Golf, Hiking, and Outdoor Activities - Fodor's Maui (2016)

Fodor's Maui (2016)

Golf, Hiking, and Outdoor Activities

Main Table of Contents

The Scene



Other Outdoor Activities

The Scene

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents

Air Tours | Biking | Adventure Sports

Updated by Heidi Pool

We know how tempting it is to spend your entire vacation on the beach (many days we’re tempted as well), but if you do, you’ll miss out on the “other side of Maui”: the eerie, moonlike surface of Haleakala Crater, the lush rain forests of East Maui, and the geological wonder that is Iao Valley State Monument, to name just a few. Even playing a round of golf on one of the world-class courses provides breathtaking vistas, reminding you just why you chose to come to Maui in the first place.

Maui’s exceptional climate affords year-round opportunities for outdoor adventures, whether it’s exploring cascading waterfalls on a day hike, riding horseback through verdant valleys, soaring across vast gulches on a zipline, or taking an exhilarating bicycle ride down Haleakala. When you take time to get off the beaten path, you’ll discover just why Maui no ka oi (is the best). But make sure not to overbook yourself—one or two activities per day is plenty. You’re on vacation, remember.


Helicopter flight-seeing excursions can take you over the West Maui Mountains, Haleakala Crater, or the island of Molokai. This is a beautiful, thrilling way to see the island, and the only way to see some of its most dramatic areas and waterfalls. Tour prices usually include a DVD of your trip so you can relive the experience at home. Prices run from about $175 for a half-hour rain-forest tour to more than $400 for a 90-minute experience that includes a midflight landing at an exclusive remote site, where you can enjoy refreshments along with the view. Generally the 45- to 50-minute flights are the best value; discounts may be available online or, if you’re willing to chance it, by calling at the last minute.

Tour operators come under sharp scrutiny for passenger safety and equipment maintenance. Don’t be shy; ask about a company’s safety record, flight paths, age of equipment, and level of operator experience. Generally, though, if it’s still in business, it’s doing something right.

Air Maui Helicopters.
Priding itself on a perfect safety record, Air Maui provides 30- to 90-minute flights covering the waterfalls of the West Maui Mountains, Haleakala Crater, Hana, and the spectacular sea cliffs of Molokai. Prices range from $200 for the Maui Lite tour, to $456 for their Sunset Dinner Landing, which includes an island-style meal at their private deck facility overlooking Lanai and Molokai. Discounts are available online. Charter flights are also available. | 1 Kahului Airport Rd., Hangar 110 | Kahului | 877/238-4942 , 808/877-7005 | .

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.
Since 1985, this company has provided aerial adventures in Hawaii and has been integral in some of the filming Hollywood has done on Maui. Its A-Star and Eco-Star helicopters are air-conditioned and have Bose noise-blocking headsets for all passengers. Flights are 30-120 minutes and cost $169-$563, with considerable discounts online. Charter flights are also available. | 1 Kahului Airport Rd., Hangar 105 | Kahului | 808/871-8844 , 800/745-2583 | .

Sunshine Helicopters.
Take a tour of Maui in Sunshine’s FXStar or WhisperStar aircraft. Prices start at $260 for 40-50 minutes, with discounts available online. First-class seating is available for an additional fee. Sunshine also offers tours that combine helicopter flights with either a horseback ride or submarine adventure. Charter flights can be arranged. A pilot-narrated DVD of your actual flight is available for purchase. | Kahului Heliport, Hangar 107, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd. | Kahului | 808/270-3999 , 866/501-7738 | .


Long distances and mountainous terrain keep biking from being a practical mode of travel on Maui. Still, painted bike lanes enable cyclists to travel all the way from Makena to Kapalua, and you’ll see hardy souls battling the trade winds under the hot Maui sun.

Several companies offer guided bike tours down Haleakala. This activity is a great way to enjoy an easy, gravity-induced bike ride, but isn’t for those not confident on a bike. The ride is inherently dangerous due to the slope, sharp turns, and the fact that you’re riding down an actual road with cars on it. That said, the guided bike companies take every safety precaution. A few companies offer unguided (or, as they like to say, “self-guided”) tours where they provide you with the bike and transportation to the mountain and then you’re free to descend at your own pace. Most companies offer discounts for Internet bookings.

Haleakala National Park no longer allows commercial downhill bicycle rides within the park’s boundaries. As a result, tour amenities and routes differ by company. Ask about sunrise viewing from the Haleakala summit (be prepared to leave very early in the morning), if this is an important feature for you. Some lower-price tours begin at the 6,500-foot elevation just outside the national park boundaries, where you will be unable to view the sunrise over the crater. Weather conditions on Haleakala vary greatly, so a visible sunrise can never be guaranteed. Sunrise is downright cold at the summit, so be sure to dress in layers and wear closed-toe shoes.

Each company has age and weight restrictions, and pregnant women are discouraged from participating, although they are generally welcome in the escort van. Reconsider this activity if you have difficulty with high altitudes, have recently been scuba diving, or are taking medications that may cause drowsiness.


Thompson Road in Keokea and Poli Poli Spring State Recreation Area in Kula are popular areas for cycling in Maui, and two relatively new mountain biking courses—Bike Park Maui and Makawao Forest Reserve—are attracting riders of all ages and ability levels with their well-maintained, clearly marked trails.

Makawao Forest Reserve.
Mountain bikers of all ages and ability levels will find something to please at this recreation area that features seven trails and three skill areas. Trails are well marked, and there are maps posted at each intersection. | Kahakapao Rd. | Makawao | To get here from Piiholo Rd., turn left on Waiahiwi Rd. and then right on Kahakapao Rd.

Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area.
Mountain bikers have favored the remote Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area for its bumpy trail through an unlikely forest of conifers. Polipoli Spring is often closed following heavy storms due to fallen trees and other damage. Check the Hawaii State Parks website prior to making the drive up there. | End of Waipoli Rd., off Rte. 377 | Kula | .

