Hey there, fellow travel enthusiasts!
Do you want to make the most out of a short trip without breaking the bank? Look no further than Maui – the perfect destination for a fun-filled and rewarding four-day getaway.
As someone who works round the clock with my boyfriend, I understand how difficult it can be to take time off for ourselves. That’s why we’ve come up with an excellent itinerary that allows us to explore all that Hawaii has to offer in just a few days. And let me tell you, Maui is an absolute gem.
From breathtaking beaches and scenic waterfalls to delicious local eateries and small-town charm, Maui has something for everyone. As frequent visitors ourselves, we know all the best places to visit without getting caught up in tourist traps or wasting time and money.
So what are you waiting for? Follow our 4-day itinerary filled with handpicked activities tailored just for you, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure on this beautiful island paradise!
Warning: You might never want to leave once you experience everything Maui has in store!
Where Should I Stay in Maui?
Once you land in Maui, the closest and most accessible places to stay are the West shore and the South shore, that’s a bit further off. Most tourists head to West Maui, in the towns of Lahaina and Ka’anapali, since it has the most hotels, resorts, and luxury accommodations. Here you can stay at the Ritz-Carlton, the Marriott, or the Hyatt Regency hotels.
For more secluded and locally inspired places, you should head to the South Shore to the towns of Kihei and Wailea. Here you can find great Airbnbs, cottages for rent, and generally cheaper places to stay. Typically, Wailea has more luxury resorts and hotels like the Grand Wailea, the Four Seasons, and Andaz.
Make sure to book where you want to stay beforehand. For example, if you’re planning on traveling in peak seasons like summer, get a booking well in advance since major hotels, and resorts get full quickly.
Day 1 – Arrival and Exploring West Maui
Once you land in Maui at Kahului Airport (OGG), the first thing you want to do is get your rental. There are 9 rental car companies at the airport, so pick up your car if you’ve booked ahead (ideally a 4WD for the valley terrain.)
In addition, there’s a lot you can do in West Maui, like relaxing on a beach close by, taking a sunset cruise, and eating out.
To explore the island without getting lost, download the GyPsy and Shaka apps, which guide you expertly through the lands and give great tips.
Note: If you’re staying on the South Shore, simply flip days 1 and 4 of this itinerary, and you can enjoy both places at your convenience.
- Kanaha Beach Park – Your First Stop in Maui
It doesn’t matter where you’re staying in Maui, a stop at the beach should be your first priority. And nothing beats Kanaha Beach Park, close to Kahului Airport and far from most tourists’ radars. There’s plenty of shade under large trees and picnic tables to sit and enjoy the views.
Aside from walking on the glorious 2-mile stretch of white sand, you can also go canoeing (early in the morning) and kitesurfing here. The water is great for swimming as well.
There’s ample parking space and clean restrooms here, so make sure to stop by on landing in or before departing Maui.
- Hit Ka’anapali Beach for the best snorkeling
Now that you’ve settled into your hotels in Lahaina or Kaanapali, you first need to hit the gorgeous beaches. Ka’anapali beach is the best for snorkeling, from the famed Black Rock that houses a large coral reef in its depths. You’ll find a variety of tropical fish in the water, a clear blue-green and safe for swimmers of all levels. There are shacks nearby where you can rent snorkeling equipment, otherwise, hotels provide it too.
If you’re feeling the thrill of being on the island, try cliff-jumping from Black Rock into the water below, from different heighted drops.
If the weather is harsh, which can make the waves choppy, you can still relax on the soft sands and engage in some people-watching. Plus, the sunsets on this beach are breathtaking, so definitely stay for one if you have the time.
- Take a sunset cruise from Ka’anapali Beach (includes whale-watching!)
Getting into the water on your first day on the island isn’t for everyone, so if you don’t feel like snorkeling, take a sunset cruise from Ka’anapali Beach instead. Here you can see the island sun setting into the emerald-like waters, chase rainbows, and witness whales breaking the shore if you travel between November through March.
However, get your tour booked in advance since most tourists look forward to these cruises.
The cruises include an open bar with snacks on a comfortable catamaran. Their crews are professional and keep you entertained throughout the trip. Plus, you can spot marine life like dolphins and tropical fish swimming alongside the ship.
- Shop and Eat in Whalers Village
Whalers Village is the premier shopping area in Lahaina, with everything from luxury retailers like Louis Vuitton to a large ABC store and fine dining restaurants. There’s parking space in the nearby lot, where you can park for hours at a small fee.
