The Valley Isle, Maui is the second largest Hawaiian Island.  It has the seclusion of Kauai and a small party scene like Oahu making it the best Hawaiian Island hence her nickname ‘Maui No Ka Oi’ or Maui’s number one.

There are many things to see in Maui that will keep you busy for your whole stay including hiking to dramatic waterfalls, snorkeling with the whales and exploring a dormant volcano.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here are the

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Inside Haleakala National Park

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala is a dormant volcano that covers a large area of Maui.  There are several ways you can explore this volcanic landscape and my favorite way is by hiking.

The most popular but strenuous hike through the crater is the Sliding Sands Trail.  You descend 2,500 feet into the crater along black sand and you feel like you’re traversing the surface of Mars.

There are shorter hikes that take you along the rim for a half a mile and gives you views from above the clouds.  Or opt for the knee crushing decent down the Halemau’u Trail.

Road to I'ao Valley State Park near Wailuku, HI

I’ao Valley

I’ao Valley State Park is a great place that is fun for the whole family.  After a short hike up some stairs you’ll reach what is called ‘the Needle’, a lush, green mountain crag that juts out of the ground so close you feel like you can touch it.

There are a few small trails that take you through different Hawaiian flora explaining on signs what they are along the way.  There is also a spot to take a dip in the river.

I'm Jess Traveling at Wai'anapanapa State Park on the road to Hana
I'm Jess Traveling on a black sand beach in Maui

Wai’napanapa State Park

A MUST on anyone’s Maui itinerary is Wai’anapapa State Park , which is a located on the eastern side of the island about 10 minutes before you reach the town of Hana.  This state park contains a stunning black sand Pa’iloa Beach but prepare for massive crowds.

There are camping facilities, hiking trails, viewpoints and a blow hole nearby.  Come early as parking is limited.

a top thing to see in Maui, Hookipa


Located just past Paia is Ho’okipa Beach Park.  This is a great spot to pull off and watch surf life in action.  There are picnic benches and “observation” decks for people to watch the surfers battle the ocean and the wind.  This is a common stop while you drive the road to Hana.

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    Swimming with sea turtles on Maui

    Sea Turtles

    If you think Maui is beautiful on land just wait til you see her under the sea.  Grab your snorkel mask and don’t forget your GoPro as you’ll want to catch these beautiful creatures on film.

    It will feel like a ‘Honu’ world under the sea!  Don’t forget to wear your reef safe sunscreen!  Snorkeling Molokini Crater is one of the best things to do in Wailea.

    Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park

    Waimoku Falls

    Waimoku Falls can be found at the end of the Pipiwai Trail located in Haleakala National Park past Hana Town.  This is one of the most popular hikes on Maui.  Check out this vlog on hiking the Pipiwai Trail.

    The trail winds you through bamboo forests, past ancient banyan trees, and ends at the powerful 400 foot Waimoku Falls cascading down the side of a mountain.  A waterfall right out of a movie.  It’s worth every step of the 4 mile round trip hike.

    Banyan Tree on the Pipiwai Trail, one of the best hikes on Maui

    Banyan Trees

    Banyan Trees are found everywhere throughout Hawaii.  The famed Banyan Tree on Maui can be found in the beginning of Lahaina on Front Street.  The Banyan Tree covers almost a whole block and don’t be surprised to see an art walk on the weekends.  

    Hiking the Pipiwai Trail is where you’ll see this banyan tree pictured above.

    Pacific Humpback whale in the ocean in Maui

    Humpback Whales

    One of the most magical things to see in Maui is when the humpback whales migrate to the Hawaiian waters to have their young.  Whale season officially begins December 15 – May 15 but there are usually whale sightings before that.

    All season you’ll see spouts and the playful critters showing off in the water.  I love going on whale watches to see the mammals up close and personal.  The staff is always knowledgeable and who doesn’t want to learn about whales!

    Honolua Bay

    One of the best surf breaks on the west side is Honolua Bay.  It’s a great place to stop and watch the surfers catch waves.  There’s an area where you can park to get out and take in its beauty.  There’s also a food truck if you’re feeling parched or hungry.

    Rainbow Eucalyptus

    The rainbow eucalyptus trees can be found a few different places on Maui but the most iconic place is on the road to Hana.  These beauties have different colored smooth bark that peel off and reveal the streaked colors beneath.

    The colors on the tree range from green, orange, red and purple.  This specific grove as pictured above is located just mile marker 7 on the Hana Highway on the left hand side of the road going east to Hana.

    Hana bay in Maui HI

    Red Sand Beach

    Ever see a picture of a red sand beach and wonder where you can find one.  Well look no further because Maui has one.  Located on the east side of the island in Hana lies Kaihalulu Beach.  To get to this beach park on the right side of the road outside the Travasa Hotel Parking Lot.

    You will follow a path that cuts through the Hana Community Center field.  The trail gets more “slippery” as you have to traverse down the trail which is made up of pine needles, cinder and roots.  

    This is the new trail that replaced the old trail that was taken out with a landslide.  It sure is beautiful once you come around the corner and see the crescent red sand bay.

    The Pipiwai Trail inside Haleakala National Park

    Bamboo Forests

    There are several places on Maui that give you access to a bamboo forest.  There is a hike called the Bamboo Forest Hike that is on the road to Hana outside of Haiku and before Twin Falls.

    But the most popular bamboo forest is on the Pipiwai Trail which is located inside Haleakala National Park on the south eastern part of the island in the Kipalua area. Around mile 2 the trail takes you through a bamboo forest on a raised platform.  I love hearing the cracking of the bamboo, it’s one of the many reasons I love this hike.

    Big Beach

    One of my favorite beaches and  things to see in Maui is Big Beach.  Big Beach is located down in Makena on the south side of the island which is why it’s official name is Makena Beach & Oneloa Beach.  

    This beach is over a half mile long of warm, golden sand.  On the northland of the beach you can climb up and over the lave rock to get a great aerial view.  If you continue down the other side you’ll end up at Baby Beach, which is also a nude beach so don’t be alarmed. 

    Don’t forget to bring these items to the beach.

    The road to Hana on Mai

    Road to Hana

    The road to Hana is a scenic road that basically connects the rest of the island to the east side or Hana town.   The road is 52 miles of hairpin turns, one lane bridges, coastal views and several waterfalls can be seen from your vehicle.  

    Driving the whole way to Hana and back will take up the whole day because you’ll be stopping several places along the way for photographs and fresh fruit.

    Plan on this being a full day excursion no matter what part of the island you’re staying on.  If you have time plan on spending a few days in Hana to explore the town and the surrounding area.  It’s what everyone wants from a Hawaiian vacation.


    Did you even go to Hawaii if you didn’t see a sunrise and/or sunset?!?!  I can honestly say I’ve never seen a bad one.  Not only one of the best things to see in Maui but it’s also free.  If you don’t mind spending a couple dollars to enhance it enjoy sunset on a sunset cruise.

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    Top Things to see in Maui with I'm Jess Traveling
    Top Things to see in Maui with I'm Jess Traveling
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