8 Best Maui Hikes – Easy To Extreme Day Trips & Short Treks
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by Kristin Young | Updated On: July 29, 2020 | Hike
A large, incredibly beautiful Hawaiian island, Maui is a dreamland destination for adventurers. You’ll find waterfalls and vast volcanic craters. As well as multi-colored sands stretching far into the distance, and lush rainforests teeming with life.
Hiking Maui is the perfect way to take in the diverse landscape. You can appreciate it all as you explore, spending anywhere between one hour and ten, immersed in the famously beautiful Hawaiian nature.
So whether you’re traveling with the kids, or looking for an epic challenge, get ready to learn all about these brilliant hikes. We’ve put together a list of the best Maui hikes for all kinds of travelers.
HIKE MAUI MAP
‘IAO VALLEY STATE PARK
Distance: 10 miles
Cost: Free ($5 parking fee)
Hours: 4 hours
Tour or DIY: The trails are well-marked and maintained, so you can easily do it yourself.
Parking info: There’s plenty of parking space, but be aware that a fee of $5 USD is required for all non-native private vehicles.
What you will see: Lush, mountainous landscape and the site of a famous battle to unite the Hawaiian islands.
Best time to go: You can comfortably go at any time of the day – it’s a short hike and there’s plenty of coverage
Tips and safety: This is a state park, so it’s very safe, but no dogs are allowed
You can spend 20-minutes here or the whole day. There are plenty of Iao Valley hikes that crisscross the green mountains – but be sure to visit the Needle Point observation deck. It’s a short hike, with the best views in Maui.
Your trek starts at a footbridge, which you’ll use to cross the river. This is one of the wettest places on earth, so the river is always fast-flowing and the surrounds are evergreen. Turn up from the footbridge to reach the observation deck, or down to do a little bit more exploring first.
SLIDING SANDS TRAIL – MAUI VOLCANO HIKE
Distance: 11 miles
Cost: Entry is free but parking costs $10
Hours: 6-7 hours
Tour or DIY: This hike may be best done with a tour guide, as it’s a complex route and a long hike.
Parking info: You can park at the Haleakala summit
What you will see: Vibrantly colorful sand dunes and a rocky, volcanic landscape
Best time to go: The area gets very hot, so start the hike in the early morning
Tips and safety: Bring plenty of sunscreen and water. The hike is fully exposed, with no cover.
One of the best hikes in Maui, this strenuous hike is not for the faint-hearted. Starting at the Haleakala Crater, the hike begins with a descent. But it quickly picks up into quite a climb, with steady elevation and some interesting routes. The multi-colored sands are an incredible sight, making it all well worth it.
If you plan to spend the night, book a spot in one of the wilderness cabins far in advance. They’re usually totally booked out, and camping is not permitted here.
You can also do shorter hikes in the area, simply turning back wherever you want to along the trail. Even a short trip is worth the drive, with these otherworldly views.
WAIHEE RIDGE TRAIL – WEST MAUI HIKE
Distance: 4 miles
Hours: 3 hours
Tour or DIY: This is an easy hike to do yourself – but if you don’t have your own transport, you may prefer to join a tour group.
Parking info: Parking lot right at the hike start
What you will see: Forest and rolling hills falling away on either side of you, a rushing waterfall.
Best time to go: Early morning
Tips and safety: The trail can get muddy after rainfall, which can endanger children and inexperienced hikers, as the ridge has no railings. So keep an eye on the weather.
This popular west Maui hike is moderately difficult, but one you can bring the kids on in good weather. It’s a steep sand-track up the ridge of the Waihe’e mountain. With lookout points dotting the trail, and incredible views all along it, it’s one of the most scenic Maui hikes. Which is saying a lot!
Accessible year-round, this hike can get quite busy in the summer season. Because of this, and the midday heat in Hawaii, it’s best to do the hike in the early morning. If you can get up early enough, the sunrise from here is spectacular.
Dogs are allowed, but they must stay attached to a leash, so there’s no stress there.
KINGS GARDEN WATERFALL HIKE
Distance: 2 miles
Hours: 2 hours
Tour or DIY: Kings Garden is private property, and can only be accessed on a guided tour
Parking info: Park along Kokomo Road
What you will see: Lush inner-city jungle and a beautiful waterfall
Best time to go: Tours run multiple times a day, and because of the thick foliage, any time is great
Tips and safety: This is a private estate so it’s very safe, and ideal for families. No dogs are allowed.
If you’re after a short, guided hike in Maui, Kings Garden is the perfect option. It’s only 2 hours long and takes you through one of Hawaii’s most beautiful estates. The lush rainforest boasts a gorgeous waterfall and gurgling stream. All within the city.
Ideal for hikers with limited time, this is a great place to bring the family. The tour includes a chocolate tasting while you sit by the waterfall. You’ll also learn a lot about the biodiverse area and all proceeds go to charity.
Don’t expect a proper, exerting hike. It’s beautiful and impressive, but you may feel it’s more of a walk than a hike.
