There are few things as exhilarating as sailing into port on Maui via a spectacular cruise ship—and few things as pleasurable as disembarking to spend time on the island.
Whether you’re just off a cruise with Pride of America, Princess Cruises, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines—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 Olai. The west side of the beach offers a grassy expanse to drop anchor on land (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. Don’t despair when hunger strikes: Two restaurants—5 Palms and Sarento’s—sit on the beach, while Zack’s Deli and General Store at the Mana Kai offers everything from chicken curry to tropical fruit. Back on sand, keep an eye peeled for a whale’s tail: This is Humpback 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. East Maui’s hike—which requires five to six hours—takes visitors to a thriving rainforest that boasts waterfalls, freshwater pools, volcanic shelves, and striking island flora. Searching for something swifter (and more moderate)? Consider their Short Waterfall Hike—a tranquil, 1-mile roundtrip hike to two glorious waterfalls and the freshwater pools they feed (which are ideal for cannonballs and splashing). 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—or an excursion to Haleakala Crater. Gear up the camera: The views you’ll encounter are worth saving for posterity.
Eager for some action on the sand?
As the kids would say, Kaʻanapali is where it’s at. 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. Keep in mind 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 by booking a table at The Mill House.
Locavores and visitors alike flock to this farm-to-fork venue, where ʻAi Pono Chef of the Year award winner Jeff Scheer looks to the restaurant’s backyard for inspiration. Menus change daily—and twice at that—to reflect what’s freshest, and feature dishes that range from jackfruit pavlova to coffee-cured beets. The setting is just as luscious as the food: The airy eatery—embellished with historical mementos—looks out upon the Maui Tropical Plantation, the West Maui Mountains, a lagoon complete with ducks, and acres upon acres of island fruits, herbs, and flowers. This is no simple lunch—it’s a holiday for the eyes and taste buds. And while you’re there, see #1 above about zipline.
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 the 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 Golf Club 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. 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 gives visitors the chance 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.
Honuaʻula—named after the resort’s ancient land division—transports audiences back into Hawaii’s seafaring history through dances, chanting, and music. An abundance of traditional luau food is provided—including Kalua pig, haupia, and poi—as well as Hawaiian lawn games and a full imu ceremony. What’s more, 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 gives guests the chance 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 Valley Isle Excursions, 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.
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We have been on 7 Hawaii Cruises over the years(2 T/T from LA & 5 from SF) all on Princess Cruise Lines! We love the Sea Days(9 total on the Cruise to & from the Islands) & have been to the Islands about 30 times now & do our own thing when we stop on an Island. Our Favorite is the one we are on at the time we are ask. I would have to say though that Maui is at the Top of the List!!!