Food,  Travel

10 Best Things To Do in Maui on a Budget

In this article, I’m dishing out the top 10 best things to do in Maui on a budget so that you can find the best activities, best beaches, best food and best hikes for cheap. Traveling to Maui is not easy on the wallet, but it can be done on a budget! Don’t let the price tag sway your decision to visit.

Why you should visit Maui

Maui is a real life paradise with beautiful beaches, jungles, and incredible food. My husband and I quickly fell in love with this island, and I can honestly say this is my favorite Hawaiian island. It has the perfect blend of epic adventures and serene beaches. He tells me every few weeks how much he dreams about living there someday. 

We ended up booking two trips within 6 months using our Southwest points and companion pass!  Check out my blog about How to Fly for Free which explains how we earn and use our airline points to travel for free (minus the taxes). 

Let’s get right to it!…

Top 10 Best Things to do in Maui on a Budget

1. Sunrise or Sunset at Haleakala 

Haleakala, also known as the East Maui Volano, is a mountain (the highest point) and national park that makes up 75% of the island of Maui. As you can imagine, some of the most epic views of Hawaii come from this national park. 

Sunrise at Haleakala

Some say the best time to visit is at sunrise. You’ll need to get up super early, but with the time change it isn’t terribly difficult to do.

You’ll need a reservation to enter the park between the hours of 3-7am. Sunrise reservations can be difficult to get, so I recommend booking them in advance. You can book up to 60 days in advance, but a portion of tickets are released 2 days in advance as well. They release time slots at 7am HST daily. So you can always try closer to the date if you can’t snag an advance reservation. 

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate the morning of our reservation and we weren’t able to see much from the top. The weather patterns often bring wet and cold weather to the summit just before dawn and after dusk. But if it cooperates enough to allow you to catch the sunset views, rumor says it’s breath-taking and worth the early morning journey! The clouds started to clear during our drive down the mountain and we had an incredible view of a rainbow.

Sunset at Haleakala

After our sunrise trip to Haleakala flopped, we decided to try once more, but this time at night. We absolutely love stargazing and had heard that this was a great spot for it. We made it up to the summit just in time to see the sunset, and then the stars began to appear. For night owls like me, this was far better than a sunrise! 

Sunset view from Haleakala summit. Best things to do in Maui on a budget.
Sunset view from Haleakala

It was a bit windy, so we spent some time outside and some time in the covered area at the summit, where you still have an incredible view. 

View from inside the covered view point at the summit of Haleakala. Best things to do in Maui on a budget.
Inside the covered view point at Haleakala

There are few places in the US where you can see the Milky Way galaxy as clear as this. What a treat! I’ve never felt so small. It was an incredible moment to take in how vast and beautiful God created this incredible galaxy. Definitely a highlight! 

Milky Way galaxy view from Haleakala. Best things to do in Maui on a budget.
Milky Way Galaxy from Haleakala summit in Maui

Cost: As of Februrary 2023, there is a $1.00 reservation fee for the sunrise entrance reservation. This is separate from the national park entrance fee which is $30/vehicle and valid for up to 3 days. So this will allow you to visit for sunrise and then return for a sunset within 3 days. It also allows you to park at the entrance to the Pipiwai Trail, which I highly recommend! Keep reading to learn more…

We had previously visited Yosemite a few months back and purchased a 1-year national parks pass. This is a great option if you plan to visit several parks within a year and quickly pays for itself. We used this pass to avoid the $30 parking fee.

2. Night Swim in Kihei

Fun fact: I’m not really a swimmer. I don’t go in water where I can’t touch (and at a whopping 4’11” you can imagine how that goes). Swimming is not usually high on my list. 

But we’ve stayed in Kihei on the west side of the island three times now, and the beach is incredible for a sunset swim!

Kamole Beach in Kihei at sunset. Best things to do in Maui on a budget.
Kamole Beach in Kihei

The water is warm. The sand is really fine and fairly flat. And you can hang out in the waves and feel really comfortable. There are other great beaches in Maui, but something about an evening swim in Kihei soothes my soul! My husband was shocked at how comfortable I was in the water and how much I loved these night swims at sunset. I imagine it would be fine to do with kids as well.

We have visited in June, August and in October. Each time it was warm enough to swim at sunset and be in the water as you watch the stars come out. Magical! 

Cost: Free

Pro Tip: I highly recommend staying near the Kamole Beach Park in Kihei. I found it to be a great balance of price, proximity to the beach (night swims for the win!), and is not over crowded. Here are a few recommendations:

Menehune Shores 606: Condo near the beach, sleeps 6
Modern 1-Bedroom Apartment: Ocean-view balconies, sleeps 4
Kihei Ali’i Kai: Apartment with terrace, sleeps 2

3. Road to Hana

This is probably the most popular activity for tourists in Maui, and for good reason. It is a full day commitment, but absolutely worth it. It definitely deserves a spot on the 10 Best Things to Do in Maui on a Budget list.

