Maui is a popular destination for travelers, offering various attractions and activities. But with so many things to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your trip.
I am lucky to travel with my boyfriend, and we always prefer off-the-beaten-path destinations. For those looking to avoid the tourist crowds and experience a more authentic side of the island, consider adding these off-the-beaten-path destinations to your itinerary. From hidden waterfalls and secluded beaches to unique hikes and local vibes, these destinations offer a unique and memorable experience on Maui.
In this article, we share our top picks for off-the-beaten-path destinations on the island, ranked based on activities, safety, accessibility, uniqueness, and overall impression.
Get ready for a unique and adventure-filled trip to Maui!
#1. ‘Iao Valley State Park – Most Sacred Place on the Island – Unusual Things to do in Maui
‘Iao Valley State Park is a beautiful and peaceful destination on Maui. Known for its sacred altar to ancient Hawaiians and its stunning natural beauty, this park is a must-see for visitors to the island.
It’s a 10-mile jungle-like park that stretches over 4,000 acres, offering a range of activities for nature lovers, including hiking, swimming, picnicking, and the iconic 1,200-foot Iao Needle.
After breakfast, we arrived at ‘Iao Valley State Park, ready to explore the beautiful natural surroundings. The park was nearly empty, which added to the peaceful and serene atmosphere. We started our visit with the Iao Needle Lookout Trail, an easy and family-friendly hike. The trail offers a beautiful view of the iconic Iao Needle and is the perfect introduction to the park. After the hike, we explored the botanical gardens, which are filled with a diverse range of tropical plants and flowers. We particularly enjoyed the Japanese garden with its koi pond, and the mountain apple and guava trees.
We also spent several hours swimming in the crystal clear river, which was a highlight of our visit. The water is shallow and cool, but not too cold! We also had snacks here and sunbathed on a beautiful day.
This is my number one pick because:
- It is spacious, peaceful, and filled with natural exotic beauty.
- The trail and gardens are well-maintained and diverse.
- Iao Needle is impressive, sacred to the locals, and worth seeing.
- There is fun swimming in the river and small waterfalls.
- It is not overcrowded or filled with tourists.
Address: 54 S High St, Wailuku, HI 96793
#2. The Olivine Pools – Swimmable, Natural Tide Pools Formed by Lava – Authentic Things to do in Maui
This is a great place to explore the lava craters and enjoy the ocean view. The lava has created tide pools filled with small marine life and perfect to explore. It’s also a nice place to take a swim and have some food looking out into the ocean.
We took the short half-mile hike down to the water. It was a little challenging, so be careful. It took us about 10 minutes with stops. It’s an excellent place for birding, so be quiet and explore. Only two other people were at the tide pools, so it was peaceful and serene.
We took a beautiful walk in the shallow end, which went up to our ankles (a little higher in certain spots). Here I found small crabs, shells, and starfish. It was relaxing, and I felt like I could spend many hours exploring – like a kid!
After having food and enjoying the open ocean view, we swam. The deeper end was four or five feet deep, and there were small ways. We enjoyed this because the waves were insignificant, and we felt safe. It was a super-hot day, so the water felt perfect. We wear our swim shoes and so should you!
This is a special place to visit because:
- The volcanic rock and tide pools are beautiful.
- This is a family-friendly activity.
- There are plenty of opportunities to see small marine life, wild birds, and the open ocean while exploring a shallow tide pool area.
- It’s exciting to swim and cool off in the deeper end, and you can snorkel.
- The view is beautiful and perfect for having a picnic or some drinks on the rocks.
Address: Kahekili Highway Mile Marker #16, West Maui, HI, 96761
#3. Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) – Best hike in Haleakala National Park
This is not only a wonder of nature but a beautiful hike and exploration opportunity in the jungle-like parks of Hawaii. The 1.0-mile loop trail (Kuloa Point Trail) is easy but filled with excitement, waterfalls, and winding riverbeds.
We planned a short picnic, and some sunbathing at the Haleakala National Park and spent about 2 hours in total here. The day was beautiful and perfect for enjoying the sounds of the birds and waterfalls. I was grateful for the lush green vegetation and shade.
We found a perfect picnic spot close to a waterfall and even took some great pictures. The largest waterfall is 184 feet high and breathtaking. There are multiple bridges near the falls so count on perfect pictures.
I also loved the bamboo forest and the ginger forest area. Not to mention the ocean view. I loved the remoteness of the location and the fact that there were not too many tourists. This is a place to feel like you are alone on a deserted island. Still, I appreciated the amenities including several bathrooms.
You must visit the Seven Sacred Pools because:
- The waterfalls are one-of-a-kind and a true natural wonder.
- The hike is easy but filled with many things to see.
- There is a lush bamboo forest, ginger forest, and other exotic and native plants.
- The biggest waterfall is a sight to witness at 184 feet tall.