Thompson Road.
Street bikers will want to head out to scenic Thompson Road. It’s quiet, gently curvy, and flanked by gorgeous views on both sides. Because it’s at a higher elevation, the air temperature is cooler and the wind lighter. The coast back down toward Kahului on the Kula Highway is worth the ride up. | Kula Hwy., off Rte. 37 | Keokea .


Fodor’s Choice | Bike It Maui.
Small and family-owned, this company offers two guided sunrise tours down Haleakala each day. The price of $140 includes transfers from your hotel, a sunrise van tour of the summit, a guided 28-mile bicycle ride down the mountain, and a full sit-down breakfast at Cafe O’Lei at the Dunes in Kahului. Riders must be at least 12 and weigh no more than 260 pounds. | Kula | 808/878-3364, 866/776-2453 | .

Fodor’s Choice | Cruiser Phil’s Volcano Ridersr.
In the downhill bicycle industry since 1983, “Cruiser” Phil Feliciano offers sunrise tours ($163) and morning tours ($147) that include hotel transfers, continental breakfast, a van tour of the summit, and a guided 28-mile ride down the mountain. Participants should be between 13 and 64, at least 5 feet tall, weigh less than 250 pounds, and have ridden a bicycle in the past year. Feliciano also offers structured independent bike tours ($109) and van-only tours ($125). Discounts are available for online bookings. | 58-A Amala Pl. | Kahului | 808/893-2332 , 877/764-2453 | .

Go Cycling Maui.
Serious cyclists can join an exhilarating group ride with Donnie Arnoult, a fixture on the Maui cycling scene since 1999. Routes include Haiku to Keanae, Kula to Kahikinui, and the ultimate Maui cycling challenge: Paia to the top of Haleakala crater. One-day rides are $140 per person ($150 to go to the crater); custom multiday rides run $275-$650. You bring your own cycling shoes, pedals, and clothes, and Donnie provides the bicycle, helmet, gloves, water bottle, snacks, and energy drinks. His shop is also a full-service cycling store offering sales, rentals, and repairs. | 99 Hana Hwy., Unit A | Paia | 808/579-9009 | .

Haleakala Bike Company.
If you’re thinking about a Haleakala bike trip, consider Haleakala Bike Company. Meet at the Old Haiku Cannery and take the van shuttle to the summit. Along the way you can learn about the history of the island, the volcano, and other Hawaiiana. Food is not included, but there are several spots along the way down to stop, rest, and eat. The simple, mostly downhill route takes you right back to the cannery where you started. HBC also offers bike sales, rentals, and services, as well as van tours. Tour prices run $75-$135, with discounts available for online bookings. | 810 Haiku Rd., Suite 120 | Haiku-Pauwela | 808/575-9575 , 888/922-2453 | .

Island Biker.
Maui’s premier bike shop for rentals, sales, and service offers standard front-shock bikes, road bikes, and full-suspension mountain bikes. Daily rental rates run $60-$70, and weekly rates are $210-$250. The price includes a helmet, pump, water bottle, cages, tire-repair kit, and spare tube. Car racks are $5 per day (free with weekly rentals). The staff can suggest routes appropriate for mountain or road biking. | 415 Dairy Rd. | Kahului | 808/877-7744 | .

Krank Cycles.
Krank Cycles is located in Upcountry Maui, close to both the Makawao Forest Reserve and Bike Park Maui. They offer half- and full-day rentals. Daily rental prices range from $35 for a GT Zaskar 20 to $90 for a GT Fury 27.5 650b. Owner Moose will provide you with maps and trail reports, in addition to your rental bike. | 1120 Makawao Ave. | Makawao | 808/572-2299 | .

Maui Downhill.
If biking down the side of Haleakala sounds like fun, Maui Downhill is ready to pick you up at your resort, shuttle you to the mountain, help you onto a bike, and follow you as you coast down through clouds and gorgeous scenery into the town of Pukalani. There is also a combination bike and winery tour that includes a visit to MauiWine at Ulupalakua Ranch, a combination bike and Maui Ocean Center tour, and a Bike N’ Zip tour that includes a zipline experience at Skyline Eco-Adventures. Treks cost $149-$260 and include a simple continental breakfast. | 201 Dairy Rd. | Kahului | 808/871-6875 , 800/535-2453 | .

Maui Mountain Cruisers.
Guided sunrise and midday bike trips “cruise” down Haleakala to Makawao, where you get back on board the van for a tour down to Paia. The cost is $155 for the sunrise tour; $135 for midday tours. Meals not included. | 381 Baldwin Ave., #C | Paia | 808/871-6014 | .

West Maui Cycles.
Serving the island’s west side, West Maui Cycles offers cruisers for $15 per day, hybrids for $35 per day, and performance road bikes for $60-$130 per day. Per day rates are discounted for longer-term rentals. The shop also rents baby joggers and car racks. Sales and service are available. | 1087 Limahana Pl., No. 6 | Lahaina | 808/661-9005 | .


Rappel Maui.
If the idea of walking backward down waterfalls appeals to you, this company stands ready, willing, and able to accommodate. Their friendly, knowledgeable guides encourage and assist you literally every step of the way. You must be at least 10 years old to participate, have a waist size between 22 and 54 inches, and weigh between 70 and 249 pounds. Rappelling is a fairly strenuous activity, so be prepared for a workout that includes hiking and swimming in addition to rappelling. The tour price of $200 includes all gear, lunch, bottled water, mosquito repellent, and transportation to and from the site from their pickup point in Central Maui. Nonrappellers can go along for $150, and can either swim or simply sit on a rock and take in the action. The pickup spot is at the intersections of Highways 310 and 30. | 10600 Hana Hwy. | Haiku-Pauwela | 808/270-1500 | .

Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents


Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents

West Maui | The South Shore | Central Maui | Upcountry

Maui’s natural beauty and surroundings offer some of the most jaw-dropping vistas imaginable on a golf course; add a variety of challenging, well-designed courses and it’s easy to explain the island’s popularity with golfers. Holes run across small bays, past craggy lava outcrops, and up into cool, forested mountains. Most courses have mesmerizing ocean views, some close enough to feel the salt in the air. Although many of the courses are affiliated with resorts (and therefore a little pricier), the general-public courses are no less impressive. Playing on Lanai is another option.

Greens Fees: Golf can be costly on Maui. Greens fees listed here are the highest course rates per round on weekdays and weekends for U.S. residents. (Some courses charge non-U.S. residents higher prices.) Rental clubs may or may not be included with the greens fee. Discounts are often available for resort guests, for twilight tee times, and for those who book online.

TIP Resort courses, in particular, offer more than the usual three sets of tees, so bite off as much or as little challenge as you like. Tee it up from the tips and you can end up playing a few 600-yard par 5s and see a few 250-yard forced carries.


Maui Golf Shop.
Discounted tee times and club rentals are offered here. | 1215 S. Kihei Rd. | Kihei | 808/875-4653 , 800/981-5512 | .


Maui has a number of golf tournaments, most of which are of professional caliber and worth watching. Many are also televised nationally.

Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Held in January on Kapalua’s Plantation Course, this tournament is an attention-getter—the first official PGA tour event. | 2000 Plantation Club Dr. | Lahaina | 808/665-9160 | .

Ka Lima O Maui Celebrity 100.
Every May, self-proclaimed “lunatic” golfers play from sunrise to sunset in Wailea’s annual Ka Lima O Maui Celebrity 100, a fund-raiser for a local charity. | 100 Wailea Golf Club Dr. | Kihei | 808/875-7450 | .

Kapalua Clambake Pro-Am.
A clambake feast at the Ritz-Carlton tops off the Kapalua Clambake Pro-Am each June. | 300 Kapalua Dr. | Lahaina | 808/669-8044 | .


Kaanapali Golf Resort.
The Royal Kaanapali (North) Course (1962) is one of three in Hawaii designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the godfather of modern golf architecture. The greens average a whopping 10,000 square feet, necessary because of the often-severe undulation. The par-4 18th hole (into the prevailing trade breezes, with out-of-bounds on the left and a lake on the right) is notoriously tough. Designed by Arthur Jack Snyder, the Kaanapali Kai (South) Course (1976) shares similar seaside-into-the-hills terrain, but is rated a couple of strokes easier, mostly because putts are less treacherous. | 2290 Kaanapali Pkwy. | Lahaina | 808/661-3691 , 866/454-4653 | | Royal Kaanapali (North) Course $255, Kaanapali Kai (South) Course $205 | Royal Kaanapali (North) Course: 18 holes, 6500 yards, par 71; Kaanapali Kai (South) Course: 18 holes, 6400 yards, par 70 .

Tips for Golfing on Maui

Golf is golf and Hawaii is part of the United States, but island golf nevertheless has its own quirks. Here are a few tips to make your golf experience in the Islands more pleasant.

✵ Sunscreen: Buy it, apply it (we’re talking a minimum of 30 SPF). The subtropical rays of the sun are intense, even in December. Good advice is to apply sunscreen, at a minimum, on the 1st and 10th tees.

✵ Stay hydrated. Spending four-plus hours in the sun and heat means you’ll perspire away considerable fluids and energy.

✵ All resort courses and many daily-fee courses provide rental clubs. In many cases, they’re the latest lines from top manufacturers. This is true both for men and women, as well as for left-handers, which means you don’t have to schlep clubs across the Pacific.

✵ Pro shops at most courses are well stocked with balls, tees, and other accoutrements, so even if you bring your own bag, it needn’t weigh a ton.

✵ Come spikeless—few Hawaii courses still permit metal spikes. Also, most of the resort courses require a collared shirt.

✵ Maui is notorious for its trade winds. Consider playing early if you want to avoid the breezes, and remember that although it will frustrate you at times and make club selection difficult, you may well see some of your longest drives ever.

✵ In theory you can play golf in Hawaii 365 days a year, but there’s a reason the Hawaiian Islands are so green: an umbrella and light jacket can come in handy.

✵ Unless you play a muni or certain daily-fee courses, plan on taking a cart. Riding carts are mandatory at most courses and are included in the greens fee.

Fodor’s Choice | Kapalua Golf.
Perhaps Hawaii’s best-known golf resort and the crown jewel of golf on Maui, Kapalua hosts the PGA Tour’s first event each January: the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. On this famed course, Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore (1991) tried to incorporate traditional shot values in a nontraditional site, taking into account slope, gravity, and the prevailing trade winds. The par-5 18th hole, for instance, plays 663 yards from the back tees (600 yards from the resort tees). The hole drops 170 feet in elevation, narrowing as it goes to a partially guarded green, and plays downwind and down-grain. Despite the longer-than-usual distance, the slope is great enough and the wind at your back usually brisk enough to reach the green with two well-struck shots—a truly unbelievable finish to a course that will challenge, frustrate, and reward the patient golfer.

The Bay Course (Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane, 1975) is the more traditional of Kapalua’s courses, with gentle rolling fairways and generous greens. The most memorable hole is the par-3 fifth hole, with a tee shot that must carry a turquoise finger of Oneloa Bay. Each of the courses has a separate clubhouse. | 2000 Plantation Club Dr. | Kapalua | 808/669-8044 , 808/527-2582 | | $219 Bay Course, $299 Plantation Course | Bay Course: 18 holes, 6600 yards, par 72; 18 holes, 7411 yards, par 73 .

Kapalua Golf Academy.
Along with 23 acres of practice turf and 11 teeing areas, an 18-hole putting course, and 3-hole walking course, the Kapalua Golf Academy also has an instructional bay with digital video analysis. | 1000 Office Rd. | Kapalua | 808/665-5455 , 877/527-2582 | .


