There’s are plenty of things to do in Maui on a budget that are free or very cheap for Hawaii standards. So if you are looking for the cheapest way to travel Maui without having to break the bank or sacrifice bucket list experiences, this post is for you.
After a decade of living on Maui I rounded up 28 cheap and free things to do in Maui so you can enjoy a trip of a lifetime no matter what your budget. Whether you’re on a backpacker budget or splurging on some luxury it always feels good to be able to save a few bucks.
So without further ado these are the best things to do in Maui on a budget.
Traveling Hawaii on a budget? Check out these articles to help you navigate the Hawaiian islands cost effectively.
*I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post including Amazon that gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase. All proceeds go to keep Jess traveling, coffee ☕️ and let's be real...probably wine 🍷. I thank you in advance.
- Swim under a waterfall
- Cliff jumping
- Explore charming Maui towns
- Swim in natural tide pools
- Sunset Ceremony at Fleetwoods
- Live Music
- Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary
- Sample Cookies at the Honolulu Cookie Company
- Camp on the Beach
- Road to Hana
- Lavender Farm
- Visit a Distillery
- Drive the West Maui Loop
- Haleakala National Park
- Happy Hour
- Drive the backside road to Hana
- Food Trucks
- Go on a Whale Watch
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Hawaiian Shave Ice
- Sunrise over Haleakala
- Hula Pie
- Iao Valley
Free Things to do in Maui
Hiking in my opinion is one of the best ways to explore an area. Not only is this a free thing to do on Maui, it gets you out in nature which is good for the souls and it is the definition of fitness travel.
Maui is full of hikes for all fitness levels . From family friendly walks to advanced over night hikes, Maui has it all.
These are the best hikes on Maui not to be missed. Click on the blue links for a detailed post of each hike.
- Kapalua Coastal Trail – Family friendly coastal trail in West Maui.
- Waihe’e Ridge Trail – Intermediate hike up the Waihee ridge offering scenic coastal and valley views.
- Pipiwai Trail – One of Maui’s most iconic hikes that takes you through an enchanting bamboo forest and ends at a 400 foot waterfall.
- Lahaina Pali Trail – A strenuous trail up to the windmills on the West Maui mountains.
- Sliding Sands – Difficult hike that takes you to the crater floor at the summit of Haleakala.
- Ohai Trail – Easy 1 mile loop for the whole family.
- Kings Highway – A rugged trail along an unspoiled stretch of Hawaiian coast.
READ NEXT: 10 Essentials to Pack for a Day Hike
Swim Under a Waterfall
Did you actually travel to Maui if you didn’t swim underneath a waterfall? Maui does not have a shortage of waterfalls and there are several waterfalls that form a pool perfect for swimming.
One of the best places to swim under a waterfall on Maui is at Twin Falls. Located at the beginning of the iconic road to Hana, Twin Falls is located just after Haiku. Twin Falls is one of the most popular stops on the road to Hana due to its accessibility as its a short, family friendly hike.
Enjoy the Beach
Of course you can’t visit Maui without spending some time at the beach. This is one of the best free things to do in Maui. With over 52 miles of coastline it’s hard not to find the perfect beach that matches your style.
- Kaanapali Beach – Dotted with world class resorts, perfect for swimming, snorkeling and cliff jumping.
- Napili Bay – Family friendly, beautiful bay perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
- Big Beach – Mile long, striking white sand beach.
- Kam III – Consistent shore breaks perfect for boogie boarding. Also great for snorkeling and has full facilities including showers, grills and bathrooms.
- Baldwin Beach – White sands and one of the best beaches on the North Shore.
- Honokalani – Beautiful black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park.
Sunsets & Sunrises
Maui has some of the best sunsets in the world. Not only do they happen every single night but they are 100% FREE! No matter how cloudy a sky might be, the sunset is still breathtaking.
If you are staying in South Maui the sun sets over the water. If you are staying in West Maui the sun sets over the neighboring island of Lana’i or in between Lana’i and Molokai depending on where you are and the time of the year.
If you are staying in East Maui, you’ll want to make sure you wake up to catch the sunrise. There’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise over a beautiful black sand beach.
If you are looking for a thrill, challenge your fears and go cliff jumping. There are several cliff jumping spots all over Maui that offer a clear landing and easy access getting on top of the rocks.
Some of the best places to cliff jump in Maui are:
Explore Maui Towns
Maui has a handful of charming towns that are stopping and spending a few hours exploring. This is a great thing to do in Maui on a budget because you can spend as little or as much money as you want/need to. Plus shopping in these cute towns are a great way to spend time if it is raining on Maui.
