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If you are planning to visit the Hawaiian Island of Maui and want to do it on a budget, then look no further than this 7 day Maui Itinerary for budget-conscious travelers…
Beautiful Maui is known as the Honeymoon Island of Hawaii but whether you are looking for a romantic break or a vacation packed full of outdoor adventure, you can find it in Maui. And you can find it on a budget.
Maui is a lush and pretty island that is definitely worth exploring for its diverse beaches (white! black! red!!), accessible waterfalls that are perfect for swimming under, volcanic landscapes, scenic hiking trails, and cute towns and villages.
Due to its small size, you can see the best of the island over 7 days in Maui, although you could easily spend more time here too, visiting more beaches, hiking more trails, and revisiting your favorite spots multiple times.
I have visited Maui on two separate trips, first in 2009 and again in 2019, spending around three weeks here in total. Both times I visited I was traveling on a backpacker budget but I found more than enough things to see and do in Maui to keep me happy.
I put together this detailed Maui Itinerary that covers all the places and experiences I loved during my two times in Maui, I hope it helps in planning your own amazing 7 day Maui Itinerary.
Ultimate 7 Day Maui Itinerary
This itinerary for Maui has a big focus on the natural attractions of the island, with activities that can fit any traveler’s budget as most of the attractions I love the most in Maui are free to visit. The biggest splurge for this Maui itinerary is renting a car, which I highly recommend to allow you to see all the best Maui highlights.
For this Maui 7 Day Itinerary, you will be staying in three different parts of the island: Hana on the East Coast, Lahaina on the West Coast, and Makawao in Upcountry Maui. This will give you a way better overview of Maui and its diverse landscapes than staying in one location the whole time, although you can definitely do that if you prefer.
I tried to not make this Maui Itinerary too action-packed because it’s important to have some downtime at the beach or by the pool too. There are a couple of optional splurges in here but you can definitely skip them if you have a tighter budget, same goes with the restaurant suggestions for every meal.
Maui Itinerary Overview
Here’s a quick overview of my 7 Day Maui Itinerary. I will break it down into more detail below. I hope you love hiking, beaches, waterfalls, and scenic drives because you will find a lot of these in this itinerary!
Day 1: Arrive in Maui in the morning. Pick up your rental car and visit the cute town of Paia before driving the Road to Hana – this will end up being an absolute highlight of your 7 days in Maui Itinerary. Stop along the way to see a black sand beach, tropical fruit and banana bread stands, and swim under waterfalls. Stay in Hana.
Day 2: Spend the day around Hana, swimming at a red sand beach, visiting the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o Gulch, hiking the Pipiwai Trail, then driving either the southern route from Hana to Makawao or back along the road to Hana. Stay in Makawao.
Day 3: Spend the morning in upcountry Maui – grab breakfast and explore the historic main street in Makawao, then visit a lavender farm and/or a goat dairy then head to Haleakalā National Park for the afternoon. Hike a section of the Sliding Sands Trail and then watch the sunset. Stay in Makawao.
Day 4: Spend the day at Big and Little beaches at Makena then go to a Lūʻau in the evening. Stay in Lahaina.
Day 5: Do a day tour – Popular choices include whale watching (Jan- Mar), taking a helicopter ride over the island, snorkeling at Molokini Crater, hiking to waterfalls, or downhill bike riding on Haleakala. Stay in Lahaina.
Day 6: Spend the morning snorkeling and beaching in Kaanapali, then head into Lahaina in the late afternoon for shopping, dinner, and a gorgeous sunset. Stay in Lahaina.
Day 7: Hike the Waihee Ridge trail, then continue around Kahekili Highway (not for the faint of heart!) stopping at the Nakalele Blowhole, to Kapalua Bay beach where you can laze away the afternoon. Stay in Lahaina.
Maui Itinerary Day 1: Paia and Road to Hana
Fly into Maui on a morning flight (or the evening before), and after picking up your rental car at the airport, head to the charming and laidback town of Paia, where you can grab breakfast at Paia Bay Coffee Bar, check out the independent stores and boutiques and pick up provisions for lunch from Mana Foods, a local grocery store with a Deli, Bakery, and lots of health food options.
Then you will be driving the Road to Hana – the most scenic drive on the island and one of the highlights of your Maui 7 day Itinerary.
