*** Due to the recent fires on Maui, we strongly recommend that you reschedule travel to the area to give the island time to recover. The northerwest coast was the most impacted.
From stunning water and lava strewn coastlines to towering volcanos and plunging waterfalls, Maui is an incredible destination. While traveling to Hawaii can be expensive, but there are many ways to adjust your trip and there are many things to do in Maui on a budget. Many of the best inexpensive things are also some of the more unusual things to do in Maui and make for an interesting and memorable visit.
In this article we’ll share some basic information for planning a trip to Maui, but focus on the best things to do in Maui on a budget. You can find more information about visiting Maui on our Hawaii destination page.
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A Quick Overview of Maui
Before we get into a list of the best things to do in Maui on a budget, this short section will just give you a quick overview of Maui as well as some general budgeting information to help you make the most of your trip. Maui is a volcanic island with distinct climate differences. The northeast side of the island is generally wetter and can be windy, while the southwestern part of the islands is significantly drier. Most people stay on the western side of the island and you will find the most lodging options here.
How to Get to Maui
There are often deals on plane tickets to Maui. We flew to Maui during April of 2023 for $450 each from Boston. Keep your eyes out and try to be flexible. Ticket prices go up significantly around popular vacation weeks and holidays.
How to Get Around Maui
The best way to get around Maui is to rent a car. This is obviously an additional expense, but it will save you the money of booking tours to get to different places. Maui is an easy place to drive and we found rental cars to be reasonable.
To find a good rate, check out Discover Cars.
There are also buses that go around Maui that are reliable that are an even cheaper option than a car but may still be limiting to get to certain places.
Maui on a Budget
It’s hard to do Maui in the cheap, specifically because we found lodging and food to be expensive. This is where you will likely spend most of your money. In contrast there are many things to do on Maui on a budget in terms of activities. Know that you will spend more money on food and lodging and try to balance this with the activities you want to do.
Maui Accommodations on a Budget
This is likely where you will spend the most of your budget. Hotels are generally expensive and short term rentals, apartments, etc often have large cleaning fees. We ended up using points to stay at a Marriot in Maui which saved us lots of money. Our favorite place to learn about using points for travel is 10X Travel.
We generally book our accommodations through Booking.com as it offers postings for many different types and budgets.
General Tips for Staying in Maui on a Budget
- Book Accommodations in Advance: Look for budget-friendly accommodations like guesthouses, hostels, or vacation rentals in advance. By booking early, you have a better chance of finding affordable options and securing good deals.
- Cook Your Own Meals: Dining out can be expensive in Maui, so consider preparing your own meals. Look for accommodations with kitchenettes or shared kitchen facilities, and shop at local grocery stores or farmers’ markets for fresh and affordable ingredients. This way, you can save money and have the flexibility to cook your favorite meals.
- Utilize Public Transportation: Maui has a public bus system called Maui Bus, which is an economical way to get around the island. Instead of renting a car, consider using the bus for transportation between major attractions, towns, and beaches. It’s a cost-effective option that allows you to explore the island while saving on gas and rental fees.
- Take Advantage of Free Activities: Maui offers several free or low-cost activities. Enjoy the island’s natural beauty by visiting free beaches, exploring scenic spots, and hiking on public trails. Attend local cultural events, such as festivals or performances, which often have little to no entry fee. Additionally, check out free workshops or classes offered by community centers or libraries for a chance to learn something new.
- Plan and Research Discounts: Before your trip, research for discounts and deals on attractions, tours, and rentals. Many companies offer early bird discounts or special promotions, so take advantage of those. Look for coupon books or online platforms that offer discounted rates for popular activities. By planning ahead and doing some research, you can enjoy the best Maui has to offer while staying within your budget.
Things to do in Maui on a Budget
Explore Maui’s Natural Beauty
This was our favorite way to explore Maui on a budget. While Maui has so much to offer, the best part of the island in our opinion is the amazing natural beauty. These are also some of the cheapest places in Hawaii to visit and many are free or close to free.
