What to see and do with one day on Maui

Coast View along Road to Hana

Let’s continue the series of one day Hawaii itineraries with a visit to Maui. So, what would I plan to see with only one day on Maui? I’d most definitely spend my time on the road to Hana. This drive is arguably the most beautiful drive in Hawaii. I remember my first trip to Maui, I drove the road to Hana on my last full day before I went back home. I remember thinking, that I had saved the best for last.

This winding coastal road is more about the journey, i.e., the jaw-dropping views along the road, than it is about the destination. There are numerous curves and one lane bridges that keep this drive on a slow pace. You won’t mind driving slow, though, because you’ll definitely enjoy seeing the lush green cliffs, beaches, and waterfalls along the way. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Logistically, you do need to dedicate the entire day from early morning through early evening to drive the road and take in the sights. The earlier you get started, the better. See all my tips for driving the road to Hana with must-see spots highlighted. Ideally, get on the road before 7:30am. You can either rent a car or if you prefer to let someone else do the driving, there are plenty of tour companies who will take care of that for you. You can even take a packaged day tour from Oahu.

If you are short on time or you are concerned about the long drive to Hana and beyond, check out our mini version of the road to Hana. It’s shorter, but you’ll still see wonderful sites.

A few things to bear in mind before planning a day to drive the road to Hana.

– From the main Maui airport in Kahului (OGG) to Hana town takes approximately 2 hours one-way, without stopping. From Wailea or  Lahaina, add another 30 to 45 minutes.

– If you have time, we recommend driving beyond Hana to the Kipahulu region, which is the coastal area, of Haleakala National Park. There, you’ll find some short trails that lead you to Oheo Gulch, a.k.a Seven Sacred Pools. If you have extra time, the Pipiwai Trail through the bamboo forest to towering Waimoku Falls is perhaps one of Maui’s best hiking trails. The Kipahulu region is a great turning around point to double back towards Kahului. By doubling back, it gives you the opportunity to stop at points you may have missed on the drive in plus it gives you another perspective.

– If you are prone to carsickness, you may want to skip this drive unless you know you can manage it with frequent stops and/or medications.

Sunrise at Haleakala

What if I have two days on Maui?
If you have a second day, I suggest you plan to see sunrise at Haleakala, the house of the sun. It will be a memorable and unique experience. If possible, sneak in a visit to the Iao Valley. Then relax at DT Fleming Beach Park in Kapalua, one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii.

Need more ideas of what to do?
Take a look at this list of seven things to do on Maui on a budget. Check out our one-week Maui vacation itinerary.

  1. Or… You could watch the sunrise at Haleakala and then take the road to Hana from there. (That’s what I did on one of my day trips to Maui.)

  2. Hey Dave – that’s what Andy said, too. I just felt like it would be too much to recommend doing in a true day trip.

    Did you fly to Maui in the middle of the night in order to do both? Or were you staying overnight?

  3. We arrived in the afternoon and left in the evening on the next day. It seemed like we were in the car the entire time.

  4. Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and suggestions.
    I had a day to spend in Maui and found your suggestions very helpful.


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