Black Sand Beach on the Road to Hana in Maui. Best things to do in Maui on a budget.
Black Sand Beach on the Road to Hana

What is the Road to Hana?

Hana is a town on the east side of the island, but it’s known for the epic 55-mile highway attractions that you’ll find on the way. The road from Paia to Hana is a winding road, often wide enough only for one car. You’ll need to go slow, and at each turn you check to make sure the road is clear on the other side. Sometimes other cars whip around the corners, so you have to pay close attention.

It’s recommended to go early because this is not something you’ll want to do in the dark on the return route. I’m making it sound more scary than it is… Just allow plenty of time and don’t rush it. We started at around 10am but I would recommend an earlier start.

Where to stop on the Road to Hana

There are so many beautiful places to see along the way! Here are just a few of my top recommendations:

  • Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream
  • Any of the banana bread stands
  • Hāna Farms Roadside Stand, Pizza Oven and Bakery (the best stop for lunch in my opinion!)
  • Garden of Eden Arboretum (fee for entry)
  • Black Sand Beach
  • Hana Lava Tube (fee for entry)
  • Waipipi Hiking Trail (see below)

How to return from The Road to Hana

When you reach Hana, you’ll likely want to turn around and go back the way you came. Locals told us there is a road that goes through to the other side which is shorter, but it’s very rough condition and causes a lot of car trouble. There’s also hardly any cell service.

Most rental car companies don’t allow you to take rental cars on the “back side”. If you have the right vehicle and your rental company allows it, the back side was definitely a fun adventure! But if not, I’d recommend to be smart, leave early, and listen to the locals…

Cost: The Road to Hana is public access and there is no charge to drive. Some attractions and beaches require an entry fee. I promise this will be one of your favorite days of your trip, and likely one of the cheapest.  

4. Secret Cove Beach 

Tucked away just south of Makena Beach is the entrance to a beautiful rocky beach, Secret Cove Beach. This is a great spot for sunset where you can watch the waves crash into the volcanic rock beach. Some people were swimming, but I think this spot is best for the view. It’s rarely crowded, so you can get beautiful photos.

It’s a bit tricky to find if you aren’t looking closely, hence the name “Secret Beach”. Google maps does have the location. You’ll want to park on the side of the road on Makena Road and look for a break in the rock wall. That’s where you’ll enter the beach and discover this little piece of paradise. 

Secret Cove Beach in Maui
Secret Cove Beach at Sunset

Cost: Free 

5. Happy Hour at Monkeypod

Eating and drinking is an activity, right? This place is seriously good every single time! The energy is great and the staff are wonderful. They also offer live music most nights of the week.

They have locations in Wailea and Ka’anapali, so you’re likely not too far no matter where you’re staying.

Monkeypod is one of my all-time Hawaii favorites and we go at least twice (maybe more…) every trip. Happy hour is offered every day from 3:30-5pm with half price select apps, discounted pizza, and drink specials. 

Don’t be surprised if you experience a wait list as this place is popular, especially for happy hour. You can make reservations in advance, or come as a walk-in and join the waitlist if they’re full. It’s worth the wait!

Menu highlights:

  • Monkeypod Mai Tai
  • The White Walker cocktail 
  • Roasted Chicken Wings with garlic, local rosemary, red pepper, yogurt-feta (my favorite!)
  • Coco Corn Chowder
  • Garlic Oil Truffle Fries

6. Hike the Bamboo Forest on the Pipiwai Trail

Technically this is part of the Haleakalā National Park (southeast side), and also one of the attractions on the Road to Hana experience. But it’s so unique and special that it needs its own mention! 

If you don’t have time to do many stops on the Road to Hana, just go ahead and make your way straight to this hike. You can thank me later.

You do not need a reservation to hike the trail, but you will need to pay a $30 parking fee per vehicle for Haleakala National Park. However, if you’ve already purchased the annual national park pass, or if you’ve visited Haleakalā for sunrise or sunset, your parking pass is valid for 3 days. So you can time this accordingly and save some money. 

What to expect

We ended up hiking it at dusk and in the rain, which turned out to be a pretty incredible memory! But they recommend that you start no later than 3pm so that you can finish before dusk.

The full hike is 3.8 miles long and takes about 2 hours to complete. 

