5 Tips to Escape Tourist Crowds in Maui

Cliff jumping in Hana, Maui
Cliff jumping in Hana, Maui | © Drew Farwell / Unsplash
Photo of Kalena McElroy
12 June 2018

The remarkable natural beauty of Maui means that throngs of tourists descend on the island each year to enjoy it.

Although there are plenty of crowded places that are actually worth the visit, many would rather beat the crowds and experience what truly makes the Valley Isle special. Here are five tips to escape the most trapping Maui tourist crowd.

Skip the beach and head to the mountains

Most tourists only think about Maui’s beaches and don’t venture mauka (to the mountains). The island offers some incredible hikes and spectacular panoramic views that end at a towering waterfall. Areas such as Upcountry Maui and Haleakalā National Park have tons of interconnecting trails to choose from, so it’s possible to have an adventure without anyone else in sight or have an overnight backpacking trip.

Maui | © Anton Repponen / Unsplash

Take the Road to Hana and stay overnight

Most tourists try to drive the iconic Road to Hana in one day and miss all the stops along the way that make the rural area incredible—and there’s so much to see. Spend the night along the way so that you can wake up early and have the black sand beach, waterfalls, or hiking trails all to yourself. You’ll also be able to explore the sleepy little towns along the way.

Humpback whale breach | © NOAA Office of Marine Sanctuaries / Flickr

Experience local voluntourism

You can practice the ancient Hawaiian philosophy of Aloha ʻĀina (to love and respect the land) and turn your vacation into a voluntourism trip by giving a helping hand to one of Maui’s local nonprofit organizations. Whether you’re interested in humpback whales, the ocean ecosystem, or native Hawaiian plants, there’s something for every type of person to enjoy.

In addition to doing a good deed, volunteers work directly with knowledgeable locals and sometimes get to go to places that are off-limits to the public, such as Honokowai Valley where volunteers clear invasive species while learning about the powerful history of the abandoned Hawaiian village that once stood there.

Try a local market or hole-in-the-wall restaurant

Maui is notorious for being overpriced. Skip the hotel restaurants and tourist cafés, and try some affordable local food like a plate lunch at Poi by the Pound or poke from Eskimo Candy. If you’re out exploring the Road to Hana, make a stop at Kuau Store for healthy pre-made salads and organic fresh-squeezed local juice.

Koki Beach Park, Maui | © Adam Seckel / Unsplash

Find a secluded beach

Forget the umbrella-dotted Wailea Beach, Kapalua Bay, or Kaʻanapali, and make the extra effort to find a quiet sandy spot for yourself. Oneʻuli Black Sand Beach in Makena State Park or Hāmoa Beach near Hana are often uncrowded and perfect to unwind Hawaii style. Locals typically head to the beach early in the morning when the water is flat, and there are fewer tourists out. It’s a great tip since, in the morning, it’s still very sunny; the wind usually picks up in the afternoon.