one of the best south Maui hikes and runs along King’s Highway near Kihei. 

The path was originally built by King Pi’ilani and his son so they could have a road that went around most of the island.

It was then improved upon in 1824 by Governor Hoapili. 

Besides its historic nature, what makes the Hoapili Trail unique is that it allows you to hike alongside Maui’s youngest lava flow.

Although the full hike is much longer than five or so miles, most people opt for the day hike option that I’m recommending here. 

Starting at La Perouse Bay, you’ll follow the trail along the coast, passing by historic rock walls, Kiawe trees, and probably some wild goats. 

If you have time, after passing through the Kiawe forest, you can make a detour to Cape Hanamanioa for more good views. 

After this, the trail gets a bit rougher and harder to find. 

You’ll eventually come across the secluded Keawanaku Beach that you can enjoy if you’ve budgeted in the extra time. 

After the beach, you’ll come to another Kiawe forest – this one has a few ancient sites within it – and make your way towards the ocean to Kanaio Beach.

Depending on how much extra time you have, you can either turn around here or keep going.

Just note that the trail gets harder and harder to see the further you go.  

Give yourself at least four hours to do the 5.5-mile portion and more if you have the energy to keep going. 

The Hoapili Trail is a good option if you’re looking for a secluded hiking experience in Maui and you’re interested in seeing a different side of the island. 

Local tip: Since this is a longer hike that has very little shade, bring water, a hat, and a snack to keep your energy levels up. More importantly, wear sturdy shoes so you don’t slip on the loose and sharp rocks that make up the lava-formed path.

 

Mahana Ridge Trail

Best Hike for Wildflowers

Miles: 9.2 | Elevation change: 2,000 ft 

Trailhead: Near the parking lot at D.T. Fleming Park. After parking, make your way back up the access road and look for the trailhead across from the green school. 

Facilities: Restrooms and water at D.T. Fleming Park

Best Hikes in Maui - Mahana Ridge Trail

Another one of the best hiking trails in Maui, the Mahana Ridge Trail is a long hike that takes you from sea level to the high altitude forests in West Maui. 

This Maui hiking trail sits near Lahaina and is home to gorgeous blooms of wildflowers, as well as various native and introduced plants and trees – including feral pineapple plants and Japanese cedars. 

Although there used to be a shuttle that took visitors up to the Maunalei Arboretum that allowed hikers to descend to the beach, this is no longer running. 

Because of this, you’ll be starting from D.T. Fleming Beach and making your way up the ridge for an out-and-back hike that’s just under 10 miles.  

If you’re looking for a shorter hike that’s around four miles, you can turn around at the reservoir. 

Otherwise, continue up the mountain from the reservoir until you get to the Maunalei Arboretum where you’ll turn around and go back the way you came. 

After the reservoir, the trail gets slightly more confusing and overgrown so be patient as you make your way up to the arboretum.

The most confusing part of the trail is just after the reservoir at the three-way intersection.

When you reach this, you’ll go left and take the trail that goes uphill (on the south side of the road). 

Local tip: This West Maui trail can be especially muddy in its upper portions. Plan to hike it during the dry season and when it hasn’t rained in a few days to make it a more enjoyable hike. It’s also recommended to wear pants since this trail tends to be overgrown and not maintained well.

 

Haleakala Crater Hike 

Best Otherworldly Hike

Miles: 12 | Elevation change: 3,000 ft  

Trailhead: At the end of Haleakala Highway (Hwy 378), about a half-mile below the Haleakala Visitor Center Parking Lot.

Fees: $15 entrance fee

Facilities: Restrooms at the Haleakala Visitor Center

Maui volcano hike - Haleakala National Park
The crown jewel of Maui, Mount Haleakala in
Haleakala National Park is an enormous shield volcano whose crater resembles that of the moon’s landscape.

As a 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.

If you choose to embark on an iconic Maui volcano hike, like the Sliding Sands Trail (also known as the Keonehe’ehe’e Trail)- you’ll be hiking directly into the crater. 

Although there are a few different Haleakala crater hikes you can do, the 12-mile Sliding Sands Trail is the one I did when I hiked Haleakala

I hiked this Haleakala trail through a free tour at the hostel I was staying at, but it’s possible to do it on your own as well if you know what you’re getting yourself into and prepare accordingly.    

The Sliding Sands Trail is probably the best Haleakala hike to explore this famous volcano crater to the fullest. 

And this Maui volcano hike is all about the extremes. 

From otherworldly landscapes to multi-hued terrain, the 2,800-foot descent just four miles into the trail, and the fact that you’re spending the day hiking into a crater with extreme weather and hardly any shade.

If you want to spread out the hike over two days, you can reserve a camping spot at one of the three cabins inside the crater. 

