West Maui in a Day
A Wayfinders Guide to West Maui Beaches, Attractions, and Sights
Today’s Maui itinerary explores the incredible sights, attractions, and beaches of West Maui. Here, find plenty of sunshine and an abundance of rainfall (as much as 390 inches a year). West Maui was once a major Hawaiian population center and the proverbial playground of royalty (the ali’i) in old Hawaii. Today, west Maui has become the playground of visitors worldwide.
Along the shores of West Maui, you'll find the resort area of Kapalua (northwest), Kahana and Honokowai (mid-way), the visitor community of Napili, and course, the bustling towns of Lahaina and Ka'anapali. Ultimately, west Maui is one of the more developed portions of the island, with several resorts and small towns. The most north-western portion of this region is almost entirely undeveloped and is raw and somewhat barren terrain.
How Our Maui Itineraries Work
Remember, each of our Maui Day-By-Day Itineraries serves as a grab-and-go resource for ‘mapping’ your trip. Mixed, shuffled, and re-ordered our itineraries according to your desires for this dream vacation. As fellow travelers, we understand the value of having options. Subsequently, consider our plans as suggestions that you can ultimately adapt to your liking. For instance, if one of our suggested stops or Maui attractions doesn’t sound appealing to you, skip to the following suggested stop on the list.
Mapping Your Maui Trip
We’ve designed our itineraries around many on-island Maui days: one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven-day itineraries. With our well-planned itinerary, we soak in the best sights to make the most of your precious time on Maui. We split our itineraries between those seeking adventure and those seeking to relax. Overall, we designated this to build your dream Maui trip.
In this West Maui itinerary, we have NOT included dining recommendations. We did not want to assume anyone’s dining preferences. There are several excellent options for finding dining options: TripAdvisor, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc. If you’d like to see, we add local dining options or suggestions, drop us a line: [email protected]
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West Maui Map
We’ve provided all Maui directions via Google Maps when possible. Google Maps works on all platforms and across all devices. Search for the site’s address with your phone or tablet and go.
To help you visualize each day’s itinerary, we included a West Maui overview map that helps you get your bearings.
West Maui Itinerary Stops
Itinerary for West Maui...
Stop # 1.) Nakalele Point
Nakalele Lighthouse Trail & Nakalele Blowhole
We'll kick off our West Maui itinerary by suggesting a visit to one of our favorite attractions on the far northwest corner of the region, Nakalele Point, Lighthouse Trail, and Nakalele Blowhole. Take Highway 30 (Honoapiilani Hwy) north until it becomes Highway 340 (Kahekilii Hwy) to access this stop. From there, proceed to Nakalale Point; find the directions below.
When high tide and high surf combine (view tide forecasts here), you will likely witness an explosive show from the Nakalele Blowhole. This phenomenon occurs because the ocean undercuts the shore, which forces seawater to shoot through a large hole in the lava shelf.
The blowhole varies according to the tide and surf. The high tide offers the best show. There is a short trail down from the overlook to the blowhole itself. But use caution approaching this area.
Stop #2.) Makaluapuna Point & Nearby Beaches
Dragon’s Teeth, Napili Bay Beach, and Kapalua Bay
After exploring Nakalele Point, head south on Highway 30 to reach our next stop, Makaluapuna Point, along the way, savor the several scenic terrains to the West Maui beaches.
Dragon's Teeth Trail to Makaluapuna Point
Dragon's Teeth- Makaluapuna Point- is an excellent example of what can happen when forces of nature collide. As the lava from the West Maui Volcano poured into the ocean, fierce wind and waves forced it back. Eventually, it cooled into a formation that resembled great black teeth. Makaluapuna Point was formed from one of the last lava flows on Maui. However, the lava is slightly different from the rest of the lava on Maui, as it is much lighter, denser, and fine-grained.
The wind sweeping over the point caused the lava to harden upward. The jagged points of this formation look like dragon's teeth, thus the name. Hawaiian green sea turtles (Honu) often swim close to shore, so be sure to peer over the edge to look for them.
Finding Your Way to Dragon's Teeth
To get to Dragon's Teeth, take Honoapiilani Hwy. Northeast. Then, turn left onto Office Road just past mile marker 30. At the end of Office Road, take a right and park in the tiny parking lot. Walk across the edge of a golf course to reach the teeth. As you walk, look to the right for a sign that indicates Honokahua, the ancient Hawaiian burial ground. Of course, please show the utmost respect when visiting this area. Hence, do not tread the off-limit areas.
Napili Bay Beach OR Kapalua Bay Beach
Napili Bay & Beach
In northwest Maui, between Kapalua and Honokowai, is Napili Bay and Beach. This famous, scenic beach stretches along the coastline of Maui. The white sloping sand and turquoise waters of Napili Bay and Beach make it one of the most popular beaches on Maui.
Typically, Napili Bay has crowded parking. Yet, the beach itself generally is less frequented than some other famous beaches on the Northwest coastline of Maui. The quiet beachfront resorts along Napili Beach are most suitable for families. We can access the beach and bay from the Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30).
Kapalua Bay & Beach
When you think of Hawaii, Kapalua Beach is probably the scene that comes to mind. Several years ago (back in the early 1990s and again in 2018), this beach won the title of 'America's Best Beach,' and it's not hard to see why once you visit here. With gorgeous scenic views, an abundance of palm trees lining the shoreline, and lots of soft sand with great swimming available, it's no wonder this is one of the gems of northwest Maui.
