4 Day Maui Itinerary: How to Spend an Amazing 4 Days in Maui For First Timers
First time in Hawaii and spending 4 days in Maui? This 4 day Maui itinerary will show you the best things to do in Maui and best places to eat in Maui for a first time visitor.
Hawaii has always been one of my dream vacation spots. With its stunning beaches, cascading waterfalls, lush landscape, amazing snorkeling and delicious food, Maui offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. I mean how often can you just drive up to the top of a volcano and watch sunrise from there?
In this 4 Day Maui itinerary, you will see what you can do and eat in Maui over 4 (or even 5) days. I will also cover logistics and any questions you may have about Maui.
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How to Get to Maui
The only way to reach Maui efficiently is to fly.
Maui has one major airport (Kahului Airport OGG). There are direct flights from many US and Canada cities (such as Dallas, San Jose, LA, SF, Vancouver) to Maui.
If you need a connection, most likely you will be flying to Honolulu (on Oahu) first before transferring to Maui.
It takes only 30 minutes to fly from Honolulu to Maui. There are a ton of flights between Maui and Honolulu and other islands in Hawaii everyday.
How to get around Maui?
Rent a car in Maui and drive
Driving is the easiest way to get around Maui if you want flexibility. With a rental car you are not restricted on where you go or when you go.
The most convenient place to get a rental car is from the Kahului Airport.
Once you get out of the airport, there are car rents shuttles that will take you to the actual car rental office so make sure you know which car rental company in Maui you are renting from.
What you should know before renting a car in Maui:
Reserve your car in Maui as early as possible, especially during peak holiday season! Maui is very popular, it is not uncommon for car rental agencies to run out of cars in Maui during peak holiday season.
Don’t drive on the back road: most rental car company will not allow you to drive on the “back road” of Road to Hana
Locals drive quite fast/ aggressively and some tourists are bad drivers. I was quite shocked at how many bad drivers I encountered in Maui- some roads can be quite narrow and windy so take caution especially driving at night (some highway also don’t have street lamp).
What If I Can’t Drive? How to Get around Maui Without a car?
If you can’t drive or prefer not to drive, you can still get around Maui, albeit a bit harder and could be more expensive.
Taking the Bus in Maui
The public transportation system in Maui is operated by the Maui Bus, which offers routes that cover various parts of the island.
The Maui Bus operates multiple routes that connect different areas of the island, including popular tourist destinations, residential areas, and commercial centers. Some of the major bus routes include:
- Ka’anapali Islander Route: This route serves the resort areas of Ka’anapali and Lahaina, making stops at popular beaches, hotels, and shopping centers.
- Kihei Islander Route: This route connects the popular resort town of Kihei with the neighboring areas, including the Wailea Resort and Ma’alaea Harbor.
- Upcountry Islander Route: This route takes you through the scenic upcountry region of Maui, with stops in towns like Makawao and Pukalani. It’s a great option if you want to explore the lush landscapes and local charm of the upcountry area.
- Kahului Loop Route: This route serves the town of Kahului, which is where Maui’s main airport and major shopping centers are located.
- Wailuku Loop Route: This route serves the historic town of Wailuku
Taking a tour in Maui
If you cannot drive or prefer not to drive in Maui you can just take tours to see the island.
When you book tours make sure they offer hotel pickups in Maui since some tours require you to meet at a certain spot (like some of the snorkeling tours).
The drawback of going with tours in Maui is that you will be on their schedule and won’t have the freedom to explore different parts of Maui or try different restaurants that you want.
You will also be limited to eating at your resort or somewhere within walking distance. Maui is big so I highly recommend that you rent a car.
Try Uber, Lyft or Taxis in Maui
If you are mainly relying on tours to get around Maui, then you can just take Uber to restaurants and other closer places.
Hire a private guide
If you are not worried about budget, then you should definitely hire a private guide to drive you around to places during your 4 days in Maui.