Make sure not to miss these photogenic Hawaiian towns on Maui.
- Lahaina – The hub of West Maui. Full of tasty restaurants, lively bars and the iconic banyan tree that expands almost a whole block.
- Paia – A small modern hippie town located on the North shore of Maui full of windsurfers and one of the last places to stop for gas and grab a bite before driving the road to Hana.
- Wailuku – One of the oldest Maui towns located Central Maui.
- Makawao – Located Upcountry Maui. Filled with art galleries, boutique shops and a few restaurants.
- Hana – One of the only towns in East Maui. Find out where to eat in Hana here.
Swim in Natural Tide Pools
Maui has several natural tide pools along the coastline that the only separation between the ocean and the pools is a low wall of jagged lava rock. One of the best natural tide pools to swim in are the Olivine Pools. On a calm day you can jump off the rocks and swim in the pools.
It takes a bit of ability to traverse down to the pools and back up as the path is a mixture of large rocks, sandy pebbles and lava rocks on a steep incline.
This free thing to do on Maui is controversial as several deaths occur at this spot each year, so use extreme caution and judgment. A good rule of thumb if waves are crashing to pass on this excursion.
Waves come in long drawn out sets. What looks safe one moment, can be unsafe in the next. Between the strong rip current and jagged coastline, getting back to safety is difficult if you are swept out.
Sunset Ceremony at Fleetwoods
If you are looking for free things to do in Lahaina that are as unique as they come, make sure you get a chance to enjoy the sunset ceremony at Fleetwoods on Front Street. Every night at 5:45 Fleetwood’s hosts a nightly sunset ceremony on the rooftop.
Depending on what night you visit there will either be the house bag piper or Hawaiian kumu (Hawaiian for teacher). They will tell you a little bit about why they are there, their relationship with Fleetwoods, spout off some history, put on a small show and eventually light the tiki torches.
Current COVID restrictions require a reservation in advance for tables but the bar is open for walk ins. Book your table today and make sure you stop at the bar to say hi – I have been tending bar here on the weekends for the past 9 years! You won’t be disappointed as Fleetwoods is one of the best restaurants in Lahaina!
Ahh live music. After the year we had with 2020, I know live music was something I took for granted and missed tremendously. Many restaurants on Maui have live performances – during happy hours, dinner and even breakfast.
Some of the best places to catch live music on Maui are Fleetwoods on Front Street, Maui Brew Co. (Kihei), Da Playground, Down the Hatch and the Dirty Monkey.
Honey Bee Sanctuary
One of the most unusual things to do on Maui is to visit the Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary. The Honey Bee Sanctuary is set on beautiful grounds that overlook the ocean. You can take a tour or wander around the grounds, grab a coffee or sample the local honeys.
I bought so many items of their handmade ‘Hive to Home’ and ‘Bees to Body’ products last time I was here. I put the local lavender honey in my coffee every morning.
Sample Cookies at the Honolulu Cookie Company
Sampling cookies at the Honolulu Cookie Company is not only a free thing to do on Maui but the shortbread cookies are damn delicious too! There is a store located on Front Street and it’s one of my favorite things to do in Lahaina when I cruise the street.
Inside the store are samples of the classic cookies as well as the current seasons flavor. I especially love popping in around Fall as I love the ginger flavors.
Camp on the Beach
Pitch a tent and fall asleep to the sounds of the waves gently crashing against the shore. If you have more time, visit the neighboring island of Lanai. Camping at Manele Bay is to date one of the most scenic camp spots I’ve ever stayed.
Lanai is a short ferry ride away and full of fun things to do like visiting the cat sanctuary and swimming with spinner dolphins at Manele Bay.
Cheap Things to do in Maui
The Road to Hana
Cost: Tank of Gas
Driving the Road the Hana is a popular excursion and one of the best things to do in Maui. The scenic drive takes you from Kahului to East Maui via the Hana Highway. You’ll drive past several waterfalls, enjoy eye-popping seascape views and weave through lush rainforest.
*Pro Tip: Stay a couple nights in Hana as there’s so many incredible things to see and do on this side of the island and most visitors only experience Hana on a day trip. This will be a highlight on anyone’s Maui itinerary.
TRAVEL TIP: If you would prefer to follow along to an audio tour I recommend the Shaka Guide! The Shaka guide tours are great for independent explorers who want the freedom to explore on their own terms, but like to learn about the spots they’re visiting.
