Top 12 Hikes in Maui to Take your Breath Away

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

Putting on your boots and completing as many Maui hikes as possible is one of the most exciting ways to explore this amazing Hawaiian destination. The island of Maui is packed with incredible hiking opportunities. Trails that will suit families, newbie hikers, and experienced trekkers.

Hana Highway in Maui Road Trips

The best Maui hikes show off the island in a way that just isn’t possible from the car window or the comfort of a sunny beach. Although, taking a road trip and enjoying the beaches of Maui is pretty amazing too! For awesome experiences other than hiking, check out our article on the best unique adventures in Maui but for now, get ready to take a hike around the island.

Best Hikes in Maui

Our list of the best Maui Hikes from north to south Maui will provide travelers with the island’s full hiking experience, from waterfalls to volcanic craters. Let’s get started!

To begin your hiking adventures on the island, tick off a relatively easy hike in East Maui, one that offers nothing but incredible scenery. The Pipiwai Trail, like many of the best hikes in Maui, begins with an ascent. However, on this trail, you will quickly be among vibrant mango and guava trees growing in the dense bamboo forest.

1. Pipiwai Trail

Bamboo Forest stop on Road to Hana

At the half-mile point, you will reach the first waterfall on the hike. Makahiku Falls appears through the trees as a thin blanket of white falling from hundreds of feet above. From an overlook on the trail, you will be able to watch in awe as the water joins the gorge below.

Waimoku Falls Maui

The Pipiwai Trail then reenters the forests and continues to wind past fruit trees before guiding you by an enormous banyan tree. After two miles on this short east Maui day hike, you will reach the final waterfall, Waimoku Falls. The falls cascade from 400ft, creating stunning scenery and a musical atmosphere.

  • Trailhead: Kipahulu Visitor Center near mile marker 42
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 650ft

2. Kapalua Coastal Trail

The Best Things to do in Maui

After a warmup on the gorgeous Pipiwai Trail, head to West Maui for a great hike along the island’s rugged coast. On the Kapalua Coastal Trail, not only will you enjoy close-up views of the Pacific Ocean, but several side trails are on offer to add length and variety to your day hike.

The mostly flat trail mixes paved, boardwalk, and volcanic rock paths but remains a fairly casual trek. As you walk around the coastline, you will be able to see the West Maui Mountains along with views towards several world-class resorts and vacation homes.

Besides all the striking sights and the sounds of the crashing waves, you will also have direct access to Fleming Beach and Kapalua Beach, providing the perfect place to cool off or enjoy an afternoon picnic.

  • Trailhead: Fleming Beach or Kapalua Bay
  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 200ft

The Hana Highway is one of the most popular day trips on Maui, so it can get very busy fast. We recommend leaving early and driving directly to the Pools at O’he’o Gulch part of Haleakala National Park which is about 30 minutes beyond Hana.

3. Sliding Sands Trail (Haleakala National Park)

Sliding Sands Trail Hike in Hawaii

When it comes to the best Maui hikes, it isn’t all coastal walks and chasing waterfalls. Hawaii is a world-class trekking destination with hiking trails that get the heart pumping. A Maui hiking trail that does just that is the Sliding Sands Trail otherwise known as Keonehe?ehe?e.

One of the best Maui hikes will take you through an enthralling world of ancient lava rocks, stark vegetation that contrasts with the island’s deep rainforests, and views into the Haleakala Crater. Start in the early morning to beat the crowds and the heat. This is one hike where you don’t want to be stuck without water.

Check out these three great Maui hotels:

With minimal vegetation, the Sliding Sands trails provide a sense of peace usually reserved for deep in the wilderness. As you walk up to the first viewpoint, only the crunching of lava rock beneath your feet interrupts the nirvana.

For the adventurous soul who wants to complete an overnight trek, the Sliding Sands Trail is one of the best hikes in Maui.

After the viewpoint, which allows you to witness the cinder cones at the bottom of the Haleakala Crater, you will continue into the Haleakala National Park towards the indelible Pele’s Paint point. At the end of the trail, you can spend a night in the cabins or campgrounds at Paliku, or turn around to complete an epic round trip on the Sliding Sands Trail.

  • Trailhead: Haleakala Visitor Center Parking Lot
  • Distance: 22 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 3000ft

If you want to try something even more unique, what about cycling down a volcano? It takes about 90 minutes non-stop to go down with plenty of stops along the way. Maui SunRiders offers Haleakala Bike Tours.