What are the best months to visit Maui?
Maui can be visited all year round but for the best weather and price you should consider visiting Maui either in April and May or September to November during the shoulder seasons.
There are only two seasons in Maui, a dry season and a rainy season. The dry season is from April to October but the reason I recommend the spring and fall shoulder season is because summer months can be very hot in Maui and that’s also when families with kids tend to visit.
So if you visit Maui in the summer you not only get really hot weather but also more expensive airfare and hotels. People have reported to get heat strokes in Maui in the summer time.
Thanksgiving and Christmas to New Years is a popular time to visit Maui but it’s not necessarily the best time to visit.
Hotel prices almost double during the holiday season and there could be some rainfall, especially on the north side of Maui.
If you want to see whales then November to May is the best time for whale watching in Maui.
What Are the Different Areas on Maui?
Maui is a big island, with several distinct regions, each offering its own attractions and things to do.
Lahaina & Ka’anapali
Located on the west coast of Maui, Lahaina is a historic town and a popular place to visit and eat.
Situated just north of Lahaina, Ka’anapali is a popular resort area with stunning white sand beaches, luxury hotels, and world-class golf courses. It’s home to Ka’anapali Beach, one of Maui’s most famous and beautiful beaches.
The historic whaling village of Old Lahaina and Old Lahaina Luau are located in the Lahaina & Ka’anapali area.
Located on the southwestern coast of Maui, Wailea is an upscale resort area known for its pristine beaches, high-end resorts, and championship golf courses. Wailea Beach and Makena Beach are among the highlights of this area.
It takes about 45 minutes to drive from Lahaina to Wailea along the coastline on the west side of Maui.
Just south of Wailea, Kihei is a vibrant beach town known for its laid-back atmosphere and affordable accommodations. It offers a wide range of vacation rentals, condominiums, and budget-friendly hotels.
Kihei’s beaches are popular for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, and the town has a variety of shops, restaurants, and local markets.
Located on the eastern side of Maui, Hana is a picturesque region known for its untouched natural beauty.
The Road to Hana, a scenic highway, is a popular attraction that takes visitors through lush rainforests, waterfalls, and breathtaking coastal views.
Hana is home to the famous Wai’anapanapa State Park, known for its black sand beach and stunning lava formations.
Located on the northeastern coast of Maui, it is the commercial and transportation hub of Maui.
Kahului Airport is located here and Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, the largest shopping mall in Maui is also located in Kahului.
Situated on the slopes of Haleakala Volcano, Upcountry Maui offers a different experience from the coastal regions.
The towns of Makawao and Kula are known for their charming small-town atmosphere, local boutiques, art galleries, and farm-to-table dining.
The cool climate of Upcountry Maui is perfect for exploring botanical gardens, lavender farms, and the scenic Haleakala National Park.
Where to Stay in Maui?
Now that you know a little bit of how things in Maui are located, you will need to decide which area you want to stay in Maui.
Let me tell you a little secret, ok well maybe not that secret, but you can split your stays on Maui so you get to experience different areas!
Another reason is that the upscale resorts in Wailea can be very pricey, like over 1K a night during peak season. Unless you are made of money, maybe you can splurge for a night or two then move to a cheaper accommodation.
Lastly, the places on this 4 day Maui itinerary can be quite far away, sometimes it is better accessed from a different area of Maui. So if you want to save time (and maybe money), you should also consider splitting up your stays on Maui at different places.
Hotels in Wailea
Most of the ultra luxury resorts are located in Wailea and many people do choose to stay in Wailea for their honeymoon.
The only drawback of Hotel Wailea is that it’s not right next to the beach, but the hotel offers several Tesla to drive you to and from the beach (they have a designated area on the Wailea beach so you don’t have to fight with people from other resorts). I also tried dinner at the hotel and the food was fantastic.