It is not about the destination but it is rather about the journey on the Road to Hana. Take your time driving this narrow and windy road through lush rainforest along the north coast of Maui.
You will be staying in Hana tonight so you can take your time driving there, stopping off at all the points of interest you want to along the way. Here are my favorite stops along the road to Hana that I recommend stopping at:
- Twin Falls: Hike the 1.8-mile trail to this double waterfall where you can swim.
- Ke’anae Peninsula: A quick diversion off the Road to Hana, there are some pretty coastal views and excellent banana bread at Aunt Sandy’s stand.
- Upper Waikani Falls: Another beautiful waterfall where you can swim.
- Wai‘anapanapa State Park: One of the most stunning stops on the Road to Hana, this state park has a beach of black sand and smooth black rocks, hiking trails, and a sea cave. If you do want to visit, make sure to reserve a time in advance.
Erin and Simon of Never Ending Voyage wrote a more detailed guide to the Road to Hana with other possible stops you may want to see so you should definitely check it out.
Check into your accommodation in Hana and look around this small and quiet town. Relax at your accommodations then head for dinner at Hana Ranch Restaurant or across the street from there there’s a small food truck park – I loved Ae’s Thai Kitchen.
If you decided not to rent a car, you can join this tour which drives to Hana and back in a day, although I very strongly suggest driving it yourself and staying in Hana for a night if you can.
Maui Itinerary Day 2: Hana Attractions and Drive To Makawao
After breakfast, check out of your accommodations and explore some of the unique and beautiful places of interest around Hana. Make sure to stop by 100-year old Hasegawa General Store for lunch supplies first.
The first stop is possibly the most unique – a red sand beach! Park at the end of Uakea Road in town by the Hana Community Center and follow the short trail to Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach. Make sure to wear hiking sandals or shoes as the trail can get slippery and is quite narrow.
Swim at this secluded cove beach surrounded by cliffs then it is time to hit the road again. The next stop is pretty Wailua Falls, about a 20-minute drive south and just off the highway, then it’s another ten minutes to the start of the Pipiwai Trail.
The trail is within Haleakalā National Park and you will need to pay a $30 vehicle fee to enter. This is valid for three days so you can use it for day 3 to visit the summit of Haleakalā National Park.
The Pipiwai Trail is a 4-mile out and back trail that will take you beside a river and through a bamboo forest along a boardwalk to rugged Waimoku Falls. Once you have finished the hike, grab your picnic lunch and hike the half-mile to ‘Ohe’o Gulch, otherwise known as the Seven Sacred Pools.
‘Ohe’o Gulch is a gorgeous sight with several pools and waterfalls cascading down a valley and depending on conditions, you may or may not be able to swim in the pools.
After you are done with the pools, you have two choices. You could either drive the Road to Hana back to Makawao where you will be spending the next two nights, or you could take the road less traveled – the southern route known as the backside or back road to Hana.
The road is mostly paved and the only slightly sketchy section is the first five miles or so once you get out of the National Park, so once you get through that, you are golden.
It’s really not that bad though, and if you are a reasonably confident driver and there is nothing in your rental car agreement that forbids you to drive it, I highly recommend adding this drive to your Maui Itinerary because this is about as off the beaten path in Maui as you can get and the scenery is rugged and gorgeous.
Joey Rozier on Flickr
It is a 1 hour and 45-minute drive from ‘Ohe’o Gulch to Makawao on the back road or 2 hours and 20-minutes (plus traffic) on the main Road to Hana. Read this detailed guide for the back road to Hana to make a more informed decision on whether you want to risk it or not.
Check in to your accommodations in Makawao where you will be staying the next two nights, then head out to dinner at Cassanova Italian Restaurant which has great pasta and wood-fired pizza.
Maui Itinerary Day 3: Upcountry Maui and Haleakalā National Park
Start the morning with breakfast and a stroll through historic Makawao, one of my favorite towns in Maui. Makawao couldn’t be further removed from the coastal resort towns in Maui and it is known for its Hawaiian cowboys, known as paniolo.
Frank Hamm on Flickr
Sip Me is an excellent spot for coffee and a light breakfast, or sit down for something more substantial at Freshies.