Maui Nui Golf Club.
Maui Nui Golf Club is an exacting test. Fairways tend to be narrow, especially in landing areas, and can be quite a challenge when the trade winds come up in the afternoon. The course is lined with enough coconut trees to make them a collective hazard, not just a nutty nuisance. | 1345 Piilani Hwy. | Kihei | 808/874-0777 | | $94 | 18 holes, 6404 yards, par 71 .

Wailea Blue Course.
Wailea’s original course, the Blue Course (1971), which is still referred to as the “Old Blue Course,” is operated from a separate clubhouse from the Gold and Emerald courses, its newer siblings. Here, judging elevation change is key. Fairways and greens tend to be wider and more forgiving than on the newer Gold or Emerald courses, and they run through colorful flora that includes hibiscus, wiliwili, bougainvillea, and plumeria. | 100 Wailea Ike Dr. | Wailea | 808/879-2530 | | $190 | 18 holes, 6765 yards, par 72 .

Fodor’s Choice | Wailea Golf Club.
Wailea is the only Hawaii resort to offer three different courses: Gold, Emerald, and Blue—the latter at a different location with a separate pro shop. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Gold and Emerald) and Arthur Jack Snyder (Blue), these courses share similar terrain, carved into the leeward slopes of Haleakala. Although the ocean does not come into play, its beauty is visible on almost every hole. TIP Remember, putts break dramatically toward the ocean.

Jones refers to the Gold Course at Wailea (1993) as the “masculine” course. It’s all trees and lava, and regarded as the hardest of the three courses. The trick here is to note even subtle changes in elevation. The par-3 eighth, for example, plays from an elevated tee across a lava ravine to a large, well-bunkered green framed by palm trees, the blue sea, and tiny Molokini. The course demands strategy and careful club selection. The Emerald Course (1994) is the “feminine” layout with lots of flowers and bunkering away from greens. Although this may seem to render the bunker benign, the opposite is true. A bunker well in front of a green disguises the distance to the hole. Likewise, the Emerald’s extensive flower beds are dangerous distractions because of their beauty. The Gold and Emerald courses share a clubhouse, practice facility, and 19th hole. | 100 Wailea Golf Club Dr. | Wailea | 808/875-7450 , 888/328-6284 | | Gold Course $235, Emerald Course $235 | Gold Course: 18 holes, 6653 yards, par 72; Emerald Course: 18 holes, 6407 yards, par 72 .

Where to Eat in Maui Post-Golf

Among golf’s great traditions is the so-called 19th hole. No matter how the first 18 go, the 19th is sure to offer comfort and cheer, not to mention a chilled beverage. Here’s a look at some of the best.

Kapalua boasts three 19th holes with great fare and views: the Plantation House has a commanding view of the Plantation Course’s 18th hole, the Pailolo Channel, and the island of Molokai beyond; the Pineapple Grill overlooks the Bay Course’s 18th; and Merriman’s Kapalua sits beside the ocean at Kapalua Bay.

At Wailea’s Gold and Emerald courses, Gannon’s overlooks the sea in a lovely garden setting and serves excellent food. The restaurant, with its elegant Red Bar, is owned and managed by famed chef Beverly Gannon of Haliimaile General Store.

The Kahili Restaurant, a plantation-style clubhouse at the King Kamehameha Golf Club’s Kahili Course, offers commanding views of the ocean on both sides of the island and of 10,000-foot Haleakala.

Café O’Lei at the Dunes at Maui Lani offers indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the golf course, as well as a stunning view of the West Maui Mountains. Kono’s on the Green at Maui Nui Golf Club has a welcoming lanai for sunset watching or just generally kicking back.


Fodor’s Choice | The Dunes at Maui Lani.
Robin Nelson is at his minimalist best here, creating a bit of British links in the middle of the Pacific. Holes run through ancient, lightly wooded sand dunes, 5 miles inland from Kahului Harbor. Thanks to the natural humps and slopes of the dunes, Nelson had to move very little dirt and created a natural beauty. During the design phase he visited Ireland, and not so coincidentally the par-3 third looks a lot like the Dell at Lahinch: a white dune on the right sloping down into a deep bunker and partially obscuring the right side of the green—just one of several blind to semiblind shots here. | 1333 Maui Lani Pkwy. | Kahului | 808/873-0422 | | $79 | 18 holes, 6841 yards, par 72 .

Kahili Golf Course.
The former Sandalwood Course (1991) was completely redone in 2005 by Robin Nelson and is now one of two 18-hole courses—one private (King Kamehameha) and one public (Kahili)—that make up the King Kamehameha Golf Club. Course holes run along the slopes of the West Maui Mountains, overlooking Maui’s central plain, and feature panoramic ocean views of both the North and South shores. Consistent winds negate the course’s shorter length. | 2500 Honoapiilani Hwy. | Wailuku | 808/242-4653 | | $85 | 18 holes, 6570 yards, par 72 .

Waiehu Golf Course.
Maui’s lone municipal course and undoubtedly the best bargain on the island, Waiehu is really two courses in one. The front nine, dating to 1930, feature authentic seaside links that run along Kahului Bay. The back nine, which climb up into the lower reaches of the West Maui Mountains through macadamia orchards, were designed by Arthur Jack Snyder and opened in 1963. | 200 Halewaiu Rd. | Wailuku | 808/243-7400 | | $55; $20 for golf cart | 18 holes, 6330 yards, par 72 .


Pukalani Golf Courseu.
At 1,110 feet above sea level, Pukalani (Bob E. Baldock and Robert L. Baldock, 1970) provides one of the finest vistas in all Hawaii. Holes run up, down, and across the slopes of Haleakala. The trade winds tend to come up in the late morning and afternoon. This, combined with frequent elevation change, makes club selection a test. The fairways tend to be wide, but greens are undulating and quick. | 360 Pukalani St. | Pukalani | 808/572-1314 | | $63 | 18 holes, 6962 yards, par 72 .

Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents


Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents

Best Spots | Going with a Guide

Hikes on Maui include treks along coastal seashore, verdant rain forest, and alpine desert. Orchids, hibiscus, ginger, heliconia, and anthuriums grow wild on many trails, and exotic fruits like mountain apple, lilikoi (passion fruit), and strawberry guava provide refreshing snacks for hikers. Much of what you see in lower-altitude forests is alien, brought to Hawaii at one time or another by someone hoping to improve on nature. Plants like strawberry guava and ginger may be tasty, but they grow over native plants and have become problematic weeds.

The best hikes get you out of the imported landscaping and into the truly exotic wilderness. Hawaii possesses some of the world’s rarest plants, insects, and birds. Pocket field guides are available at most grocery or drug stores and can really illuminate your walk. If you watch the right branches quietly, you can spot the same honeycreepers or happy-face spiders scientists have spent their lives studying.



Fodor’s Choice | Haleakala Crater.
Undoubtedly the best hiking on the island is at Haleakala Crater. If you’re in shape, do a day hike descending from the summit along Keoneheehee Trail (aka Sliding Sands Trail) to the crater floor. You might also consider spending several days here amid the cinder cones, lava flows, and all that loud silence. Entering the crater is like landing on a different planet. In the early 1960s NASA actually brought moon-suited astronauts here to practice what it would be like to “walk on the moon.” On the 30 miles of trails you can traverse black sand and wild lava formations, follow the trail of blooming ahinahina (silverswords), and take in tremendous views of big sky and burned-red cliffs.

The best time to go into the crater is in the summer months, when the conditions are generally more predictable. Be sure to bring layered clothing—and plenty of warm clothes if you’re staying overnight. It may be scorching hot during the day, but it gets mighty chilly after dark. Bring your own drinking water, as potable water is only available at the two visitor centers. Overnight visitors must get a permit at park headquarters before entering the crater. Moderate to difficult. | Haleakala Crater Rd. | Makawao | 808/572-4400 | .


A branch of Haleakala National Park, Oheo Gulch is famous for its pools (the area is sometimes called the Seven Sacred Pools). Truth is, there are more than seven pools and there’s nothing sacred about them. A former owner of the Travaasa Hotel Hana started calling the area Seven Sacred Pools to attract the masses to sleepy old Hana. His plan worked and the name stuck, much to the chagrin of many Mauians.

The best time to visit the pools is in the morning, before the crowds and tour buses arrive. Start your day with a vigorous hike. Oheo has some fantastic trails to choose from, including our favorite, the Pipiwai Trail. When you’re done, nothing could be better than going to the pools, lounging on the rocks, and cooling off in the freshwater reserves. (Keep in mind, however, that the park periodically closes the pools to swimming when the potential for flash flooding exists.)

You can find Oheo Gulch on Route 31, 10 miles past Hana town. To visit, you must pay the $15-per-car National Park fee, which is valid for three days and can be used at Haleakala’s summit as well. For information about scheduled orientations and cultural demonstrations, be sure to visit Haleakala National Park’s Kipahulu Visitor Center, 10 miles past Hana. Note that there is no drinking-water here.

Kahakai Trail.
This quarter-mile hike (more like a walk) stretches between Kuloa Point and the Kipahulu campground. It provides rugged shoreline views, and there are places where you can stop to gaze at the surging waves below. Easy. | Trailhead: Kuloa Point | Hana .

Kuloa Point Trail.
A half-mile walk, this trail takes you from the Kipahulu Visitor Center down to the pools of Oheo at Kuloa Point. On the trail you pass native trees and precontact Hawaiian sites. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and a towel if you’re planning a dip in the pools—but exercise extreme caution, as no lifeguards are on duty. Stick to the pools; don’t even think about swimming in the ocean. The park periodically closes the pools when the potential for flash flooding exists. Easy. | Trailhead: Kipahulu Visitor Center, Hana Hwy. | Hana .

Fodor’s Choice | Pipiwai Trail.
This 2-mile trek upstream leads to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, pounding down in all its power and glory. Following signs from the parking lot, head across the road and uphill into the forest. The trail borders a sensational gorge and passes onto a boardwalk through a mystifying forest of giant bamboo. This stomp through muddy and rocky terrain takes around three hours to fully enjoy. Although this trail is never truly crowded, it’s best done early in the morning before the tours arrive. Be sure to bring mosquito repellent. Moderate. | Hana Hwy., near mile marker 42 | Hana .


A hiking area with great trails for all levels—and something totally unexpected on a tropical island—is the Kula Forest Reserve at Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area in Upcountry Maui. During the Great Depression the government began a program to reforest the mountain, and soon cedar, pine, cypress, and even redwood took hold. The area, at an elevation of 6,200 feet, feels more like Vermont than Hawaii. It’s cold and foggy, and often wet, but there’s something about the enormity of the trees, quiet mist, and mysterious caves that makes you feel you’ve discovered an unspoken secret. Hikers should wear brightly colored clothing, as hunters may be in the area.

To reach the forest, take Route 37 all the way out to the far end of Kula, then turn left at Route 377. After about ½ mile, turn right at Waipoli Road. You’ll encounter switchbacks; after that the road is bad but passable. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are strongly recommended, although standard cars have been known to make it. Use your best judgment.

Boundary Trail.
This 4-mile trail begins just past the Kula Forest Reserve boundary cattle guard on Polipoli Road and descends into the lower boundary southward, all the way to the ranger’s cabin at the junction of the Redwood and Plum trails. Combine them and you’ve got a hearty 5-mile day hike. The trail crosses many scenic gulches, with an overhead of tall eucalyptus, pine, cedar, and plum trees. Peep through the trees for wide views of Kula and Central Maui. Wear bright clothing, stay on the trail, and be aware you may encounter hunters who are hunting off the trail. Moderate. TIP Polipoli Spring is often closed following heavy storms due to fallen trees and other damage. Check the Hawaii State Parks website prior to making the drive up there. | Trailhead: Polipoli Campground, Polipoli Rd. | Kula | .