In addition, you can shop from up to 70 vendors selling island souvenirs, gifts, and handicrafts. The food court here is a newer addition, so grab a snack or a quick bite from the many great eateries lining the village.
We highly recommend a stop at Honolulu Cookie Company, which sells the best desserts and fresh cookies in Maui.
- Have a delicious dinner at MonkeyPod Kitchen
End your day with a fine dining experience like no other with dinner at MonkeyPod Kitchen, owned by the Oahu-famous Chef Peter Merriman, serving delicious seafood and island-style entrees.
You’ll love their hand-tossed Margherita pizza loaded with cheese, the cheeseburger with locally sourced beef from Maui Cattle Co., packed with flavor, and the Asian-fusion Saimin, handmade noodles topped with fresh vegetables. They also have a great keiki menu, so even kids will enjoy the gourmet food here.
If you’re looking for something more laid-back for a meal, enjoy a dinner at Leilani’s or Hula Grill, located on the beach, with excellent food and stunning oceanside views.
Day 2 – Take the Road to Hana and explore East Maui
No trip to Maui is complete without driving through the Road to Hana. The road will take you through gorgeous waterfalls, quaint towns like Paia, gorgeous beaches like Honokalani Black Sand beach, and much more. Just make sure to use a 4WD for the trip as the terrain gets rocky, and pack hiking supplies, swimsuits, and snacks, for the many stops you’ll be taking.
- Paia Town – stock up on snacks and get delicious breakfast
Paia is the first town on the road to Hana, with gorgeous surroundings, chic boutiques, and great local restaurants. Stop by Paia before beginning your journey on the road to stock up on snacks and essentials. We recommend Mana Foods for shopping as they have a great collection of organic foods, fresh produce, and a bakery and deli section.
Try Paia Bowls for a refreshing smoothie and acai bowl from local hotspots that offer a great breakfast. My boyfriend and I like stopping by Cafe des Amis for Mediterranean and Indian food like wraps and curries.
- See the Twin Falls (mile marker 2)
Early on your road trip, you’ll come across the Twin Falls, a beautiful set of waterfalls with a refreshing freshwater pool at their base. These falls are a great place to take in the lush island scenery and cool down with a dip in the water.
There’s a short and easy hike, almost a mile long, on a flat trail that leads to Twin falls. This is a hotspot for most families as the water is safe for swimming. Once at the base, you can lounge on the large rocks, take in the scenery, or even try cliff jumping.
In addition, there’s ample parking in a lot where the trailhead begins and vendors selling fresh fruit, so make sure to try some.
- Ho’okipa Beach Lookout (mile marker 8.8)
Ho’okipa Beach is a terrific place to stop on the Road to Hana as it offers a gorgeous lookout point with views of the Pacific Ocean and Maui’s coastal waters. You can see surfers in the distance riding huge waves and take in a lovely sunset if you stop by Ho’okipa Beach on your journey back.
Take the trail down to the beach, and you’ll be met with a wide sandy beach and strong waves crashing on the shore. This is also a famous spot for windsurfing tournaments among locals in Maui.
- Honokalani Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park (mile marker 32)
Further on the Road to Hana, you’ll find the Waianapanapa State Park, home to Maui’s most popular Honokalani black sand beach, where cooled lava gives the sand its color and texture. We recommend always wearing shoes on the sand since it’s rough.
The area surrounding the beach has wet caves and lava tubes open for exploring. You can hike through the State Park’s thick foliage to reach them and take in their stunning views.
Tip: Visiting the Waianapanapa State Park requires reservations up to two weeks in advance, so get yours booked early.
- Wailua Falls (mile marker 45)
The Wailua Falls are considered Maui’s most gorgeous waterfalls and are well worth a visit. They have an 80-ft cascading drop into a gushing pool below that’s great for swimming. You can stop by and view these falls from their lookout point or trek to their base and enjoy them up close.
These falls are highly photographed by travelers, owing to the beautiful surroundings nestled into an overgrown forest. However, parking is a concern at Wailua falls since the lot has limited space. You can wait a while for a spot to clear up or stop by on your drive back.
- Oheo Gulch (inside Haleakala National Park, mile marker 42)
The last stop on your Hana Highway cruise should be the Oheo Gulch falls, known as the Seven Sacred Pools for the bodies of water connecting these falls. These are among the most beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii and a sacred spot in Hawaiian culture.