The tours use GPS to offer turn-by-turn directions and audio narration with stories and music. This will leave you with a deeper understanding and connection to Hawaii.
Cost: $5 Mask & Fin Rental
Did you really experience all of Maui if you don’t experience Maui under the sea? One of the most popular wayssto enjoy a Maui water activity is to go snorkeling. The best places to snorkel in Maui are spread all over the island.
This is a great Maui activity if you are traveling on a budget as a snorkel and fins rental for a day cost around $5. Plus this is a thing to do in Maui with kids.
Best Places to Snorkel on Maui
Some of the best Maui beaches for snorkeling are:
- Kapalua Bay snorkeling
- Kam III
- Napili Bay snorkeling
- Honolua Bay
- Black rock at Ka’anapali Beach snorkeling
- Maluaka Beach a.k.a. turtle town (the best snorkeling in Kihei)
An even better way to enjoy the best snorkeling in Maui is by taking a snorkel trip. Spend the morning on the water at some of Maui’s best snorkel spots that can only be reached by boat.
Maui has over 600 species of tropical fish and an abundance of sea turtles. If you are staying in South Maui book a tour to snorkel Molokini, the horseshoe shaped atoll you can see from the south coast. This is some of the best snorkeling Maui has to offer and a top thing to do in Kihei.
If you are staying in West Maui opt for a snorkel cruise to Honolua Bay, another spot for some of the best snorkeling in Maui and you won’t be disappointed.
Visit a Lavender Farm
Cost: $3 or donataion of a non-perishable food item
The Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm sits on a 13.5-acre plot poised nicely on the slopes of Haleakala Crater. The farm is filled with 25 different varieties of lavender, olive trees, hydrangeas and more.
There’s a gift shop where you can buy the local lavender products like essential oils and soap. Soak in the sights as you sip lavender tea and eat a lavender scone. This is one of the many great ways to explore Upcountry Maui.
The farm is open to the public only on Friday’s, Saturday’s, andSunday’s from 10am to 4pm. General Admission is $3 per person, with a $1 off for Seniors, Military, and Kama’aina. Alternatively, we support the Maui Food Bank as an official drop-off location – with a donation of one non-perishable food item per person, admission will be waived.
Cost: $2 +
When visitors ask me the questions – is it really that expensive to live on Maui? How can you afford to live here? My response is always two words, happy hours.
Happy hours are one of the most fun and easiest ways to travel Maui on a budget. Lots of restaurants and bars on Maui have some sort of happy hour which include food and drink specials along with live music.
Of course some happy hours are better than others. Here are some of Maui’s best happy hours divided by area.
- Fleetwoods on front street 3-5 daily
- Down the hatch
- Monkey pod
- Mala ocean tavern
- Ale house
- Three’s Bar and Grill
- Pint and cork
- Maui Brewing Company
- Cafe Des Amis
Visit a Distillery
Maui is home to not one but two different vodka distilleries – Ocean Vodka and Pau Vodka. Visiting one or both of these distilleries is a great way to explore Upcountry Maui.
Both distilleries offer tours where they walk you through the distillation and bottle process. Then of course you get to sample the vodka.
Drive West Maui
Cost: Gas Money
Another epic road trip on Maui to make the free things to do in Maui list is driving the West Maui loop. This drive offers jaw dropping seascape views on your left and lush green mountains on your right.
This excursion will take about a half a day. The Shaka guide app also offers an audio tour of history and understanding of all the best stops on the west Maui coast.
Some of my favorite highlights include Slaughterhouse Beach, Honolua Bay, the Naheke Blowhole , Olivine Pools , the Ohai Trail and Julia’s banana bread. Taking a road trip is one of the great ways to explore Maui when it’s raining.
Halekala National Park
COST: $30 per vehicle entry fee or use of the National Park Pass
The Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park is one of the many incredible places that exist on Maui. Inside this entrance of the park are the O’heo Pools most commonly known as seven sacred pools and one of Maui’s most iconic hikes, the Pipiwai Trail.
The Oheo Pools are a tier of waterfalls that flow into pools and eventually into the ocean. On a calm day you are able to swim inside the pools.
The Pipiwai Trail is a moderate hike that is 4 miles out and back. It takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to complete depending how long you stop and take it in.
The rainforest trail starts near the National park visitors center and takes you past 2 waterfall outlooks, an ancient banyan tree, through a magical bamboo forest and eventually to the awe inspiring 400 foot Waimoku Falls.
Exploring the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park is one of the best things to do in Hana.
