7 Memorable Ways to Experience Maui

You can swim with turtles, ride a submarine, count rainbows, sip some pineapple wine and more when you explore Maui's many gems beyond the beach

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Go beyond the beach in Maui for sights and experiences you’ll never forget

Maui’s popularity as a winter destination for sun-deprived North Americans leads to a lot of crowded beaches at this time of the year. And with good reason—sun, sand and surf are in short supply in the Northern Hemisphere.

But once in Maui, you’ll miss out on the island’s many hidden gems if you spend all your time on the beach; the kinds of out-of-the-ordinary activities that will ensure your vacation lives on in your memory long after your tan fades.

So, if you’re willing to think outside the beach, consider adding these 7 off-beach activities to your Maui itinerary.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Trilogy Snorkel Sail

Snorkelling might not be out-of-the-ordinary for a tropical vacation, but no day that includes swimming with turtles and following in the wake of migrating humpback whales could possibly be considered ordinary.

A Trilogy snorkel sail tour from Kaanapali Beach might just be the best $100 and 5 hours you’ve ever spent. An experienced and entertaining crew takes you to the best local snorkelling spots, and while you’re interacting with the amazing aquatic life, they’re on the lookout for whales. And if you’re visiting between December and April, when 10,000 humpbacks migrate from Alaska to give birth to their young, you’re likely to spot numerous mother-and-calf duos (look for a crowd of sailboats and you’ll probably find whales hanging out there, too).

The tour includes two hours of snorkelling, breakfast, a salmon lunch and some of the best views of Maui you’ll get both above and below sea level.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Atlantis Submarine

If exploring the ocean’s depths via snorkel is a more adventure than you bargained for, opt for an Atlantis submarine tour instead. For about an hour, you’ll get a first-hand look at the bottom of the ocean from the circular vista of your submarine window. Schools of fish surround the 65-foot-long sub as it descends to 100 feet and makes its way to an artificial reef created by the sinking of an old German supply ship. And if you’re really lucky, you might spot a grey reef shark snoozing quietly on the ocean floor.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Maui Ocean Centre

There’s no need to actually enter the water to explore the incredible creatures that live within its depths. If you’re salt-water-shy, just head to Maui Ocean Centre in Wailuku, home to the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. You’ll stay firmly planted on dry land while engaging and interacting with stingrays, jacks and sharks through a 54-foot-long watery tunnel. Other exhibits include a turtle lagoon, a hammerhead shark harbour and a living reef. The centre is open 365 days a year, and includes both indoor and outdoor exhibits, so you don’t have to miss out on the sunshine.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Mount Haleakala

If you’re up for a good sunrise, try catching one at 10,000 feet above sea level. Hawaiians know the best place to watch the rising sun is at the top of Mount Halaekala (which means ‘house of the sun’). The drive is long – an hour and a half to two hours from most of the resort areas on the island, which means a 3:30 am wakeup call – but the fiery views will be worth the winding switchbacks and jostling tourists. That is, if you catch it on a cloudless day. Either way, dress warmly—it’s cold at the top of the mountain. And look for rainbows too—cloudy winter days produce an incredible array of colourful reflections. Make a day of your long journey and do some hiking while you’re there; stop at the park office on your way up to grab a trail map.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Trade sand and surf for hillside fields and mountain vistas and take a tour of Maui’s upcountry region, starting with a stop at the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Owner Koa Chang has continued the tradition of sustainable agriculture his father started back in 2002, growing sweet-smelling lavender that is folded into everything from deliciously scented soaps and lotions to delightfully flavoured teas and scones, served on-site in the farm’s charming garden café. Tour the farm by foot or by cart, reserve a gazebo for a private gathering, or pick up a few thoughtful gifts for those back home.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Maui’s Winery

Pack a picnic lunch and pair it with a taster of pineapple wine at Maui’s Winery, where you can sip some of its fantastically fruity vintages, then camp out on the grounds for a serene lunch break while you admire the uniquely decorated landscape.

Credit: Lisa Manfield

Surfing Goat Dairy

After a taste of wine, you’ll surely be craving some cheese, so make your way to the Surfing Goat Dairy where you can try some of the 30 cheeses, take a tour, and if you’re lucky, feed a sweet little baby goat.