In light of confusing initial messaging after the Maui fires, many visitors are heading to Kauai instead of Maui.  We’re here to tell you that not only is Maui still amazing to visit, but we really could use your on-island financial support. 

Even those who have never been to the Hawaiian islands recognize their unparalleled beauty, vibrant culture, and adventurous landscapes. Maui and Kaua’i stand out as premier destinations for cycling enthusiasts seeking to merge their love for biking with the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the islands. This comparative exploration delves into the unique offerings of Maui and Kaua’i, guiding cyclists through the scenic splendors and cultural highlights of each island.  

Maui Vs. Kauai

SPOILER: You can’t lose by choosing either island, but right now, Maui needs you more!


Maui: The Valley Isle’s Diverse Terrain

Maui, known as the Valley Isle, boasts a topography as diverse as it is breathtaking. From the lunar landscapes of Haleakalā National Park to the lush tropical splendor of the Road to Hana, Maui offers visitors a variety of incredible places to explore. The island’s hallmark cycling experience, the descent of Haleakalā, easily allows riders a glide down for miles on a journey that spans the gamut of Maui’s ecological zones.

Bike Maui Rentals Ride Down


Kaua’i: A Paradise for Adventure Seekers

Kaua’i, the Garden Isle, presents a stark contrast to Maui’s arid volcanic landscapes with its emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires, and cascading waterfalls. Cycling in Kaua’i is an invitation to adventure, offering routes that meander through some of the most spectacular and untouched natural settings in Hawaii. The island’s crown jewel for cyclists is the Waimea Canyon Drive, which winds its way up to the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” offering breathtaking vistas at every turn. This is a ride not for the faint of heart, as it requires much uphill and exercise at elevation. Kaua’i’s rugged terrain and less developed infrastructure can pose challenges, requiring cyclists to plan more meticulously and often carry their supplies.

Kauai Waimea Canyon


Cultural Immersion and Environmental Stewardship

Both Maui and Kaua’i offer more than just scenic rides; they are gateways to rich cultural experiences and opportunities for environmental stewardship. On Maui, the town of Paia offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s plantation-era past, while the Maui Ocean Center provides insights into the island’s marine ecosystem. Kaua’i, with its small towns like Hanapepe and Waimea, offers a more intimate look at local life and customs.

Kauai vs Maui

Cyclists on both islands are encouraged to practice responsible tourism, respecting the land (‘aina) and its people. This includes participating in eco-friendly tours, supporting local businesses, and adhering to the principles of Leave No Trace to ensure that these islands remain pristine for generations to come. Equally important to the need for respect is the need for safety.  Don’t cycle without a clear route, all the necessary safety equipment, and licensed guides.


Choosing Your Adventure: Maui or Kaua’i?

The decision between Maui and Kaua’i ultimately depends on what visitors seek from their vacation adventures. Maui offers a blend of challenging rides, accessible amenities, and a mix of landscapes that cater to a wide range of preferences. Its infrastructure and variety make it well-suited for cyclists who desire comfort and a challenge.

Maui versus Kauai

Kaua’i, on the other hand, appeals to those seeking to connect deeply with nature and escape the beaten path. Its routes offer solitude and the raw, unfiltered essence of Hawaii.


So which Island should you choose?

Maui and Kaua’i each offer unique vistas, challenges, and opportunities for fun. As cycling continues to grow in popularity, Maui and Kaua’i stand as testaments to the beauty and diversity of the Hawaiian Islands, inviting riders worldwide to pedal through paradise. Again, please consider Maui for your next vacation.  After the fires, 95% of the island has been physically unaffected, and is as beautiful as ever.  If your concern is respect for the local people, understand that the majority of us work within tourism and need your support!  


We look forward to welcoming you with open arms and ALOHA!

Hawaii Ecotourism Association’s mission is to protect Hawaii’s unique, natural environment and host culture through the promotion of responsible travel and educational programs.

The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) is dedicated to advancing the profession of heritage interpretation and facilitating the stories of our natural and cultural resources.




Know Before You Go

Haleakala is a 10,000 ft volcano and as you bike down Haleakala through scenic Upcountry Maui, you will experience incredible views, a fascinating history, and underappreciated culture. However, you are also riding in unfamiliar territory, through unpredictable weather, on rental bicycles, and on paved public roadways.

Elements to be Aware of on Bike Ride:

Some elements that you need to be aware of may include but are not limited to the following:

Curving/winding paved roads with many 180 degree turns
Steep inclines and declines
Road reflectors, guardrails, and pylons in place for cars, not for bicycles
Roadway debris
Varying climate including hot and cold temperatures, dry and wet weather, high altitude and minimal visibility
Vehicular traffic – private and commercial

Before you participate in this activity, please consider the risks involved which are not limited to those listed here or in the waiver and risk acknowledgement form. You must be capable of competently riding a bicycle and should have recent biking experience.

Requirements to Participate:

Have recent biking experience
Ability to use a mountain bike with disc brakes, suspension, and gears
Capable of completing several miles of a downhill bike ride at a safe speed
Physically healthy and not have health concerns that may affect your ability to complete the ride safely.
Meet the age minimum of 15 years AND the height requirement of 4’10” or taller.
Understand, acknowledge, and adhere to ALL provided rules and guidelines.
Have not gone scuba diving within 24 hours prior to the activity. (Check with your dive master for details)


Your safety and the safety of others that use the road is our top priority, so we ask that you know before you go, what this activity entails and the risks involved in such activity.