Redwood Trail.
This colorful hike winds through redwoods and conifers past the short Tie Trail down to the old ranger’s cabin. Although the views are limited, groves of trees and flowering bushes abound. At the end of the trail is an old cabin site and three-way junction with the Plum Trail and the Boundary Trail. Wear bright clothing, stay on the trail, and be aware you may encounter hunters who are hunting off the trail. Moderate. TIP Polipoli Spring is often closed following heavy storms due to fallen trees and other damage. Check the Hawaii State Parks website prior to making the drive up there. | Trailhead: Near Polipoli Campground, Polipoli Rd. | Kula | .

Upper Waiakoa Trail.
Start this scenic albeit rugged trail at the Polipoli Access Road (look for trailhead signs) and proceed up Haleakala through mixed pine and past caves and thick shrubs. The path crosses the land of Kaonoulu to the land of Waiakoa, where it reaches its highest point (7,800 feet). Here you’ll find yourself in barren, raw terrain with fantastic views. At this point, you can either turn around, or continue on to the 3-mile Waiakoa Loop for a 14-mile journey. Other than a cave shelter, there’s no water or other facilities on these trails, so come prepared. Wear bright clothing, stay on the trail, and be aware you may encounter hunters who are hunting off the trail. Difficult. TIP Polipoli Spring is often closed following heavy storms due to fallen trees and other damage. Check the Hawaii State Parks website prior to making the drive up there. | Trailhead: Polipoli Access Rd. | Kula | .


In Hawaiian, Iao means “supreme cloud.” When you enter this mystical valley in the middle of an unexpected rain forest near Wailuku in West Maui, you’ll know why. At 750 feet above sea level, the 10-mile valley clings to the clouds as if it’s trying to cover its naked beauty. One of Maui’s great wonders, the valley is the site of a famous battle to unite the Hawaiian Islands. Out of the clouds, the Iao Needle, a tall chunk of volcanic rock, stands as a monument to the long-ago lookout for Maui warriors. Today, there’s nothing warlike about it: the valley is a peaceful land of lush, tropical plants, clear pools and a running stream, and easy, enjoyable strolls.

To get to Iao Valley State Monument, head to the western end of Route 32. The road dead-ends into the parking lot ($5 per car). The park is open daily 7-7. Facilities are available, but there is no drinking water.

Fodor’s Choice | Iao Valley Trail.
Anyone (including grandparents) can handle this short walk from the parking lot at Iao Valley State Monument. On your choice of two paved walkways, you can cross the Iao Stream and explore the junglelike area. Ascend the stairs up to the Iao Needle for spectacular views of Central Maui. Be sure to stop at the lovely Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens, which commemorate the cultural contributions of various immigrant groups. Easy. | Trailhead: Iao Valley State Monument parking lot, Rte. 32 | Wailuku | .


In addition to the trails listed below, the Kapalua Resort offers free access to 100 miles of self-guided hikes. Trail information and maps are available at the Kapalua Adventure Center.

Dragon’s Teeth.
The fascinating series of lava formations at Makalua-puna Point in Kapalua is nicknamed Dragon’s Teeth. The forceful winds that sweep over the point caused the lava to harden upward into jagged points resembling giant teeth. To get there, park in the small paved lot to the right at the end of Office Road, and follow the path at the edge of the Bay Golf Course (watch for errant golf balls, and be respectful of the golfers). Along the way, there’s a labyrinth where you can experience a meditative walk. TIP Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, as there are no facilities here. | Office Rd. | Kapalua .

Hoapili Trail.
A challenging hike through eye-popping scenery in southwestern Maui is this 5½-mile coastal trail beyond the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve. Named after a bygone king, it follows the shoreline, threading through the remains of ancient villages. King Hoapili created an islandwide road, and this wide path of stacked lava rocks is a marvel to look at and walk on. (It’s not the easiest surface for the ankles and feet, so wear sturdy shoes.) This is brutal territory with little shade and no facilities, and extra water is a must. To get here, follow Makena Road to La Perouse Bay. The trail can be a challenge to find—walk south along the ocean through the kiawe trees, where you’ll encounter numerous wild goats (don’t worry—they’re tame), and past a scenic little bay. The trail begins just around the corner to the left. Difficult. | Trailhead: La Perouse Bay, Makena Rd. | Makena .

Kapalua Coastal Trail.
Meandering north from Kapalua Bay, Kapalua’s Coastal Trail provides views of the ocean and wildlife as it crosses the golden sand dunes of Oneloa Bay and travels past the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, to its terminus at D.T. Fleming Beach Park. Spottings of green sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales (in season) are likely, along with nesting seabirds called uau kani . | Kapalua .

Kapalua Resort.
The resort offers free access to 100 miles of hiking trails to guests and visitors as a self-guided experience. Trail information and maps are available at the Kapalua Adventure Center. Access most trails via a complimentary resort shuttle, which must be reserved in advance (only for resort guests). The Village Walking Trails offer a network of exercise opportunities, including the 3.6-mile Lake Loop, which features sweeping views and a secluded lake populated with quacking ducks. Guided hiking tours are also available through the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. | 2000 Village Rd., corner of Office Rd. | Kapalua | 808/665-9110 Kapalua Resort Shuttle Reservations | .

Waihee Ridge.
This 4¾-mile hike in West Maui offers a generous reward at the top: breathtaking panoramic views of the windward coast and the ridges that rise inland, as well as Mt. Lanilili, Puu Kukui, Eke Crater, and the remote village of Kahakuloa. Enjoy a comfortable lunch at the picnic table. In rainy conditions the trail can quickly turn into a muddy, slippery affair. To get here from Highway 340, turn left across the highway from Mendes Ranch and drive ¾ miles up a partially paved road to the signed trailhead. Moderate. | Trailhead: Opposite Mendes Ranch, Hwy. 340 | Wailuku .


