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If you pay attention to the wind at just the right moment you might just feel a calling from the west. An unusually warm breeze blows across your face. You swear you can hear the chirping of tropical birds. It’s not in your head. That’s the Hawaiian Island of Maui reminding you that you need a vacation in Maui now. This second! The Central Pacific island of Maui has no shortage of things to do, including stunning beaches, water activities, golfing opportunities, and natural wonders. When looking at Maui vacation rentals, a beachfront accommodation gives you quick access to its famous beaches and puts you near routes to see the island’s most popular attractions.

Things to Do in Maui

Kaanapali Beach

Stretching for three miles, the white sand of the popular Kaanapali Beach is as inviting as the crystal clear water. Once a retreat for Maui’s royalty, you’ll feel pampered after spending a day there. Relax on the beach as you soak up the sun or see the beach from a bird’s-eye view as you take a zip line tour above it. Stay on the beach until sunset and you’ll catch a thrilling cliff diving ceremony. Watch them light the torches along the cliff side and plunge into the ocean below.

Look carefully across the water and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a breaching whale. Opt to go shopping in the open-air center called Whalers Village and wander around the whaling museum. Play a round of golf in one of the two championship golf courses, Kaanapali Kai and Royal Kaanapali. There is parking right on the beach but be prepared to pay for it.

Pro traveler tip: The ocean is there to be admired and experienced. But also respected. Check the surf report before heading into the waves.

Lahaina

Visit this historic town, which lies to the south of Kaanapali Beach. Once a whaling village, discover the town’s role during the whaling boom in the 1800s. To see humpback whales up close in their natural habitat, visit in winter to take a memorable whale-watching tour from Lahaina Harbor.

Immerse yourself in Hawaii’s culture when you see the award-winning Ulalena show in Maui Theater or watch traditional Polynesian dances at a seaside luau. Follow the Lahaina Historic Trail to see the oldest banyan tree in Maui and other historic sites that include the Pioneer Inn, Lahaina Prison and the U.S. Seamen’s Hospital. About 55 acres of this town have been designated historic districts. Lahaina  is a must visit for history buffs.

If you come during spooky season, Lahaina has the biggest halloween celebration in Hawaii. Historic Front street shuts down in the evening for costumed patrons to enjoy the macabre.

Pro traveler tip: If you’re flying into Maui, Lahaina is a 45 minute drive. If you’re swimming to Maui, feel free to land right on Kaanapali beach.

Haleakala National Park

Travel upward to Upcountry Maui where you’ll find Haleakala National Park, home to the largest dormant volcano in the world, Haleakala Crater. Haleakala is Hawaiian for “house of the sun.” If you hike to the Haleakala Visitor Center early in the morning to watch the spectacular sunrise over the summit you’ll see why it’s earned that name. Legend has it that the demigod Maui himself lassoed the sun from the top of the crater. He forced the sun to traverse the sky more slowly. So when you’re up there, be sure to thank Maui for warm weather and the long summer days. The nature in the rest of the park is as varied as it is beautiful. Hike the trails near the summit to see rock gardens and red deserts or visit the coastal section to see streams and waterfalls. 

Pro traveler tip: If you’re on the crater in the early morning or into the night, be sure to dress in layers. While the daytime temperature might be nice, when the sun goes down it can dip below freezing.

The Road to Hana

Drive along the scenic highway known as the Road to Hana to see the beautiful scenery along the east coast. Stop off regularly on the route to see incredible sights, such as the Twin Falls, the Waikani Falls and the Wailua Overlook. Navigate hairpin turns and one-lane bridges as you travel through lush rainforests, past exotic Maui beaches and close to cascading waterfalls.

At the end of this 52-mile highway, visit the charming town of Hana to see historic buildings, visit the largest Hawaiian temple, wander through the Kahanu Gardens or relax on a beach, including the black sand beach in Waiʻānapanapa State Park. Towards the end of the beach, there lies a path that leads to an area covered in volcanic rock. This place is a natural playground, with plenty of wild-looking rocks to climb and explore.

Escape the heat of the day deep underground at the Hana Lava Tube. This cave system will show you the inner workings of Hawaii’s volcanic islands. There are no bats or mosquitos to worry about here, so feel safe bringing the whole family along with you.

Pro traveler tip: Get to Black Sand Beach early if you don’t want to fight other tourists for a good spot on the sand, this is a very popular destination!

Wailea Beach

Stay in one of the South Maui rentals to be close to the famous Wailea Beach. You have easy access to restaurants and shops from this clean beach thanks to the paved walkway. Lined with palm trees, the beach is a great place to relax in the sun or you can go swimming in the calm waters. See what lies underneath the surface as you go snorkeling or hire some water sports equipment to venture further out. If you’re interested in the best snorkeling spots around the whole state, check out our Hawaiian snorkeling guide!

If you’ve got some cash that’s burning a hole in your pocket, consider going to The Shops at Wailea. You can find whatever fashions you’re into at this open-air shopping complex. There’s plenty of fantastic dining options there as well!

Pro traveler tip: One of the best ways to explore the ocean near Wailea Beach is to get out there on a kayak. Luckily there’s guided tours available.

ʻĪao Valley State Park

Don’t miss the chance to travel inland from your beachfront rental to visit ʻĪao Valley State Park. See the incredible rock features in this Central Maui park, including the famous ʻĪao Needle. Learn about the tribal history and legendary battle that occurred in the park. Be sure to bring your bug spray along with you, this is a tropical rainforest after all. Along your hike see Maui’s delicious mango trees as well as other fruiting plants.

Pro traveler tip: Maui’s weather can sometimes obscure the ʻĪao Needle with cloud cover. Get there early for your best chance at a clean view.

Explore the many trails that take you through forests shrouded in fog, past rushing streams, and into lush valleys.

Where to Stay in Maui

West Maui is the island’s hub of fun in the sun. Here you’ll find the majority of Maui’s resort accommodations and commercial areas. Only about 40 minutes to the airport, you’ll be relaxing in the Hawaiian breeze in no time. This area is also home to Lahaina and Kaanapali beach.

For a more low-key stay, you want to check out the Napili Bay Area. With less hustle and bustle than the west side, if you need to take a break and get away for a while this is the spot for you. There are so many things to do all over Maui, so no matter where you choose you’re going to have an incredible experience.

Maui is the Spot!

Once you get your first taste of this world-famous tropical island, you’re going to be hooked. With all the different things to do in Maui, returning to this paradise is a no-brainer. Ready to enjoy the incredible sights of Maui? Book your stay on VacationRenter! Don’t forget that there are plenty more islands that makeup Hawaii. Each with its own unique charm. For a glimpse of something else Hawaii has to offer, we’ve got you covered with our Kauai travel guide!