Welcome to Maui, one of the world’s most amazing places for natural diversity. With 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones, you can go from exploring underwater caves or lounging on a sunny beach in the morning to hiking a jungle rain forest in the afternoon. Another day you might drive upcountry through an arid landscape to a high mountain forest and climb to the top of a 10,000-ft dormant volcano.
If you are enamored by the ocean like we are, be prepared experience marine life like none other. More than 20 percent of Hawaiian reef fishes are found nowhere else in the world. Some endemic species that are easily spotted along the reef include the rainbow hued parrot fish and a wide variety of angel fish and wrasse. The Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (which means fish with nose like a pig) is abundant, as are eels, crustaceans, invertebrates, and reef sharks. Deeper, divers may encounter manta rays, monk seals, sharks and on a rare occasion, humpback whales.
Any of the suggested activities on this Maui dive vacation itinerary can be switched around. Our dive calendar shows which dives are offered each day. Just remember it is not safe travel to an elevation above 2,000 feet within 18 hours of a two-tank dive, so to be safe, we suggest a day off in-between dives if going to Haleakala (elevation 10,000 feet) or on a helicopter ride. Even some areas upcountry are above 2,000 feet. Besides, there is so much to see and do on Maui, its good to spread things out a little!
Main Itinerary: Recreation Diver
Sample based on a Friday Arrival
Day 1 – Arrival Day
Welcome to Maui! You will likely want to stay on the West side of Maui to be more convenient to your dive charters. However, you’ll be arriving in Kahului- the main business hub of the island, so after picking up a rental car, you may want to stop for supplies here. If you are staying in a condo with a kitchen, it is a good idea to pick up some groceries and beverages to carry you through the evening and morning, and don’t forget to buy some reef-safe sunscreen!
After checking in to your accommodations, explore the former whaling town of Lahaina. Once the playground of island ali’i (royalty), the area is a favorite of visitors from around the world. Be sure to check out Lahaina’s numerous historical sites. You are welcome to pop into the Lahaina Divers store and say aloha- we are looking forward to seeing you!
A short walk away is charming Lahaina Harbor. Both Lahaina Divers vessels, the Dauntless and the Dominion, are conveniently located in the harbor front row. There are many restaurants near the harbor for a delicious open-air meal, including Pioneer Inn, Captain Jack’s, or a bit down Front Street try rooftop dining at Fleetwoods, or Kimo’s waterfront location, just to name a few.
Day 2 – Time to Get Wet Diving
With the time change to Maui, you’ll likely be up early today, so let’s go diving!
2 Tank Molokini Crater Charter: The volcanic islet of Molokini Crater is a marine preserve below water and a bird sanctuary above. The visibility is averages over 100 feet, affording 360 views of the reef at various depths. You’ll encounter a rainbow of tropical fish, and often can spot reef sharks, manta rays, and perhaps garden eels swaying in the current. Occasionally humpback whales, whale sharks and Hawaiian monk seals will visit the crater.
Beginner/Refresher option: If you haven’t been diving in a while or are just starting out, spend the morning at the beach, then go on the Turtle Reef charter. An easy dive at depths of 30-35 feet, divers are submerged in a world teeming with aquatic animals. Frog fish, white tip reef sharks, nudibranchs and the majestic Green Sea Turtle are all common occurrences on this dive among sunken piers and coral gardens.
If the time zone is catching up with you, this may be a great evening to relax and soak in a magical Maui sunset at one of the local beaches. Tomorrow is another day of your Maui Dive Vacation!
Day 3 – Dive Lanai
Lanai’s unique topography makes a diving experience that is not to be missed. Home to stunning rock formations and rare corals, divers explore majestic swim-throughs, archways and lava tubes filled with many endemic species found only in Hawaii. With numerous dive sites, a charter to Lanai could easily be repeated.
Tip: Bring your underwater light or purchase one at the Lahaina Divers shop before setting out.
You’ll be back from your charter in plenty of time to grab some snacks and cruise up the Northwest coast for a short walk over lava terrain to Nakalele blowhole. While an incredible sight with a geyser-like water spout, please do head the warnings on site link, and stay on dry land. People can and do get swept to sea here, and let’s just say it doesn’t end well.
Day 4 – Explore the road to Hana (and beyond to Kipahulu)
Maui’s road to Hana represents many of the iconic features that are uniquely Hawaii- a journey through a thick rainforest, spectacular waterfalls, dramatic seascapes, the most unspoiled Hawaiian town, ample opportunities to hike, explore white, red and black sand beaches, caves and tropical pools. Here’s the key thing to remember- the road to Hana, including stops and going past town to Kipahulu (the back side of Haleakala) is an all-day adventure. Don’t plan anything else. It is worthwhile to prepare a quick breakfast and bringing some road snacks so you can get an early start and avoid some of the traffic, fitting in as much as you can during daylight hours.
