We had the privilege of visiting Maui in January for our family vacation. We stayed on the far west side of the island, but loved exploring every part! Here are my top twelve favorite things that we did with a week on Maui.

1. Nakalele Blowhole

The first thing we did after settling into our condo was taking a drive to the Nakalele Blowhole, a natural phenomenon on the northern coast that produces geyser-like water spouts through the rocks. To get to the trail, drive north of Kapalua for about 8 miles and park at mile marker 38.5. There’s a short, but steep rocky trail that leads down to the blowhole. It can get slippery and dangerous, so proceed with caution.

2. Honolua Park

This wasn’t on our list of things to do, but it was too beautiful to pass up on our way back from Nakalele Blowhole (Mile 32). Walking down this short trail to Honolua Bay was like walking through an enchanted forest. The path was flat and opened up to a rocky bay where people like to snorkel off the shore.

3. Haleakala National Park

Hayden and I have been getting good use out of our National Parks pass this year. Haleakala is unique in that you can drive from sea level to the summit of a volcano at 10,000 feet in the matter of hours. First, we stopped by the Leleiwi Overlook, which was completely fogged over, though still interesting to walk through. Then we continued on to the summit. Fortunately, the fog cleared temporarily so we could see a view of the island. On the way back down the mountain, we ventured through the Hosmer Grove Nature Trail near the entrance of the park, which is not to be missed. We saw lots of birds, including nēnēs (Hawaiian geese), and more diverse vegetation on that trail than on the summit.

4. Garden of Eden Arboretum

We spent a whole day on our Road to Hana excursion. These next three items were my three favorite stops on our journey, though the whole adventure was magical. It was unbelievably lush with stunning views along the whole route. It was fairly rainy the day we went, but that didn’t stop us. The Garden of Eden Arboretum was our first main stop on the Road to Hana at mile marker 10.5. It does cost $15 a person to get in, but we had a group discount, and wow — it was better than I could have imagined. This garden is overflowing with tropical vegetation, roaming peacocks, waterfalls, ocean views, and, of course, restrooms and a gift shop to top it all off.

5. Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park

This next stop is at mile marker 32 on the Road to Hana. Waianapanapa State Park features a unique black sand beach. The beach itself was smaller than I expected, but it was very cool to see the volcanic sand and explore the caves and coastline.

6. Seven Sacred Pools

Our last stop on the Road to Hana was at mile marker 42 to see Ohe’o Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. This site also happens to be a part of Haleakala National Park, so we got another use out of our annual pass. Everything I read about the Seven Sacred Pools said that it was calm and fun to swim in. I was not expecting the raging river that we saw, though it makes sense as January is a time of high water levels.

7. Lahaina

While a number of our activities were outdoorsy, we also spent some time exploring the city of Lahaina. We enjoyed eating at Down the Hatch, walking through Banyan Court and the shops, and catching a sunset sail out of the harbor.

8. The Gazebo

While I don’t really know why The Gazebo restaurant on Maui is so famous, we did wait just over an hour in line to experience their breakfast. I enjoyed it as a photographer because it gave me time to take photos of the resort and ocean view while the rest of my family waited in line. I don’t care for pancakes, but I did try their tropically-flavored mac nut and pineapple French toast. It was good, but I don’t know that I would wait over an hour to eat there again.

9. Snorkeling and Whale Watching at Olowalu Beach

You can’t go to Maui in January without seeing some whales. We did not go on a specific whale watching tour, but were lucky enough to see whales on our snorkeling trip out to Olowalu Beach.

10. Iao Valley State Park

If you don’t have the time to take a whole day on the Road to Hana, I would recommend stopping by Iao Valley State Park. It’s just as lush and beautiful, yet can be fully experienced in a couple of hours.

11. Makaluapuna Point

If you’re up for another quick adventure, Makaluapuna Point is the place to go. Walk down a short trail to see the natural ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ and a labyrinth.

12. Maui Tropical Plantation

Our last stop in Maui before heading to the airport was the Mill House Restaurant at Maui Tropical Plantation. We wandered the grounds and enjoyed a yummy meal, where even the cook came out to explain the dishes and tell us his favorites.

Overall it was a relaxing, yet exciting trip. I loved the variety both of things to do and things to see. There were so many interesting natural wonders that were fun to photograph and take in. Have you ever been to Maui? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay classy,

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Top 12 Things to do in Maui
Top 12 Things to do in Maui
Top 12 Things to do in Maui