- There are bridges by the waterfalls allowing you to take the best pictures.
Address: Pipiwai Trail, Hana, HI 96713
#4. Paako Cove aka Secret Beach – Secrets of Maui Revealed
This was my favorite beach experience on the trip. It’s a small out-of-the-way cove with a white sand beach fringed with lava rocks. The secluded beach is intimate and perfect at sunrise or sunset.
We decided to have a swim and dinner at this beach. I loved that it wasn’t overcrowded and we had plenty of space to set up our picnic. The swim was pleasurable, and the sandy entrance into the water made it easy for snorkeling. My boyfriend loves to snorkel and said it was a super spot for tropical fish.
The best part was the sunset. It is an iconic sunset featured in so many places you’ve probably seen pictures before – and not even known it. We enjoyed our food as the sky filled with beautiful orange, red and purple skies.
There are no facilities here, but if you don’t mind climbing out of the cove, there are stores and other shops nearby. It’s also close to the Big Beach (Makena State Park), so you can make it a beach day by visiting both.
Don’t miss out on this secret beach because:
- The sandy beach and secluded area make it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
- It’s not overcrowded, and there is space to enjoy a meal.
- You can enjoy the perfect sunset from this beach.
- The lava rock edges provide great exploration for small marine life and enjoy the views.
- The beach is family-friendly.
Address: Makena Alanui, Kihei, HI 96753 (adjacent to the house at 6925 Makena Rd)
#5. Nakalele Blowhole – Hidden Gems of Maui
This is an exciting visit without too many tourists. The blow hole is generous and in a perfect spot to enjoy the ocean view and huge splashes of water every few minutes. The hike to the Nakalele Blowhole is not too challenging and takes about 40 minutes to complete.
We did the 1.2-mile out-and-back hike in the afternoon. It’s essential to wear good shoes for the hike and walking around the blowhole since everything is made of lava rock. There is also a steep climb down, so take your time. The hike is moderate, so keep that in mind.
The blowhole is a great picture opportunity and shoots out the water every few minutes. I didn’t realize how big the water spouts are until seeing it live. It’s pretty exciting watching the seawater shoot up over 100 feet. This is a great place to watch the waves crash into the lava formations. We spent almost an hour enjoying the ocean, blowholes, and waves.
Just to the right of the Nakalele Blowhole is a natural rock creation that makes a giant heart. This is known as the Heart Rock of Maui, so check it out here.
Don’t miss out on visiting the Nakalele Blowhole because:
- – The blowhole goes off up to 100 feet in the air every few minutes.
- – It’s in a beautiful spot with perfect views of the ocean and the heart rock of Maui.
- – This is a unique opportunity for amazing pictures.
- – The hike is nice, with stunning views.
Address: Poelua Bay, Wailuku, HI 96793
If you want a unique experience in Maui, do more than just the tourist attractions. Instead, check out some of the best activities off the beaten path. There are great choices that are still safe and suitable for the whole family. Best of all, they will provide unique and one-of-a-kind pictures.
If you want to spend some time in nature or hiking, visit ‘Iao Valley State Park or Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools).
If you want to explore the lava rocks and Maui’s natural beauty, visit The Olivine Pools and the Nakalele Blowhole.
Don’t forget the Secret beach for a perfect sunset!
Whatever destination you choose, you will love it. I recommend visiting them all!
So have a safe trip, and let us know if you discover a new gem we should check out!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What is the least touristy part of Maui?
If you are looking to avoid the typical tourist areas of Maui, choose to stay on the Upcountry side. This is the area away from the shore and towards Haleakala Crater. Great, less touristy towns are Kula, Haiku, Pukalani, and Makawao. The best part is you can still get to great beaches and kikes from here. This part of the island is also known as the more local area, retaining the culture of the natives without too many tourists made attractions. Some refer to it as rural.
What to do in Maui which is not the beach?
Maui has many great activities that don’t include the beach. It is an island rich in tropical plants, birds, and animals. Asides from amazing hikes and food and wine tours, the island offers excellent botanical gardens, food trucks, and boat tours. Some activities that are off the beaten path include visiting:
- ‘Iao Valley State Park
- The Olivine Pools
- Nakalele Blowhole or
- Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools).
Also, check out some fantastic spots for sunrises and sunsets, including the Secret beach and Paako Cove.
Where is Secrets beach Maui?
The Secret beach most often sought out in Maui is Paako Cove. This beach is on Maui’s south shore. If you want to visit, the best way to find it is by finding Big Beach, also known as Makena Beach. The Secret beach is just south of this sizeable famous beach.
Look for the long wall along the ocean side to find the entrance. If you carry on forward, you should see a sign pointing to the beach entrance. It’s an opening in the wall only a few feet wide. It’s not very noticeable so pay attention. Some rocks are at the entrance, so prepare to climb down onto the beach.
Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Brigitte