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Maui Travel Guide

Maui Sports & Activities

Getting into (or onto) the water may well be the highlight of your Maui trip. The Valley Isle is an aquatic wonderland where you can learn to surf, stand-up paddle, or scuba dive. Vibrant snorkel sites can be explored right off the shore, or easily accessed aboard a kayak, motorized raft, or power catamaran. From December into May, whale-watching adventures are a top draw as humpbacks escaping Alaska's frigid winter arrive in Maui's warm protected waters to frolic, mate, and birth.

We know how tempting it is to spend your entire vacation on the beach (many days we’re tempted as well), but if you do, you’ll miss out on the "other side of Maui": the eerie, moonlike surface of Haleakala Crater, the lush rain forests of East Maui, and the geological wonder that is Iao Valley State Monument, to name just a few. Even playing a round of golf on one of the world-class courses provides breathtaking vistas, reminding you just why you chose to come to Maui in the first place.

Along Maui's leeward coastline, from Kaanapali on the West Shore all the way down to Waiala Cove on the South Shore, you can discover great spots for snorkeling and swimming, some more crowded than others. On a good day, you might encounter dozens of green sea turtles at an underwater cleaning station, a pod of dolphins riding by the catamaran's bow, and an abundance of colorful fish hovering by bright cauliflower coral reefs.

Maui’s exceptional climate affords year-round opportunities for outdoor adventures, whether it’s exploring cascading waterfalls on a day hike, riding horseback through verdant valleys, soaring across vast gulches on a zipline, or taking an exhilarating bicycle ride down Haleakala. When you take time to get off the beaten path, you’ll discover just why Maui no ka oi (is the best). But make sure not to overbook yourself—one or two activities per day is plenty. You’re on vacation, remember.

When your preferred sport calls for calm, glassy waters, get an early start when visibility is best; plus the trade winds begin to roll through the valleys in the late morning and pick up speed in the afternoon. For those thrill seekers who flock to Hawaii for the wind, it's best to head out to the North Shore’s Hookipa, where consistent winds keep kiteboarders flying and windsurfers jibing; or Peahi, also known as Jaws, where surfers seasonally get towed in to glide on 30- to 60-foot waves.

Treat the ocean with respect and for your safety, choose activities that suit your skill level and health condition. If in doubt, skip the rental and pay for a lesson so that you can have proper instructions in navigating through swells and wind, and someone with you in case you get in a bind. The ocean might be beautiful but it can be unpredictable.

Surf can be enjoyed all year, and avid surfers live for the winter swells when the north and west coasts get really "lit up." Whale season on Maui is nothing short of majestic at its peak, around late January to mid-March. You can spot them from the shore, or get up close from a motorized raft or catamaran.


Tour of the Stars. For nightlife of the celestial sort, children and astronomy buffs can try Tour of the Stars, a one-hour stargazing program...

Hang Gliding and Paragliding

If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to fly, hang gliding or paragliding might be your perfect Maui adventure. You’ll get open...


Hikes on Maui include treks along coastal seashore, verdant rain forest, and alpine desert. Orchids, hibiscus, ginger, heliconia, and anthuriums...

Horseback Riding

Several companies on Maui offer horseback riding that’s far more appealing than the typical hour-long trudge over a dull trail with 50 other...

Extreme Sports

Rappel Maui. If the idea of walking backward down waterfalls appeals to you, this company stands ready, willing, and able to accommodate. Their...


Maui’s natural beauty and surroundings offer some of the most jaw-dropping vistas imaginable on a golf course; add a variety of challenging...


Most courts charge by the hour but will let players continue after their initial hour for free, provided no one is waiting. Many hotels and...

Zipline Tours

Ziplining on one of Maui’s several courses lets you satisfy your inner Tarzan by soaring high above deep gulches and canyons—for a price that...


Long distances and mountainous terrain keep biking from being a practical mode of travel on Maui. Still, painted bike lanes enable cyclists...


Maui's coastline has surf for every level of waterman or -woman. Waves on leeward-facing shores (West and South Maui) tend to break in gentle...


From December into May whale-watching becomes one of the most popular activities on Maui. During the season all outfitters offer whale-watching...


Windsurfing, invented in the 1950s, found its true home at Hookipa on Maui's North Shore in 1980. Seemingly overnight, windsurfing pros from...

Aerial Tours

Helicopter flight-seeing excursions can take you over the West Maui Mountains, Haleakala Crater, or the island of Molokai. This is a beautiful...

Body Boarding and Bodysurfing

Bodysurfing and "sponging" (as body boarding is called by the regulars; "boogie boarding" is another variation) are great ways to catch some...

Deep-Sea Fishing

If fishing is your sport, Maui is your island. In these waters you'll find ahi, aku (skipjack tuna), barracuda, bonefish, kawakawa (bonito...


Kayaking is a fantastic and eco-friendly way to experience Maui's coast up close. Floating aboard a "plastic Popsicle stick" is easier than...


Catapulting up to 40 feet in the air above the breaking surf, kiteboarders hardly seem of this world. Silken kites hold the athletes aloft for...


Parasailing is an easy, exhilarating way to earn your wings: just strap on a harness attached to a parachute, and a powerboat pulls you up and...


The high-speed, inflatable rafts you find on Maui are nothing like the raft that Huck Finn used to drift down the Mississippi. While passengers...


With the islands of Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Molokini a stone's throw away, Maui waters offer visually arresting backdrops for sailing...

Scuba Diving

Maui, just as scenic underwater as it is on dry land, has been rated one of the top 10 dive spots in the United States. It's common on any dive...


No one should leave Maui without ducking underwater to meet a sea turtle, moray eel, or the tongue-twisting humuhumunukunukuapuaa —the state...

Stand-Up Paddling

Also called stand-up paddle surfing or paddleboarding, stand-up paddling is the "comeback kid" of surf sports; you stand on a longboard and...



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