After breakfast, head to nearby Kula to visit Ali’i Kula Lavender where you can wander through their lavender fields on the slopes of Haleakala (don’t miss trying a lavender scone), or to Surfing Goat Dairy where you can do a tour, meet the goats, and sample delicious goat cheese products.
Grab lunch with a side of incredible views at Kula Lodge before your last stop of the day: Haleakalā National Park. You can use the entry pass that you purchased yesterday when you hiked the Pipiwai Trail.
The drive up Haleakalā is a beautiful one and the road is in great condition. Once you get to the top, I highly recommend you hike at least some of the spectacular Sliding Sands Trail, or you could hike the whole 11-miles if you arrive at the park early enough. Even just a mile in and back is worth it.
I hiked about three miles along the trail then back out again (six miles total) and it was enough to see some stunning moonlike scenery, to get away from the crowds at the top, and to see the rare ‘ahinahina (Haleakalā Silversword) plant which can only be found in Haleakalā National Park.
Once you are done with your hike, relax at the top and wait to see the sunset. A lot of travel guides will tell you to add the sunrise at Haleakalā to your Maui Itinerary, but that involves you booking a spot, getting up at 2 am, and freezing your butt off. I much prefer the sunset and the road is fine to drive down in the dark, just take your time.
Have dinner at Kula Bistro which has a varied menu including seafood, steak, pasta, and pizza, or head back to Makawao to dine at Polli’s Mexican Restaurant or at Thai Mee Up food truck.
Maui Itinerary Day 4: Makena Beach and a Lūʻau
After one last look around Makawao, check out of your accommodations then drive 30-minutes to Kihei for a late breakfast at local favorite, Kihei Caffe.
The rest of the day is all about beach lazing and swimming at the golden-sand Makena Beach, just 15-minutes south of Kihei. The water here is super clear and has a greenish tinge, and swimming here in sublime.
There are two beaches at Makena – Big Beach and Little Beach – and you should definitely visit both. To reach Little Beach, it is a short hike over the headland at the northern end of Big Beach.
Little Beach is a nudist beach but there are plenty of clothed people there too so you shouldn’t feel too out of place if you are not a fan of getting naked in public.
For lunch, you could either take a picnic to the beach or get some excellent tacos from Jazzy’s Kitchen Mexican Food Truck which is right by the entrance to Makena Big Beach.
After a relaxing day of swimming and sunbathing, it is time to drive to Lahaina, your home base for the rest of your Maui Itinerary.
If you want to experience a traditional Hawaiian Lūʻau, this is a good night to do it. I recommend the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau which is rated as one of the best in Maui. Any Lūʻau you choose is going to run you at least $120 per person so it’s up to you whether you want to splurge on this. If you are also visiting Oahu, you could go to a Lūʻau there instead as there are cheaper options.
If you decide to go for it, you can expect a fun evening of traditional dance and entertainment, a delicious multi-course meal, and drinks.
Maui Itinerary Day 5: Do a Tour
Today is a free day. You could either add a popular tour to your Maui itinerary or take it easy at one of the beaches near Lahaina. If you do decide to do a tour, here are the top tours on Maui:
- Whale Watching from Lahaina (Nov – May)
- Snorkeling at Molokini and Turtle Town
- Downhill Bike Riding on Haleakala
- Maui and Molokai Scenic Helicopter Flight
- Waterfall and Rainforest Hiking Tour With Picnic Lunch
Full disclosure – I haven’t done any of these tours myself but these are the ones I am interested in and would definitely like to do next time I am in Maui.
Depending on what you decide to do, you will probably be done by the late afternoon so I suggest exploring quaint downtown Lahaina, checking out the shops, galleries, and historic buildings, and grabbing some beers at Maui Brewing Co. – the largest Craft Brewery in Hawaii.
Susan Smith on Flickr
Then it’s time for the big event in Lahaina – the sunset. Find a spot with a convenience store beer along the seawall or at a waterside bar balcony to watch one of the best sunsets on Maui.
There are numerous affordable choices for dinner including Duke’s Beach House, Ono Tacos, and Teddy’s Bigger Burgers.
