So this is a pretty jam-packed Maui itinerary.
But you can also pretty easily make this into a less-packed trip plan by taking out an activity here and there.
Even if you do just half of the activities on each of these 3 days, you can still have a PERFECT time on Maui, I think!
If you want a little more Maui beach time, it will be pretty easy to adapt this itinerary by taking out an activity or 2 so you can head to the beach early afternoon to hang out. There are suggested Maui beaches listed below, based on the location of each day.
Below you will find a general list of things to do on Maui, then more specific places to visit on Maui, and then finally specifically how to plan out your days on Maui!
Is 3 days in Maui enough?!
Well, of course the more days you have on Maui the better! 😉 But with this 3 day Maui itinerary, you’ll get a taste for many of the absolutely BEST things to do on Maui! So in that sense, 3 days can actually be a perfect amount of time to spend on Maui. You can get a little bit of a LOT of things in just a few days!
What can you do with 3 days in Hawaii?!
1. A little bit of snorkeling…
Go straight to the list of best snorkeling spots on Maui.
2. A little bit of hiking…
Go straight to the list of the best hikes on Maui.
3. Visit a volcano…
Go straight to THE volcano hike to do on Maui.
4. Scenic drives…
5. See coastal lava rock formations…
6. See some waterfalls…
Go straight to the list of best waterfalls on Maui.
7. See a black sand beach…
Go straight to the THE black sand beach to visit on Maui.
8. See a bamboo forest…
Go straight to THE bamboo forest hike to do on Maui.
9. Maybe see a turtle…
10. Maybe see a rainbow…
11. And if you dare, there are some options to drive the less-taken back roads of Maui!
Yes, it’s possible to do ALL of this and MORE in 3 days!!
If you have more time on Maui – GREAT!
You can make these 3 days your full days and take it easy the rest of the days!
If you REALLY want to, with many more days on Maui, you can even add in a day trip to another Hawaiian island. Some people make it a day trip to see Pearl Harbor on Oahu, and some people also make it a day trip to Lanai too. (Although, just staying on Maui during your whole trip can feel easier!)
And, if you want to make it a different kind of Hawaii vacation, then you can make it a 3 day (or longer!) Maui camping trip!
If you are looking for hiking, then also see about how to spend 5 days in Maui with a Maui hiking itinerary.
Also take a look at the 2 weeks in Maui itinerary for more ideas if you do have more time.
First, the quick list of the best things to do in Maui.
Then, a few more details on how to spend your 3 days in Maui, including how to plan out your day!
And then, a little bit about where to stay on Maui.
10 places to visit in Maui in 3 days
1. Haleakala National Park, summit area
To hike in a volcano crater!
To hopefully see turtles and seals!
3. Maluaka Beach aka Turtle Town
To hopefully swim with turtles and maybe for whale watching from shore! Also a good beach lazing beach.
4. Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu area
To walk through a bamboo forest and to see magnificent tall waterfalls!
You will see many waterfalls along the Hana Highway without even trying!
To see famous tide pools on Maui.
To see a scenic back road on the Kahekili Highway that far less tourists go to… recommended to walk to it!
To see the famous blowhole on Maui.
For a coastal walk with sweeping ocean views.
What to pack for Maui
Packing for Hawaii might not be like packing for other vacations! This also depends on what types of activities you’re planning on doing.
Have a look at these Maui packing tips:
- Essentials for snorkeling in Hawaii
- Why wear a rashguard in Hawaii
- Essentials for hiking in Hawaii
- Everyday essentials for Hawaii: What to pack in your daypack (or rental car!) no matter what your plans for the day are!
MAUI ITINERARY: How to put the top places to visit in Maui into a 3 day Hawaii adventure itinerary?!
How to spend 3 days in Maui Hawaii
- Day 1: Haleakala + Paia + South Maui
- Day 2: Road to Hana
- Day 3: West Maui
Now, a few more details!
Day 1: Haleakala + Paia + South Maui
- Haleakala National Park, summit area
- Hookipa Lookout (near Paia)
- Hookipa Beach (near Paia)
- Maluaka Beach aka Turtle Town (South Maui)
Haleakala is a volcano and going to the summit side of the national park means you’ll be at high altitude. The summit, which you can access, is above 10,000 feet. It’s a scenic drive to the Haleakala summit!
