Do you have just a few days to explore Maui? Fear not! Read on for some great ideas and recommendations for a fabulous trip to Maui even if you have only 4-5 days to explore. Most of my friends were amazed at how much I saw in just 4 days, so with some good planning, you will have a great time!
I would recommend you spend 6-7 days in Maui to really feel like you covered most of it, and also to have more time for relaxation in between, but sometimes you just don’t have all the time off! Here are some ideas on where to stay and things to do in the 4-5 days:
WHERE TO STAY: You can go to Expedia or Airbnb or any other travel site to look for a good place to stay in Maui. I was traveling solo, so I stayed in a private room at the Aloha Surf Hostel and definitely would recommend it overall. The key is deciding what part of Maui do you want to stay in? Here are some ideas to help you decide where to stay:
- West Maui:
- Pros: The major hotels are mostly located in West Maui, near Lahaina and Kaanapali beach, Napili and Kapalua Bay.This is a very beautiful part of Maui to stay in, if you really want to be close to the beach and at the same time have a number of shops and restaurants nearby. Also, it is probably a half hour to 45 minutes drive to get close to the West Maui mountains and enjoy some of the great hikes there. I have written about the West Maui wonders such as the Nakalele Blowhole, the heart-shaped rock and the Olivine Pools in a previous post.
- Cons: West Maui is quite far from Hana (about 75 miles or 3 hours). So, if you do want to do the Road to Hana, or even go halfway to Hana, it is harder from West Maui. You can start early in the morning and not stop at a lot of places, and make it half way to Hana and back by late evening, and even then it’s a stretch given the winding road. One more con is that West Maui is the heart of “tourist town”, so if you are looking for a quiet time or place like me, you probably won’t find it staying in West Maui. This is also far from the Haleakala Sunrise, and I recommend that in the top 5 things to do!
- Pros: It is in the center of Maui – just look at the map! I picked Paia because it is central which means it is equidistant from a number of places such as the Haleakala Volcanic Crater, it is much closer to the road to Hana, and it is about 45 minutes to an hour away from the West side of Maui and the West Maui Mountains, and hikes in that area. The hostel I stayed at offered free tours of various parts of Maui, so I just took the tour for the west side of Maui (two separate tours, both to the West Side, yes, there’s so much to see!). Driving to Hana was easy from Paia, and I was blessed with wonderful weather, so it was a joy to drive on the winding road. Because we were so close we had time to explore a number of hikes on the way and it was fun.
- Cons: Paia is quieter than West Maui for sure. I enjoyed this immensely because I was looking for the quiet, local, island town experienced. There is a very nice little downtown, but there are no big resorts so perhaps if you want to walk around at night and feel like a ‘night-out’ you won’t get that feeling here. Paia is also further off from West Maui, so if you intend to spend majority of your time in West Maui, you might be better off staying there.
- Wailea – Makena:
- Pros: This is also on the coast near West Maui, just further south of Lahaina and those neighborhoods. This is a great neighborhood, the Four Seasons resort is here, if you are rich enough to stay there, totally do it 🙂 Makena beach aka Big Beach is one of the best beaches in town. Little Beach has a Sunday night hippie beach party, complete with fire dancers and drums, that has been going on for decades. Check out the firedancer video at the bottom of my blog.
- Cons: I can’t really think of any major cons to this neighborhood, except perhaps it is a little further south from West Maui and again a 45 min – 1 hour drive to the West Maui Mountains for hiking.
- Pros: You could also stay in Hana, and I have heard wonderful things about it. Hana is a beautiful destination if you are on a honeymoon or babymoon or just on a romantic trip and looking to relax, unwind, and enjoy the cool Maui breeze on a hot day with a Mai Tai 🙂
- Cons: Keep in mind that Hana is on the south side of the island, and apart from the Haleakala Crater, it is far from most other sights in Maui. The road to Hana is winding and can be slow and even dangerous, depending on the weather.
- THINGS TO DO IN 4-5 DAYS:
- Day 1: You can start Day 1 with the sunrise at Haleakala Volcanic Crater. It is easier to do this in the first few days of the trip since you will be waking up early due to jet lag anyway. Depending on where you are staying, it could be about an hour’s drive, or less, and you have to get there by 5:45 or so as not to miss it. After the sunrise, you can have a nice breakfast on your way down from the crater, and then get some rest/nap if your hotel is close by. If your hotel is far, and you can head straight to West Maui for the day. Pick up some yummy poke bowls at the FoodLand supermarket and head to Kaanapali beach.
- You can snorkel there, just stay in the water, relax, read a book, and have a great day. I was told that the Sheraton near black rock actually does a fun thing which involves fire-dancers and is free for anyone to see – so if you can wait till 5 or 6 pm you can just stay at this beach. In the evening, say 6 pm, you can head to Lahaina, which is a short drive, walk around the neighborhood, do a bit of shopping, have some delicious shaved ice, and have dinner at one of the hotels by the bay. Don’t forget to see the 100 year old Banyan tree. For more ideas, please read my Day 1 in Maui post.
- Day 2: The Road to Hana. Plan a whole day for this, and again, I would do this relatively earlier in the trip because it is a bit exhausting (it took us 7 am to 7 pm to just do Halfway to Hana and 2-3 hikes!). I would leave the last few days to do the more fun/relaxing things such as the Little Beach party or go watch a Luau or the Hula dancing. You can read more about the Road to Hana here.
- Day 3: You could start the morning with snorkeling at the Molokini Crater. I really wanted to do it, but with just 4 days I could not squeeze it in, plus I was alone so had an excuse to not go by myself 🙂 If you make a reservation in advance with a good tour operator/boat such as the Four Winds Maui, they will take you out there in a boat, feed you a snack, get you in the water with the gear, and also feed you burgers and drinks on the way back! Next time I go, I definitely intend to do this 🙂 If you are a couple or even a family with kids, this could be a lot of fun! The found winds (and most other tours) bring you back by 1 pm, which leaves you a good part of the day to explore other things. I would suggest doing this on a Sunday perhaps, so after the snorkeling, you can go rest up at the hotel for a bit, then late afternoon head to Makena Beach for relaxing. If it is a Sunday night, climb over the cliff to the dance party at Little Beach 🙂 Keep in mind little beach is clothing optional, although Big Beach is a regular beach. If you want to do Makena Beach another day, you could book a Luau at the Grand Wailea Hotel and that can be a relaxing way to spend the evening as a couple or as a family. More ideas on Day 3 are here.
- Day 4: I did the tour of West Maui Mountains and this took up the whole day – included sights such as D.T. Fleming Beach, Olivine Pools, the Nakalele Blowhole, the heart-shaped rock and the Kapalua Bay, ending at the Maui Brewing Company! I liked this itinerary quite a bit and recommend it highly even if you are driving on your own. For more on the West Maui Mountains – read this post.
- Day 5: You can do a day-long hike on this day. Many of my friends who stayed back on Day 5 did a full day, fairly strenous hike to Iao Valley. If you love to snorkel or windsurf, there are a number of great spots in Maui where you can do those activities, and you can plan to spend the day doing one of those activities. Finish the day (and your amazing, memorable trip!!) by relaxing at a nearby beach.
I hope this blog post helps you in planning your trip to Maui!! If you liked this post, please follow me and sign up via email so you will know when I post something new about Maui or another great destination (San Diego will be next, followed by Mexico!). I would love to hear your thoughts or comments, especially if this helped you plan your trip or if you have your own ideas to share from your trip!
Thanks for reading!