Things to Do on Maui in July
From Independence Day fireworks to backyard barbeques and lazy, poolside days, there are few pleasures as exquisite as summer.
July is the heart of the hot season, when time seems to take on a new dimension, afternoons stretch on forever, and worries are, well, where?
Certainly not on a Maui holiday, where the sultry weather, south swells, and aloha vibes take “summer vacation” to a whole new level.
Here are nine inspired ways to savor your Valley Isle break:
1. La Perouse + Leoda’s + Cliff Dive Ceremony
Your first day of vacay should be spent getting some serious fun. Join Redline Rafting and relish two of Maui’s top offerings—sun-drenched weather and terrific snorkeling—at La Perouse. Located on the southern tip of Maui, these volcanic shores have some of Hawaii’s most diverse and dazzling reefs. Tangs and wrasse are profuse in these rarely-visited waters, but it’s the honu—the magnificent and much-loved Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle—that earns La Perouse quite the reputation.
All that sun and saltwater is bound to stir up an appetite; indulge yours at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop on the way to explore the west side, where fresh-squeezed lemonade is served alongside seared ahi sandwiches and mini Key Lime pies that are almost too adorable to eat. (Almost.) Fun fact about Leoda’s, they actually did some of their employee training at my absolute favorite place to eat in Ann Arbor (my hometown), Zingerman’s Bakery!
Steal the rest of the day’s sunlight at the world-renowned Ka’anapali Beach, where dusk is marked with a gorgeous retelling of King Kahekili’s cliff dive off Pu’u Keka’a. Do dinner and a show at the Sheraton Luau, sitting directly on Ka’anapali Beach for a sunset over the water.
2. Honokohau Falls + Sunset Cruise + Local Grinds
Mother Nature shows off the best of her beauty in Hawaii—and not just on its postcard-perfect beaches. Waterfalls abound on the Valley Isle’s remote eastern coast, but the island’s largest—as in 1,100 feet—can only be experienced from aloft. To be more precise, from the cabin of a helicopter as it hovers above its gloriousness. Good thing Air Maui has just the craft and skilled staff to take you towards this cascading wonder. (You can also see Molokai and more of West Maui on one of their tours.)
Ground your feet back in reality—as far as reality on vacations go—along the Wailea Coastal Walk. Simple, straightforward—and steering you past five white sand beaches and the opulent resorts that front them—this is precisely how a walk on vacation should be.
Enjoy a Maui sunset the way it ought be enjoyed, while sipping fruity drinks under a sail on the Kai Kanani out of Makena. You’ll indulge in delicious pupus and amazing service on a spacious sailing catamaran. They take pride in having only small groups at a time, so it feels like a private charter.
Remain in the region after watching the sun sink beyond the horizon, then plan to be swept away in an entirely different way at Humble Market Kitchin. Founded by award-winning, Hawaii-raised chef Roy Yamaguchi, this swank spot turns up the notch on plantation eats with pork belly ramen, fork-tender short ribs, and steamed dumplings
3. Makawao Rodeo and Parade + Zip Lining + Prime Rib
This one is near and dear to my heart because Makawao is my town here on Maui!
Paniolo came to be in the 1830s when Mexican vaquero arrived in the islands to teach Hawaiians how to lasso, round, and ride. Remnants of this part of Hawaii’s past are found today in Makawao. Lined with some of the island’s prettiest galleries and boutiques—and a small, charming museum—the town is a joy all year-round; its uniqueness, however, is best highlighted at its rodeo and parade. Now in its 53rd year, the annual fete starts with a parade down historic Baldwin Ave, followed by tractor-loads of fun for the whole family, from face painting and crafts to bull riding, steer chasing, and live musical entertainment.
Once you’ve had your fill, find a different kind of thrill zip lining with Skyline Eco-Adventures, where you and your crew can soar over impossibly-green valleys.
Replenish at Makawao Steak House, a homey establishment, first started as a fish house in 1927, that serves an excellent prime rib with creamy horseradish. Peer around as you wait for your meal: photos of the town’s rancher past adorn the walls while the blazing fireplace enhances the mood of it all.
4. Surf Lesson + Island Brews + Stargazer’s Picnic
Born and raised on Maui’s North Shore, Tyler Larronde has been surfing Maui’s waves since he was five (and braved the world-famous—infamous?—Jaws at fourteen). Now, the young pro “shares his stoke” with private and group surfing lessons around the island he’s always called home; book yours to hang ten by his instruction’s end.
Post-ride, head to the Maui Brew Co. in Central Kihei, where crafters of the Valley Isle’s finest lagers and ales—including a Pau Hana Pilsner and a Pineapple Mana Wheat—will show you how they create keg after keg of liquid aloha.