Hotels in Lahaina
Lahaina is slightly cheaper than Wailea with access to an amazing beach. I stayed there when I split up my stays in Maui and I think it is a good area to stay if you want luxury but not at a premium price.
Hana is a small town that is often associated with the Road to Hana. Staying in Hana would allow you to take your time exploring the Road to Hana as there are many stops and attractions on this drive.
Hana is small so there aren’t as many hotels as the other areas of Maui.
Detailed 4 Day Maui Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival in Maui & Luau
Day 2 – Haleakalā Sunrise & Farm Tours
Day 3 – Road to Hana
Day 5 – Snorkeling Adventure and Beach Hopping
Day 1 Maui Itinerary – Arrival in Maui & Luau
I recommend flying into Maui earlier during the day than later so you can have more time on the first day on the island.
Morning – Noon: Landing & Lunch in Maui
After landing in Maui and getting your rental car, if it’s lunch time, check out the restaurant Tin Roof which is about a mile from the airport. This restaurant opens at 10am and closes at 2pm everyday and offers really good local food.
There’s really no table inside the restaurant (except some seats near the window) so you might need to take the food to go or sit on a bench outside. I personally got the chicken with garlic noodle and crusted salmon and both were really delicious.
While in the area, you can check out the Maui Specialty Chocolate, known for their Mochi.
For the first day in Maui, I recommend staying in west Maui, in the Lahaina area.
Afternoon: Relax on the Beach in Lahaina and Check Out Whalers Village
While you are in the Lahaina area, there are a few beaches you can check out, such as the Black Rock Beach, Kaanapali Beach, Honolua Bay, or Kapalua Bay.
Most of these beaches on the west side of Maui are quite calm and some are even sheltered, perfect for snorkeling and for families.
If you don’t want to spend all of your afternoon on the beach, you can check out Whalers Village in Lahaina, essentially an outdoor entertainment and shopping center.
A lot of people go to Whalers Village to buy things they need (souvenirs, beach things, food, etc) or eat at one of the restaurants there.
One really popular restaurant in Whalers Village is Monkeypod Kitchen, known for their mai tai, pizza, pie and saimin soup, which is Hawaiian pork noodle soup.
Evening: Old Lahaina Luau
Almost everyone who visits Hawaii for the first time ends up at a Luau, which is a traditional Hawaiian party with a feast and entertainment.
It really doesn’t matter which one you go to since you will have a great time either way. We picked the Old Lahaina Luau because of the excellent reviews online and most of my friends recommended this luau.
Luaus are not cheap; it’s about $100+ per adult, but this price includes a buffet dinner, open bar and Polynesian dance show. If you pay attention to the show, it’s actually the story of Hawaii, with its history, how it got taken over by the US, etc.
Generally Luaus start in the early evening and they are 3 hours long. You will need to buy your ticket (make a reservation) ahead of time since they are quite popular and tend to sell out.
I also recommend getting there early as parking can get pretty packed! Definitely go hungry since it really will be a feast.
One of the most famous dishes at the Luau feast is the Kalua pork, cooked using an underground oven.
Day 2Maui Itinerary – Haleakalā Sunrise and
Haleakalā is a dormant shield volcano that makes up most (~75%) of Maui; it is located on the east side of Maui. The peak of Haleakalā is known as the “house of the sun” and it sits at around 10,000 feet.
One of the most popular activities on Maui is to visit Haleakalā for sunrise and this is exactly what I recommend you to do on your second day on Maui.
Essentially you can drive all the way up to the top of the volcano (the visitor center), park your car, walk over to the view point and wait for sunrise.
Due to its extreme popularity, not everyone will get to go to Haleakalā for sunrise unfortunately.
The reservation system opens up 60 days ahead of time and you will want to book it as early as possible in the 60 day window.
