Here’s the ultimate guide to Maui on 120 hours:
Day One: Decompress
Banish jetlag and get a tan while you’re at it by scoping out Maui’s epic West Side.
Ka’anapali Beach is frequently ranked one of the top beaches in the world: think quintessential Hawaii, with a long stretch of golden sand and water so warm it rivals a bathtub. Snorkeling is best first thing in the morning, so grab a rental set along with your a.m. java. You’ll be stunned by the dazzling array of marine life just off the shore of this sunbather’s paradise.
All that sun will surely spur your appetite, and few places hit the mark in terms of ambience, views, and stellar food than Honu.
From cold wheatgrass Hefeweizen on draft to an ahi bruschetta that’s absolutely genius, this Lahaina jewel is out and out brilliant.
Finish off your first day with an evening stroll under the stars along Front Street in Lahaina, where art galleries ranging from eclectic to classic hypnotize and inspire.
Then meander into Fleetwood’s for a nightcap: their sultry lanai, coupled with superb cocktails, sets just the right tone for a great island getaway. Try their Lime in a Coconut: tart and tantalizing and topped with toasted coconut, it brings new meaning to the idea of liquid aloha.
Day Two: Acclimate
To higher climes, that is:
Biking down Haleakala with Haleakala Bike Company is—hands-down—one of the most memorable adventures on the planet. Think: gliding down several thousand feet above Maui’s splendid shores, taking in panoramic vistas of the outlying islands, setting your own pace to zip or idle, and getting up close and personal with Maui’s wildly diverse flora and fauna.
Upcountry is often skipped by visitors.
The Paniolo Town (Cowboy Town) of Makawao has great shopping and lively restaurants, Kula has incredible views of both south, central and north Maui, and Haiku is a maze of lush rainforest with many hidden treasures. Most visitors stick to their resort area and miss out on the “real” Maui. Get out and explore!
Take advantage of your upcountry day by scoring a table at Kula Lodge.
This iconic Maui eatery has been serving locals and visitors alike since the 1940s, dishing up wood-fired pizzas, French Onion soup, and crab-stuffed Mahi Mahi in a setting that soothes and stimulates: a private garden teeming with tropical flowers, exceptional views from its perch at 3,200 feet above sea level, and a fireplace to keep you warm on Maui’s cool Kula evenings. Dip into the gallery post-dessert: the Curtis Wilson Cost gallery displays striking pieces that crystallize Maui’s beauty.
Day Three: Soar
Start off your third day in style aboard a wave-skimming zodiac on the way to Maui’s snorkeling mecca.
Redline Rafting Co. offers group and private tours to Molokini, a horseshoe atoll—and one of three volcanic calderas in the world—that brims with awesome marine life. Post-snorkel and swim, the lively gang at the helm of this rafting outfit takes visitors to the secluded Forbidden Coast, where views of lava arches, hidden caves, and spellbinding grottos are paired with lessons on Maui’s cultural and geological history. Keep your (waterproof) cameras ready: excursions are often furnished with surprise visits from spinner dolphins and turtles.
Keep the sunny south shore vibe going with an apres-ocean drink at The Pint & Cork, Maui’s hip, new gastropub in the heart of Wailea.
Tucked into The Shops and featuring a killer interior constructed out of reclaimed wood from Maui’s Waikamoi Forest, this is a modern-day speakeasy with aloha panache. Try their Bib Burger—chargrilled and topped with egg, cheese, and bacon—and their El Jamidor Blanco Tequila, Vidal Mezcal, and orgeat-infused Smoke and Mirrors (rimmed in steak salt, it’s spicy and sublime).
Still rarin’ to go?
Head towards Central Kihei, where Island Art Party puts, well, the art back into party. Seasoned instructors take guests through a spirited lesson on painting as they guide you through creating a tropical piece well-worth saving. Music, drinks and fresh popcorn punctuate the fun, showing out-of-towners that Maui’s nightlife has more to offer than beach-blanket sunsets (of which we’re also huge fans).
Day Four: Enliven
Maui may be world famous for its magnificent beauty, but its splendor takes on a whole new dimension when seen from aloft.
Go Fly Maui offers photographers scenes that stun the heart on flights that coast into some of the most sacred and untouchable parts of the island. From hidden waterfalls deep within the lush West Maui Mountains to bird’s-eye views of Haleakala’s immense grandeur, flights with Go Fly Maui exemplify why Maui is frequently rated the #1 island in the world.
Ground yourself (briefly) upon landing by heading to Maui Tropical Plantation—a Shangri-La of Hawaii’s spectacular plant life.
Tram tours pilot guests through orchards dense with ripening starfruit, bananas, pineapples, coconuts, and more, while their on-site coffee house roasts and brews up ono, plantation-grown coffee. Then soar a bit higher by signing up for an aerial adventure with Maui Zipline Company, where side-by-side or solo tours provide appreciation of Maui’s miracles and total exhilaration. Have some keiki? Even better: Maui Zipline Company is perfect for the whole family.
Day Five: Surrender
To Hana’s heavenly beauty, that is.
The Road to Hana transports travelers to a different time, when Maui’s majesty was largely untouched and there was little more to hear than the crash of waves and chirping honeycreepers. 52 twisty miles take visitors past vertiginous mountains abounding with verdant rainforests, theatrical waterfalls often on full, gushing display, and fantastic overlooks that offer awe-inspiring vistas of East Maui’s exceptional coastline. Fasten that seatbelt and drive yourself, or book a tour with Haleakala EcoTours, where friendly, knowledgeable guides take care of the hassle so you can kick back and enjoy the ride.
Your last night on the Valley Isle ought to be celebrated with something utterly unforgettable.
Find that at the Grand Wailea Luau in South Maui (now called the Aha’aina Wailea Luau.) This riveting performance showcases hula and fire dancers in a thrilling take on Hawaii’s compelling history—all of it situated with glorious ocean views and constellated with traditional luau food. You might be back at resorts where your five-day trip commenced, but no doubt there’s a part of you that’s been changed by the magic that is Maui.