As promised, I’m back this week with another post about free things to do in Hawaii. Over the past month, I’ve been working my way around the Hawaiian islands, researching the best things to do for free, so make sure to check out my posts, 10 Free Things To Do On Kauai, 10 Free Things To Do On The Big Island, and 8 Free Things To Do On Oahu.
This week, I’m focusing on Maui, “The Valley Isle.”
After much research, I’ve come up with the ultimate list of free things to do in Maui. There are many free parks and trails in Maui, and there is even a winery that you can take a free tour of! If you budget is tight or if you’re just curious, read on.
Drive on the Road to Hana
One of Maui’s most popular attractions is completely free. Anyone can drive on the Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is a 64.4-mile scenic drive that takes you to a number of waterfalls, trails, small farm stands, and many lookout points. While it’s almost impossible to see everything along the Road to Hana, if you do some research in advance, you can decide which places you want to visit and see how the day goes.
Some of the most popular stops along the Road to Hana include Paia Town, Ho’okipa lookout, a hike to Twin Falls, Honomanu Bay, the Halfway to Hana Stand selling food, Hana Lava Tube, Waikamoi Ridge Trail, Wailua Falls, Grandma’s Coffee House, and so much more. It’s incredible to me that so much beauty on Hawaii is accessible, free, and in such a small area.
The roads on this trail are notoriously narrow and windy, so some people do prefer to pay for a guided tour. Hawaii Aloha Travel offers a guided tour of the Road to Hana.
Tour a winery
There aren’t many places in Hawaii that have the right conditions to grow grapes to make wine. Maui’s only winery, MauiWine, sits on the southern slopes of the Haleakalā volcano. The grapes are grown on rich volcanic soil, producing three collections of wine: pineapple wine, estate wine, and their rose ranch.
MauiWine began in 1974 and offers guided tours of their estate, production area, and wine cellar at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm every day from King’s Cottage. No reservations are required for groups of less than 10 people.
Wine tasting will cost you $10 to taste 5 wines. It might be hard to resist trying their pineapple wine! Maybe you will buy a bottle and bring a taste of Maui back home with you.
Take a walking tour of Lahaina town
Did you know that the city of Lahaina was the capital of Hawaii? King Kamehameha made Lahaina the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1802. In Lahaina, he built a palace, homes, and other royal buildings. For over 50 years, Lahaina was the center of the Hawaiian government. Kamehameha III relocated the capital to Honolulu because of its harbor.
So, Lahaina is a town that is steeped in a fascinating history. There are two different walking trails that you can do to learn about that history. The short trail will take you about 45 minutes and the long trail takes about 90 minutes. It’s best to start this trail in the morning before it gets too hot. Wear a hat, sneakers, and sunscreen, and bring water with you.
Stops on the trails include The Master’s Reading Room (which was once used by missionaries), the Hauola Stone (which ancient Hawaiians used as a healing place), Brick Palace (the first Western-style building in Hawaii, which King Kamehameha I ordered to be built for his wife), The Old Lahaina Lighthouse, and more. Some of these places will charge an entrance fee, but you can always just look and keep on walking instead of going inside.
Visit Lahaina Town’s website for a detailed map and an explanation of each trail.
Visit the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
The Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is one of just a few natural wetlands in Hawaii. It is 691 acres and is located on the south central coast. Here, many endangered Hawaiian birds live, including the Hawaiian coot and, during certain times of the year, the Hawaiian stilt. Many birds also migrate to the area from August to April.
The Refuge is free to enter. First, visit the Visitor’s Center to learn about some of the birds in the area before you walk around.
Then, walk along the 2,200-foot boardwalk, which has different self-guided interpretive exhibits available for you that you can learn about the native and visiting birds around here. The best time to visit is in the morning because there are not many shaded areas. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and water.
Explore a black sand beach, tide pools, freshwater caves, and more at Waiʻanapanapa State Park
Waiʻanapanapa State Park is located off of Hana Highway. I’m separating it out from the rest of the sights on the Road to Hana because it’s just so different. For many unique sights all in one place, it’s worth the drive to this remote, beautiful place.
Here, you will find a volcanic coastline, black sand beach, lava tubes, blowholes, freshwater caves, a heiau (religious temple), and a natural stone arch. Look for seabirds as well. There are also tide pools that turn red throughout the year. Although we know that the pool turns red because of the shrimp in the pools, legend has it that it is the blood of a princess that was murdered nearby by her husband.
There is so much here! If you aren’t sure where to stop on the Road to Hana, I’d make this a priority.
See a Banyan Tree with 12 Trunks
Banyan trees are super interesting because they not only grow tall vertically, but they also grow horizontally. Roots grow down from the branches until they reach the ground. Once they reach the ground, a new trunk forms.
The Banyan Tree in Lahaina is not to be missed. Planted in 1873 after being brought over from India, this tree is over 60 feet high and has 12 major trunks. When you enter Lahaina Banyan Tree Park, if you didn’t know better, you would think that you were looking at many different trees. But it’s just one! It covers over 200 feet and provides shade for 2/3 of an acre. Sit on one of the many benches in the shade, or bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy this historic and beautiful tree.
Walk around the Maui Tropical Plantation
One thing that I love about Hawaii is all of the beautiful tropical plants and flowers that grow here. Whenever I can, I go to botanical gardens to see the unique flora that you can only find in tropical climates.
The Maui Tropical Plantation is free to enter. What began as a show plantation 30 years ago is now a working plantation where over 40 crops are harvested. You will also find hundreds of tropical and native plants. The Plantation also has a restaurant, coffee cafe, retail shops, tours, a farm stand, and more.
Depending on when you go, the Plantation has a list of different walking tours you can take on their website. They also have an informational website that you can look at. It will help you identify all of the different kinds of plants and talks about the Plantation’s history.
Take a stroll on the Wailea Beach Walk
This 1.5-mile, paved walkway hugs the coastline. On one side, you will see gorgeous views of the beach, the ocean, and, on a clear day, other Hawaiian islands. You will walk along five crescent-shaped beaches in all. On the other side, you will see Wailea’s luxury resorts. If you are lucky, you might even see a Hawaiian green sea turtle. In the winter months, this is a great place to look for humpback whales.
This walkway was created to provide beach access to all, whether you are a guest of the resorts that line the beach or not. Feel free to stop at the hotels along the way to walk around, have a drink or get a cup of coffee to drink on the beach.
Pro Tip: This is also one of the best spots to watch the sunrise on the island. Get a drink at one of the hotels or bring a towel and sit on the beach to take it all in.
Go to the beach.
This might seem obvious, but I think that many people forget that every single beach in Hawaii is free. Every single beach is also open to the public (except if it’s on a military base). Even beaches next to luxury resorts. So that means you can go to any beach you want on Maui or any other Hawaiian island. Back in New York, where I am from, going to the beach can cost you between $10 and $20 per person, and belive me, they are nowhere near as beautiful as the beaches in Hawaii!
Take advantage of the free beaches in Maui. Go to as many different ones as you can find – or find your favorite and go back every single day. Find the black sand beaches and the white sand beaches. Go beachcombing and look for sea glass. Lay out your towel and read a book. Bring a picnic lunch and spend all day. Some of the best beaches to check out on Maui include Kaʻanapali Beach, Kapalua Beach, Wailea Beach, and Waianapanapa State Park.
Want to plan the perfect trip to Maui? Give us a call today and let’s get started!