Wood platform through the bamboo forest on the Pipiwai Trail in Maui
Bamboo Forest

Around the half way point, you can stop to look out at the 200-foot Falls of Makahiku. Then you’ll find a gorgeous banyan tree, followed by a footbridge over the Pipiwai stream about a half mile further. After the footbridge, you’ll soon enter the Bamboo Forest. 

Yup, I said Bamboo Forest! It sounds a bit like an Adventure Time episode or part of Candyland, and it lives up the name. This part of the hike was incredible! You’re surrounded by tall bamboo trees up to 39 feet high, and following a winding wood platform through the forest. Core memory moment!

We nearly turned around, but several hikers encouraged us to keep going and that we wouldn’t regret it. And they were right! At the end you’ll find Waimoku Falls. It was absolutely stunning and worth the long hike.

Waimoku Falls on the Pipiwai Trail in Maui, Road to Hana
Waimoku Falls

Cost: $30 parking fee, unless you already have an annual pass or valid 3-day pass for Haleakala National Park. 

7. Banyan Trees at Lāhainā Banyan Court Park

Lahaina is a charming historic Hawaiian town, with lots of character. Walking around old town Lahaina is an activity in itself. But the main attraction are the historic banyan trees at Lāhainā Banyan Court Park. 

This park holds not only the largest banyan in Hawaii, but also in the entire US, and one of the largest in the world. It is enormous, and spans over a quarter mile in circumference and has 16 trunks. Epic!

I highly recommend Papa´aina MAUI as a great spot in Lahaina for brunch. 

Cost: Free to visit Banyan Court Park

8. Maui Tropical Plantation

Maui Tropical Plantation is a great spot for a romantic date or an outing with the whole family. You can walk around the gardens, shop in the market, or book a zipline excursion. They have a great little coffee stand for a quick bite or smoothie. The market has lots of fresh local produce and grocery items.

Fountains and garden at Maui Tropical Plantation
Maui Tropical Plantation

For a fee, they also offer a 40-minute tram tour where you can learn more about the plants and fruits that they grow. It also includes a 15-20 minute corn husking demonstration. 

If you want a full meal or cocktail, the Cafe O’Lei at the Mill House is great and has an incredible view! It felt like we were eating inside Jurassic Park. They also offer a happy hour from 3-5pm daily with appetizers and $5-$6 drinks.

 Cafe O'Lei at Mill House at the Maui Tropical Plantation
Cafe O’Lei at Mill House

Cost: Free to explore the property. Additional fees apply for the zipline, tram tour and restaurants. 

9. Snorkeling at Makena State Beach

Maui is known as the #1 Hawaiian island for snorkeling. It has shallow calm water, which is great for beginners and non-swimmers like me! But it also offers a lot to see, which makes it great for experienced snorkelers. 

There are so many great places to snorkel, but Makena Beach is one of the well-known spots. 

You can rent gear from nearby shops, but we ordered a set from Amazon that we packed in our suitcases. We’ve found that this snorkel set from Amazon is far better than any set you’ll rent on the island. They cover your full face which makes it to so easy to swim around without constantly adjusting or emptying out your goggles. 

For under $50, this snorkel set a great deal if you plan to take multiple trips.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. But I only recommend things that I use and love!

10. See Turtles at Kaulahao Beach

I mean, if you go to Hawaii but don’t see a sea turtle does it even count? You can’t miss them at Kaulahao Beach! Best time to visit is at sunset because the beach faces west and the turtles are usually content resting on the sand. There was plenty of parking and it was very easy to access. Be sure to respect the turtles and keep your distance. 

Cost: Free


These are the 10 best things to do in Maui on a budget, but there are so many more! The truth is you can’t go wrong. You don’t have to dish out hundreds of dollars to experience the beauty and adventure of this amazing Hawaiian island. Just being on the island, walking around the beach, exploring the towns, and trying the local food is worth the trip.  

Happy travels, friends!

Plate & Compass is a food and travel blog written by Hannah Falkosky. After quitting her job and spending 8 weeks in Europe on just a few thousand dollars, she found her love for budget travel and sharing tips to help others explore the world. She also spent 15 years working with award-winning chefs and developed a love for artful food and cocktails. Hannah is now based out of Los Angeles, and when she’s not traveling she makes it her mission to explore the best restaurants and cocktail bars while living life to the fullest.


  • Linda (LD Holland)

    We loved our visit to Maui but we sure found it expensive. So wonderful to share some of the ways to save some money on a visit. Certainly sights like Haleakala for sunrise or sunset would make it high on our list. And all the outdoor spots to enjoy did not cost a lot – especially if we brought a picnic lunch with us.

  • Yvonne

    These are great suggestions! I really need to do sunset and stargazing at Haleakala. But hiking Pipiwai Trail looks amazing! I am definitely saving this post for future travel planning!