Fri. Dec 4th, 2020

Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

To make the most of the natural splendor for which Maui is celebrated, consider taking one (or more) guided tours. Analyzing both traveler sentiment and expert opinion, U.S. News determined the following 18 tours to be the best available. Whether you want to hike through Haleakala National Park, bike down Maui’s hilly terrain, take to the water on a whale-watching adventure or sample some of the island’s local dishes, there’s sure to be a tour on this list that fits your interests and budgets. Each one features experienced guides eager to share their insights about Maui’s scenery, cuisine, history and culture.

Hike Maui – Ultimate Hana Full-Day Adventure Tour

Waterfalls, bamboo forests, verdant jungles and more are among the sights to admire on this daylong tour. As you hike 4 ½ miles through Haleakala National Park, you’ll also visit the Oheo Gulch and an area also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. Hike Maui will also take you for a drive along the Road to Hana. Participants rave about the views from all parts of the journey and describe the guides as highly knowledgeable and accommodating. Tickets for the 11-hour outing, which is typically offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday, cost about $220. The price includes lunch and snacks. Vans depart central Maui at 7 a.m. Note: Hikers must be at least 8 years old. The company also conducts a hike along the Haleakala Crater and shorter waterfall-themed hikes.

Four Winds II – Morning Snorkel to Molokini Crater

Crescent-shaped Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcanic caldera, is regarded as an ideal spot for snorkeling because it’s sheltered from powerful currents and waves. Aboard the Four Winds II catamaran, you’ll sail 3 miles to the crater where you’ll have time to snorkel and see ample marine life, including turtles. As an added bonus, from December through March, humpback whales may be glimpsed too. Snorkelers often call this trip the best boat tour they’ve taken and praise the crew for their insight and professionalism. Tickets for these daily excursions, which last from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., cost approximately $105 for adults and $75 for children 3 to 12. The price covers the use of snorkeling equipment as well as breakfast, lunch and drinks (including wine and beer). Four Winds II also offers an afternoon snorkeling outing.

Polynesian Adventure – Haleakala Sunrise Tour (Breakfast Included)

While viewing the sunrise from a nearly 10,000-foot high peak known as “House of the Sun” may be the highlight of this tour, it isn’t the sole attraction. The approximately 9 1/2-hour outing not only visits a dormant volcano, but also Haleakala National Park, which boasts more than 1,000 species of plants. As you take the 38-mile ride in a comfortable minibus, you’ll see plenty of Maui’s gorgeous scenery. Drivers double as guides and are generally regarded as welcoming, enthusiastic hosts. Travelers also say it’s worth the early wake-up call: Hotel pickup begins at 2 a.m. Tickets cost around $180, which includes entrance to Haleakala National Park, breakfast at a local eatery and round-trip transportation. Tours run Tuesday through Sunday. Not a morning person? Try the company’s sunset tour, which includes dinner.

Maui Kayak Adventures – Maui Whale Watching

Humpback whales breed in Maui’s waters, making the island an ideal place to go on a whale-watching adventure. This kayak expedition allows you to get an up-close glimpse of the humpbacks that call the island’s waters home. A maximum of eight travelers will embark on the three-hour tour. Tour-takers earnestly laud the naturalist guides for their knowledge, professionalism and helpfulness. This tour runs daily from January through March only (as that’s when the whales are in the area) starting at 7 a.m. Tickets start at $89 per person. Maui Kayak Adventures also offers a tour combining whale watching with snorkeling.

Your hike inside Ka’eleku Caves with Temptation Tours won’t be completely dark: some sections of the trail have small “skylights” that were formed from a ceiling collapse. (Courtesy of Chuck Thorne /Hana Lava Tube)

Temptation Tours – Hana Cave-Quest

The main event of the Hana Cave-Quest may be the hourlong guided tour of Ka’eleku Cavern, an underground passageway dripping with stalactites, but there are plenty of other sights to see on this daylong excursion. Other stops during the seacoast drive include Ke’anae (a village off the Hana Highway built on a peninsula made of lava), Waikani Falls and Hana Tropical Gardens. Travelers regularly call the guides informative, friendly and attentive; they also say the van used to transport patrons throughout the day is comfortable. The approximately $240 price covers transportation (including round-trip hotel transportation) as well as snacks and lunch. Tours depart daily at 7 a.m. and return at 5 p.m. Temptation Tours offers a number of other tours along the Road to Hana.