Guided hikes can help you see more than you might on your own. If the company is driving you to the site, be sure to ask about drive times; they can be fairly lengthy for some hikes.

Fodor’s Choice | Friends of Haleakala National Park.
This nonprofit offers overnight trips into the volcanic crater. The purpose of your trip, the service work itself, isn’t too much—mostly native planting, removing invasive plants, and light cabin maintenance. But participants are asked to check the website to learn more about the trip and certify readiness for service work. An interpretive park ranger accompanies each trip, taking you to places you’d otherwise miss and teaching you about the native flora and fauna. | 808/876-1673 | .

Day Hikes in Maui

Hiking is a perfect way to see Maui. Just wear sturdy shoes to spare your ankles from a crash course in loose lava rock. At upper elevations the weather is guaranteed to be extreme—alternately chilly or blazing—so layers are good.

When hiking near streams or waterfalls, be cautious: flash floods can occur at any time. Don’t drink stream water or swim in streams if you have open cuts; bacteria and parasites are not the souvenir you want to take home with you.

Here’s a checklist for what to take for a great hike:

✵ Water (at least 2 quarts per person; drink even if you’re not thirsty)

✵ Food—fruit, trail mix, and lunch

✵ Rain gear—especially if going into the crater

✵ Sturdy hiking shoes

✵ Layered clothing

✵ Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses

✵ Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher recommended)

✵ Mosquito repellent (a must around waterfalls and pools)

Fodor’s Choice | Hike Maui.
Started in 1983, the area’s oldest hiking company remains extremely well regarded for waterfall, rain-forest, and crater hikes led by enthusiastic, highly trained guides who weave botany, geology, ethnobotany, culture, and history into the outdoor experience. Prices run $85-$254 for excursions lasting 3-11 hours (discounts for booking online). Hike Maui supplies day packs, rain gear, mosquito repellent, first-aid supplies, bottled water, snacks, lunch for the longer trips, and transportation to and from the site. Hotel transfers are available for most hikes (extra fee may apply). | 285 Hukilike St., Unit B-104 | Kahului | 808/879-5270 , 866/324-6284 | .

Kipahulu ‘Ohana.
Native Hawaiian guides from this nonprofit organization lead cultural interpretive hikes and taro patch tours at Kipahulu near Hana through a cooperative agreement with Haleakala National Park. The two-hour hike ($49) takes you to scenic overlooks and past remnants from the sugar-cane industry, culminating at an ancient taro farm that has been restored to active production. A three-hour hike ($79) includes a side trip to 400-foot Waimoku Falls. You can park at Kipahulu Visitor Center ($10 per car) and meet your guide at the Hale Kuai, the traditional thatched house near the center. | Hana | 808/248-8558 | .

Sierra Club.
One great avenue into the island’s untrammeled wilderness is Maui’s chapter of the Sierra Club. Join one of the club’s hikes into pristine forests, along ancient coastal paths, to historic sites, and to Haleakala Crater. Some outings require volunteer service, but most are just for fun. Bring your own food and water, rain gear, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and a suggested donation of $5 for hikers over age 14 ($3 for Sierra Club members). This is a true bargain. | | .

Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents

Other Outdoor Activities

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents

Hang Gliding and Paragliding | Horseback Riding | Polo | Tennis | Zipline Tours


If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to fly, hang gliding or paragliding might be your perfect Maui adventure. You’ll get open-air, bird’s-eye views of the Valley Isle that you’ll likely never forget. And you don’t need to be a daredevil to participate.


Hang Gliding Maui.
Armin Engert will take you on an instructional powered hang-gliding trip out of Hana Airport in East Maui. With more than 13,000 hours in the air and a perfect safety record, Armin flies you 1,000 feet over Maui’s most beautiful coast. A 30-minute flight lesson costs $170, a 45-minute lesson costs $230, and a 60-minute lesson is $280. Snapshots of your flight from a wing-mounted camera cost an additional $40, and a 34-minute DVD of the flight from a wing-mounted camera is available for $80. Reservations are required. | Hana Airport, Alalele Pl., off Hana Hwy. | Hana | 808/572-6557 | .

Proflyght Paragliding.
This is the only paragliding outfit on Maui to offer solo, tandem, and instruction at Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area. The leeward slope of Haleakala lends itself to paragliding with breathtaking scenery and air currents that increase during the day. Polipoli creates tremendous thermals that allow you to peacefully descend 3,000 feet to land. Tandem instruction prices run $95-$185. Solo paragliding certification is also available. | Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area, Waipoli Rd. | Kula | 808/874-5433 | .


Several companies on Maui offer horseback riding far more appealing than the typical hour-long trudge over a dull trail with 50 other horses.


Mendes Ranch.
Family-owned and run, Mendes operates out of the beautiful ranchland of Kahakuloa on the windward slopes of the West Maui Mountains. Morning and afternoon trail rides lasting 1½ hours ($110) are available. Cowboys take you cantering up rolling pastures into the lush rain forest, and then you’ll descend all the way down to the ocean for a photo op with a dramatic backdrop. Don’t expect a Hawaiian cultural experience here—it’s all about the horses and the ride. | 3530 Kahekili Hwy. | Wailuku | 808/244-7320 for office , 800/871-5222 for reservations | .

Piiholo Ranch.
The local wranglers here lead you on a rousing ride through family ranchlands—up hillside pastures, beneath a eucalyptus canopy, and past many native trees. Two-hour private rides ($229; minimum 2 guests) are offered three times daily. Three-hour private rides ($349) are offered twice daily, and include lunch at a private cabin. Their well-groomed horses navigate the challenging terrain easily—but hold on when axis deer pass by. | End of Waiahiwi Rd. | Makawao | 808/270-8750 | .

Pony Express Tours.
This outfit offers 1½- and 2-hour rides ($95 and $125) on the slopes of the Haleakala Ranch, the largest working cattle ranch on Maui. | Kula | 808/667-2200 | .