Without the reservation you will not be allowed to drive up to the peak at Haleakalā and you really don’t want to be turned back at 4 in the morning. I guess if you are willing to drive up at 2am without a reservation and wait, that might work…
You want to dress warmly as the temperature is pretty much freezing at 10,000 ft before sunrise. When I visited Haleakalā on January 1st, it was extremely windy on top and I actually wore my winter parka (the type that you’d wear in New York on a snowy day). It was so windy that it was actually hard to take photos and I had to face away.
Some tours give you a blanket to keep you warm in the freezing morning! Depending on your interest, tours may be a great option for you to explore Haleakala.
If you don’t want to do tours and you only want to do some hiking, the most popular hike at the peak of Haleakala is the sliding sands trail, a 11 mile (17.8km) one way hike. The landscape on this hike will make you wonder if you are still on earth or if you somehow teleported to Mars (yes add Mars to your Maui itinerary).
Since the Sliding Sand Trail is a one way hike, you will need to somehow arrange transportation to get back to your car at Haleakalā Visitor Center and there is no shuttle offering this service. Many people hitch-hack back to their car or they simply just hike a little bit and go back.
Unless you are big on hiking, I would say just hike down maybe 20 minutes, see the Mars-like landscape then head back up to the visitor center.
Lavender Farm Tour
Maui is blessed with great weather and year round lavender (although lavender peak season is in the summer months of July and August). If you want to spend a couple of hours at a lavender farm, Ali’iKula Lavender farm is the place to be.
Pineapple Farm Tour
If the lavender farm is closed or you are just not into lavenders, then you can go to a pineapple farm and do a tour there!
Located in the historic plantation town of Hali’imaile, the tour takes you through a working pineapple farm and let you see the packing and shipping facilities. The pineapple tour also gives you the option to include a Distillery Tour or Lunch (or both!)
There are 3 different starting times for this 1.5 hour tour, at 9:30am, 11:45am or 1:45pm and the tour operates daily.
Whale Watching Tour
If you are visiting Maui during the winter/ spring whale season, then you are in luck!
These tours generally depart from the Ma’alaea Harbor near Kihei in the afternoon and take 2 hours. You will be on a high speed catamaran sailing around the water with drinks onboard and you may see a few whales during the journey.
Day 3 Maui Itinerary – Road to Hana
One of the most popular things to do in Maui is to drive the Road to Hana, not really to get to Hana itself, but rather to see all the beautiful waterfalls, beaches, gardens and the bamboo forest on the drive.
Road to Hana is a 53 mile drive on the Hana Highway in eastern Maui. The Road starts near the town of Paia, which is an option for you to stay the night before if you want to get a head start the next morning. Otherwise you can stay in Lahaina or Wailea, both will be a rather long drive to Road to Hana.
Road to Hana is actually an actual highway used by locals daily; while there are now tons of tourists driving slowly on this windy and narrow road, you will see locals speeding down the road so make sure to give way to these drivers.
If you are self-driving Road to Hana, make sure you are comfortable driving on extremely windy and narrow roads. Some parts of the Hana Highway are so narrow that only one car can fit.
You should download apps that will rely on GPS signals to tell you when you are close to a scenic stop.
The most popular apps for Road to Hana include Shaka and GyPsy.
You need to make sure you have enough power for your phone to use the apps all day (you don’t need signals since the apps rely on GPS instead of the internet).
Some of the most popular stops on Road to Hana include: Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2), Huelo Lookout (Mile Marker 4.5) for fruit smoothies, Waikamoi Nature Trail (Mile Marker 9.5) for easy hiking, Ka Haku Smoke Shack, Garden of Eden Arboretum (Mile Marker 10.6), Honomanu Bay (Between Mile Marker 13 and 14), Ching’s Pond (Mile Marker 16.8), Upper Waikani Falls aka Three Bears Falls (Mile Marker 19.5), Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach (Mile Marker 32ish).
There are a few more notable stops AFTER you pass the town of Hana, including Hamoa Beach (parking can be limited), Paihi Falls, Wailua Falls, Pipiwai Trail (including the Bamboo Forest) and Seven Sacred Pools.
