There are few things as exhilarating as sailing into port on Maui via a spectacular cruise ship—and few things as pleasurable as disembarking on the top Maui shore excursions.
Whether you’re just off a cruise with Pride of America, Princess Cruises, Viking, Holland America—or any other vessel that selects Maui as one of its stops—do know that your Valley Isle break is bound to be a vacation highlight. But between kicking back on a beautiful beach to hiking through a remarkable rainforest, it can be difficult to choose how to spend your precious time on the island and which Maui shore excursions to choose.
With that in mind, here are the top 15 ways to relish Maui’s beauty—and why you should book ahead to hop on one of these Maui shore excursions:
The Top 15 Maui Shore Excursions
You’ve soared across the sea; now it’s time to take to the sky.
Experience a different plane of Maui—literally—with Maui Zipline Company. Located at the Maui Tropical Plantation—a mere fifteen-minute drive from Kahului Harbor—this 1.5-2 hour tour propels adventurous spirits high into the air while impressive views spool below. With 5 side-by-side ziplines, from 300 to 900 feet in distance, Maui Zipline allows for exciting views of the prime island landscape and provides spectacular panoramas of the West Maui Mountains. This is the perfect Maui shore excursion for families and can accommodate children as young as five years old!
Looking to soak up as much of Maui’s warmth as possible?
Search no further than Keawakapu Beach. Situated at the end of South Kihei in Wailea, it features spellbinding views of the outlying islands and Maui’s own Puʻu Olaʻi. The north end of the beach offers a grassy expanse to drop anchor on land (a.k.a cooler, towel, and book), while the waves here are clear enough to, well, read underwater. Stop at one of the many snorkel shops for gear rentals; in between naps, slip into the sea to gaze at the island’s marine treasures. Back on the sand, keep an eye peeled for a whale’s tail: This is Humpback whale territory.
Experience a whole new side of the Valley Isle on a Maui Waterfall and Rainforest Hike.
Several options are available for your schedule and strength. For those on a time budget, consider the Short Jungle Hike—a tranquil, 1-mile roundtrip hike to two glorious waterfalls and the freshwater pools they feed (which are ideal for cannonballs and splashing). Searching for something more moderate without as big of a time crunch? Try the Halfway To Hana Tour—which requires six to seven hours—takes visitors to a thriving rainforest that boasts waterfalls, freshwater pools, volcanic shelves, and striking island flora. Intrepid travelers (and cruise passengers with more time) can dive deep into Maui’s splendor with a full-day Hana hike—complete with a trek into a bamboo forest. Gear up the camera: The views you’ll encounter are worth saving for posterity.
Eager for some action on the sand?
Kaʻanapali is where to find it. The drive alone is gorgeous and astonishing, with the Pacific glimmering on one side and the West Maui Mountains shimmering with fertility on the other. Park at the west end of Kaʻanapali Beach—a stretch of blissful sand lined with glossy resorts and featuring a village with eats and treats. The lava outcropping at Black Rock offers swimmers the chance to plunge into an ocean teeming with iridescent fish, while those who just want to chill will have ample space to soak up the rays. No matter your energy level, paddle out: Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are known to grace these parts. Remember that cliff divers often jump off Black Rock, which can be dangerous for swimmers and snorkelers.
There’s no better way to feel one with nature than astride a horse—especially when said horse takes you into some of the most unspoiled regions of the island.
Mendes Ranch—a family-owned and operated working ranch that was established in 1886—is located on the edge of Wailuku, where sweeping ocean vistas compete with untouched expanses of the rainforest. Their Aloha Morning Ride—ideal for cruise passengers—takes riders from the corral down to the epic coastline; their Afternoon Aloha Ride skirts the edge of a hypnotizing valley while the ocean beckons in the foreground.
Explore Maui’s bounty in a different way entirely with these Maui restaurants.
From 5-star experiences to food truck delights, here are some restaurants we recommend on Maui to help narrow your search.
Central Maui Restaurants – Bistro Casanova, Tin Roof, Marcoʻs Grill & Deli, Cafe OʻLei At The Mill House, The Food Trucks across from Costco
South Maui Restaurants – Nalu’s South Shore Grill, Lineage, Sansei, Monkeypod Kitchen, Coconut’s Fish Cafe
West Maui Restaurants – Fleetwood’s on Front St., Macadangdang, Star Noodle, Mala Ocean Tavern, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pies
North Shore & Upcountry – Mama’s Fish House, Hali’imaile General Store, Restaurant Marlow, Flatbread Company, Paia Fish Market
Rest assured if time isn’t on your side: You can ogle the island’s most magnificent spots from the cabin of a luxurious chopper.
