Maui conjures images of palm trees swaying in the breeze and the Pacific surf breaking on white-sand beaches extending as far as the eye can see. Indeed, Maui offers more than 30 miles of beaches where this idyllic scene plays out every day – on this enchanted island, paradise is always within reach.
But the best part about Maui is that its natural beauty encompasses not just its postcard-perfect beaches, but also its other natural landscapes. Explore the rest of the island and discover lush rainforests that climb into the clouds, hidden waterfalls that cascade in majestic ribbons and barren volcanic peaks that possess an otherworldly beauty. With this in mind, here are our five favourite hikes on Maui.
1. Waihe'e Ridge Trail
As its name indicates, this 4-mile round-trip hike takes you along the Waihe’e ridgeline, with more than 1,800 vertical feet of climbing along the way. While this Maui hike is relatively strenuous, its rewards include jaw-dropping views of the lush valley far below, waterfalls crashing through the vegetation and Pacific Ocean panoramas.
2. Waianapanapa Coastal Trail
This Maui trail actually comprises two coastal round-trip routes: a 5-mile hike that heads east, and a 2.5-mile hike that heads north. Both hikes follow a portion of the legendary King’s Highway, the 700-year-old route that once encircled the entire island, and both provide incredible scenery that encapsulates the very best of Maui. The eastward hike passes through lush forests and an ancient burial ground before heading along the shoreline towards Kainalimu Bay. The lava rock trail at this point offers views of lava spires that twist upwards, framed by views of the ocean beyond. The northward hike begins on a black sand beach and passes through ancient burial sites and lava coves, offering dramatic views of the surf crashing on the black rocks below.
3. Sliding Sands (Keoneheehee) Trail
This incredible Maui hiking trail takes adventurers from the rim of the rim of Haleakala crater – at more than 10,000 feet in elevation – down into its depths. The barren landscape has an almost reddish tinge, making this feel like a Martian expedition, and the windswept vistas and eerie silence impart this hike with surreal beauty. The trail descends nearly 3,000 vertical feet in the first 4 miles, so it’s best to be conservative since what goes down must come up. The best bet is to hike the first 2.5 miles to the Ka Lu'u o ka O'o cinder cone and then back again, covering 1,400 feet in elevation each way.
4. Waihou Spring Trail
At 1.4 miles long, this out-and-back trail makes for a quick getaway into one of Maui’s beautiful pine forests. Under a canopy of leaves, this Maui hiking trails loops down to a ridgeline that offers peeks through the trees of the beautiful valley below. As its name indicates, the trail ends at Waihou Spring, where views of waterfalls and small lava tubes make for a nice reward for intrepid hikers who make it this far.
5. Hoapili Trail
This 5.5-mile-long out and back trail follows a portion of the King’s Highway along Maui’s southern coastline. Beginning on the sands of the beach at La Perouse Bay, the trail meanders upwards, passing through an inland lava field before heading back towards the coast. Here, the trail passes a lighthouse and then runs alongside Kanaio Beach before turning inland again. The trail offers beautiful coastal views along much of its length, and it passes a number of archaeological ruins. It also offers access to pristine pools that are perfect for swimming, fishing or snorkelling, so pack accordingly before you hit this adventurous Maui hiking trail.