Some people stop by the Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach but I do not recommend it. The trail to the beach is narrow and dangerous and there have been fatal accidents.
Pipiwai Trail at the end of Road of Hana (the part where you are still allowed to drive on) is really an amazing hike that you must not miss. This is actually one of my favorite stops on Road to Hana because it is so beautiful and unique.
Since Road to Hana is quite long and people drive very slowly, it actually is almost impossible to see all the spots in one day if you hike the Pipiwai Trail.
This is why I recommend staying in the town of Paia the night before if you can and start the drive as early as possible. Alternatively you can spend a night in Hana and drive back the next morning to see everything.
Some people (like myself) actually skipped all the waterfalls and other spots and drove directly to the Pipiwai Trail while it was still empty and visited some of the other spots on the way back on Road to Hana. However if you do this your GPS app won’t work.
Majority of visitors stop at Seven Sacred Pools and turn back the way they came on Road to Hana and I have to admit it is not the most efficient way. It actually would be much easier to continue down the “back road”.
The reason most people don’t do that is because it is a violation of your rental car contract to drive the “back road” of Road to Hana. The back road can be bumpy and there are no real guard rails. You definitely do not want to drive on this back road after sunset because there is no light at all.
These tours probably don’t include the Pipiwai Trail so if you really want to see the bamboo forest you may want to check ahead of time or book a private tour.
Evening: Dinner at Mama’s Fish House
Mama’s Fish House is the most famous restaurant in Maui and you need to make a reservation months in advance in order to secure a spot. The price is on the higher end but food is really good.
Day 4 Maui Itinerary – Snorkeling Trip to Molokini Crater
Morning: Snorkeling Trip
Maui is famous for its clear water and amazing snorkeling and scuba diving. I don’t even swim but I thought the snorkeling in Maui was amazing and worth every penny (and all the puking I did due to sea sickness).
There are many different options for snorkeling in Maui and one of the most popular options is to do a snorkeling tour to Molokini Crater with a couple of more stops at different beaches to swim with sea turtles.
Molokini Crater is a crescent shaped volcanic crater near Maui, known as a destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are tons of coral reefs that you can see near the crater and if you are lucky you may even swim with a seal like we did.
Besides snorkeling at Molokini Crater, your tour generally will take you to other spots where you will see turtles and other fish.
On the day of the tour you have to arrive at their pier in Kihei (near Wailea) where they will walk you through a safety briefing, change to wet suits, etc. This tour provides breakfast and lunch and they take you to 3-4 different spots for snorkeling. The tour we did ended around 1-2pm.
There are many other snorkeling companies in Maui that you can choose from.
Afternoon: Relax on a Maui Beach or Pool
Maui is not short of beaches and if you still have time on the last day in Maui, I would suggest you spend the afternoon beach hopping (or relax on one beach).
Some of the most popular beaches on Maui include the following:
- Maluaka Beach: Perfect beach to see sea turtles
- Makena Beach: golden sand beach a few miles from Wailea without the Wailea resort crowd
- Po’olenalena Beach: not too far from Makena Beach near Wailea, this beach used to be known only to locals. It has spectacular sunset views
- Big Beach: otherwise known as Oneloa Beach, is perfect for surfing and sunbathing
- Little Beach: Accessible from Big Beach, people go there for the nudity
- Nakalele Blow Hole: Not really a beach, but a natural phenomenon at the northwestern edge of Maui. You can see the blow hole from above but there is also a steep hike down to see the blow hole. If you are hiking down, definitely wear appropriate shoes
If you have more time in Maui
If you have more than 4 days in Maui, you can do even more cool things!
Explore Iao Valley
Iao Valley is a state park in Central Maui that’s famous for its lush valley as well as the 1200 ft tall Iao Needle.
Iao Valley is ideal for both couples and families for sightseeing and easy “hiking” and there are paved pedestrian walks to see the Iao Needle.