If you’re looking for a tent, read my picks for the best 4-person tents and large camping tents

With that said, these spots can be hard to snag as reservations are now done by a lottery system due to the popularity of the hike. 

However you decide to hike it, if you only have time for one hike in Maui, this is the one I would recommend. 

And don’t miss out on watching the sunrise or sunset from the summit before or after a full day of Haleakala hiking. 

There’s nothing like watching the sun rise or fall from above the clouds at 10,000+ feet. 

Just note that if you want to watch the sunrise you’ll need to book reservations ahead of time. You can do that here

And if you’re up for more Haleakala adventures after spending all day in its crater, Haleakala National Park is where you’ll find some of the best hiking in Maui. 

Other trails I’d recommend doing in the park include the Halemau’u Trail (9.5 miles) and the Skyline Trail (8 miles). 

Local tip: Since you’ll be experiencing a lot of elevation change and harsh sunlight with little shade, protecting yourself from heatstroke is very important. Bring a good hat, as well as plenty of sunscreen, water, and high energy snacks for the journey. 

 

Kaupo Gap

Best Multi-Day Hike

Miles: 6.9 | Elevation change: 5,480 ft

Trailhead: Lower trailhead can be found near Kaupo General Store off Hwy 31. Upper trailhead is found at the intersection of Halemau’u Trail and Lau’ulu Trail in Haleakala National Park. 

Facilities: None on the trail, restrooms at Haleakala National Park.

Hikes on Maui - Kaupo Gap
The
Kaupo Gap Trail is a challenging all-day to multi-day hike and one of the best trails in Maui for the experienced backcountry adventurer. 

If you’re looking for solitude and a remote hike away from the crowds, this is one of the best hikes you can do on the island. 

It’s also where you might come across rare Hawaiian wildlife like the nene.

Because the Kaupo Gap Trail is a marathon of a hike that involves steep terrain and a lot of elevation change, it’s best done over a couple of days. 

If you’re doing it as a multi-day hike, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper parking and camping permits if you plan to spend a night in the Gap. 

Most people spend the night at the Paliku cabin and begin their descent or ascent as early as possible to avoid the heat.

For those who are experienced hikers, you can do the hike in one day, but plan for it to be a very long and exhausting day on the trail. 

To do the Kaupo Gap hike in its entirety, you’ll also have to think about transportation since this is recommended as a one-way hike. 

It’s easiest to leave two cars on either end of the trail or to have someone pick you up at the end. 

Since there’s a lot of elevation change, it’s also recommended to climb up rather than down since the trail can be quite steep, but that’s up to your preference. 

Either start the trail from the intersection of the Halemau’u Trail and Lau’ulu Trail near the Haleakala summit if you’re making your way down.

Or, find the lower trailhead just off Hwy 31. 

To find the lower trailhead, you’ll follow a rough dirt road heading towards the volcano near the Kaupo General Store. 

The start of the Kaupo Gap Trail is 1.25 miles up that unpaved road.

The hardest part of the trail is in the lower half with how overgrown it has become in recent years. 

This section is on ranchland and you’ll see private property signs, but hikers who are using the Kaupo Gap Trail are allowed to cross it as long as they stay on the path and respect the land.

Local tip: There are various loops and detours along the lower half of the trail, so it’s good to have a GPS device and follow the NPS markers to stay on track. Also, this trail closes from time to time due to erosion, so make sure to check conditions and closures ahead of time.

 

Maui Hiking Tours

Maui hiking tours

Since there are so many hiking trails on the island, it’s a good idea to start with one of these hiking tours in Maui if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the many options.

 

5 Hour Maui Waterfall & Rainforest Hike with Picnic Lunch

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.

 

Iao Valley Hike and Upcountry Farm Tour with Lunch

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.

 

Private Custom Guided Hike

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.

Where to stay in Maui

 

BUDGET 

Hakuna Matata Maui Hostel

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.

Check availability here

 

The Lahaina Beach House

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.

Check availability here

 

MID-RANGE

Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas

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.

Check availability here

 

LUXURY

Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

This majestic property is 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 room size you want.

Check availability here

 

Looking for more hiking inspiration? Check out my hiking guides for Oahu, Sedona, San Diego, San Francisco, New Zealand’s Abel Tasman Track and Tongariro Crossing, as well as my trek in Myanmar

 


 

PRACTICAL INFO FOR MAUI

Find accommodationbook your rental car, or sign up for a local tour.

Book a vacation rental on Airbnb (and get $40 off your first booking).

Buy your Maui Guide here.

 

The Best Maui Hikes

Best Maui Hikes in Hawaii

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Mimi McFadden
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15 Best Maui Hikes: A Detailed Guide to Hiking in Maui