Grab ahi poke, sushi, and fresh salads at Island Gourmet Market in Wailea before heading to Polo Beach, where you can picnic on the sand while watching the starlit waves.
6. Maui Tropical Plantation + Souvenir Shopping + The Mill House
Long before niche farms offered daily tours and dining experiences, Maui Tropical Plantation served as one of Hawaii’s leading tourist destinations. That reputation remains, in large part because of its devotion to the land and its people. Tram tours are offered of the working plantation’s spacious grounds, where tropical flowers and crops, ranging from jackfruit to sugar, grow in lovely abundance.
After exploring the tranquil scenery—and stopping in for a cup of joe at their antique-laden roasting café—check souvenir recipients off your list at their General Store and soap factory.
And no need to leave when hunger strikes: The Mill House took home 2017’s ‘Aipono Award for Maui’s Most Innovative Menu; you’ll see why as you dive into a meal inspired by the island’s freshest bounty.
6. Pool Hop + Fleetwood’s on Front St. + Fourth of July Fireworks
Ka’anapali goes down in history as Hawaii’s first master-planned resort community, resulting in a lush region marked by manicured landscaping, pristine golf courses, and some of the island’s best shopping. But its real claim to fame is Ka’anapali Beach. Home to the afore-suggested cliff diving ceremony, this three-mile-long gem edges against seven plush resorts, all of which have aquatic playgrounds of their own. While some hotels have a strict, patron-only policy, a couple are cool with your using their facilities—just be sure to give back through eating and drinking at their on-site restaurants (and ask the staff for permission before disrobing).
Tan accomplished, book a table on the terrace at Mick Fleetwood’s eponymous bar and restaurant on Lahaina’s Front Street, where you can prep for Independence Day activities over dollar oysters, crab fritters, and guava spritzes. By 8pm, the island sky will be awash in electric colors as the Lahaina Action Committee puts on a fireworks show of epic measures.
7. Obon Festival + Nuka + Haleakala
About 5 years ago I went to the Obon festival and it has continued to be one of my favorite July activities year after year.
Summer means more than just hotter-than-usual weather in Hawaii: it’s also the season of Obon Festivals, a Japanese-Buddhist custom of honoring deceased loved ones. But solemn they are not—the fests are filled with tons of color (lanterns, kimonos, taiko drums) and heaps of energy. July’s “bon” celebrations are held at missions across the island, but check out Paia’s Rinzai Zen Buddhist Mission for one of the most exciting.
Keep the theme going with sake, specialty sushi rolls, and black sesame ice cream at Nuka before hopping on board with Skyline Hawaii. Expert guides will give you the goods on Maui’s history and geology as they provide a tour of upcountry before reaching the acme of one of the world’s largest dormant volcanos (and, measured from the sea floor, the third tallest mountain on Earth). The info is bound to amaze, but it’s the majestic size and sweeping views that will blow you away.
8. Ferry Ride + Lanai Pineapple Festival + Adult Shave Ice
James Dole—yes, he of Dole Pineapple fame—bought the island of Lanai in 1922, thus turning the rugged isle off Maui’s western shores into an agricultural titan. While Lanai now caters more to the well-heeled set than to the world’s pineapple market (at one point, the island generated 75% of the globe’s pineapple production), its rich history is commemorated each summer at their annual fest. Now in its 26th year, the Lanai Pineapple Festival attracts top performers in hula, ukulele, and more; it also showcases its prized crop through eating contests, food booths, and cooking demonstrations.
Enjoy Shipwreck Beach before returning on the last ferry to Lahaina, where you can slip in a cone of Down the Hatch’s tipsy-inducing, strawberry-lilikoi shave ice.
9. Kahanu Garden + The Preserve Kitchen & Bar + Spa at Travaasa Hana
Rise before the mynahs to experience a sliver of old Hawaii at Kahanu Garden on the Hana coast. The National Botanical Garden, tucked into one of the world’s largest collections of hala, boasts not only 464 acres of verdure but also the biggest surviving manmade structure in Polynesia. Called the Pi’ilani Heiau, the temple—comprised of lava rocks and stretching across three acres—carries a mystical air that’s enhanced by the isolated surroundings.
Skip the farm stands and signs for coconut gelato and head to Travaasa Hana instead. The acclaimed resort—rustic but elegant, secluded and yet inclusive—holds a superb farm-to-fork restaurant. Try pan-roasted fresh-caught fish with a candied-ginger gimlet before strolling into the hotel’s spa: their Hohonu Nui Deep Tissue Massagepractically makes summer last longer with its pure ahhhhhh.
10. Have a Maui Family Photo Session or Maui Engagement Photography Session with Angela Nelson Photography
Of course, I have to put a plug in for me! My new associate Tenessa is all trained up and ready to take on my Maui family Photography sessions! Engaged and want some epic Maui Engagement Photos? I’m your girl.