Maui Helicopter Tours gives valiant travelers a chance to choose which parts of the island they’re most eager to see, whether it’s soaring across the world’s largest dormant volcano (Haleakala) or hovering above the rainforests of Hana. Have extra time to spare? Consider a trip that does double duty and takes you to the lush, mysterious island of Molokai. This is definitely one of our favorite Maui shore excursions.
Breathe new life into your sea legs by strapping on those golf shoes and heading out for a round or two on one of the island’s best courses.
Located a short drive away from Kahului Harbor, The King Kamehameha and Kahili Golf Clubs boasts dazzling views of Maui’s coastline and volcanic peaks, while its clubhouse—founded on a design for the one and only Marilyn Monroe—is the perfect place to imbibe in a cocktail and sort through those cruise photos. These are the two courses closest to the harbor that should be considered. Kapalua Plantation & Bay Courses, Kaanapali Royal & Kai Courses, and Wailea Blue, Emerald, and Gold are all great courses but are further away from Kahului Harbor. Earthly, peaceful, and culturally rich, this is one of the choicest ways to revitalize.
Get your heart rate pumping on an uncommon kind of ship: A zodiac boat seemingly built for thrills.
Red Line Rafting allows visitors to duck the crowds by offering private group tours of Maui’s snorkeling mecca, Molokini. Customized rafts—and a friendly crew—speed swimmers across the sea so that you and your fam can spend more time in the ocean. With a knowledgeable staff educated in Hawaiian geology, history, culture, and marine life (and who serve lunch to boot), Red Line Rafting is the epitome of fun in the sun. Seats are limited.
Your hips that is: The Grand Wailea—an opulent resort on Maui’s south shore—features lovely grounds (including a church with stained glass windows and pools that seem to go on for miles) and one of the finest luaus on the island.
ʻAhaʻaina Wailea, also known as the Grand Wailea Luau, comprises Hawaiian culture, history, and cuisine into an entertaining evening full of fiery entertainment. An abundance of traditional luau food is provided—including Kalua pig, haupia, and poi—as well as pre-show entertainment and a full imu ceremony. Moreover, you can learn how to hula with the best of ‘em. There are also many other luaus on Maui to choose from. Whatever you choose, a luau is one of the best Maui shore excursions!
Maui is a sight to behold from land and sea—but what about from under the surface of the ocean?
Situated off the coast of balmy West Maui, Maui Submarine Tours dips visitors under the Pacific, where an array of glistening marine life—including eels, turtles, and rays—frolic in the clear-as-glass waters. The entertaining, erudite staff provides commentary and lessons throughout (consider it fodder for future trivia games) and allows guests to see the replica of one of Maui’s most infamous shipwrecks.
Maui may be home to some of the most fantastic marine life on the planet—think Spinner Dolphins, Humpback Whales, and Monk Seals—but it’s also home to a diverse set of sub-climates that are a total trip to experience.
Explore them on your own with a Maui bike tour. The best bikes and equipment (and an affable, expert driver and staff) enable travelers to coast down the slopes of Haleakala, where the alpine desert gives way to misty pastures and windswept beach towns. Incredible vistas unfold in every direction as the island’s beauty comes into breathtaking focus.
Cruising around the ocean may be an escape of its own, but the ‘Awili Spa & Salon offers a totally different type of oasis.
Voted one of the most transformational wellness destinations in the world by Town & Country, ‘Awili Spa & Salon—located in Wailea’s sleek Andaz Resort—offers apothecary experiences that take guests into an astonishing realm of relaxation. Try their Grounding Massage, which utilizes warm stones and deep-muscle bodywork. (Ahhh-loha, indeed.)
Feel the potency of the Pacific on Maui’s sunny south shore with a private surf lesson from a skilled group of water people that will empower your surfer inside.
Private instructions take guests away from the masses and onto some of the gentlest and greatest waves on the island. There, accomplished surf teachers provide lessons on everything from paddling to etiquette. Savor the sights in between sets and listen closely: The lessons gleaned here will serve you for a lifetime. And, yes, we realize this is a photo of a girl that can likely already surf (shortboard and all), but it’s a beautiful photo, right?
Have more than a few hours to spare? Take the Road to Hana.
This region of Maui is called heavenly for a reason: Towering waterfalls pitch into freshwater pools surrounded by rainforests so thick all you see is green, while an ultra-stirring coastline—replete with black and red sand beaches, austere lava outcroppings, and dramatic blowholes—makes the heart skip with wonder. Catch the highlights with Hana and Beyond, a tour company that’s well-versed in East Maui’s rarest and most marvelous gems. Then surrender to the beauty and quiet: This is one of the most nourishing places on the planet and is one of the best Maui shore excursions.