PacWhale Eco-Adventures – Molokini and Turtle Arches Snorkeling Trip

This tour combines a visit to the clear waters of the Molokini conservation area with an additional stop at Turtle Arches for more snorkeling and a chance to spot sea turtles. You’ll also get plenty of fuel throughout the day as a continental breakfast and barbecue lunch are included. Naturalists serve as guides and are generally deemed friendly and helpful. Travelers also say this outing is great for novice snorkelers. Fees for this five-hour tour are approximately $125 for participants 13 and older and $75 for kids 12 or younger. Boats depart daily at 7 and 8 a.m.; there’s an additional tour at 8:30 a.m. during the summer. PacWhale also offers a dolphin-watching snorkel excursion and a variety of whale-watching trips.

Air Maui – West Maui and Molokai Tour

West Maui and Molokai boast some of the island’s most stunning waterfalls, along with tall sea cliffs and mountains. Helicopters provide an excellent vantage point from which to admire these natural wonders. From Air Maui’s six-passenger helicopter, tourgoers might also glimpse humpback whales during wintertime. Two-way headsets are used onboard so fliers won’t miss a word from their pilot/guide. In addition to marveling at the amazing views, passengers consistently note the pilots’ skill and good humor. Tickets cost around $350 per person for the 60-minute trip. Air Maui provides several other helicopter tours of the region. Departure times may vary and weight restrictions apply.

Bike Maui – Sunrise Guided Tour

The sunrise lures many visitors to the summit of Haleakala National Park’s namesake peak, but this tour stands out for blending a dawn-of-day viewing with a 23-mile bike ride down Haleakala and through the park’s volcanic landscape to Haiku (where Bike Maui is based). You won’t have to worry about biking up the mountain: Bike Maui will pick you up from your hotel and drive you to the summit. Early morning bicyclists cheer the beauty of the sunrise and also praise the knowledgeable, helpful ride leaders. The eight-hour tour usually begins between 3 and 4 a.m., depending on the time of year. It costs approximately $225 to take this ride, and that includes transportation, use of mountain bikes and helmets, access to rain gear and snacks. Self-guided bike tours are also an option. For those who’d rather skip the sunrise, Bike Maui offers the same ride with a slightly later departure at 8 a.m.

Sample fresh pineapple along a trek with Maui Pineapple Tours.(Courtesy of Maui Pineapple Tours)

Maui Pineapple Tours – Pineapple Farm Tour

Pineapple is one of the must-sample fruits in Hawaii, so why not see where they’re farmed up close? During the 90-minute walk through Maui Gold’s farm and facilities, guides impart facts about the crop’s cultivation and production, which participants find both informative and entertaining. The tour costs approximately $65 for adults and $55 for kids ages 2 to 12; prices include a pineapple for each participant to take home. Tours take place three times daily starting at 9:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. You can opt to combine your farm tour with the tour of a distillery that uses Maui Gold’s pineapples in its spirits, lunch at a nearby cafe or both.

Redline Rafting – Molokini Snorkel Tour

On this half-day snorkel tour, you’ll visit Molokini crater (including its back wall) and La Perouse Bay for a chance to see the bay’s resident spinner dolphins. Snorkelers may also spot sea turtles and (in winter) humpback whales. The crew consistently wins high marks for being helpful, personable and entertaining. Tours take place daily from 7 a.m. to noon. The approximately $145 fee includes the boat ride, use of snorkeling equipment, a light breakfast and lunch. Be aware that this tour is not suited for pregnant women or kids younger than 8. Kihei-based Redline Rafting also provides seasonal whale-watching tours and private boat tours.

Pride of Maui – Maui Sunset Luau Dinner Cruise

This single cruise checks several items off a traveler’s Maui to-do list. During the two-hour cruise, you’ll see traditional Polynesian dancing, be treated to a luau dinner and watch a beautiful sunset over the ocean. As an added bonus, the outing may also double as a whale-watching tour from December through March (when whales are present in Maui’s waters). Trip-takers typically describe this tour as a great value with tasty fare, excellent views and an adept crew. Boats depart from Maalaea Harbor at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets start at $94 for adults and $66 for children and include dinner and an open bar. Transportation between hotels and the dock is available for an additional charge. Pride of Maui offers a snorkeling excursion and private charters.

