6 Things Backpackers Must Plan on Doing in Maui – Hawaii, USA

When most people think of Maui, they imagine relaxing under picturesque swaying palm trees along soft pacific sands, drink in hand, sporting nothing but shorts and sunglasses.  While this is probably one of the first things you’ll probably do while visiting the island, it is important to note that Maui has tons of other adventures and activities that might pull you off the beach for just a little while.  Here are some of the things you won’t want to miss before leaving Maui…

Hiking in Haleakala National Park

Miles and miles of trails cut through the sub-tropical rain forests of this gorgeous protected land.  You’ll quickly notice how noisy this thriving ecosystem is, as it is home to a wide variety of tropical and endangered species of birds and mammals.  Fresh streams cut paths down the mountain towards the coast as they pass over lushly covered waterfalls.  A hike to the summit of the Haleakala volcano will grant you one of Hawaii’s most stunning panoramic views. Haleakala National Park has a lot to see in just one day, so don’t be afraid to find one of the park campgrounds and split it up over a day or two.

Driving Around the Island

There are a number of different ways to get around the island, but renting a car will enable you to see and do everything at your own pace.  Maui’s major highways hug tightly around the coast’s cliffs and beaches, making it an absolutely beautiful drive.  And unlike public transportation, a rental car gives you the freedom to stop off wherever you like for a photo or maybe a quick dip in the ocean.   Route 37 takes you across the island and up to the summit of Haleakala, perfect for those who still want to catch the view without putting in the miles hiking.

Outrigger Canoeing

These outrigger canoes are a staple of Hawaii. Designed to be more stabilize than traditional narrow vessels (like the canoe), outrigger canoes are ideal in the rough and unpredictable surf of the Pacific Ocean.  Having two hulls also spreads out the weight of the canoe along the surface of the water, which means that they are also much quicker moving.  They also happen to be a whole lot of fun!  Filling up a canoe with a few friends or family can make for an exciting day out on the water.


You can’t come to Maui and truly understand it’s natural wonders until you take a look below the surface.  From the beach, these crystal blue waters look void of anything but soft white sands. But when you put on a face mask and dive in, you’ll be amazed at all the sea life bustling about just under foot.  Vibrantly colored fish dance between a wide array of coral as you look down floating above.  If you’re lucky enough, you may get a glimpse of one of the island’s real treasures: the endangered giant sea turtle.  One other tip: don’t forget the sunblock.  It’s easy to lose track of time while snorkeling around but you are keeping your back and legs in direct exposure to the sun for an extended period of time.  Take breaks, reapply, and always use waterproof sun block.

Maui Botanical Gardens

There are a number of botanical gardens on the island all working towards the preservation and conservation of Maui’s plants and flowers.  For just a small donation, you can take a tour with a guide who can explain all hundreds, even thousands of brilliant species.  Many of the gardens also host unique workshops and events to help raise awareness and support.  So, take a minute to stop and smell the flowers – you’ll be glad you did.

Experience a Luau

This probably requires no explanation, but even if you aren’t familiar with what a luau entails, just plan on going there with an appetite and ready to have a great time.  Simply put, a luau is a meal or feast accompanied by entertainment, typically music and hula dancing.  The menu can vary anywhere from fish to kalua pig with plenty of beer and wine to go around.  The festivities take place outdoors, typically right along the beach, and you can find many of the hotels and resorts putting on their own for their guests.  Check out the Maui Ocean Club, as they put on a great luau right on Ka’anapali Beach.

These are only just a few of the things you won’t want to forget to put on your itinerary when visiting Hawaiian paradise.  What are some of your other favorite things to do while in Maui?

Check out more great places to go backpacking in North and Central America here. Or take a look at our USA travel guide for more info on the best places Stateside!