The trail leading to the falls is an easy trek through a dense bamboo forest. Once at the falls, you can swim in the freshwater pools or just take in the scenery. However, they’re closed during harsh weather conditions, so check with the State Park before coming.
Tip: There’s a $30 entrance fee at the entrance, which allows you to explore the area for three days, so come here the next day for the sunrise.
Day 3 – Explore Haleakala National Park and Upcountry Maui
Stopping by Haleakala National Park is central for your Maui visit. From the Haleakala Crater, you can start your day with a gorgeous sunrise, then explore Upcountry Maui through its lively towns like Kula and Makawao. Finally, end your day with a delicious meal from the many famous eateries lining the area.
- Sunrise at Haleakala Crater (ocean views and island sceneries)
Begin where you left off the previous day and take the trip to Haleakala National Park before dawn. You’ll need reservations to see the sunrise since it’s famous amongst tourists and gets booked months before. However, once you lay eyes on the sun rays lighting up the landscape at a 10,000 ft. elevation, the effort will seem well worth it.
Take the drive to the lookout point, a three-hour round trip, and set off well before dawn, as the drive is slow up to the Crater. Alternatively, the sunset from Haleakala is equally as gorgeous, so if you’re not an early bird, stop by at the end of your day to see it.
Tip: Pack warm gloves and jackets for the top, as it gets very chilly at the elevation.
- Kula Botanical Gardens (tropical plants and rare flower species)
From Haleakala, drive to the Kula Botanical Gardens on Highway 377. Here you can explore beautiful island plants and an amazing variety of flora from all over the Pacific region for a $10 entrance fee. Some of the many wonders in this garden include 8 acres worth of colorful and unique plants, rock formations, a covered bridge, gushing waterfalls, a koi pond, and a carved tiki exhibit.
In addition, there’s a small gift shop on the grounds selling great island souvenirs, handicrafts, local candy, and snacks. You can also chat with the owners on your trip, who explain the Garden’s history in detail.
- Makawao Town (cowboy town with great eateries)
Head to Upcountry Maui where you can find the historic Makawao Town. This quaint cowboy town has great art galleries, chic boutiques, and local eateries. You can walk along Baldwin Avenue and see buildings from the early 1900s, once home to Japanese and Chinese families who ran businesses here.
A must-stop in Makawao town is the T Komoda’s Store and Bakery, which sells Maui’s most delicious cream puffs and baked delicacies. You can also stock up on produce and snacks from the store’s grocery aisles.
Make sure to grab lunch from the local Italian restaurant Casanova, which serves authentic Italian meals made fresh daily.
- North Shore ZiplineCo. (gorgeous upcountry views)
Ziplining is a great way to see the North shore without spending a whole day here. The North Shore Zipline Company includes 7 zip lines that offer freestyle ziplining from swinging bridges and platforms. The guides here are terrific as they help you throughout the process and maintain your safety.
The zip lines go through huge eucalyptus trees above a rainforest canopy, so you enjoy nature’s best views the whole way. This adventure is especially great for families as the ziplines are built for ages five and up.
However, the weather dictates this trip, so go on a clear and sunny day for the best time.
- Finish your day with a meal from island-famous eateries
Upcountry Maui and the North shore have some of the best eateries on the island. You can find local cuisine, seafood dishes made from fresh catch, fine dining specials, and much more from the restaurants here. Some of our favorite places include Mama’s Fish House, and Paia Fish Market, both well-known for their five-star quality food.
If you were lucky enough to secure a reservation at Mama’s Fish House (they’re booked months in advance), try their fresh seafood like lobster tail, Opakapaka, Mahi Mahi, and stuffed fish specials.
Another great option close by is Paia Fish Market, which isn’t nearly as crowded, serving delicious fish and chips, snapper, calamari, and sashimi for seafood. You can also enjoy classics like burgers and tacos here.
Day 4 – Hit the Gorgeous South Shore
The South shore in Maui deserves more than a day to appreciate its beauty. But you can get the best from this shore in under twenty-four hours as well, as most places are close.
- Waihe’e Ridge Trail (the best South Maui hike with valley views)
One of South Maui’s most spectacular hikes, the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, is unmissable if you want to take in the island scenery from an aerial view. The roundtrip takes 2-3 hours, depending on your pace, and you’re met with views of the coast on your trek.
