Seven-Day Maui Vacation Itinerary

Maui Vacation Itinerary

We understand how overwhelming planning a Maui vacation can be — particularly for the first time. We feel we’ve created a very fun and practical seven-day itinerary to help you experience all the highlights while allowing you enough free time to explore your personal interests. This itinerary includes adventure, history, culture and plenty of of beautiful island scenery.

Note that each link provides additional information to help you further plan to see and do those attractions.

Arrival Day

The long journey to Maui can be very tiring and with jet lag, you may not be able to stay up for much past sunset. For those reasons, we don’t recommend planning any tours or even making dinner reservations. Instead, we recommend settling into your accommodation, grabbing dinner and catching sunset.

Day 1 – Haleakala Sunrise + Upcountry or Free Time

A wonderful way to use jet lag to your advantage while kicking off your Maui vacation is by watching sunrise over a crater at 10,000 feet above sea level at Haleakala National Park. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that’s unforgettable. If conditions are right and you get up there early enough, you can do some amazing stargazing, prior to sunrise. See our Haleakala sunrise tips for planning details.

[Note: If you do not want to go to Haleakala for sunrise, you could still visit in the daytime or take an sunset astronomy tour. We don’t advise taking the evening tours until you’ve had several days to adjust to the time change.]

After sunrise from the summit, stop in at the summit visitors center to learn more about this volcanic landscape and get a sweeping view into the crater. Spend more time at Haleakala, if you like. The helpful park rangers could offer suggestions.

Next, we like to enjoy a hearty breakfast. Head to the restaurant at Kula Lodge or to the paniolo (cowboy) town of Makawao for good breakfast options.

The rest of the day can be spent as you decide. We’re usually anxious to get near a beach, so we head back down to sea level. However, if you have the energy and interest, it would be convenient for you to explore more of the upcountry since you’re already there. Some ideas are as follows:

Day 2 – Snorkel Molokini + Free Time

Since you’ll still probably be jet lagged and waking up early, we recommend taking a morning snorkel tour out to the open crater of Molokini. This unique, open crater usually offers great visibility of a wonderful variety of tropical fish. Some snorkel tour operators offer a combination of Molokini plus “turtle town” where you may have the opportunity to swim with sea turtles.

If you don’t want to snorkel, but you’d like to see tropical fish, a couple of great alternatives are to go to the Maui Ocean Center and go on the Atlantis Submarine.

After snorkeling or otherwise observing tropical fish, enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure. When we go snorkeling, since we already have our swimsuits on, we typically go to the beach or pool.

Maui has some great spas, you might also want to consider enjoying some spa time for the afternoon.

Day 3 – Explore the road to Hana (and beyond to Kipahulu)

Maui’s famous road to Hana meanders through a thick rainforest with waterfalls and peek-a-boo views of the dramatic seascapes. We recommend an early start to avoid traffic and to make sure you get in as many adventures as you can in daylight hours. To drive all the way to Kipahulu and back will take the entire day including stops and side trips. See our tips for driving the road to Hana. If you can’t devote a full day to the road to Hana, see our mini-guide.

Please note that we recommend experiencing the road to Hana within three days of your trip to Haleakala summit because the entrance fee that you paid is still valid for entrance into the Kipahulu region of this national park.

Day 4 – Customizable Day

We are intentionally leaving this day as customizable as some people like to stay overnight in Hana to explore more of the waterfalls, hikes and scenery off the road to Hana.

If you aren’t spending an extra day in Hana, here are some suggestions for how to enjoy this day:

– Take this day to do some relaxed beach hoping and scenic driving. End the day with a sunset picnic on a beach.

– If you didn’t explore the upcountry on Day 1, you could take the time to do so today. See Day 1 for details. If you make a day of it, you might want to add on a Haleakala sunset and stargazing tour.

– Explore more of what’s under the sea. You might want to visit the Maui Ocean Center if you didn’t get to go on Day 2. If you’d like to do more snorkeling, Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach is a popular spot. One of our favorite places to snorkel is at Honolua Bay. Always make sure the ocean conditions are safe before swimming or snorkeling.

– Perhaps something adventurous like zipling, ATV riding  or paragliding is of interest.

– Many first time visitors to Hawaii want to include a visit to Pearl Harbor. We have taken both packaged and independent day trips to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor and a lot more.

– Find more ideas in our post with over 50 things to do and see on Maui.

Day 5 – Iao Needle + Lahaina Town + Whale Watching (in season) + Luau

<Note: Iao Valley Park is closed until mid-December 2017 for repairs. Check their website for changes/updates to that schedule.> We advise going to Iao Needle first to avoid cloud cover and then go to Lahaina so that you can grab a tasty lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants.

Iao Valley State Park is a beautiful park with a towering, green needle-like mountain. The park is steeped in history and Hawaiian culture.

Heritage Gardens at Kepaniwai Park is just outside of Iao Needle. This county park celebrates the major cultures of the plantation era.

A walk around the historic whaling village of Lahaina town is a fun and interesting way to spend some time. Pick up a free Lahaina Historic Trail walking guide at the Lahaina Visitor Center at the Old Lahaina Courthouse. Pop into art and gift shops to pick up a souvenir.

From around mid-December to early-January through March and even into April, humpback whales come to Hawaii to give birth and mate. Maui offers some exceptional whale watching. You can watch from the shoreline or go out on one of the many boat tours that leave out of Lahaina or Maalaea harbors.

In the evening plan to go to a luau to experience traditional Hawaiian foods and enjoy a colorful Polynesian dance show. Here’s a list of Maui luaus and advice for first time to a luau.

Day 6 – Customizable Day

We insert another day that you can plan to pursue your specific interests. See Day 4 for suggestions.