Besides the easy hike, Iao Valley is full of important history and there are signs informing you of interesting history and facts of this park.
If you are visiting Iao Valley on a hot day you can actually take a dip in the stream in the park. Many locals do this to cool down.
You have to pay for parking at Iao Valley and parking does fill up fast so be prepared for that and try to go early in the morning. Also due to the micro-climate on the island, Iao Valley can get cloudy and wet in the afternoon so visiting it in the morning is highly recommended.
Tours in Maui
Or you can simply relax on one of the beaches in Maui and truly relax on your vacation.
What to Eat in Maui?
If there is one thing people told me about Maui (aside from the beach and hiking) is how amazing food is on Maui.
While I was researching Maui for my honeymoon, I came across so many recommendations of great places to eat in Maui and I tried many of them and I was not disappointed!
You will definitely gain a few pounds if you add these restaurants to your Maui itinerary.
Mama’s Fish House
As mentioned earlier, Mama’s Fish House in Paia near Road to Hana is perhaps one of the most famous and popular restaurants in Maui.
You need advanced booking (like 2-5 months in advance) to eat there, especially for dinner. It comes with a hefty price tag but the food is quite good and worth trying.
If you can only eat at one restaurant for your Maui honeymoon, Mama’s Fish House is the restaurant to go.
If there was one breakfast/ brunch place I was recommended multiple times, it was the Kihei Caffe in Kihei.
This cafe is a casual spot known for its Loco Moco and pork fried rice. I also loved Bananas and Macadamia nuts french toast. The portion here is huge so don’t order too much. This place is cash only and there always is a wait during brunch hours but they are pretty fast.
Located in Whalers Village in Lahaina, Monkeypod Kitchen is one of the most recommended restaurants in that area. It has a huge space and it’s right next to the beach.
You should make a reservation to avoid disappointment.
Monkeypod Kitchen is quite famous for its Mai Tai, Pork noodle, Pizza and Pie. It’s a bit on the pricey side but worth trying if you are in the area.
Paia Fish Market
Originally started in Paia, Paia Fish Market has grown so much in popularity there are 3 locations on Maui. If you are craving fresh seafood at a relatively reasonable price, definitely don’t miss out on Paia Fish Market.
Ka’ana Kitchen is located in the posh Andaz Hotel in Wailea and if you want to splurge this is the place to be. Although I normally don’t trust restaurants in fancy hotels but this place actually is very good (and pricey).
Located near the airport, Da Kitchen was also recommended to me numerous times and we finally made it there before catching our flight.
Little did I realize how popular this place was!
We actually had to wait near an hour (good thing we made our flight) but the food was really good. I really liked the fried spam musubi even though it was quite heavy and they also had kalbi (short ribs) for their plated dinner that was yummy.
Ululani Shaved Ice
Your Hawaii honeymoon is not complete without trying the famous Hawaiian shaved ice! The most famous chain in Hawaii is perhaps Ululani Shaved Ice. In fact it’s so popular there are 5 locations on Maui alone.
Other restaurants that I was recommended to try in Maui include the following:
- Gazebos: famous for its banana nut pancake (long line when we went)
- Aloha Wow Wow Lemonade for acai bowls
- 5 Palms for brunch
- Maui Fish & Chips
- 808 Grindz Cafe for brunch
- Star Noodle
- Maui Fish Market
- Ono Tacos
- South Maui Fish Company for poke in Kihei
- Food stands/ Restaurants along Road to Hana
So…is Maui Worth Visiting?
Maui is a fantastic place for family vacations, honeymoons or just a romantic getaway with its natural beauty, romantic and relaxing vibe, luxury resorts, fantastic restaurants and fun activities.
You get a little bit of everything in Maui, whether you want a quiet and secluded trip or a lively and fun scene. There are so many things to do in Maui or you can do nothing at all and relax on the beach.
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