Visit Free Beaches
Maui has incredible beach access and you can find parking near almost every beach. Unless the beach is part of a State Park, there is no fee to visit the best. Not only can you enjoy the sun on the beach, but you can also search shells and swim. There are too many amazing beaches to explore in Maui, but some of our favorite include:
- Ka’anapali Beach
- Baldwin Beach Park
- Wailea Beach
- Kamaole Beach Park III
- Kapalua Bay Beach
- Napili Bay
- Kihei Beach
- D.T. Fleming Beach Park
- Hookipa Beach Park
Hiking and Nature Walks
There are SO many hiking trail in Maui that range in length and difficulty. Many of these hiking trails are free, while others will cost you an entrance fee (such as the State Parks and in Haleakala National Park). Most of the fees are a few dollars up to $30 depending on the size of your group. Here are a few of the best hiking and walking trails on Maui.
- Pipiwai Trail in Haleakalā National Park
- 7 Sacred Pools in Haleakalā National Park
- Sliding Sands Trail in Haleakalā National Park
- Nakalele Blowhole
- Waianapanapa Coastal Trail
- Wailea Beach Path
- Kapalua Coastal Trail
- Ohai Trail Loop
Immerse in Local Culture
Maui has a strong culture and you can find many budget friendly cultural events to explore during your stay on Maui.
Attend Cultural Events
Maui Fridays is a series of free community events that take place in various towns across the island. Each Friday, different towns host their own unique celebration, featuring live music, art displays, local vendors, food stalls, and cultural performances. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant local scene, experience authentic Hawaiian traditions, and interact with residents.
Cultural performances, music, and local food
You can look for local events taking place throughout the year. At these cultural events, you can witness captivating performances that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Maui. From hula dancers swaying gracefully to the beat of traditional music to mesmerizing fire knife performances, you’ll be enchanted by the talent and artistry on display. Local food vendors offer a diverse array of culinary delights, allowing you to savor traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pork, poi, laulau, and shave ice. Indulging in these local flavors is a great way to fully appreciate the island’s culinary heritage
Explore Art Galleries and Markets
Maui has a large number of galleries and markets to explore. Consider checking out Lahaina Arts Society and Maui Swap Meet. Lahaina Arts Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting local art, nad their gallery features a wide range of artwork created by talented Maui artists. You can explore paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, and other unique pieces. Entry to the gallery is free, and you may even have the chance to meet and chat with the artists themselves. Another must-visit spot is the Maui Swap Meet, a bustling open-air market that takes place every Saturday. It’s a treasure trove of authentic Maui products and a great place to pick up unique souvenirs while supporting local artisans.
You can find many smaller galleries around the islands that give you the chance to connect with the island’s vibrant artistic community and discover one-of-a-kind creations. Maui’s artists draw inspiration from the stunning natural surroundings, resulting in captivating artwork that reflects the island’s beauty and culture. By engaging with local artists and purchasing their crafts, you not only acquire a unique piece of Maui to take home but also support the local arts scene and contribute to the island’s creative economy.
Discover Historical and Landmark Sites
In addition to the various cultural activities, events and galleries, you can also immerse yourself in the history of Maui. Below are some of the best historic sites to explore on the island.
Visit Historic Towns
Lahaina, a former whaling village, is one of Maui’s most historic towns. Stroll along Front Street, lined with charming buildings that have preserved their historic character. Explore Lahaina’s rich history through its numerous museums, art galleries, and landmarks. Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early 19th century and played a vital role in the whaling industry. The town’s architecture reflects its diverse history, with buildings dating back to the 1800s.
Paia, on the other hand, is a vibrant town known for its bohemian atmosphere. It was once a bustling plantation town and has retained its unique charm. Visit the local shops, cafes, and art galleries to experience the eclectic vibe of Paia. Paia’s architecture showcases its plantation heritage, with buildings that harken back to the sugar plantation era. The well-preserved structures allow visitors to step back in time and appreciate the island’s historical roots.
Explore Free Museums
The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, located in Puunene, provides insights into Maui’s sugar industry, which played a significant role in shaping the island’s history and economy. The museum exhibits artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that showcase the sugar plantation era, offering visitors a deeper understanding of this integral part of Maui’s heritage.