Day 7 – Final Maui Moments

The final day of your week-long visit to Maui can be one of the most challenging to plan. This is the day you’ll be packing, checking out and flying home.

We recommend starting the day with breakfast at an oceanfront restaurant. Savor hearty breakfast while soaking in ocean views.

Enjoy some last minute beach or pool time in the morning. Just relax and reflect on your week-long trip to Maui.

If your flight leaves later in the afternoon or evening and you want to enjoy some more attractions and/or pool/beach time, you’ll need to come up with a plan to deal with your luggage. See our suggestions for what to do with your luggage on your last day.

Notes:

  • This itinerary is easy to implement if you are staying in either of the major resort areas of West or South Maui and surrounding areas. It would require much more driving if you stayed in Hana. See our where to stay in Maui guide.
  • You can switch days around to suit your schedules and weather forecasts. To avoid paying two entrance fees to Haleakala National Park, keep your visit to the summit the the Kipahulu region within three days of each other.
  • Even if you have more or less than seven days, you can adapt this vacation itinerary to suit your available time and interests.

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

20 comments

  1. Definitely agreed on catching the Haleakala sunrise the day after getting in. It’s the best way to make the most of the jet lag for sure 🙂 Great tip.

  2. Hi there,

    Thank you for providing so much useful information on Hawaii. As someone who has never been this can be really overwhelming trying to plan out a trip.

    My husband and I are hoping to visit in November and we have about 8 days with 2 weekends on the beginning and end of it. We were thinking of flying into Oahu and staying 2 days and then flying into Maui for the duration of our trip. We thought we should get a feel of Honolulu since we are coming from so far. Is that a good split? We are not into snorkerling, but love beach and exploring areas thus we thought these 2 islands fit our needs best.

    We know we cant see everything but at least get a good taste of Hawaii. Our next is looking into accommodations.

    • If you want to get a flavor of Honolulu, two days is fine. As you said, you won’t get to see every thing and if you know that going in, you make do with your available time. Read this article before you commit, though, so that you know what you’re getting into: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2014/01/14/how-many-islands-should-you-visit-during-your-hawaii-vacation/

      • Hi Sheila – thank you. I did read the article before I contacted. And I know the article recommends doing one island for the duration that we are going.

        Another thought we had was to go into Maui for the entire trip and do a day trip into Oahu – do you think that makes sense and would recommend?

        Does Maui have enough things to occupy a couple for almost 8 days? I know I have read the “things to do” article and looks like there is.

        • Read through day 4.

          We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been to Maui. So, yes, there’s more than enough to do to keep a couple occupied.

  3. HI!
    This has been so unbelievable helpful in planning our first trip. I have been toying with getting a travel agent to help but the more I read the more I think I can do it on my own. Do you recommend scheduling things such as snorkeling and helicopter rides once we get there or before arrival? I would really like to have an idea of what we are going to do each day to save us the stress of trying to come up with an activity day by day.
    Thank you again for all the wonderful information!
    Kim

    • Thanks for the feedback Kim.

      We like to schedule all our tours in advance. That way, we secure our desired date and time. We do all the planning before the trip so that when we are on the island, we just enjoy it…and not waste our precious time looking for tours.

  4. Hi my name is Jeanne and I,m wondering if you can give me some ideas for the trip i’m planning in Hawaii next year in Oct 14-29. Not sure on where to get a reasonable hotel and what to do first or what to see first. If you can help me out that be great.

    Thanks

    Jeanne

  5. Hello
    My sister gets married on 12th September 2017 and there will be 4 couples of us attending in Maui.we all have a 2 week vacation and was thinking of a week in Maui and the 2nd week in America somewhere to keep costs down. Would you recommend this – or will 2 weeks in Maui be cheaper? Also will a Hotel be cheapest or a villa?

  6. Hi,
    I am researching for my first trip to Hawaii. My sister offered me her timeshare at either Maui or Kauai. I am getting all different recommendations. My other half and I are in the late 50 and early 60, and we are not beach goer. we enjoy trail hiking, sightseeing, scenery, etc. we also enjoy not so exciting land and water activity. my question is , which island you recommend that would our interest. TIA!

    • You can’t go wrong with either choice. Kauai is our favorite island for hiking, but Maui has some nice hikes too — mainly off the road to Hana.

  7. My husband, daughter (12) and I are planning to visit Maui and Big Island East (see volcano) between December 21 and December 31, 2017. Last trip to Hawaii was three years ago, we visited Oahu and Kauai for 7 days. I have made an arrangement in Maui to stay at the Westin Ka’Anapali Ocean Resort and Villa for 5 nights and I live in Minneapolis (MSP), MN. Which airport do you recommend that I fly to first and back? Is it enough to spend three days in Big Island East? I am trying to decide to make this a 7-day vacation or 10-day vacation. If three days are not enough for big Island East to see the volcano, then I may just focus on Maui this time only. Thank you!

  8. My wife and I did Haleakala Sunrise with a bike ride down on our honeymoon. When we told people we were doing that they thought we were crazy, “why wake up that early on your honeymoon or vacation in general.” I told them the same thing you said, take advantage of the jet-lag.

    It was damn beautiful, plus very neat and mind blowing to see a good portion of the island still in a very definable shadow and realizing you’re on the mountain causing that shadow because it’s really the sun hasn’t risen for them.

  9. Hello! Do you recommend going to Lanai for the day from Maui? Is it better taking the ferry or booking a tour?

    • For a first-time, day trip visitor to Lanai, I think the tour that Trilogy does is a good option, especially if you are interested in snorkeling and spending some time at Lanai’s most famous beach, Hulopoe.

  10. Hi again. I’m confused about the bike down Haleakala… do you rent them there? Where do you park the car in order to rent the bike?

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