There is a national park entry fee to go to the Haleakala summit. You can expect this to be around $30 for a 3 day pass. (There is no one-day pass.)
If you’ll be visiting other national parks within a year, you may consider getting the Hawaii national park pass or the U.S. national park pass. These are both annual passes so you’ll get unlimited entry into the national parks for a year.
It is super popular to go to the Haleakala National Park summit for sunrise.
If you find that there are no more Haleakala sunrise tickets for your date, aside from joining a sunrise tour in which your permit would be included, going for sunset can be another option. (You don’t need a permit for sunset.)
Otherwise, I think going during the day can also be GREAT! See more about a day visit to the Haleakala summit.
There’s the Sliding Sands Trail that starts kind of near the summit, which in its entirety is 11 miles.
But you don’t have to hike the whole trail in order for it to be worth it.
This hiking trail starts at the top, and you’re hiking down into the crater.
Because of this, I think it can be well worth it even if you just walk 30 minutes into the crater and turn around.
Hookipa Beach and the lookout are past Paia town. You can also include this on your Road to Hana day, because this is at the start of the Road to Hana, but it can also allow for extra time on the Road to Hana day if you don’t go to Hookipa Beach then.
If you choose to go to South Maui, you’ll want to get the day started early, and this can turn into a long day.
There are many beaches in South Maui, including one near an area called Turtle Town where you have a chance of swimming with turtles.
It can also be a perfect day if you choose not to include South Maui.
And if you skip it, you can start the day off at a leisurely 10am or 11am in the late morning and it can work out well!
Best beaches in South Maui
- Ulua Beach for snorkeling (For a beach walk, walk from Ulua Beach further north along the coast!)
- Maluaka Beach aka turtle town
- Makena Beach for a large expansive beach
- Makena Cove for a small hidden beach
- Ahihi Kinau beaches for snorkeling in a nature reserve
- More things to do in South Maui
Day 2: Road to Hana
- Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu area
- Waianapanapa State Park (the black sand beach state park)
- Road to Hana waterfalls
The Road to Hana is THE famous scenic drive on Maui, and you’ll be driving along the Hana Highway.
Many people make this a full day by starting off at like 7am and don’t get back to their hotel until 7pm.
If you want to do a TON of things on the Road to Hana, then you’ll probably want this type of plan as well.
The most common way to do this is as an out-and-back drive, and most people will make the town of Paia the Road to Hana starting point.
Although, it is also possible to make it a Road to Hana loop, by taking the “back road to Hana.” (Look into this before doing the back road. For starters, you can have a look at driving the road to Hana in reverse.)
If you want to take it easy more, then you can simply find just 1 or 2 “priority” things to do, and then make stops along the way as you have time.
It can turn into a really long day because there are truly tons of stops you can make, and the Road to Hana is really all about these stops you can make along the way and things to see.
There are also a ton of waterfalls on the Road to Hana, many of which you’ll come across naturally without seeking them out.
You might consider making your first stop on the Road to Hana the Pipiwai Trail (bamboo forest hike) in Haleakala National Park, which is more at the “end” of the Road to Hana (and technically past Hana town) where most people turn around.
Doing it this way allows you to beat the crowds on the national park trail. Then, you can make the majority of your stops on the way back.
Once again there’s a national park entry fee, but you can use the same 3-day “park pass” (receipt) that you bought for the Haleakala summit.
Maui’s famous black sand beach is on the Road to Hana in Waianapanapa State Park.
You also may want to hike at least a part of the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail while you’re here for a hike across lava fields.
IMPORTANT!!! For a Maui trip in 2022, you need to make a time slot reservation in order to visit Waianapanapa State Park. This costs money. It’s $10 for a 2.5 to 3 hour time slot, plus $5 per person entry fee, and you can make back-to-back reservations for more than 1 time slot. Fees may change. See Hawaii State Parks for updates. (This is a change made in 2021, as it used to be free with no permit necessary.)
This means that you need a permit of sorts in order to see Maui’s famous black sand beach.
It also means that you need a general plan before you set out on your Road to Hana drive if you want to stop at the black sand beach.
There are other so-called “black sand beaches” on Maui, but nothing really compares to the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park.
See more about specific stops on the Road to Hana:
- What are things to do near the start of the Road to Hana?