Drive the Backside to Hana
COST: Gas Money
If you are looking to get off-the beaten path then opt for driving the back way to Hana instead of the traditional road to Hana. This is a way to beat the crowds and explore a part of Maui that is less touched.
Expect scenic views, volcanic structures and the sweet taste of freedom. The backside of Hana has some graded dirt roads and rusty guardrails so the drive requires extra caution.
Travel Tip: Since the roads are sketchy at points, some rental companies do not want you driving through this area of Maui. Read the fine print as driving the back road to Hana, Maui may breach your rental car agreement or insurance.
COST: $10 & up
Maui is filled with tasty food trucks that even if you are not traveling Maui on a budget, are worth a few meals. From açaí bowls to tacos or Filipino food, there is a food truck on Maui for any type of cuisine.
These are some of the best food trucks on Maui.
- Earth Aloha Eats Food Truck
- Baya Bowls
- Jaws Tacos
- Ono Tacos
Maui Whale Watching Tour
One of the best things to do in Maui on a budget is to go on a whale watching tour. Official whale season runs December 15th-May 15th and this is one of the best tims to visit Maui.
Every year the North Pacific Humpback Whale migrates from the frigid temperatures of Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii to give birth to their young. Its an amazing experience to watch the whales (big and small ) breech and frolic in the ocean.
The best part may be the price, as a ticket is priced around $30 per person. A cheap fair for such an incredible Maui adventure. Plus if you are traveling Maui with kids, toddlers are usually free.
When most people think of Hawaii, surfing comes to mind. Hawaii is one of the surfing capitols of the world and Maui is no exception. With mostly consistent waves year round, tropical waters and easy beginner breaks, surfing in Maui is a great way to enjoy this island in the water.
If you already know how to surf a board rental on Maui can be as cheap as $17 a day. If you are a beginner I highly recommend booking a group or private surf lesson. This will help you get familiar with the fundamentals/techniques of the sport, how the line ups work and a better understanding of the waves and ocean.
A surf instructor can easily point you in the right direction based on your experience, and will help you avoid any possible rip currents, hidden reefs and rocks. Plus you’ll also skip any chance for local tension by going out with a certified guide and to get an understanding and lay of the land.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Another fun cheap thing to do on Maui is paddle boarding. Not only do you get a chance to spot tropical fish and reefs from atop the water and even whales if you travel to Maui during whale season. It’s a great workout and the definition of fitness travel.
If you are newer to the sport book a Maui paddle boarding lesson first to get familiar with getting in and out of the water, how to balance yourself on the paddle board and how to paddle. Plus you will get first hand knowledge and local insights about where reef and rocks are as well as strong, sweeping currents.
The best time to go stand up paddle boarding in Maui is early in the morning as the winds pick up in the afternoon. These are some of the best places to paddle board in Maui:
BEST PLACES TO PADDLE BOARD IN MAUI
- Makena Landing
- Napili Bay
- Kapalua Bay
- The Cove in Kihei
- Kalama Park in Kihei
- Ka’anapali Beach
Enjoy a Shave Ice
This delicious desert is usually served with a scoop of ice cream like haupia (coconut) or mango. This is not only a cheap thing to do on Maui but it’s tasty too! Check out Breakwall for an adult shave ice filled with booze, one of the best things to do on Front Street.
Sunrise over Haleakala
COST: $30 Enterance Fee
Not only is watching sunrise over Haleakala Crater one of the best things to do in Maui on a budget but it’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
Haleakala in Hawaiian means house of the rising sun. The summit of Haleakala sits at 10,023 feet above the clouds. When the sun rises and creeps above the clouds, it creates one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen.
Being able to do this activity requires a reservation in advance, plus $30 entrance fee to Haleakala National Park or a USA National Park Pass which pays for itself after 2 or 3 visits to any National Park in the United States which is a great deal if you love National Parks as much as I do.
Although not as spectacular as sunrise you can also watch sunset from atop Haleakala. Watching sunset does not require reservations. This is worth the early wake up call every time and one of the best things to see on Maui.
Travel Tip: Make sure you dress warm, I’m talking gloves, snow cap, hoodie, jacket, wool socks…basically the warmest clothes you have, wear them. It gets very cold on the summit. Check out what to pack for Maui so you don’t forget any essentials.
Indulge in a Hula Pie
Can we say macadamia nut ice cream ice cream piled onto of a thick cookie crust topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream and macadamia nuts. Make sure to sample one of these pies if you see them on the desert menu, you won’t be disappointed.