Paniolos show off their skills at three major annual events: the Piiholo Cowboy Classic in September; the Oskie Rice Memorial Rodeo in December; and Maui’s biggest event, the 4th of July Rodeo, which comes with a full parade in Makawao town and festivities that last for days.

Polo is popular with the Upcountry paniolos. From April through June, Haleakala Ranch hosts “indoor,” or arena, contests on a field flanked by side boards. The field is on Route 377, 1 mile from Route 37. During the “outdoor” polo season (September-mid-November) matches are held at Kaonoulu Ranch Field, 1 mile above Makawao on Olinda Road. There’s a $10 admission for most games, which start at 1:30 pm on Sunday.

Manduke Baldwin Memorial Tournament.
Held over Memorial Day weekend, the Manduke Baldwin Memorial Tournament is a popular two-day polo event. It draws challengers from Argentina, England, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. | 808/877-7744 | .


Most courts charge by the hour but will let players continue after their initial hour for free, provided no one is waiting. Many hotels and condos charge a fee for nonguests.


Kapalua Tennis Garden.
Home to the Kapalua Tennis Club, this complex has 10 courts (four lighted for night play) and a pro shop. The fee is $15 per person per day. Private and group (3-6 persons) instruction is also available. | Kapalua Resort, 100 Kapalua Dr. | Kapalua | 808/662-7730 | .

Lahaina Civic Center.
The best free courts are the nine at the Lahaina Civic Center, near Wahikuli State Park. They all have overhead lighting for night play and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. | 1840 Honoapiilani Hwy. | Lahaina | 808/661-4685 | .

Makena Tennis Club.
This club features six Plexipave courts, two of which are lighted for night play. Private lessons, ball machines, racquet stringing, and daily clinics are available. Rates are $20 per day. | 5415 Makena Alanui Dr. | Makena | 808/891-4050 | .

Wailea Tennis Club.
Featuring 11 Sportsmaster courts (two lighted for night play), this club also offer lessons, rentals, and ball machines. Daily clinics help you improve your ground strokes, serve, volley, or doubles strategy. The daily court fee, which guarantees one hour of reserved time for singles and 1½ hours for doubles, is $20 per player. | 131 Wailea Ike Pl. | Wailea | 808/879-1958 | .


Kapalua Open Tennis Tournament.
Over Labor Day weekend, the Kapalua Open Tennis Tournament calls Hawaii’s hitters to Kapalua’s Tennis Garden. | 100 Kapalua Dr. | Kapalua | 808/662-7730 | .

Wailea Open Tennis Championship.
This annual championship is held at the Wailea Tennis Club in May. | 131 Wailea Ike Pl. | Kihei | 808/879-1958 | .


Ziplining on one of Maui’s several courses lets you satisfy your inner Tarzan by soaring high above deep gulches and canyons—for a price that can seem steep. A harness keeps you fully supported on each ride. Each course has its own age minimums and weight restrictions, but generally, you must be at least 10 years old and weigh a minimum of 60-80 pounds and a maximum of 250-275 pounds. You should wear closed-toe athletic-type shoes and expect to get dirty. TIP Reconsider this activity if you are pregnant, uncomfortable with heights, or have serious back or joint problems.

Fodor’s Choice | Flyin’ Hawaiian Zipline.
These guys have the longest line in the state (a staggering 3,600 feet), as well as the most unique course layout. You build confidence on the first line, then board a four-wheel-drive vehicle that takes you 1,500 feet above the town of Waikapu to seven more lines that carry you over 11 ridges and nine valleys. The total distance covered is more than 2½ miles, and the views are astonishing. The price ($185) includes water and snacks. You must be able to hike over steep, sometimes slippery terrain while carrying a 10-pound metal trolley. | Waikapu | 808/463-5786 | .

Kapalua Ziplines.
Begin with a 20-minute ride in a four-wheel-drive van through pineapple fields to the Mountain Outpost, a 3,000-square-foot observation deck boasting panoramic ocean and mountain views. If you’re on the seven-line zip ($207), you’ll climb even higher above the Pacific Ocean in a Polaris Ranger to experience 2 miles of parallel zipping plus lunch. The shorter four-line zip ($176) and Sunset Zip Tour ($66) are great if you’re on a time budget. | 500 Office Rd. | Kapalua | 808/756-9147 | .

Fodor’s Choice | Piiholo Ranch Zipline.
Two zipline courses are on this gorgeous 900-acre family ranch. The original course consists of five lines—one quadruple and four side by side. Access to the fifth and longest line is via a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the top of Piiholo Hill, where you are treated to stunning bicoastal views. Guides do a good job of weaving Hawaiian culture into the adventure. You must be able to climb three steep suspension bridges while hefting a 12-pound trolley over your shoulder. Prices range from $140 for four lines to $190 for five. Zipline canopy tours keep you in the trees the entire time ($135-$145). For the ultimate adventure, try the Zipline/Waterfall Hike ($229), for which the company has partnered with Hike Maui, the oldest land company in Hawaii. Piiholo offers significant discounts for online bookings. | Piiholo Rd. | Makawao | 800/374-7050 | .

Skyline Eco Adventures.
The first company to open a zipline course in the United States, Skyline operates in two locations on Maui: the original course on the slope of Haleakala (five lines ranging 50-720 feet) and its west side venue at 1,000 feet above Kaanapali (eight lines ranging 50-1,000 feet). Tours at Haleakala range in price from $120 for the five-zipline tour to $250 for the Haleakala Sunrise Bike N’ Zip tour, which combines a downhill bicycle safari with a five-line zip. Tours in Kaanapali range in price from $150 for the eight-line tour to $180 for the Zip & Dip tour, which combines a dip in a natural mountain pool with an eight-line zip. Advance reservations are suggested, and discounts are available for online bookings. | Original Course, 8303 Haleakala Hwy. | Kula | 808/518-4189 | .