12 Maui Travel Tips For Responsible Traveling

Planning a trip to Maui or any Hawaiian Island requires advance planning and research.

This way, guests can ensure that they’re maximizing their Maui holiday experience by arriving with a valuable insider’s perspective. We’ve created this blog to help our readers know before they go and fill their toolboxes full of the best Maui travel tips.

When visiting Maui post-wildfires, first and foremost, please exercise etiquette and respect for the community, its people, and the ocean.

While the island is warmly welcoming tourists, we advise that you avoid the Lahaina area as it is still recovering and will be recovering for years to come. Know that your presence on Maui is more than just appreciated; it’s an opportunity to support local businesses and contribute to our community’s healing.

Maui Travel Tips Couple Kissing at Maui Sunset

As you enjoy Maui’s beauty, remember that your role in nurturing its restoration is valued.

We at Pride of Maui wish you the best vacation on the Valley Isle.

 

01

Learn Before You Go

As with any activity you do, it’s always best to do some research and make a plan. Whether you’re visiting Maui for a family holiday with kids or celebrating a honeymoon, it’s a good idea to know about the different areas, how to get around, and how long it takes from one stop to the next. We suggest you extensively research the best places to stay, the top things to do in Maui, and more.

Maui is composed of six distinct areas located in and around the four corners of the island. Central Maui, West Maui, South Maui, East Maui, Upcountry, and the North Shore are all different communities that offer singular experiences.

For example, if you want to visit Haleakala’s Visitors Center for a spectacular sunrise view, you will need to book a parking spot and plan out enough time to reach the peak. Another example is visiting Hana: the gorgeous and winding road to East Maui’s Hana village has over 620 curves and 59 bridges. If you’re staying in Wailea (South Maui), you’ll want to leave your accommodation early in the morning to beat some road traffic and reach Hana Town in the early afternoon.

As you can see, it’s always best to know the lay of the land when traveling anywhere. We suggest you study a map of Maui and start researching what kind of things you can do in each area. Try to plan some fun day trips in each area.

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02

Book Maui Activities Early

The Island of Maui has quickly become one of Hawaii’s most popularly visited islands. Not only are there more direct flights from major domestic and international airports, but there’s also a massive influx of new residents and part-time residents. We cannot say it enough—we suggest you book all activities ahead of time. (Also, your rental car!)

Another notable mention is that Maui is not a seasonal destination. Visitors arrive in Maui throughout the year for family holidays and summer vacations, to partake in yoga retreats, surf competitions, and all other reasons. Spring and summer months are super busy every year, but so are the winter months. Three little-known but hectic times of the year are Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and the US ski week vacation.

Local Tip: If you’d like to visit Maui when the island is less heavy with tourists, plan a holiday in September, specifically during the back-to-school period. The weather is gorgeous, but the hot summer heat has calmed. The wind hasn’t picked up much yet and it’s right before the rainy season starts.

Popular year-round activities that book super fast are snorkel tours, sunset cruises, sport fishing tours, luaus, the Haleakala Visitor Center, horseback riding, and zip lining. From the winter to early spring, whale-watching tours are a hot commodity. You absolutely must book a Maui whale watch in advance.

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03

Pack Smart for a Maui Vacation

Here’s a big one! What should you pack for a Maui vacation? We suggest that you pack light (if possible), but pack smartly. The island of Maui is not just a popular tourist destination. The island is a living and breathing ecosystem that hosts many diverse micro-climates. In fact, Maui is the most topographically diverse island in Hawaii. You’ll want to be prepared for anywhere you might find yourself, from the beach to the jungle to high-altitude forests.

You’ll need to pack bathing suits and warm weather attire like dresses, shorts, and tank tops. You might be surprised to find out that it can also get a little chilly on Maui, and you may also experience some rainy conditions on any given day, so pack accordingly.

For example, let’s discuss Upcountry Maui, a collection of towns and forests situated on the slopes of 10,000-foot-high Mt. Haleakala, the most popularly visited of which being Makawao, Kula, and Ulupalukua. Imagine you’re staying in a super warm area of Maui at sea level, like Ka’anapali, but decide to leave the beach for the day so you can visit the Kula Lavender Farm for a Maui farm tour. It may be 84° F in Ka’anapali, but when you reach the Kula Lavender Farm, which is at an elevation of approximately 4,000 feet, it may be 15-20° colder, pending the season. Believe us, you’ll wish you had brought that light sweater and worn jeans to compensate for the weather difference.