4. Waihee Ridge Trail

Waihee Ridge Trail Hike in Hawaii

One of the best waterfall hikes in Maui is the Waihee Ridge Trail. This moderate trek rewards hikers with eye-popping views that make every drop of sweat more than worth it. From the summit’s lookout point, you will enjoy memorable views of Waihee Gorge, cascading waterfalls, and far-off Hawaiian islands.

The full trail to Lanilili Peak covers 2.5 miles with steady elevation change. Confident to experienced hikers can complete the journey to the top without too many difficulties. However, it is best to get an early start as the clouds have a habit of blocking the view come the afternoon.

Like all the best Maui hikes that head up to the heavens, hikers still have to complete the trek back down into the valley. Many of Maui’s hiking trails can get muddy and have exposed roots, so come with solid hiking shoes to enjoy a safe walk back down to the trailhead.

  • Trailhead: Maluhia Rd
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1700ft

Take your Maui hikes up a notch and do some canyoning. Nothing is more exciting than rappelling over a waterfall and plunging into the cool waters of the pool below. You don’t need experience and you can learn to rappel in a flash. Rapell Maui offers Canyon Tours.

5. Hosmer Grove Loop Trail

maui hikes
Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, United States

The Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is one of the best Maui hikes to experience the incredible diversity found on the island. The trail begins in the Haleakala National Park where you can also find Mount Haleakala and the volcanic cinder cones.

However, this short and enjoyable trail takes you away from the moon-like landscape, replacing ancient lava with vibrant vegetation of eucalyptus, pine, cedar, and spruce. It is hard to imagine the barren world found just a quick walk away. The short 0.5-mile hike is the perfect complement for those who have completed other hikes within the Haleakala National Park

  • Trailhead: Hosmer Grove Trailhead
  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 175ft

6. Twin Falls

Twin Falls on Road to Hana in Maui

Found along the Hana Highway, Twin Falls is a shorter hike to a duo of waterfalls. The Road to Hana is famous for providing gorgeous waterfalls for travelers, but the ease of access and the tasty fruit stands at the trailhead make Twin Falls one of the most popular hikes in Maui.

The trail starts from a parking lot where you can pick up some tropical fruits, delicious banana bread, coconuts, or even a smoothie for the hike. The trail to the waterfalls is under a mile but can get very muddy after rain. Despite the short distance, we advise not to walk in flip-flops.

Once you have completed the waterfall hike, you can go for a swim and even make your way beneath the cascading water. You may also find locals and travelers alike jumping from above.

  • Trailhead: Mile Marker 2 on Hana Highway
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 348ft

Discover more about the Road to Hana here.

7. Waikamoi Ridge Trail

maui hikes bamboo forest

One of the more family-friend Maui hiking trails is also along the Road to Hana. The trailhead can be harder to find because it is located around a bend and does not have any delectable fruit stands. However, the Waikamoi Ridge Trail is one of the best Maui hikes for nature-lovers, along with being a perfect hike for those with kids in tow.

The stunning yet short hike will guide you through bamboo forests with long-range views stemming from overlooks placed along the path. The loop through the forests will take around a half-hour to complete, leading you back to the beginning where you can set up shop on a picnic table for lunch.

  • Trailhead: Mile Marker 9 on Hana Highway
  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 225ft

8. Hoapili Trail (La Perouse Bay)

hikes in maui

Complete one of the best hikes in Maui while learning about Hawaiian culture and history on the well-rounded Hoapili Trail. The coastal trail is one of the few hikes in Maui that cuts through the most recent lava flow experienced on the island.

The volcanic eruption within the Haleakala National Park directly affected the Hoapili Trail in south Maui. But besides old lave flow, you will pass a series of important archaeological sites which remain sacred to Hawaiians, including old stone walls and foundations.

The Hoapili Trail is a longer hike on Maui than many on this list. However, most hikers choose to walk only a section of the trail along La Perouse Bay before returning to the trailhead.

  • Trailhead: Hoapili Trailhead (Makena Road)
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 150ft

9. Pali Trail

Lava Tube area Hana Maui

To experience some of the best hiking in West Maui, journey into the mountains that overlook the town of Maalaea. You can complete this strenuous hike on Maui in one five-mile trek or return to enjoy a long and entertaining day on the trail.