The trail can get tiring, so you don’t have to hike all the way up. There are benches along the way for hikers to take a break and appreciate the surrounding greenery. However, if you make it to the top, there’s a raised viewing platform that provides stunning views of the Valley Isle, and Makamakaole Falls.
Just make sure to visit on a sunny day, as rains can make the trail slippery and very difficult to traverse.
- South Shore Beaches (secluded and family beaches)
The South shore beaches in Maui are well-known for their beauty. Each beach stretches for miles of golden and white sands and calm waters great for swimming and surfing. Some great beaches on the South shore include Chang’s beach, the beaches in Makena State Park, and Secret Cove.
Makena and Chang’s beaches are great for walking and relaxing on the soft sands. They also have great views of the nearby Molokini Crater. However, these beaches are usually crowded with tourists, so head to Secret Cove past Makena for secluded shores all to yourself.
- La Perouse Bay (volcanic rock and marine life)
After the beaches, drive to La Perouse Bay, close to Makena, and the last stop on the South shore. The bay is home to erupting blow holes and lots of lava rock. A trail made from volcanic rock leads to the beach, which you should tread on carefully as the lava eruption isn’t too old.
Once on the bay, enjoy swimming and snorkeling or just walking on the sandy shore. There are various sea estuaries in La Perouse Bay, and it’s a favorite spot for dolphins and tropical fish to swim through. We highly recommend snorkeling here as the water is clear, and you can swim alongside marine life.
- Kai Kanani Sunset Sail (cruise the South shore waters)
If you didn’t take the snorkeling adventure at La Perouse Bay, enjoy it on this sunset cruise, which offers great snorkeling at the Molokini Crater. You can also take their alternate sail to Turtle Town and spot Hawaiian green sea turtles. If your visit falls from November to March, expect some whale watching too!
The cruise is aboard a beautiful catamaran ship, with well-trained staff and delicious food on board. We took the cruise to the Molokini Crater and loved swimming with marine life and seeing spinner dolphins in the water. The trip also includes a stop at a nearby beach which is great for swimming.
- Have an amazing dinner in Wailea or Kihei
The best way to end your day filled with sand and sun is with a delicious dinner at the famous restaurants on the South shore. You can find great eateries in Wailea, like MonkeyPod Kitchen, Matteo’s Osteria serving authentic Italian food, and the juiciest steaks at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
For more laid-back Hawaiian food, Kihei is your best bet. Find local favorites like Kihei Caffe for the best loco moco, or stop by Coconut’s Fish Cafe for some fresh seafood mains. No matter where you eat on the South shore, it’ll be a meal to remember and the perfect way to wind up your island adventure.
Is 4 days enough for Maui?
4 days are perfect for exploring Maui completely. You can spend enough time on each shore and still have room in your itinerary to do some activities of your own. However you decide to structure your trip, including a full day for Road to Hana and the Haleakala side are a must.
What is the prettiest part of Maui?
This depends on what you’re looking for, as South Maui has the best beaches, and East Maui has terrific deep valleys and scenery. The West side has mountain scenery backing the towns and villages, and the North shore depicts the island’s history through its towns. So no matter where you are in Maui, it’ll be a beautiful stay.
What is the best month to be in Maui?
The winter season from December through March and the summer months of June to September are great for visiting Maui. The shores have their own climates through the months, so you can always find sunny beaches and dry land on your trip.
How long does it take to explore Maui?
On average, visitors in Maui spend 8 or more days on the island. Of course, your stay depends on the number of activities you have planned, but if you want to enjoy the whole island without rushing through it, stay for 5-7 days, ideally.
Concluding Your Best 4 Day Trip to Maui
Your short trip to Maui has come to a close, but the memories you made here will last a lifetime. Each of Hawaii’s islands holds something wonderful for exploring, but you can never go wrong with Maui for its expansive shores and beautiful sceneries.
This four-day itinerary has something for everyone, with lots of family-friendly activities to engage in. If you’re unsure of the order of days, the contents are totally flexible, and you can skip in between activities or switch days as they suit you.
We’ve formed this itinerary from many years of traveling through Maui, so you’ll find local favorite spots like Paia town and tourist destinations like Haleakala Crater on it.
As the locals say, ‘Maui no ka oi,’ meaning Maui is the best!
Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Brigitte