Maui is about relaxing and beach time, but there’s no better way to stretch your legs and see other parts of the island than a hike. And Maui has it all in terms of trails, from short walks on famous Wailea Beach to full-day treks in the heart of the Haleakala Crater. Whichever hike you decide to do, make sure to bring plenty of water and protection from the sun—even a short period of direct exposure can wear you out quickly. Below are our favorite Maui hikes from easy to ultra-challenging. If possible, arrive early to beat the crowds and have the trails to yourself. 
 

1. Sliding Sands Trail (Haleakala National Park)

Distance: 8-11 miles
Difficulty: Challenging
Access: Haleakala Visitor Center

Sliding Sands is a superb day hike from the summit of the Haleakala volcano into the crater and back out. It begins at the Haleakala Visitor Center and can be completed as a return trip (7.8 miles), but the more intriguing route is out to the Halemau’u trailhead (11 miles). For the latter, you can hitchhike the six miles to the summit (there is a specific pullout for this purpose) or bring two cars and park one at the lower trailhead. Don’t underestimate this hike—the elevation is high (10,023 feet) and the midday sun is extremely powerful. Start early and bring plenty of water.
 

2. Pipiwai Trail (South of Hana)

Distance: 4 miles return
Difficulty: Moderate
​Access: Kiphahulu Visitor Center

The Pipiwai trail is Maui in a nutshell. Located 10 miles south of Hana in an arm of Haleakala National Park, the trail meanders up from Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) through rainforest and giant bamboo before ending at 400-foot Waimoku Falls. This is one of the most popular hikes on the island so arrive early to beat the crowds. Parking is at the Kiphahulu Visitor Center past mile marker 42. 

Pipiwai Trail Maui
Giant bamboo on the Pipiwai Trail | Credit: David Wilkinson



3. La Perouse Bay (South of Wailea)

Distance: 3-6 miles return
Difficulty: Moderate
​Access: Makena Alanui Road

This stretch of coastline is among the most isolated and striking on Maui. Once the route of the King’s tax collectors in the 1800’s, nowadays there is little more than a dusty jeep road and Maui in the raw. Park at La Perouse Bay at the end of Makena Alanui Road and walk south over barren lava flows and past pounding beaches. The entire hike is exposed to the elements and is best in the morning or evening. Bring proper footwear (preferably not sandals) and count on slower walking on the lava rock.
 

4. Waihe’e Ridge Trail (West Maui)

Distance: 5 miles return
Difficulty: Moderate
​Access: Kahekili Highway (Highway 340)

The trail begins at an elevation of 1,000 feet before heading upward through classic Maui vegetation for views of the Waihe’e Gorge and Makamakaole Gulch. In clear weather, the top of the ridge (2,563 feet) offers a sweeping panorama from the West Maui Mountains to the coastline. The trail can be slippery and challenging in inclement weather and is best avoided after heavy rain.
 

5. 'Iao Valley State Park (West Maui)

Distance: Up to 2 miles return
Difficulty: Easy
​Access: 3.1 miles west of Wailuku

The 'Iao Valley offers easy access to Maui’s forests and mountains. Am easy paved walkway (0.6 miles) ends a viewpoint of the rock formation known as the 'Iao Needle (Kuka‘emoku), and a number of short walking trails sprout off from there.
 

6. Wailea Beach Path (Wailea)

Distance: Up to 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
​Access: Any of the hotels along Wailea Beach

Wailea is one of the world’s most scenic (and expensive) stretches of coastline, home to a number of the fanciest hotels on the Hawaiian Islands. A public footpath along the water connects the resorts from the Polo Beach Club north past the Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons, and Grand Wailea. The views are spectacular throughout and the people watching is fun too. Free public parking is available at the lot near the Polo Beach Club with easy access to the start of the path (and public restrooms).

Wailea Beach Maui
Wailea Beach | Flickr credit: Mike McCune

7. Kapalua Coastal Trail (Kapalua)

Distance: 3.5 miles return
Difficulty: East
Access:  Kapalua Bay

Similar to the Wailea Beach Path below, this isn’t a wilderness walk but instead a coastal stroll through the some of Maui’s finest scenery. At the northern tip of the island near many of the famous Kapalua resorts, the Coastal Trail passes along a handful of Maui’s most scenic bays with views of Lana’i and Molokai in the distance. The hike is fairly exposed so be prepared for strong sun and wind. 
 

8. Kaupo Gap (Haleakala)

Distance: 20 miles
Difficulty: Very Challenging
​Access: Haleakala National Park (Paliku campground)

The Kaupo Gap hike isn’t for novices, but if you are craving an isolated and wild corner of Maui it may be for you. This is the most ambitious trail on the island, starting at the Haleakala Summit and heading all the way down through remote eastern portion of Haleakala National Park to the coast at Kipahulu. The 20-mile journey can be done in a one day, but a more prudent plan is to spend a night at the Paliku cabin/campsite. A few have even hiked up the Kaupo Gap.

Maui Off the Beaten Path

Maui’s warming sun, fine beaches, extravagant skies, tropical forests, and towering volcanoes live up to their legendary status in every way. Finding the soul of the Valley Isle, however, requires some savvy. It’s not necessarily in big-ticket resorts...

Lofoten Islands, Norway

Norway’s Lofoten Islands are referred to as the Lofoten Wall because, quite literally, they are vertical rows of granite shooting out of the Arctic Sea. A number of colorful fishing villages hug the shoreline and a majority...

Colorado Outdoors

It is difficult to think of mountains, and mountain sports in the United States, without thinking of Colorado. For many, especially vacationers from the East, Colorado is the first and last stop for adventure. Nearly one-third of the state is flat...

10 Great Day Hikes from Seattle

From the peaks of the Cascades, across the coastal rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, to towering volcanoes like Mt. Rainier, hiking Washington’s diverse landscapes...

New Zealand's Great Walks

New Zealand has nine Great Walks in total—with five on the South Island, three on the North Island, and one on Stewart Island—centered in some of the country’s most iconic scenery. They are fastidiously managed by New Zealand’s...

Montana Outdoors

What do mountains and rivers have in common? Open plains and endless sky? Sparse population and untouched land? Wilderness and beauty? Besides the fact that one always goes hand-in-hand with the other, these things are...

Best Hiking Shoes of 2020

The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying...

Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras of 2020

It’s true that the low end of the camera market is being challenged by the convenience of smartphones, but mid-range and advanced compacts are thriving. In 2019, you can get a point-and-shoot camera...

Best Hiking Pants of 2020

A great pair of hiking pants provides comfort, freedom of movement, the versatility to perform well in a range of environments, and durability over the long haul. Many of today’s top hiking pants are made from lightweight nylon...

Best DSLR Cameras of 2019

Digital SLR cameras are among the best of the best: they have the largest sensors, the most megapixels, and the highest quality selection of lenses. We break down the leading DSLRs on the market from...

Best Hiking Socks of 2020

You just can’t overvalue a great pair of hiking socks: they keep your feet comfortable and dry while helping to prevent blisters and hotspots. We tested the full array of hiking socks from the heat of Utah’s...