This Maui hiking trail guides you through luscious meadows and high above the highway that connects West Maui to Central Maui. The ridge trail also offers imposing views of the West Maui Mountains as you pass a series of wind turbines.

If you have arrived between the months of December and March, bring some snacks, kick back and stare out to the Pacific Ocean. The views along this hike on Maui provide many opportunities to spot the migrating whale population.

  • Trailhead: Pali Trail Ukumehame Trailhead
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 1604ft

10. Waihou Spring Trail Loop

The Waihou Spring Trail Loop begins in Upcountry Maui. Among the Maui hiking trails on this list, this one is arguably the most magical. The loop will guide you through stunning native forests of Hawaiian Koe and Halapepe, with towering fields of Cypress and Eucalyptus.

The Waihou Spring Trail is a favorite in the local hiking community and it is easy to see why. After wandering through the trees, you will ascend up onto a ridge where you will be handsomely rewarded with views of the northern coast before taking you by a beautiful waterfall.

  • Trailhead: Waihou Spring forest Reserve
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 850ft

11. Iao Valley State Park

The Iao Valley State Park is home to one of the most iconic natural formations on Maui. While this is not technically a hike in traditional terms, the Iao Needle and the park’s stunning scenery make it a must-visit.

The Iao Needle is a natural rock formation that stands at 1200ft tall and from the top, it is 2250ft above sea level. You can walk around the Needle mixing the sight of tropical plants with views of the peak.

The park is also an important part of Hawaiian culture, being the location of one of the most well-known battles in Hawaii’s history, the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790;

  • Trailhead: Iao Needle State Monument
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: Negligible

12. Nakalele Blowhole & Sweetheart Rock

maui hike to Nakelele Point

A short 8-mile drive from Kapalua Village will bring you to the northernmost point of West Maui. Nakelele Point is popular among locals and travelers alike who are drawn to the dramatic blowhole that awaits them at the end of the hike.

best hikes in maui from above

Be sure to bring sturdy hiking boots as the trek goes down to the rugged cliff and the ensuing blowhole can be slippery. However, the constant views of the Pacific and the coastline allow the trek to be one of the best Maui hikes you will complete.

Once you have made your way down to the coastline, you will find the blowhole to your left. It can be unpredictable, with surging water reaching over 100ft in height. So be sure to witness the beauty from a safe distance.

The blowhole isn’t the only attraction on the trail. Upon your return to the trailhead, a series of vendors selling fresh fruits, smoothies, and coconuts awaits. Swing by for a tasty treat before moving on to the West Maui Forest Reserve or back to Kapalua.

  • Trailhead: Mile Marker 38.5 Highway 30
  • Distance: 1.2 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 308ft

What is the best Maui hiking trail?

Canyoneering Maui

Add any of the 12 best hikes in Maui listed above to your Maui hiking itinerary and you will have an unforgettable adventure. Choosing just one is an immensely laborious task.

However, if we had to choose, it would be hard to go past the Sliding Sands Trail. I believe this is the best hike in Maui based on the otherworldly scenery found on the trail.

From the moon-like craters featuring cinder cones, lava caves, and a surface that crunches beneath your feet, to being a 20+ mile trek that will test your endurance, Sliding Sands offers the best hiking in Maui.

For our ultimate list of the best things to do in Maui, read this!

Do you need a permit to hike in Maui?

The vast majority of Maui hiking trails do not need a permit, with almost all the hikes on this list featuring free hiking.

The major exception to this rule are hikes within the Haleakala National Park, which require purchasing an entry pass and all backcountry camping here requires a permit.

To experience the best Maui hikes, you can also sign up for a variety of guided Maui hiking tours to enjoy treks like Twin Falls, Pipiwai Trail, and South Maui with an expert guide.

Final Thoughts on Hiking in Maui

Road to Hana Scenery

The best Maui hikes provide exceptional views, family-friendly hiking, and a challenging experience for hikers with a keen sense of adventure. Tick off the Maui hikes on this list to enjoy a balance of local favorites and world-famous hikes.

With dozens of hikes on the island leading to the waterfalls that dot the Road to Hana, trails going deep into the vast volcanic landscape, and treks to incredible rock formations in Central Maui, the island is a hiker’s paradise.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to hike Maui!

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About ThePlanetD Team

Guest writers for The Planet D offer insider tips and information on destinations that they are experts in. We can't be everywhere at once, and it is important to have the highest level of travel information from local writers and experienced travelers.

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