Andym5855 on Flickr
Maui Itinerary Day 6: Snorkeling at Kaanapali Beach
After breakfast in Lahaina at local spot 808 Grindz Cafe, drive up to Kaanapali for some of the best snorkeling in Maui. You can buy your own snorkeling gear for cheap in Lahaina if you didn’t bring your own.
Beautiful Kaanapali Beach is one of the best on the island and so is the snorkeling around Black Rock, which is at the northern end of the beach.
Swim just a short distance offshore and you will be surrounded by colorful fish and there is also a high possibility you can swim with turtles here. This is a perfect beginner’s snorkeling spot with calm water and easy access, but more advanced snorkelers will love it too.
If you are lucky enough to see turtles, give them their space and don’t harass them – admire them from a distance only. Also, make sure not to snorkel further around from Black Rock as it is prone to rip tides.
Spend some time relaxing on this gorgeous beach when you get tired of snorkeling, and stroll the coastal path in front of the resorts, admiring the beautifully manicured tropical gardens – you may even spot penguins and flamingos which live at one of the resorts here. There are numerous spots you can grab lunch including Hula Grill and Monkeypod Kitchen.
In the late afternoon drive back to Lahaina, stopping at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop in Olowalu for their famous Chocolate Mac Nut Pie. The Banana Cream Pie is to die for too.
Freshen up back at your hotel then either head into Lahaina for dinner, or hop on a sunset cruise with cocktails and hor d’oeurves.
jcsandoval4 on Flickr
Maui Itinerary Day 7: Hike the Waihee Ridge Trail and Visit Kapalua Bay Beach
Wake up early on your last day in Maui (sob!) to hike the breathtaking Waihee Ridge Trail. It’s a 50-minute drive to the trailhead so stop in Wailuku to grab a light breakfast and coffee from Wailuku Coffee Company.
The hike follows a ridgeline surrounded by lush green mountains with numerous waterfalls, and dramatic mountain and ocean views the whole way. There is 1600 feet of elevation gain so it is a great workout too.
Once you have finished the hike, continue westward along the Kahekili Highway. This highway is narrow and winding in parts but if you drove the back road to Hana, you will be fine – just take your time.
Your next stop will be the Nakalele Blowhole, one of the most impressive blowholes I have ever seen. Make sure to not stand too close because it is very powerful.
jcsandoval4 on Flickr
Spend the rest of the afternoon on beautiful Kapalua Bay Beach, one of the most picturesque in Maui, where you can grab lunch at The Gazebo. Then head back to Lahaina for your last night. Catch the sunset again and grab dinner in town.
Alternative Day 7: If you think that the Waihee Ridge Trail and/or the Kahekili Highway may be too much for you, drive up to Kapalua Bay Beach by heading north along the coast from Lahaina and walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail instead. It is only 2.5 miles and flat with lovely coastal views. You can still visit the blowhole too as the highway isn’t too bad up until that point.
Hawaii Savvy on Flickr
And that’s it folks – a fun and exciting 7 days in Maui! I hope this Maui Itinerary helps inspire you to plan your own Maui trip.
Plan Your Own Maui on a Budget Trip
Money-Saving Tips For Maui
There are a number of ways you can save money in Maui, here are a few tips to travel Maui on a budget:
Make Your Own Meals. Eating out all the time can get expensive so you could make breakfast at your accommodations and either pack a lunch or cook dinner in the evening (if you have self-catering facilities). Only eating out once a day will save you a ton.
Shop Local. Imported food is expensive in Hawaii so it’s best to shop local as much as possible. Farmers’ markets are the best for fresh and affordable vegetables, fruits, and bread, and you can get a number of Hawaiian specialties at supermarkets and small local markets like poke, spam musubi, haupia pudding, and poi. I love Mana Foods in Paia, Hasegawa General Store in Hana, and Rodeo General Store in Makawao which all offer prepared meals as well as groceries.
Don’t Buy Water. Water is safe to drink from the tap in Maui and it is delicious!
Focus on Free Activities. Swimming at beaches, hiking the trails, waterfall chasing, and exploring cute towns are all free activities and some of the best ways to experience beautiful Maui.
Stay at a Hostel or Camp. One of the biggest expenses in Maui is accommodation, but if you don’t mind forgoing the luxury of a resort or swanky hotel, you could stay in a private room or dorm in a hostel – this is also perfect for cheap day tours, self-catering, and meeting new friends. You could also bring your camping gear and get back to nature by camping at the numerous campgrounds around Maui.