Many families enjoy Kapalua Beach because it provides excellent opportunities for snorkeling. Yet, there is no lifeguard on duty here. Come here for great snorkeling, swimming, and even scuba-diving. Sealife like several tropical fish and honu (green sea turtles) gather here. Public restrooms are also available at the beach trailhead.
Stop #3.) Ka'anapali Area
Ka'anapali Beach, Black Rock, + Whalers Village Museum & Shops
After enjoying the views from Dragon's Teeth at Makaluapuna Point and exploring the nearby beaches, we'll head south again on Hwy 30 to the Ka'anapali Beach area. There are plenty of great things to explore in this area of West Maui.
Ka'anapali Beach & Blackrock
Nearly all of the seaside resorts in the Ka'anapali span alongside Ka'anapali Beach. The beach sprawls a three-mile stretch of sand suitable for frolicking. Additionally, a sidewalk runs the entire length by the hotels to Black Rock. Black Rock slices across the beach and is a popular spot for snorkelers and scuba divers.
There are also plenty more opportunities to whet your appetite for water sports such as parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skis.
Whaler's Village Dining & Shops
For a truly unique Maui shopping experience, plan a visit to Maui's premier oceanfront retail center, Whalers Village. You'll find yourself around top brands and one-of-a-kind options from Hawaii's artisans and options from stores worldwide. For your enjoyment, the range of food offerings is extensive, from quick bites to full-service dining. Voted as Maui's best town, head to Whalers Village for the best shops, dining options, and fun times.
On the mezzanine level of the Whalers Village Shopping Center, the Whalers Museum has also now permanently closed.
Stop #4.) Lahaina Area
Lahaina Town, Front Street: including Banyan Tree Court & Baldwin House Museum, + Shops
After exploring Ka'anapali, let's again head south along Hwy 30 until we reach the Lahaina town area. Here we'll stop to visit several exciting attractions, including gazing upon, and walking around, one of the giant Banyan trees in the United States.
Lahaina Town & Front Street
Discover Hawaii's most historic town. Most also describe it as uniquely Maui and eclectic.
Any trip to 'Valley Isle' of Maui demands a worthy visit to the port town of Lahaina. While there, stroll the art galleries, restaurants, souvenir shops, and historic gems sprinkled throughout the bustling town. Lahaina is most definitely a Maui must-see.
A few of the many sights in Lahaina include the gigantic banyan tree - which takes up an entire city block, the historic Baldwin House, the old courthouse, and Front Street. Some great opportunities are also available for shopping on Front Street.
Stop #5.) Luau in Lahaina OR Beach/Snorkel Options
Old Lahaina Luau OR Launiupoko Beach Park OR Kahekili Beach Park
After exploring the Lahaina area, pick your choice of excursions. Do you want more beach time? Or would you prefer to attend one of Hawaii's best luaus? We've included both options below; select the one that best suits your travel party.
Old Lahaina Luau
Vistors from worldwide adore The Old Lahaina Lu'au on Maui. Considered a favorite destination by many, expect the 'ohana or family treatment upon arrival. Once you step through the gates of Old Lahaina Lu'au, the ambiance will sweep you away. Enjoy this well-preserved epicenter of Hawaii- full of culture, storytelling, and breathtaking ocean view. By far,it's the best Lu'au the islands have to offer
Launiupoko Beach & State Park
Families, by far, enjoy the peaceful park for an excellent family outing. Swim the large, man-made pool for kids - protected from the waves. You can catch a glimpse of the neighboring islands of Kaho'olawe, Molokai, and Lanai from the park's picnic area. There is paved access and parking available and telephones, restrooms, and grills. This is not the best place to snorkel, but surfing and swimming are decent.
The beach lies at mile marker 18 off Highway 30 south of Lahaina.
Kahekili Beach Park
Kahekili Beach is the Northernmost beach in the Ka'anapali Beach Resort area, directly in front of the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. It is often less crowded and commercialized than nearby Ka'anapali Beach. Kahekili Beach is long and has soft sands, there are facilities - and like most beaches in the Ka'anapali area, Kahekili does not disappoint. There is a reef just offshore that parallels the shoreline.
For the best snorkeling, head to the front of the pavilion from the parking lot. Let your feet enjoy the sandy but fabulous beach. Nonetheless, we recommend wearing fins to float over the reef and rocks in the ocean.
West Maui Final Suggestions & Thoughts
May you find our expert travel tips resourceful for planning your trip to West Maui. To support your endeavors, we covered all the significant features. Get ready to have a great time exploring this portion of Maui.
Remember, each of our Maui Day-By-Day Itineraries is used as a grab-and-go resource for ‘mapping’ your trip. We provide daily itineraries for mixing, shuffling, and re-ordering them according to your taste. Don’t feel obligated to do everything listed on our daily itineraries. We mean them as suggestions. Ultimately, only select the options you find most favorable.
Our Guides Can Help You
West Maui is a vacation destination unlike any other, and we want to show you why. CTA: In West Maui's heart, you can visit all the attractions that make this island a must-see destination. Our West Maui has it all, from sandy beaches to waterfalls, oceanfront to the backcountry, and tennis courts to playgrounds. Looking for adventure? Head to West Maui. You'll find everything here, from surfing lessons and windsurfing lessons to snorkeling tours and kayaking adventures! Click here to view our exceptional itinerary: Maui Day-By-Day Itineraries, East Maui, West Maui, South Maui, North Maui, and Haleakala & Upcountry. Click here for guides of Maui regions, more information about Maui, and the best lodging locations in Maui. Start planning your Maui vacation today!