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.

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