Shimmering ocean waters. Golden sandy beaches. Swaying palm trees. This is what comes to mind when you think of Maui. There’s a whole lot more to Maui than their fabulous beaches, though! The island oasis is a stunning tropical paradise alive with culture, scenery, food, and fun. It’s also the perfect place to travel when you’re in need of a break from the cold, harsh realities of winter.
5 Things to Do on a Winter Trip to Maui
1) Whale Watching
If you’ve ever wanted to witness a majestic humpback whale in person, whale watching in Maui is for you. Each year, from December through April, North Pacific humpback whale travel from Alaska to the warmer waters surrounding Maui as they have ideal conditions for breeding and calving. The best way to view these creatures is with a whale watching boat tour. You can also count on seeing whales from the shoreline and at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Either way, you can count on whale watching being one of the absolute best things to do during a winter trip to Maui.
2) Haleakala National Park
Truly a wonder to behold, Haleakala National Park is a vast volcanic crater with a summit of 10,023-feet. As you traverse the switchbacks up the mountain you rise above it all, reaching an elevation that somehow feels above the clouds. Indeed, Haleakala translates to “House of the Sun.” The vistas and vantage points are a mix of worlds, with green and blue landscapes in one direction and a desert and lava in another. The best time to visit during a winter trip to Maui is at sunrise or sunset as you’ll see why this National Park earns its name. There’s a lot more to this 30,000-acre plus park, including almost 30 hiking trails. Strike out on your own or join a guided Haleakala tour for insight into this unique environment.
3) Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is notorious for its winding roads and endless curves. There’s a reason why there are souvenir t-shirts splattered with the phrase “I Survived the Drive”—traversing this road is an adventure. It’s also beautiful, and dotted with panoramic vistas, rushing waterfalls and distinct beaches. There are Road to Hana tours, but for this activity, I recommend venturing out on your own. The 52-mie route takes about 2 ½ hours to travel, and that’s without stops. And you’re going to want to stop—a lot. So plan accordingly. You’ll want to bring water and a lunch with you, as there are a few snack and fruit stands along the route but scant options for full meals. That said, some of my favorite Road to Hana sights are Twin Falls, Waikamo Ridge’s bamboo forest, Puohokamoa Falls, Wailua Falls and Wai’anapanapa State Park.
4) Hawaii Cuisine
When you’re on a winter trip to Maui, you’ll find the food scene is thriving. Culinary enthusiasts have collaborated to create the farm-to-table movement known as Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Founders of the HRC include top chefs of Maui restaurants including Merriman’s Kapalua, Ocean Tavern, and Hali’imaile General Store. Two of my favorite Maui towns for food are Lahaina and Paia. Both are laidback beach towns where the restaurants are casual yet the food is seriously good. Top picks include Lahaina Pizza Co., Fleetwood’s on Front Street, Mama’s Fish House, Milagros Food Co., and Charley’s Saloon.
5) Outdoor Adventures
Maui’s vast landscape makes it easy to get outside and explore. At every turn, you can experience something new. During your winter trip to Maui, go for a snorkel with tropical fish and sea turtles, then horseback ride through the Maui countryside. Opt for an aerial tour via helicopter, then zipline through the lush Maui canopy. The best part? That’s only the beginning of the adventures that await! Exceptional Maui activities help break the mold of tropical vacations; you’ll see and do things you’ve never done before and come away thinking “I did that!”
With these top five things to do during a winter trip to Maui, escaping the winter blues will be a breeze. To make your trip even better, rely on Reserve Hawaii for exclusive deals on hotels, attractions, and luaus.
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Maui to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.