Pack swimwear, summer clothes, a sweater, a light rain jacket, long pants or jeans, a hat for sun protection, reef-safe sunscreen, and sturdy shoes. Sneakers are acceptable, but if you are hiking or visiting Maui’s wetter areas (North Shore and East Maui locales), you’ll want to bring shoes with good tread, like walking shoes or hiking boots.

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04

Be Pono

If you’ve visited Hawaii before or have been researching a visit to Maui online, you may have come across the word “pono.”

What does it mean to be pono?

In the ancient Hawaiian language, pono roughly translates to “righteousness.” It’s a word with multiple meanings, including being in perfect alignment with all things in life, living thankfully, having a sense of responsibility, respecting all, and embodying the values of the aloha spirit.

So, how can you be Pono when visiting Maui and the Hawaiian Islands? Can a non-local be Pono? The answer is yes!

First, arrive on the island with respect and an open mind. Learn and absorb the culture as soon as you arrive at OGG Airport.

Smile, be gracious, help those around you, and thank those who help you. Respect the history and the culture of Hawaii. Pay attention to the locals and pay gratitude for your time spent on Maui by being conscious and courteous.

Other tips for being Pono on Maui are to not litter, park in designated parking places(!!), drive with caution and respect, and do not clog a little roadway to snap a photo. Please pull over to the side of the road and let people pass if they seem to be in more of a rush than you. Say aloha in place of hello and goodbye, tip your servers, and do not forget to give a little shaka on your way out!

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05

Protect Your Valuables

Although this may seem like an obvious travel tip, many travelers have bad experiences with theft while visiting Maui. Car break-ins are the most common type of theft that happens on the (otherwise incredible) Valley Isle.

First of all, it’s not only rental cars that are targeted but also vehicles that belong to locals. On any given day, cars get broken into at shopping center parking lots, boat docks, beach parking lots, restaurant parking lots, and near hiking trail entrances. The best way to avoid a Maui car break-in is to not leave any valuables in the car.

When you arrive in Maui and pick up your rental car, head straight to your accommodations to unload all of your luggage. Pack light and take everything with yo u to the sand when headed to the beach for the day. Keep a close eye on your belongings while swimming in the ocean, and it’s always a good idea to have someone in your group on watch duty.

Theft is an unfortunate part of travel, but you do not need to be a victim! Just keep an eye on your things, and err on the side of caution.

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06

Make Restaurant Reservations

Maui has one of the best selections of restaurants of any of the Hawaiian Islands.Here you can enjoy excellent local food and find casual eateries and cafes. Maui also has fantastic food trucks. In addition to all of these options, you can also dine at a host of Maui’s top restaurants with award-winning chefs and menus. No matter which corner or the island you visit, there is no lack of good food on Maui!

Visitors who plan all the details of their vacation before traveling shouldn’t have any trouble enjoying the assortment of amazing restaurants Maui has to offer.

For those who like to be spontaneous and wing it, you may find yourself waiting for a table for a long time or getting turned away at the door. You’ll be super lucky if you get away with finding a seat at the bar or a table off in the corner (without the incredible views).

To take this conversation a step further, here’s a notable example:

Everyone MUST dine at Mama’s Fish House on Maui’s North Shore at least once. This epic restaurant is not just a famous Hawaii restaurant but is also listed as one of the best restaurants in America. If you want to enjoy Maui’s Mama’s Fish House, book as far in advance as possible. Last we heard, dinner reservations are booked at least 6 months out.

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07

Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean

“Don’t Turn Your Back on the Ocean” is rule #1 when spending time at any beach. Even if the water looks flat with just a few rolling waves, you cannot predict Mother Nature or the motion of the ocean.

The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific. There is no protection from the elements. On all of the Hawaiian Islands, you can easily be pulled out by currents, and the undercurrents are unpredictable. Rogue waves are exactly what they sound like. They are rogue, singular waves that arrive out of nowhere, crashing into the sand. You can be severely injured if caught in a rogue wave (note that Makena’s Big Beach is notorious for this). Losing a bikini top is not the worst thing that can happen. Having to be carried away to the hospital with a spinal injury can quickly occur. Watch your back!

Whether swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, surfing, or just walking near the shore on the sand, never turn your back on the ocean. Be aware of your surroundings and help watch out for others. Lifeguards are stationed at Maui’s main beach parks daily from 8am to 4pm. Before 8am and after 4pm, you are effectively on your own.

Check the weather and current conditions, heed all lifeguard warning signs, and don’t be afraid, be aware.

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08

Never Touch, Feed or Harass the Wildlife

For some reason, tourists love to touch and feed the wildlife in Maui. Do not do this! If a local catches you touching or feeding wildlife on Maui, get ready for a very loud and unfriendly interaction. Without a doubt, the aloha will have left the building!

