The island of Maui is known for its diverse landscape, including rocky volcanic craters and dense tropical rainforests. The size and accessibility of the state’s second most visited island offer visitors plenty of hiking trails, and there is truly something for every level. Hike the unique landscape surrounding Mount Haleakala, the highest peak on the island, or discover a thundering waterfall hidden inside the flourishing wilderness along the Hana Highway. Whether you’re looking for the dramatic adventure of a lifetime or a leisurely hike to share with the family, you’re bound to treasure every moment while hiking on Maui.
This hike is all about both the journey and the destination. The entirety of the Pipiwai Trail stretches just under two miles each way (four miles round-trip) through a massive bamboo forest, glistening natural pools, a gigantic banyan tree, and it ends with the breathtaking 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Located in the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park, this hike is out of the way from the more tourist-heavy areas of the island. Despite this, the scenery of the trek and the quality of maintenance of the trail makes it one of the more popular hikes on Maui. Plan at least a couple of hours to tackle this adventure, and even more if you want to regularly stop to snap pictures or take in the sights.
The ‘Iao Valley State Park provides visitors with 10 miles of paved trails through 4,000 acres of native Hawaiian plants and historic rainforests. In the backdrop, the infamous ‘Iao Needle rock formation and the site of the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai where King Kamehameha I conquered Maui’s warriors to continue his quest of uniting the Hawaiian islands under one ruler. The hike to the lookout is short and simple, making it a perfect family-friendly activity or day trip from Lahaina.
On the north shore of Maui, about a 20-minute drive past historic Paia town, Twin Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls on the island. Park in the lot off of the Hana Highway, and follow the easy gravel path to the falls. Don’t forget to stop by the Twin Falls Maui Farm Stand at the trailhead on your way out to grab some snacks to fuel up for the rest of the day (trust us when we tell you to try the banana bread.)
Waihee Ridge Trail
Known for its spectacular views into the lush Waihee Valley, the Waihee Ridge Trail hike is located off of Kahekili Highway in Wailuku. Although the trail appears easy at the beginning, it quickly morphs into a steep incline that will prove more difficult to less experienced hikers, and the way down may become slippery when you're coming back. The journey will be worth it, however, once you see the views of Makamakaole Falls and Haleakala with the bright blue ocean in the background.
This hike will take you past two of the most unique rock formations on Maui, the Nakalele Blowhole natural ocean geyser and the famous Maui heart-shaped rock. Although there are multiple trails that will lead you to the blowhole, the trail from mile marker 38.5 is considered the safest route and takes you past the heart rock. Drive north from the town of Kapalua to find the trailhead, and don’t forget to wear some steady shoes to combat the rocky, slippery terrain.
The King’s Trail at La Perouse Bay begins at the end of Makena Alanui Road south of Wailea. The area is full of history, as the trail is believed to have been originally created for King Pi‘ilani as a footpath and stretched around the whole island in its prime. There are multiple opportunities to view ancient Hawaiian cultural sites and lively tide pools along the way. You’ll walk along the coastline through what was once fields of lava, with a backdrop of jagged rocks against the ocean. La Perouse is part of the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.
Keonehe‘ehe‘e (aka Sliding Sands) Trail
Start at the Haleakala Visitor Center parking lot to begin this hike downhill into the crater below. Don’t have a lot of time? Take a short walk to the first overlook about half a mile round-trip with a 50-foot elevation change. If you had your sights set on a whole day adventure, set out early for the advanced-level, 11-mile hike towards the crater floor, ending at Halemau'u. Don’t forget to stop at “Pele’s Paint Pot” 5.7 miles in, and marvel at the vibrant colors coming off the natural minerals that make up the landscape there.
A moderate trek of just 0.6 miles, the Polipoli Springs hike is known for its abundance of trees, including cypress, cedar, redwood, eucalyptus and pine, as well as its cool, refreshing climate (due to its 6,200-foot elevation). If you’re looking to complete more of a day hike, combine the Polipoli trail with the neighboring Redwood Trail, Plum Trail, and Haleakala Ridge Trail into a loop totaling about 3.5 miles. The Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area is a popular hunting area for wild boar, deer, and goats, so hikers are recommended to wear bright colors as an added precaution.
Kapalua Coastal Trail
For this hike you’ll begin at the popular Kapalua Beach on the northwestern coast of Maui, close to Lahaina. The trail is mostly paved with some boardwalks and gravel areas scattered in between, so many people choose to hike or jog just a portion to enjoy the coastal views. If you choose to hike the entire trail, you’ll pass the beautiful Oneloa Bay and plenty of upscale homes and resorts before reaching the final destination of D.T. Fleming Beach. Oneloa Beach is a great snorkel spot, so don’t forget your snorkel gear and sunscreen.
Lahaina Pali Trail
One of the more challenging hikes on the list, Lahaina Pali Trail is rocky, steep, and not for the faint of heart. There are two trailheads on either side where the hike can begin, one at Maalaea and the other at Ukumehame Beach Park, and both entrances offer gorgeous panoramas of Maui’s central valley, ocean vistas, and views of the neighboring islands on a clear day. Choose between hiking the five miles one way and arranging for pick-up on the other side, or tackle the entire 10 miles out and back. Good shoes, sunscreen, and a lot of water are all essential.