- Road to Hana waterfalls
- Road to Hana beaches
- Road to Hana hikes
- Road to Hana food
- The famous black sand beach of Maui
- The famous red sand beach of Maui
- Ultimate list of Road to Hana stops
- Things to do in Kipahulu district of Haleakala National Park
If you have more than 3 days on Maui, also consider spending a night or 2 along the Hana Highway for an epic Hawaii camping experience! There are campgrounds on the Road to Hana that come with ocean views! Here’s more on how to spend several days on the Road to Hana.
Day 3: West Maui
- Olivine Pools
- Kahakuloa Beach lookout (Kahekili Highway back road)
- Ohai Loop Trail
- Nakalele Blowhole
- Kapalua Coastal Trail
Kaanapali Beach is a popular resort area in West Maui, and it can be pretty crowded.
But go to the part of West Maui that’s included on day 3 of this itinerary and you can escape the crowds!
This day isn’t necessarily about each of the individual places to visit, but it’s really more about the scenic views and lack of people (comparatively!) that come with going to these places!
This drive will start off by pretty much driving (almost) all the way to the “end” of where you’ll turn around, and then make stops on the way back.
Be sure to know the dangers of the Olivine Pools before you go. These tide pools are best seen from a distance instead of swimming in them.
This day includes another “back road” on Maui, but you can see a portion of the Kahekili Highway without driving it.
You can consider it a nice coastal walk and walk part of it instead! See more info about getting to Kahakuloa here.
You can also stop by the Kapalua area of West Maui where there’s the Kapalua Coastal Trail, a scenic viewpoint with unique rock formations (“dragon’s teeth“), and there are a number of beaches in this direct area that you can hang out at.
There’s DT Fleming Beach which will likely be more crowded since the Ritz Carlton Kapalua is like right there. There is also the Ironwoods Beach (aka Oneloa Beach) which will likely have very few people. For a snorkeling spot around here, you can try Kapalua Bay.
You can also head to Kaanapali Beach.
There’s a top snorkeling spot called Black Rock here over to the far right side of the beach as you’re facing the ocean.
There’s also a cave bar right along the Kaanapali boardwalk (aka beach walk) along with more restaurants and bars.
This day 3 is another day where you can start at a leisurely 10am or 11am and have a perfect day on Maui!
Even just doing the first couple of activities on this day in the far north part of West Maui can have you thinking it’s an amazing day.
If you do that, you will still likely want to take the long way to get between the Olivine Pools and Waihee Ridge Trail by looping around past Lahaina and Kaanapali. Google maps may tell you to go the shortest route between these 2 places, which is driving along eastern side. (See map for the visual.) But that will take you on the one lane road of Kahekili Highway which may be a bit scary to drive!
Another hike in the West Maui mountains you may want to consider is 13 crossings which will take you along a stream and through a small bamboo forest and to waterfalls. This is just up the road from the Waihee Ridge Trail.
And if you do either of these hikes, you can finish off the day with a quick trip to the iconic Iao Valley needle.
See more about making it one day in the West Maui mountains.
And there are some ideas on how to spend your time with 3 days in Hawaii!
For more ideas, see the BIG LIST of things to do in Maui, mostly budget-friendly and outdoors!
Where to stay in Maui
On Maui, the resort areas are West Maui and South Maui:
- Kaanapali (West Maui)
- Kapalua (West Maui)
- Wailea (South Maui)
In West Maui, Kaanapali has a long stretch of beach that’s lined with many beachfront resorts and hotels. There are big name resorts like the Westin, Sheraton, Hyatt, Aston, along with more beach resorts.
There are also hostels on Maui, which would be the true budget option that can be perfect for solo travelers to Hawaii.
Hostels tend to have both dorm rooms and private rooms available.
If you’ll be staying on Maui longer than 3 days, here are some things to think about in deciding if you’ll want to rent a car during your whole time on Maui.
You do need a car to do the above 3 day Maui itinerary!
There is a Maui airport bus that you can take to get to and from the airport which can be helpful if you’ll be having extra days on Maui without a car.
See some Maui lists:
- Things to do in Haleakala National Park
- Things to do on the Hana Highway
- Things to do in West Maui
- Things to do in South Maui
- Best beaches on Maui
- Best snorkeling spots on Maui
- Best hikes on Maui
- More things to do on Maui
Undecided on which Hawaiian island to choose?
See some ideas for how to spend 3 days on Oahu too!
HAPPY 3 DAYS IN HAWAII!