Please do not touch, feed, harass or play with wildlife on Maui. This includes leaning or sitting you or your child near or on a turtle sleeping in the sand (anything for IG!), feeding roadside goats, feeding or petting a horse on private property, chasing (or harassing) peacocks for a quick photo, or any other wacky idea that comes to mind.

In addition, trying to get close to a Hawaiian monk seal sleeping in the sand isn’t just illegal; it’s also possibly lethal. Monk seals are known to be aggressive, and they are a protected species.

To keep things positive and Pono, there is some good news!

If you are venturing on a Maui snorkel or whale-watching tour, a professional crew will instruct you to not touch, feed, or harass the ocean life. They will also explain why it’s important to not disturb the animals, their habitat, and the ecosystem. For many reasons, booking an ocean activity in Maui is a very cool and educational experience.

Remember that much of Maui’s marine life is endangered and protected by the NOAA’s Endangered Species Act.

Witness Maui’s marine life from a distance and with respect. We promise it will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

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09

Explore Unique Locales

There is a plethora of amazing things to do on Maui! If it’s your first visit, you might be overwhelmed while choosing your vacation activities. The main must-do activities are snorkel tours, a whale watch, Haleakala sunrise, and the Road to Hana.

Once you have the lay of the land, or if you’re a repeat visitor, try to visit some of the lesser-known locales and local spots.

Maui Farm Tours are always a fabulous idea! Upcountry Maui, the North Shore, West Maui, and East Maui each have a host from which to choose. Some good ideas include Maui Wine and Ulupalakua Ranch, Pineapple Farm Tours, Ocean Vodka Farm Tour, and the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm.

Visiting Historic Paia Town is also a great idea. It’s an excellent place to enjoy before or after traveling to Hana, or for a day trip while beach hopping on Maui’s North Shore. When in Paia, visit the Maui Dharma Center to check out the Paia Peace Stupa. It was blessed by his Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, during his visit to Maui in 2007.

While heading up to Upcountry Maui, plan to spend some time in Makawao Town. It’s a beautiful community just a 15-min drive up Baldwin Avenue from Paia. This historic town has a rodeo, boasts Maui’s cowboy culture, and offers a great selection of boutiques and restaurants. Make sure to go to Komoda Bakery for stick donuts, and definitely take the short drive to the Sacred Garden of Maliko to check out a gorgeous plant nursery and two medieval walking labyrinths.

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10

Use the Buddy System

Maui is best experienced in groups of two or more! Your adventures will no doubt be more fun when you share them with a friend or a loved one. On top of the added fun, keep in mind that there is safety in numbers.

As we mentioned above, Maui is a living and breathing ecosystem that is not protected from the elements. There is always a chance of rogue waves, tsunamis, intense storms, hot desert-like heat, or landslides. You could also fall prey to altitude sickness, or getting lost on a hiking trail with a dead cell phone.

It’s best to adventure with a buddy! Always hike and swim with a partner, and let someone know what you’re up to before you venture out on an unknown path. Safety first!

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11

Engage with Maui’s Local Community

Here’s an excellent Maui travel tip: you will of course speak to Maui residents at your hotel, resort, or even on a Maui tour and that’s great, but take it a step further and engage.

Maui locals are friendly people who love their community and know it best. They will appreciate your engaging with them in sincere human-to-human interaction.

Ask your new Maui friends about their lives in Hawaii, ask for advice and local food restaurant recommendations, and say aloha and thank you!

Your next Maui conversation may be your best, and if you want to truly enjoy and honor Maui, get to know the beautiful residents. You never know; you might even make a new lifelong friend.

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12

Enjoy Maui to the Fullest

Enjoy all of your experiences on Maui! Even if there’s a snag in your travel plans, take it easy and enjoy every moment.

Maui is a magical island, and if you are one of the lucky people who can visit, do it right. Keep an open and positive outlook. Smile with the sunshine! Every day can be your best day, and we promise that a visit to Maui will forever change you.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, Maui won’t disappoint. From its stunning beaches and lush landscapes to its vibrant culture and delicious food, Maui genuinely has it all. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today and get ready to experience the magic of Maui yourself. Mahalo for reading!

Alexandra Mitchell

Alexandra is a marketing professional with a passion for writing about travel to the Hawaiian Islands, vacation rentals, and luxury real estate. She exposes readers to glimpses of 'Old Hawaii,' new destinations to explore, local events, and all the best things to do on Maui.