Maui is one of the best destinations in the world for hiking because Hawaii’s second largest island has one of the most diverse landscapes imaginable.
The volcanic peaks and ancient craters make for some of the best Maui hikes, while the steaming, tropical jungle offers you the chance to be immersed in nature as you tramp your way towards crashing waterfalls.
The coastline offers an equally diverse number of hikes too, with the chance to enjoy gentle strolls past iconic, white sand beaches, or the opportunity to walk along dramatic cliff tops and past black sand beaches. Maui hikes are some of the best out there, so to inspire your trip to Hawaii, here are our favorite trails on the island.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Maui (Travel Guide)
10 Best Maui Hikes
Kapalua Coastal Trail
One of the easiest, simplest, but also most spectacular Maui hikes is the Kapalua Coastal Trail. This is a great walk for anyone staying in the north-west or visiting for the day, as the trail takes you along the best of the coastline.
The trail can be completed in just one to two hours, depending on your fitness and how many stops you make to take photographs, as you cover just under two miles.
It is great for hikers of all abilities, as the Kapalua Coastal Trail follows well-marked boardwalks and paths, along an almost consistently flat route. The trail starts in Kapalua Bay and ends at DT Fleming Beach.
Along the way, you’ll pass by some of Maui’s best scenery, as you walk along the sands of Kapalua Beach, see the jagged, volcanic rocks at Makaluapuna Point before ending at the beautiful climes of DT Fleming Beach.
Waihee Ridge Trail
Waihee Ridge is one of the ultimate Maui hikes, and this spectacular trail has long been a firm favorite amongst locals and tourists alike. Found in West Maui, this trail is perfect if you are staying in the popular Lahaina or Kapalua areas, or in Kahului or along the coast near Paia.
This is a challenging hike and the 5-mile round trip trail will take you up high along the Waihee Ridge for incredible views across the island. The trail involves a steep, sharp ascent, and you’ll be walking up to almost a thousand meters at the highest point.
The rewards are bountiful though, as you pass waterfalls and can see the Waihee Valley far below.
If you love waterfalls, then one of the best Maui hikes for you is the walk to Twin Falls. The waterfall is found on the Road to Hana Highway, and if you have a vehicle then you can make the epic drive here, hike the trail, then carry on exploring the rest of this beautiful road on the east coast as you head further south.
The actual trail is relatively easy, and it will take you through the jungle from the car park to the lower section of the waterfall in just 15 minutes. You’ll be immersed the thick forest before it opens up to reveal the plunge pool.
The upper falls can be reached with a short, but steep walk upwards, and you’ll have great views of both levels.
Sliding Sands Trail
The Sliding Sands Trail is one of the toughest and most adventurous Maui hikes you can tackle on the island. The trail runs through the epic Haleakala National Park, and it takes you to the summit of the Haleakala Crater.
This is southern Maui, and it’s great if you’re staying either in Hana to the east or Wailea to the west, so you can get an early start to beat the heat. It’s a long day, as you’ll be walking 10 miles, with some serious elevation.
You start at the national park’s visitor center, before walking through volcanic landscapes until you reach the top of the crater, which is over 3000 meters in height.
Lahaina Pali Trail
If you’re based in West Maui, then one of the best hiking routes is on the Lahaina Pali Trail. As well as being spectacular, this is a historic trail too, as the hike follows the path of an old road built over two hundred years ago to connect the coast with the interior, and onwards.
The trail itself is 5 miles long, and there are two entrance points, either on the west coast by Ukumehame Beach, or inland north of Maalaea.
If you’re in good shape and have the whole day, then you can make the 10-mile return journey from either trailhead, otherwise, you’ll need to arrange transport to get you to the start and to pick you up at the finish.
Acid War Zone Trail
The interestingly named Acid War Zone Trail is a great Maui hike that’s found along the coast in the north-west of the island, with the trailhead not too far from Kapalua.
This is one of the most fascinating hiking trails in Maui, as you’ll pass by volcanic outcrops, visit blowholes and eventually end up at an iconic heart-shaped rock.
The intriguing name of the trail comes from the fact that you are walking past a battered and eroded volcanic coastline – reminiscent of a war zone. The 2-mile round trip will have you walking through all manner of different terrain, and it’s one of the most fascinating short hikes on Maui.