The Lahaina Historic Trail offers a self-guided walking tour through Lahaina’s historic sites. As you follow the trail, you’ll encounter plaques that provide historical information about landmarks such as the Lahaina Fort, Lahaina Harbor, and the Wo Hing Temple. This trail allows you to explore the town at your own pace while learning about its fascinating past.
Below you can see a list of some of the historic sites on Maui.
- Haleakalā National Park: This park is not only known for its stunning landscapes but also holds cultural and historical significance. It is home to numerous sacred sites and cultural artifacts of the Native Hawaiian people.
- Lahaina Historic District: Explore the charming town of Lahaina, which was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Walk along Front Street and discover historic landmarks such as the Lahaina Fort, Lahaina Harbor, Baldwin Home Museum, and the Wo Hing Temple.
- Ka’anapali Historical Trail: This trail takes you on a journey through the history and cultural heritage of Ka’anapali. Along the way, you’ll encounter plaques that provide information about significant sites and events, including the battle of Kekaa in 1790.
- Hana Cultural Center and Museum: Located in the town of Hana, this center offers insights into the history, culture, and traditions of the Native Hawaiian community. It showcases artifacts, exhibits, and educational programs that provide a deeper understanding of Hana’s heritage.
- Lahaina Jodo Mission: This Buddhist temple in Lahaina is known for its beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of the temple and explore the peaceful garden.
- Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum: Located in Puunene, this museum provides a comprehensive look into the history of sugar cultivation on Maui. Learn about the sugar plantation era, the lives of workers, and the significant impact of the sugar industry on the island’s development.
- Bailey House Museum: Situated in Wailuku, this museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that depict Maui’s history and culture. It houses a vast collection of Native Hawaiian artifacts, including ancient tools, artworks, and traditional crafts.
- Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens: This park in Iao Valley pays homage to Maui’s diverse cultural heritage. It features different ethnic gardens representing the cultures of Native Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese settlers, providing a glimpse into the island’s multicultural roots.
- Kahekili Beach Park (Old Airport Beach): This beach park in North Kaanapali is not only a beautiful spot for relaxation but also holds historical significance. It was once the site of an old airport and now features remnants of the runway, creating a unique beach experience.
- Waihee Church: Located in Waihee, this historic church dates back to the 19th century. It is known for its striking architecture and beautiful stained glass windows, offering a glimpse into the religious history of the island.
Experience Maui’s Food Scene on a Budget
While Many of Maui’s best restaurants are on the pricey side, you can also find food trucks and delicious and fresh food at farmer’s markets. Consider stopping at a local farm stand or visiting a farm to try the local produce.
Some of the best food trucks are: Geste Shrimp Truck and Tin Roof Maui.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities
Maui is the perfect playground for fun, adventurous activities and many of the best things to do in Maui on a budget are simply getting out and exploring.
Snorkeling and Beachcombing
We already mentioned visiting some of the beautiful and free beaches on Maui, but many of these beaches also have excellent surfing options – check out Black Rock and Honolua Bay. This is a great way to explore the underwater world. You can rent snorkel gear or buy your own mask and bring it along.
Rent Equipment and Have Your Own Adventure
In addition to hiking, you can also rent equipment on the island and plan your own adventure. This is much less expensive that booking a tour. It does help if you have some experience with this equipment. Some of the things you can do yourself include:
Take a Scenic Drive
If you’ve rented a car for your visit to Maui, than taking a scenic drive is a must. Driving conditions are generally good in most of Maui and you can explore many of the coastal regions and stop off at beaches and walking trails along the way. Here are 3 scenic drives ton consider in Maui:
- How to Drive the West Maui Loop Drive: An Incredible Hawaiian Day Trip
- How to Drive the Reverse Road to Hana Loop
- Drive to the Crater in Haleakala National Park
Watch the Sunset
We saw so many incredible sunsets (and sunrises) in Maui. Watch the sunset or rise at the beach, on a hike, on Haleakala Crater or from your favorite restaurant.
Summary Things to do in Maui on a Budget
Maui is an incredible destination and while it’s hard to visit Maui and not spend any money, this list of the best things to do in Maui on a budget will help you keep the costs down. Leave a comment below if we missed any of the cheap things to do in Hawaii.