Welcome to Maui! Unfortunately, you only have one day to experience the beauty of our paradise. But is any length of time ever really enough on Maui? Exactly. Millions of people from around the globe visit Maui each year, but a portion of those are only able to visit for a single day, often due to cruise ship time constraints, work trips, or simply a quick island-hopping excursion.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the best ways to make the most of one day on Maui.
What you should do with only ONE day on Maui
First and foremost, it’s important to have a car. Public transportation options such as taxis and Uber are limited and may not be the best option for your limited time. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere waiting for a few hours until an Uber is available (or even willing) to pick you up. Remember, we’re on island time.
Depending on the time of day you arrive, we have two itineraries to offer: one for morning to afternoon visitors, and one for afternoon to evening visitors.
Morning to Afternoon on Maui
Begin this One Day On Maui itinerary with a quick stop in Paia Town, just 10-15 minutes away from Kahului Airport. Stop at Paia Bay Coffee for a local coffee and a bite to eat. Take some time to explore the streets of this hippie surfer town before making your way to Baldwin Beach Park. Here, you can take a long walk along the gorgeous white sand beach or even swim at Baldwin Cove. Keep in mind that during wave season, which is almost year-round on the North Shore, you’ll want to be wary of swimming in the ocean here.
Next, visit the historic Wailuku Town and the stunning Iao Valley State Park. Iao Valley State Park is a stunning natural wonder featuring lush, cliffy mountains, tropical foliage, and a stunning river running through its center. The park is best known for the iconic Kūkaemoku (Iao Needle), an ancient rock formation that towers over the valley floor. Visitors can explore the trails that wind through the park and enjoy its rich biodiversity, which includes a variety of endemic plants and wildlife.
Another of the park’s attractions is the Iao Stream which runs through the middle of the valley. This stream offers visitors scenic views while they hike along its banks, as well as opportunities to spot native wildlife such as geckos and Hawaiian honeycreepers.
On your way to nearby Wailuku Town from Iao Valley State Park, you’ll pass through lush residential areas that succumb to commercial lands. Once in town, visitors can enjoy exploring local shops and eateries or take a stroll down historic Main Street for some sightseeing and people-watching. The beautiful Kauhale O Wailuku Historic Building District is full of interesting architecture and more modern murals. Those interested in learning more about local history can also visit Bailey House Museum or other nearby attractions like Kepaniwai Park & Gardens and Hale Hoʻikeʻike at The Bailey House Museum.
Afternoon to Evening on Maui
For those arriving later in the day, this Maui itinerary starts with a quick lunch at That’s A Wrap in Kihei’s Dolphin Plaza. Across the street, you can enjoy your meal with an ocean view. Next, head to Kamaole Beach Park I and relax on the golden sand with calm waves. This beach is known for being swimmer-friendly and a great place for snorkeling and whale watching (during winter months).
Finally, experience one of the best, and relatively newest dining experiences on Maui at Restaurant Marlow. Head Upcountry and grab a few Neopolitan pies along with incredible gnocchi, then walk over to Mahalo Aleworks right next door. Try to get there a bit before sunset. Their second-story lanais have great views. This is a family establishment, so bring the kids and family. They also have delicious burgers and sausage dishes from the Upcountry Sausage Company.
Once the sun sets and the stars come out, head up to the summit of Haleakala Crater where you can admire the breathtaking views of the night sky. Light pollution is a fable to those living on the slopes of our volcano. You don’t see stars. Instead, you see Galaxies!
This is the perfect way to end your one day on Maui, surrounded by the beauty of nature so unique to Maui. So, let’s raise a glass to this magical island and the memories you’ll take home with you from your very brief visit!