TWIN FALLS HIKING, MAUI
Distance: 3 miles both ways
Hours: 2 hours
Tour or DIY: This is a very easy and safe hike to do on your own – you can, however, also join a fun tour
Parking info: There’s a gravel parking lot just beyond the start of the trail
What you will see: A series of waterfalls and lush rainforest
Best time to go: Visit in the early morning for a more peaceful, secluded hike. Or in the afternoon if you prefer to swim at the warmest time of day
Tips and safety: Most of the trail is paved, but it’s best to bring closed shoes as the path can get rough in places. You should also bring mosquito repellant
As hikes go, this is a very tame one. It’s certainly not a challenge, but it is a great place to bring the kids, and to take a dip surrounded by nature. There are various waterfalls along the route. You can swim in most of them, and even do a little cliff jumping where the water is deep enough.
The trail starts at a gate next to the parking lot. It’s wide and paved, so you may find you’re strolling, rather than hiking. After about 5 minutes, you’ll hear your first waterfall and can turn off the path to see it. But the main waterfalls start about 15 minutes in.
You can take various paths turning off the path to explore the overgrown unknown areas of the Twin Falls area. If you’re looking for something wilder, we encourage doing just that.
Parking info: If you do the full trip, it’s best to park near the west trailhead – on the right side just after the tunnel. If you only hike one way, you’ll need to have transport on both sides of the route
What you will see: Great views of Maui’s coastline, rolling hills and wind turbines
Best time to go: It’s a long hike, so leave relatively early in the morning
Tips and safety: The trail is rugged – wear proper hiking shoes and prepare to walk on uneven terrain.
A beautiful hike with far-stretching views, the Pali Trail is long but relatively if you’re fit. The terrain is rough and rocky, and in some areas the incline is steep. After all, Pali does mean steep slope.
The trailhead is close to sea level and gains elevation as you go along, before descending again half-way. Your views will open up to a panorama of coastline and central valley. If you’re visiting Maui between December and May, keep a lookout for whales. This trail is the perfect spot to enjoy whale season.
The full hike is out-and-back rather than a loop. So you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into on the second half – but the views are certainly worth a look from the new angle.
NAKALELE BLOWHOLE, MAUI HIKING
Distance: Various trails
Hours: 1 hour
Tour or DIY: An easy hike to do on your own – though there are various tours that include a visit to the famous natural blowhole
Parking info: The best place to park is at the 38.5 mileage marker on the road from Kapalua. Various trails run from here, all leading to the blowhole
What you will see: Impressive rocky coastline and a regular explosion of seawater
Best time to go: It’s best to go in the morning when it’s not too busy, and in the evening when the crowds have died down again and the sun sets
Tips and safety: The hike’s most famous attraction – the blowhole – can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Stay on dry rock, and don’t go too close, as people have been known to get sucked right in and drown
This short trek is one of the more popular hikes in Maui. From the 38.5 mile marker, it’s a steep descent leading to the blowhole. Be sure to wear hiking shoes, as the terrain is rocky and loose.
The main trail to the blowhole is short and sweet. It’s more of a walk than a hike. However, there are other trails leading to and from the blowhole. Explore one of these for a more interesting exposure to the area, and get a little lost.
Everything leads back to the blowhole, so you don’t need to worry about losing your way when you want to find it again.
PIPIWAI TRAIL – WEST MAUI FOREST RESERVE
Distance: 4 miles both ways
Cost: $25 per car
Hours: 2-3 hours
Tour or DIY: An easy hike to enjoy on your own. You can also do it as part of a larger Road to Hana tour
Parking info: There’s a parking lot in the Kipahulu Visitor’s Center – and the trail begins just across the road from this lot
What you will see: Impressive waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and lush green cliffs
Best time to go: This is a great hike to do at any time of day – and the park is actually open 24 hours a day
Tips and safety: Flash floods and rockfalls have been known to happen in the park, so if a warning is released, don’t endanger yourself by ignoring it
Easy and absolutely gorgeous, the Pipiwai Maui Trails offers hikers very different scenery to the other hikes. The easy trail will take you along a string of pools and small waterfalls surrounded by the Hawaiian rainforest.
Towards the end of the hike, you’ll walk through an incredible bamboo forest. Stop and listen to the otherworldly sounds of the bamboo stalks striking one another high above you.
The hike ends as you leave behind the bamboo forest, and are faced by a sheer cliff and rushing waterfall. It’s quite a scene, the rock covered in moss and lichen. Then you’ll turn around, and experience it all from the other side.
Be aware that because of its low difficulty and easy access, this is a very popular hike. You will not be experiencing it alone. Thankfully, it’s a well-kept national park, so you can expect the hooligans with obnoxious music and speakers to be kept at bay.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HIKING IN MAUI
For a relatively small island, Maui has an incredibly biodiverse landscape. There’s so much to see and explore – you just need to know where to go. These are the most impressive Maui hiking trails for all levels of fitness.
Pack your hiking shoes and your sunscreen! Maui has a lot to offer the intrepid explorer.
Hi! We’re Kristin & Andrew, lovers of everything tropical. We spend as much time as possible searching for the best beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and fun in the sun!