Diving option: If you don’t want to miss wreck diving, schedule an afternoon Carthaginian Charter on Day 4 and move the road to Hana adventure to Day 6. The Carthaginian is a steel-hulled sailing boat which served as a symbol of the whaling industry as floating museum in Lahaina Harbor. It was carefully prepared and sunk at the end of its useful life to create an artificial reef, and is a unique dive site at a depth of 97 feet.
Day 5 – More Diving Options
If you took the Turtle Reef option on Day 2, this would be a good day to dive Molokini Crater.
Experienced diver option: Our exclusive Hammerhead Charter off the shores of Molokai is only offered by Lahaina Divers. For our most adventurous dive, we head across the challenging Paiolo channel towards the cliffs of Molokai. We have identified one of the few sites on the planet where one can commonly see hammerhead sharks. A blue water drift dive, other oceanic creatures are often spotted on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Take an afternoon stroll around Maui Ocean Center Aquarium, and learn more about all of the marine life you have been encountering. This world-class aquarium also just opened a must-see 3D movie all about humpback whales. Roll right into happy hour at the attached Seascape restaurant, overlooking Maalaea bay.
Day 6 – Explore Maui
After the previous day’s diving adventures, you likely want to sleep in, or spend a relaxing morning on the beach or by the pool. There are also a couple of short adventures you can go on. Make a picnic lunch and head to Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui, another spot with deep cultural significance, with a towering, needle like mountain and lush valley with a stream, plus some nice paved walking trails. Next door at Heritage Gardens at Kepaniwai Park there are ample picnic tables and more cultural information.
If you have not attended a luau on Maui, it is highly recommended. Prepare for a full evening of entertainment, including Pacific Island dances, chants, storytelling, and an abundance of food and beverages.
Tip: The best luaus, such as Old Lahaina Luau, book up fast. Consider making a reservation up to 2 months in advance!
Day 7 – Activities above 2,000ft
You may have heard the sunrise atop Haleakala- a 10,000 ft. dormant volcano- is spectacular, and it is. However, it is also chilly and can be socked in with fog, meaning you will have gotten up pre-dawn for nothing. Plus, so many visitors flock to sunrise, you now need an advance reservation between the hours of 3am and 7am. Keep in mind it will take between 2 – 2.5 hours to get from your condo to the summit of Haleakala. Sunrise is around 5:30am in June and just before 7am in January, meaning for some locations during the summer you would have to be up before 3am to catch the sun coming up. If you are determined to view the sunrise, learn about making a reservation on the National Park website.
We recommend either arriving at the summit around 9am then touring Upcountry Maui afterward, or tour Upcountry then go to Haleakala for sunset, which requires no advance reservations. The weather is more predictable for sunset- if it looks cloudy and rainy, pick another day to visit.
After visiting Haleakala, stop at Kula Lodge for an early lunch surrounded by spectacular views (try one of the outdoor dining pods), and stop in the Curtis Cost gallery next door. Venture on to Ulupalakua. The road here is spectacular, with bi-coastal views. Tour the grounds of Maui’s Winery and the country store across the street- all part of Ulupalakua Ranch and steeped in island history.
Other Upcountry options include touring Ocean Vodka or visit the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao filled with one-of-a-kind shops, then wind your way down to the laid-back surfing town of Paia, and loop back to the southwest shore for sunset, and a spectacular dinner out.
Day 8 – Departure Day
For this final day, we suggest you do some prepacking in so you can just enjoy the island. Get in one last morning beach walk, perfect your tan by the pool, and dine in an oceanfront restaurant. Don’t forget to stop by the Lahaina Divers shop for a t-shirt or just to say aloha- until next time!
If you have a late flight, you have more time to explore or revisit some of your favorite places. But it also presents a problem with what to do with your luggage. You can request a late check out (more likely during low season than high season). When your luggage is in your rental car, make sure it is all in the trunk for safety. Another really outstanding option is to visit Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Mall. Located just 3 miles from the airport, the mall offers complimentary luggage storage, a real-time flight departure monitor and complimentary wi-fi. Check out their visitor’s page here.
Trip Planning – Save on Multiple Dives!
Lahaina Divers supports your enthusiasm for diving by offering multi-charter discounts. Check out our dive discounts page for all the details!
In Hawaii, aloha means hello and goodbye. By the end of your Maui diving vacation, you will likely learn the other meaning of aloha- love. A strong bond is formed when discovering marine creatures and underwater landscapes found nowhere else in the world. You may not be ready to say farewell at the end of your stay, but we know if Maui gets into your heart, you will be back.