The Pipiwai Trail makes for a great hike on the south-east coast of Maui. Found between Kaupo and Hana, the trail leads you through some of the best scenery in the Haleakala National Park.
You’ll walk past crashing waterfalls, through serene valleys and end up at the Seven Sacred Pools where you can jump in for a refreshing swim. The two waterfalls on the trail are the dramatic 120-meter high Waimoku Falls and the equally stunning 60-meter tall Makahiku Falls.
This is one of the best trails on the island, and it will take you on a four-mile round trip through beautifully untouched parts of Maui that can’t otherwise be reached.
South of Wailea, you can find the Hoapili Trail, a hiking route that’s full of historic treasures. The Hoapili Trail is part of the old Kings Highway, which was built by a Maui king hundreds of years ago to encircle the entire island, and to connect the kingdom.
The Hoapili Trail is a 5-mile round trip, and you’ll be walking through diverse landscapes along the coast, with few other hikers around.
You begin the hike in La Perouse Bay, walking past beaches and dramatic scenery, before reaching the end of the trail at the Hanomanioa Lighthouse.
Mahana Ridge Trail
If you are looking for a more challenging hike in Kapalua – rather than the simpler coastal walks – then the Mahana Ridge Trail is a great option. The route begins at the Maunalei Arboretum and will take you to DT Fleming Beach.
You can even take a shuttle to the Maunalei Arboretum to make this an easier, one-way hike, as the route along the Mahana Ridge lasts for 7 miles – or 14 miles return – but the tough walk will give you amazing views of the area.
The Kaupo Trail is the toughest Maui hike you can make, and it’s not for the inexperienced or the unfit. If you’re after a challenge and an adventure, then this is for you. The hike starts in Kaupo on the southern coast and takes you through the most extreme landscapes of Haleakala National Park.
It’s 11 miles return, and there is some steep elevation, making this a long day hike. There’s little shade, huge ascents and dangerous descents, as you walk along rocky paths, through a volcanic environment like few others on Maui.
Best Time of Year to Hike in Maui
Maui is very much a year-round travel destination, as the island’s wonderful climate ensures that it enjoys warm weather all through the year.
There are only really two distinct seasons in Hawaii, winter and summer, but in reality, the temperatures are very consistent, with winter being only marginally colder than summer.
With that in mind, it’s possible to take on Maui hikes all through the year, but there are a few considerations to factor into your planning.
Winter – between November and March – being fractionally colder, will be a better time to visit if you want to miss the worst of the heat, while it’s also much less humid than summer.
It tends to be much, much busier in the winter months though, particularly over Christmas, as people head to Hawaii to escape the cold elsewhere.
Summer can be humid, but certain months – the July and August peak season excluded – can be quieter, and this would be a good time of year to hike the more popular trails, which can get crowded in the busiest months.
If you are planning to do more than hike in Maui, like to surf, snorkel or see whales, then you will also want to look at the best time of year to visit the island for your other planned activities, as they can have seasonal considerations.
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Safety Tips for Hiking in Maui
- Never hike alone, bring a friend for safety and company
- Stay on the trails
- Obey all warning signs, they are there for a reason!
- Do not trespass on private property
- Be prepared for sudden weather changes
- Stay hydrated by bringing a minimum of 2 liters of water on your hike
- DO NOT drink water from freshwater ponds or streams during your hike
- Avoid entering streams or ponds with open cuts
- Carry electrolyte packets
- Bring enough food and snacks for the duration of your hike
- Do not leave valuables in your car – even if you think they are hidden
- Start your hikes early to avoid peak heat and darkness
- Leave enough time to return to your car before sunset
- Consider bringing a GPS with SOS capabilities
- Be aware that you will not have cell service in some remote areas
- Try to wear or bring bright clothing so you can be found in an emergency
- Call the National Weather Service at 1-866-944-5025 to check weather before you head out
- Call the Maui County Automated Information line at 808-986-1200 ext. 1 for Maui Emergency Management Agency notifications
Maui Hiking Essentials:
- Good hiking shoes with tread
- Light pants or shorts with quick dry material
- Light shirt with quick dry material
- Fleece to layer under rain jacket
- Light rain jacket or poncho and mosquito repellent
- Backpack to carry your gear
- Cell phone
- Work gloves
- First Aid Kit
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