Maui, the second-largest island in Hawaiʻi, is a known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture.
From swimming and sunbathing on the island’s famous beaches to hiking through verdant rainforests and exploring charming towns, there is something for everyone on Maui. However, for those looking for something a little more off the beaten path, the island is also home to some hidden gems. These lesser-known attractions offer visitors the chance to experience the true beauty and culture of Maui, away from the crowds of tourists that swarm Hawaiʻi. Join us as we explore some of these lesser-known attractions and provide tips for experiencing them to their fullest.
In this post:
1. Waiʻanapanapa State Park
The122-acre Waiʻanapanapa State Park is easy to get to with its location on the Road to Hana. If you’re a nature lover or love a good hike, you won’t want to miss it.
The park offers breathtaking coastal views, a black sand beach, and even a freshwater cave. The beach, formed by volcanic activity, is a unique natural feature and a great place for swimming and snorkeling. The freshwater cave is also a fun spot to explore. The park’s guided tours are a great way to learn more about the area’s geology and cultural significance. If you’re unsure when to go, the afternoon is the perfect time of day to go on a hike around the park.
2. The Road to Hana
If you Google for places to explore in Maui, this is almost certain to be a top suggestion. And let me tell you, it’s a popular choice for a reason!
The Road to Hana is a popular scenic drive that takes visitors through lush rainforests, past waterfalls, and along the coast. Don’t fall into the common tourist trap of sticking to the main road and missing out on some of the hidden gems along the way. The Twin Falls and Upper Waikani Falls are two lesser-known waterfalls off the main path that are well worth a visit. Just a short hike off the main road, they offer a more secluded and peaceful experience than some of the more popular waterfalls in the area.
Note: If you have your own wheels and don’t want to make it a CRAZY long day, taking a couple of days to explore the drive at your own pace is a great idea. Also, beware: in some areas, the roads are VERY narrow and windy.
3. The Upcountry
The Upcountry is a part of Maui known for its beautiful landscapes and small towns. Sticking to our theme of Maui’s hidden gems, two of the very best are located here. The Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm and the Surfing Goat Dairy.
Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm
If you think of the lavender, your mind probably goes to the fields of Provence and the Plateau de Valensole, but don’t sleep on Hawaiʻi. The Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm on the slopes of the volcano Haleakala is a major producer right here in the United States! Better yet, you’re welcome to experience the vibrance of lavender fields here even if you’re not on the guest list for an elegant dinner party launching a limited edition McLaren and Lavande de Lavaux.
The farm offers guided tours that give visitors the opportunity to learn about the history and cultivation of lavender, as well as the various uses for the plant. Visitors can walk through the fields and enjoy the calming scent of lavender. The farm features a culinary garden where visitors can learn about the culinary uses of lavender. This is a must visit place for anyone interested in horticulture and the beauty of mother nature.
The Surfing Goat Dairy
If you’re traveling with kids, the Surfing Goat Dairy should definitely be on your list! This farm is all about teaching sustainable agriculture and a how a working farm functions. It’s also known for its delicious artisanal cheeses that are made from the milk of its own herd of dairy goats. The farm offers tours where visitors can learn about the process of cheese making and see the goats up close. Visitors can sample the different types of cheeses and purchase them to take home. Surfing Goat Dairy offers a cheese-making class that teaches participants how to make their own cheese.
4. The Maui Ocean Center
Now this one’s interesting for anyone who shares a love for the oceans. The Maui Ocean Center is ground zero on the island for visitors interested in marine biology and ocean conservation. Now, this might not be a hidden gem, per se, it’s actually a quite popular attraction for visitors to the island but it’s definitely worth adding to your list anyway.
The center offers of interactive exhibits and activities that allow visitors to learn about the marine life in the area. In addition, the center offers behind-the-scenes tours that provide a more in-depth look at the work being done to protect and conserve marine life.
5. The Nakalele Blowhole
The Nakalele Blowhole is a natural attraction located on the northwest coast of Maui. This geyser-like phenomenon is created by ocean water being forced through an underwater lava tube and shooting out of a hole in the rock. The blowhole can reach heights of up to 100 feet and is an impressive sight to see.
Note: The blowhole can be dangerous and visitors should follow all warning signs and be careful to stay a safe distance away.
6. A Jungle Zipline Tour
For thrill-seekers, there’s probably no better way to explore Maui than a skyline Zipline tour over the jungle offers a unique way to experience the island’s natural beauty. There’s multiple options but a good one will take you on multiple lines through the island’s ecologically diverse rainforest canopy.
It might seem cliche, but there’s no better way to see the island from a different perspective if you’re a more adventurous traveler. You’ll have the chance to admire the vast variety of flowers, palm trees, and other plant life that exists in this exotic environment while flying through the air. Some tours will also include the chance to cross a gorge on a rope bridge and other adrenaline fueling activities.
7. The Maui Nui Botanical Gardens
The Maui Nui Botanical Gardens is a living museum of native Hawaiian plants and a peaceful garden located in Central Maui. It is dedicated to preserving the native plants and culture of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. The gardens offer visitors a chance to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the Hawaiian islands and see many endangered species that are found nowhere else in the world.
The gardens feature various themed gardens including a Hawaiian ethnobotanical garden, a Hawaiian dryland forest garden, a Hawaiian coastal strand garden and more. Visitors can take self-guided tours or guided tours to learn more about the plants and their cultural significance. The gardens also offer educational programs for children and adults. It’s a great place to visit for anyone interested in botany, horticulture, or Hawaiian culture in general.
8. Pipiwai Trail
Pipiwai Trail is a beautiful and popular hiking trail located in the Haleakalā National Park. The trail is approximately 4 miles round trip, and it passes through a diverse range of ecosystems, from lush rainforest to a bamboo forest and ending at the base of the majestic Waimoku Falls. Along the way, visitors can see beautiful vistas, cascading waterfalls, and a variety of native plants and animals.
The trail passes by the Makahiku Falls, which is another beautiful waterfall that is worth visiting. The trailhead is located near the Oheo Gulch (also known as the Seven Sacred Pools) and the Kipahulu area of the park. It’s doable for even casual hikers and worthwhile for the stunning views and natural beauty of the national park. It’s a great option for those looking for a full-day hike and a chance to experience the natural beauty of Maui. Just don’t forget to bring water and decent shoes!
See also: 5 Days You Can Visit America’s National Parks for Free in 2023
9. O’o Farm
O’o Farm is a sustainable farm located in Kula, Maui, Hawaiʻi. The farm grows high-quality, organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers using sustainable farming practices. They also have a panoramic view of the island’s coasts.
O’o Farm offers tours where visitors can learn about the farm’s history, philosophy, and farming methods, as well as the opportunity to taste some of the produce. Visitors can take a cooking class and learn how to prepare meals using the farm’s fresh ingredients. If you’re looking for an event venue, the farm is a popular spot for weddings, and corporate retreats. The farm is a must visit for foodies, families, and anyone interested in sustainable agriculture. If you’re looking for the crème de la crème of gourmet local food experiences, book a lunch at O’o Farm.
Maui is an island filled with hidden gems that offer unique and adventurous experiences for visitors. From natural attractions like the Nakalele Blowhole to cultural experiences like the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
These nine spots provide visitors with an opportunity to explore the island in a different way and gain a deeper understanding of its history, culture, and natural beauty. If you’re a thrill-seeker or a culture buff, be sure to add these hidden gems to your itinerary for a more well-rounded and memorable trip to Maui.