Maui’s beaches aren’t just beauties to savor—it’s the soft sand between your toes and the warm water on your skin that makes them irresistible. The island air isn’t just clear and lovely—it’s also tinged with the scent of plumeria and night-blooming jasmine. In other words? Land on the Valley Isle and chances are every single one of your senses will be thoroughly and awesomely engaged.
But with a vacation that bounces between one activity and the next, the visceral experience Maui provides often gets overlooked, something that may be recalled only in retrospect (if even then). And wouldn’t you rather step into an experience knowing that it will wow you head to toe now and leave an indelible mark you can relish later?
With this in mind, we’ve narrowed down some of the island’s most spectacular activities according to the sense they impact most—so that you, too, can experience every inch of the island’s splendor.
Few things have the potential to startle your vision like Maui’s Road to Hana. Frequently deemed one of the most dramatic road trips not just in Hawaii but also in the world, the 52-mile route takes you into one of the lushest parts of the island, where untamed jungles give way to surging waterfalls, radical seascapes, and distinctive beaches. Hikes—from easy to strenuous—take you into direct contact with natural wonders that range from sea arches to lava tubes, while the peaceful pace of Hana proper give you a sense of old Hawaii.
While making the drive on your own is certainly an option, you’ll be able to sate your sight even more by having someone else chauffeur you. Valley Isle Excursions’ Road to Hana Tour is one of the top options available. Their comfort cruisers come equipped with extra-large viewing windows and seats with ample leg room, while their well-informed crew provides ongoing narration of Maui’s many gems. Expect to be impressed—and for your eyes to say thank you.
It’s one thing to hear soft Hawaiian music playing as you land at OGG; it’s another thing entirely to hear heart-thumping drumbeats at a luau.
One that’s particularly attuned to aweing your eardrums? The Te Au Moana Luau at the Wailea Beach Resort Marriott, Wailea. Situated on an expanse of grass mere steps from the Pacific, Te Au Moana—which translates to “the ocean tide”—shines a spotlight on the ancestral stories of the people of Maui. Authentic dances range from Tahitian to Tongan to Samoan, while the music shifts from haunting to transcendent.
Prefer to hear sounds of another kind? Consider booking Kai Kanani’s Adventure Whale Watch. The notable company—which has been building a sterling reputation since its inception over two decades ago—sets sail from one of the most glorious beaches on the island. From there, it takes you near the magnificent North Pacific Humpback Whales that migrate to Hawaii annually. Whale songs are a whole different type of harmony—and are enhanced all the more by Kai Kanani’s expert crew and gorgeous vessel.
People have been trying to catch the scent of the ocean for eternity; even the least domestic among us probably have an ocean-scented candle somewhere.
That clean, salty smell is offered in spades aboard Redline Rafting—an uber-friendly company, based in Kihei, that offers trips into the island’s glistening waters. Their Molokini Crater Snorkeling Tour brings brine to the next level by carting you and your group to the horseshoe-shaped caldera off of Maui’s southern edge. Once there, you’ll have the chance to snorkel amongst tropical fish that range from yellow tang to Hawaiian boxfish; above sea, you may spot a Bulwer petrel or wedge-tailed shearwater (Molokini serves as a sanctuary for sea bird species). You’ll then speed towards the island’s secluded volcanic coastline. The ocean air has its own unique scent—which you will be spellbound by on this epic ocean adventure.
Taste - coffee
Maui’s bounty, both land and sea, is brought into sharp, memorable detail at when hunting down the best Maui coffee. Hawaiian coffee is world-renowned for being some of the best in the world with Kona as the most commonly known region for growing. And though the Big Island grows fantastic coffee, all of the islands have developed their own delicious roasts. Though it hasn't been marketed as well, Maui coffee beans are often considered as good, if not better, than most Kona coffee beans.
It’s no wonder: Maui farmers have integrity and care about the art of growing quality coffee in the right locations. Your palate will be tantalized by the vast array of tastes presented in different types of beans like Maui Mokka, Peabury and the many roasts available. “Exquisite” doesn’t even begin to describe the flavors we're able to bring out of these beans!
Touch the sky? With Skyline Eco-Adventures, the answer is oh yes. Their Haleakala Zipline Adventure Tour boasts five ziplines that’ll have you soaring 90 feet above canyons and drops. You’ll also have the chance to swing on Hawaii’s only pendulum zipline—an experience that will allow you to reach 45 mph.
Keen on touching the pedals of a bike on your next Maui vacation? Look no further than Bike Maui. This beloved company pairs riders with high-performance bikes that you can take on a self-guided trip—or, better yet, on Cruiser Phil’s Sunrise Guided Tour. The early am wake-up call may startle you—the trip begins at 3am—but the next eight hours will be sheer bliss: You’ll witness one of the most outstanding sunrises of your life at Haleakala Crater before biking 26 miles down the volcano’s slopes.
Along the way, all of your senses will be electrified, thanks to the panoramic landscapes, the sound of your own heartbeat, the scent of eucalyptus, and the taste of freedom that arrives with flying on two wheels. Which, in the end, will give you the full-body experience Maui is so famous for.~