Hiking On Maui
An interview with an experienced couple of Maui hikers
I don’t hike, but my friends Dave and Lisa hike in Maui many times every year. So I interviewed them to learn what you need to know for the best experience hiking in Maui. Here’s my interview with Dave and Lisa:
Jon: Is Maui a good place for hiking?
Dave & Lisa: Maui has some great hiking. However, most people don’t take the time to discover it. Hiking in Maui is overshadowed by all the other tourist things to see and do.
J: Where are your favorite places to hike on Maui?
D&L: Our favorite place to hike is not an easy answer. Maui is such a diverse island that each hike and each location are unique. For instance, East Maui hiking is in a rainforest. Hiking in the Haleakala crater is like being on the moon and vicious at that high elevation. West Maui hiking can be hot, dry, and dusty but with great views. South Maui is over old lava flows, exposed, and windy. There are also some nice rocky coastal trails in Kapalua, where we’ve seen movie stars hiking or running. If we really had to choose a favorite place to hike it would be on the Hana side, hiking through the bamboo forests up to waterfalls.
J: Are those places all free, or are there admission charges?
D&L: Most hiking in Maui is free, except hiking in the Haleakala National Park ($30 per car, $25 motorcycle, $15 pedestrian/bicycle park admission fee valid for 3 days), or on private property which may require entry fees (Twin Falls now charges $10 per car.)
J: Is it safe to hike on Maui? Any risks or dangers?
D&L: Hiking in Maui is safe, as long as you stay on established, legal/permitted trails. DON NOT hike on private property without the owner’s permission. People should stay on well-used public trails.
J: What clothes or shoes or supplies do I need for hiking in Maui?
D&L: Our favorite hiking in Maui can be muddy, rocky, and wet. Proper hiking shoes will make your hike much more enjoyable. We see many tourists hiking in white tennis shoes, only to return with them trashed in red mud or dirt. We bring small day packs with hats, plenty of sunscreen, lots of water, and some snacks. We both hike in board shorts and T’s.
J: How long are the hiking trails? Are they well marked? Do I need a map?
D&L: Trails vary in length from 3/4 of a mile all the way up to 20 or so miles. Trail documentation and maps are scarce except in the National Park. But most of the state or county trails are well marked.
J: What is special about any particular Maui hiking location?
D&L: We just enjoy hiking and being in the outdoors period. Any time you’re hiking in Maui “it’s all good.” Each hiking location has varying and fantastic scenery and incredible Hawaiian Flowers. When we’re done hiking we stop at one of the many beaches on the way home to take a quick swim or snorkel to cool off.
J: Do I need a guide for Maui hiking?
D&L: You can hire a guide to take you to spots only they have access to. Some guides claim to have exclusive access to various locations and trails when their access is not really exclusive. But they may know about spots that you would not know about. We had a great guided hike on 2 trails up at Haleakala. They make our guided Haleakala hiking AMAZING with history, geology, and geography, and they took us to views we’d never seen before. So, for a first-time hiker in Maui, we recommend a permitted guide showing you the best spots. Airbnb offers “experiences” with locals, but they’re not permitted, and people have been known to get hurt, killed, or just in trouble by following a “local guide” that really shouldn’t be doing it.
J: Is there a book you recommend about Maui hiking places?
D&L: The book we used to use was the Maui Revealed blue book which has had a big backlash from locals. The local communities are fed up with hikers trespassing and the emergency workers are tired of rescuing and treating visitors going to the wrong spots. Many of our hikes have been chosen by comparing notes with our local friends at happy hour at the Hula Grill. All in all, it’s best to hire a guide, visit safe locations, and have permission to cross land.
J: What else should a person know when planning a hiking adventure on Maui?
D&L: Take the time to plan a hike, and enjoy one of the best-hidden secrets of Maui.
See photos below. Or click for more things to do on Maui.
List of Some Good Hiking Trails On Maui
- Northwest Maui – Kapalua Coastal Trail
- Hana-Kipahulu – Pipiwai Bamboo Forest or Waianapanapa State Park
- Upcountry – Waihou Spring Forest Reserve
- West to central Maui – Lahaina Pali Trail
- Haleakala National Park – Get maps and information at the Visitors Center (keep in mind these are hard hikes due to elevation, loose ground, and varying terrain.)
Photos of Maui Hikes by Dave & Lisa
The Pipiwai Trail begins mauka of the visitor center, mile marker 42 just past Hana. The trail is 4 miles round trip and climbs 800′ through a dense bamboo forest to Waimoku Falls. This trail has several other falls and side trails along the way, so it’s easy to hike 5-6 miles total. The Pipiwai is one of the best trails on Maui and can be busy later in the day. If you stay in Hana and hike early you’ll have this trail all to yourself.
Waiheʻe Ridge hike is located on the northeast of West Maui’s north shore. The hike is 5 miles round trip with 1,500′ of elevation gain. This hike is better done in the early morning before the clouds move in the valley. Once you reach the top of the ridge at 2,563′ the views are grand in all directions. This hike is pretty strenuous and you should plan at least 3.5 hours to complete.
The Lahaina Pali trail begins at the trailhead just west of the Pali Tunnel in West Maui. The trail is about 10 miles round trip and climbs 1600′ up to the wind farm. You can hike all the way to Ma’alaea if you so desire but you’ll need transportation back to the West Maui side and your vehicle. This hike is hot and dusty so bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and something to eat. The views of the central valley are the payoff when you reach the ridgeline. For details and photos about this hike see Lahaina Pali Trail.
According to the Kapalua website, the remote Maunalei Arboretum Trail begins above The Plantation Estates in a series of loops that meander three miles along Honolua Ridge to the top of Puʻu Kaʻeo. On this trail, hikers will encounter Kapalua Resort’s unique arboretum. The arboretum boasts numerous plant and tree species collected from around the world. There are three routes on the Maunalei Arboretum Trail: The Lower Arboretum Loop (one-half mile), the Banyan Loop (1 mile), and the Puʻu Kaʻeo Ridge Trail (1.25 miles one-way). These trails are perfect for hikers looking for a relaxing stroll in the woods or a more challenging trek up the mountain to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking Puʻu Kukui Watershed Preserve.
Maui hiking photos on this page are by Dave & Lisa.
See the page of Things To Do In Maui for Haleakala, Lahaina, Lavender farm, aquarium, luaus, whale watching, snorkeling, tours, helicopters, horseback riding, dinner cruises, parasailing, fishing, biking, golf, beaches, kids and family fun, and more.