Visit in the Low Season. For cheaper prices on accommodation, car rental and tours, consider visiting in the low season which is early January, spring (Mar-May), and fall (Sep-Nov).
Do a Work Exchange. If you really want to experience Maui on a budget and have the time to stay longer, I highly recommend doing a work exchange through WWOOF, Work Away, or Help X. You are usually expected to work for 20-25 hours per week in exchange for a place to stay and maybe food. And in your free time, you can explore!
There are all kinds of work exchanges available including cleaning rooms at a bed and breakfast, working on a farm, or helping with someone’s kids. We did one for six weeks on the Big Island where I worked for a pizza stand at a Farmers Market and Toby did maintenance around the house and we loved it!
When To Visit Maui
Maui has a mild tropical climate year-round so it’s always a good time to visit. If you want to go whale watching visit between mid-December to mid-May and avoid coming during Christmas as it is a very busy period.
Visit in early January, spring and fall for the best prices and less people.
Where To Stay in Maui on a Budget
If you have camping gear with you, camping is the absolute cheapest accommodation option on Maui. This detailed post has a comprehensive list of all the campgrounds on Maui so check it out if you are planning on camping.
Staying in a hostel is one of the best options for staying in Maui on a budget. Lahaina has one hostel, Tiki Beach Hostel, which is located in the heart of Lahaina and offers dorms and private rooms, a guest kitchen, and boogie boards and snorkeling gear for guest use.
There are also hostels in Paia and Wailuku so you could look at basing yourself there as an alternative to Lahaina. Banana Bungalow in Wailuku is an excellent hostel with daily free tours, dorms and privates, free breakfast, free airport shuttle, a hot tub, and a social atmosphere.
Aloha Surf Hostel in Paia is a great choice too with dorms and private rooms, free tours, free breakfast and a hot tub.
Hotels in Lahaina are very expensive but another option for more affordable accommodations is booking a vacation rental. This is especially cost-effective if you are traveling as a group or family, and you can save money on meals as you will have cooking facilities. These are my best picks in and around Lahaina:
- Private Studio in the Heart of Lahaina Town
- Papakea Resort Studio Condo With Ocean Views in Lahaina
- Serenity One Bedroom Condo Close to Kaanapali Beach
- One Bedroom Oceanfront Condo at Kaanapali Beach
There aren’t a lot of options in Hana, especially on a budget. I highly recommend the Hana Inn – I stayed at this cozy and affordable spot back in 2009 and loved it. I believe this is the cheapest spot in town.
Heavenly Hana Paradise is a sustainable studio surrounded by tropical fruit trees and is more of a splurge but definitely more luxurious.
God’s Peace of Maui Bed and Breakfast is a great affordable choice in Makawao with private rooms and shared facilities, and this two-bedroom cottage with a hot tub in nearby Kula is a perfect option for groups.
How To Get Around Maui
Rent a Car
I 100% recommend renting a car to be able to experience everything on this itinerary. If you book in advance you can usually find pretty good deals. I recommend checking prices on Turo, Discount Hawaii Car Rental, and Maui Budget Cars, as well as checking the big-name car rental agencies including Budget, Avis, SIXT, and Enterprise.
Catch a Bus
There are fourteen bus routes on Maui that will get you between different towns around the island but they aren’t super regular and can take a long time to get between stops. You won’t be able to get to Hana or up to Haleakalā National Park by bus and many other places in this itinerary.
Technically hitchhiking is illegal but it is pretty common throughout the Hawaiian islands and it is usually pretty easy to catch a ride with locals although you need to be patient and flexible. Do this at your own risk.
If you liked this post, check out some of my other Hawaii content:
- The Ultimate Big Island 7 Day Itinerary
- One Week in Kauai: Impressions of the Garden Island
- The Best Things To Do in Waikiki to Escape the Crowds
- The Best Things To Do on the North Shore, Oahu
- Top 10 Gorgeous Hikes on the Big Island of Hawaii
- Incredible Hawaii Tree Houses That You Can Rent!
- The Best Easy Hikes in Kauai
- Hiking the Captain Cook Monument Trail in Hawaii