Skyline Hawaii – Road to Hana Tour

The Road to Hana curves – sometimes quite sharply – around the coast of Maui over bridges and through forests to beaches, waterfalls and other scenic spots. Skyline Hawaii’s Road to Hana Tour is a full-day van ride with stops for breakfast, lunch, swimming and sightseeing. The approximately 114-mile journey will make 10 stops along the way. Riders report enjoying the drivers’ commentary regarding the area’s flora, fauna, history and mythology. Tickets for the 11-hour trip cost approximately $160 per person, which includes the two meals. Tours depart Monday through Saturday starting at 7 a.m. Skyline also operates numerous zip line tours.

Maui Bombers – Cycle to the Sea

Biking enthusiasts appreciate the ride leaders’ energy and passion for this 30-mile downhill ride. The Cycle to the Sea ride starts on the Haleakala volcano at 6,700 feet above sea level, then rides down the mountain along hairpin turns and winding roads. You’ll pass by pineapple and sugar cane fields and through towns, such as Kula, Makawao (where the group stops for lunch) and Paia. The trip concludes at the beach at Lower Paia Park. The $180 price includes transportation to the Haleakala Ranch and use of 21-speed bikes as well as lunch. Rides begin daily at 8 a.m. and end around 12:30 p.m. Groups are limited to 13 bikers. Know that Maui Bombers caters its tours to experienced bikers. The company also offers a 40-mile ride called Cycle Supreme.

Experiencing Maui’s waves is a must-do when visiting the island and one iconic way to do so is in an outrigger canoe.Getty Images

Hawaiian Paddle Sports – South Maui Turtle Town Outrigger Canoe Tour

Hawaiian Paddle Sports planned its South Maui Turtle Town Outrigger Canoe Tour as a family-friendly excursion easy enough for anyone with no canoeing experience. The three-hour outing travels from Makena to the reefs of Turtle Town for snorkeling among the area’s namesake creatures. Naturalist guides provide information about Hawaiian culture and the marine life on view (which, during winter, can include whales). Tour-takers generally find the guides friendly and helpful. Groups are limited to six people. Tours are offered every day from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tickets start at $159, which includes use of snorkeling gear. Hawaiian Paddle Sports also has excursions for more advanced boaters as well as kayaking tours.

Hawaii Tasting Tours – Lahaina Lights Dinner Tour

Visitors hoping to sample the culinary offerings in Lahaina, a historic whaling village turned dining destination on Maui’s west side, are in luck. Hawaii Tasting Tours’ food-focused walk starts at Fleetwood’s (owned by musician Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame) and proceeds to visit several other nearby eateries for tastings and wine or cocktail pairings. Tastings could include polenta, fish crusted with macadamia nuts and steak. Reviewers say the food is delicious and report ending the tour feeling full. Tickets cost about $180 per person and cover food and drinks as well as gratuities for the restaurants’ staff. Tours depart on Monday and Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. and end around 10 p.m. Hawaii Tasting Tours also offers a lunch tour.

Alii Nui Maui – Royal Sunset Sail

Alii Nui Maui’s Royal Sunset Sail is an adults-only affair. The 2 1/2-hour sailboat ride features a buffet dinner and an open bar. The highlight, however, is watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The crew, the meal, the boat and the sunset views all receive plaudits from passengers. Sailings depart each evening at 5:15 p.m. Tickets cost about $190; the price includes food and drinks and optional round-trip transportation to area hotels. Alii Nui Maui also offers several other sailing excursions and private charters, as well as non-boating activities like horseback rides and luaus.

Kapalua Ziplines – 7 Dual Zip Line Tour

Despite its name, the 7 Dual Zip Line Tour entails more than zip lines. While the roughly 3 1/2-hour activity does involve nearly 10,000 feet of travel via zip lines, it also incorporates hiking through a rainforest, walking across a suspension bridge and all-terrain vehicle rides through the mountains. Along the way, guides share information about local plants and animals. Tour-takers invariably describe the excursion as great fun and the staff as highly professional. Tickets start at around $210. Tours are offered three times daily at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Kapalua Ziplines also offers shorter tours that traverse five or six zip lines.

Maui Easy Riders – Classic Guided Haleakala Downhill Bike Tour

This small-group tour is designed to be virtually effortless. The cycling portion of the tour starts at about 6,600 feet just outside Haleakala National Park, a maximum of seven cyclists coast downhill on single-speed cruisers with wide seats. A van follows behind to ensure protection from motor vehicles – a feature many riders greatly appreciate. Tours start and end at the beach in Paia and cyclists are driven to the ride’s starting point. The 25-mile route passes cattle ranches and pineapple farms, with stops in a few small towns. Tours depart every day at 9 a.m. and last four to five hours. Tickets cost approximately $145. Maui Easy Riders also offers private version of this tour.

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