Every year around this time, there's a noticeable shift in Maui's seasons that hearkens the arrival of spring. Winter swells on the island's north shore become smaller and more infrequent, and the tradewinds strengthen and become more consistent to foreshadow the arrival of summer. In the rural, horse-strewn pastures of Upcountry, purple jacaranda trees brilliantly bloom and then blanket the roadways in violet, and across the island, tens of thousands of smiling visitors spend their Spring Break on Maui. Of all the different times of the year, Spring Break is one of the most popular times to visit the Hawaiian Islands. The whales are still here, the weather is warm, and visitors from many of the northern latitudes escape to the islands in the hopes of trimming a a couple of weeks off of winter.
And—perhaps most importantly—Maui is packed with fun activities, which is what exactly what Spring Break's all about. So, with Spring Break literally getting closer by the day—and some schools already on holiday—here's a list of some of the best Spring Break activities on Maui to get you smiling outdoors.
Paddle An Outrigger Canoe
What's not to like about outrigger canoe paddling? You're in the beautiful outdoors, floating on water, and simultaneously getting a shoulder and back workout that trumps any fancy gym. More importantly, outrigger canoe paddling is intrinsically linked with traditional Hawaiian culture, and the value system teaches of laulima—or the strength in working together.
For outrigger canoe tours here on Maui, check out Hawaiian Paddle Sports; not only do they donate thousands of dollars to local, environmental non-profits, but they're supporters of Trilogy's Blue 'Aina reef cleanup program and members of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.
Watch Breaching Humpback Whales
Wait—isn't whale watching in Maui a winter thing? Are there still whales here on Spring Break? Believe it or not, whale season in Maui technically lasts all the way until May 15th, and we often run charters through the third week in April depending on the number of sightings.
Actually, March is one of the peak months of whale activity in Maui, since most of the new calves have already been born and the mothers are teaching their newborn children how to splash, breach, and breathe. Our Maui whale watching tours depart from Lahaina, Ma'alaea, and Ka'anapali Beach, and to get you prepped for a whale watching tour, check out our article on 8 facts you probably never knew about humpbacks.
Fly Down A Zipline With Ocean Views
To say that zip lining is a popular activity would be the understatement of the year. Here in Hawaii—and the rest of the U.S.—zip lining tours have exploded in number and are seemingly everywhere you turn. Wouldn't it be great during Spring Break on Maui, to clip in a harness and zip through the air with the company that started it all? On a tour with Skyline Eco-Adventures, visitors have the chance to spend a few hours with the company that started the first U.S. hipline tour all the way back in 2002.
At the Ka'anapali zipline course, guests will off road high above Lahaina to otherwise inaccessible land, and be treated to sweeping ocean views looking out towards Moloka'i and Lana'i. Aside from taking care of your family as they literally fly through the air, they also make sure to take care of the environment—donating 1% of their annual sales to 1% for the planet, and giving their staff a full day's wage for volunteering in the local community.
Charter A Private Boat
Whoa, hold on a second—that sounds expensive. Why would I charter a private boat in Maui? If you're just visiting with your newlywed spouse—or maybe just the two kids—then chartering a private catamaran in Maui is probably a bit excessive. If, on the other hand, you're coming to Maui for a family reunion or are part of a larger group, it's often cheaper to charter a whole boat than pay the individual rates.
Imagine the thrill of a private whale watch where you know every person on board, or clinking glasses as the sun goes down from a table with an ocean view. When you charter your own boat, you call the shots, and the itinerary can be catered to include the activities that are best catered for your group. So, if it's grandma and grandpa and their seven children—and then the 16 grandkids between them—inquire about rates for a private tour for a Maui Spring Break to remember.
Have Dinner On The Roof Of Lahaina
From Hawaiian monarchs who ruled the Kingdom from nearby Moku'ula, to the legions of whalers, missionaries, and businessmen who all spent time in Lahaina, one thing in common that everyone shared was the beauty of a Lahaina sunset. Today, the brilliant colors in the sky each night still shine over downtown Lahaina, and visitors can appreciate the evening show like historic figures before them.
For one of the best sunset views in Lahaina, Fleetwoods on Front St. has the only tables on top of a Lahaina rooftop. The brainchild of rock legend Mick Fleetwood, the restaurant features an enormous wine list and live music each night—as well as that timeless sunset view to start the evening off right.
Learn To Surf Or Stand Up Paddle
Surfing started here in Hawaii—and so did standup paddling. Naturally, it only makes sense during Spring Break in Maui to try your hand at the two sports that Hawaii helped put on the map. Because of the weather conditions in Maui, mornings are often the best times to go either surfing or paddling. The winds are lighter in the earlier the morning, and when stand up paddling off Ka'anapali, it's often possible to see fish and turtles swimming right beneath your board. For Maui surf and paddleboard lessons, check out the shack on Ka'anapali Beach by the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
Scuba Dive With Turtles At Pu'u Keka'a
Don't get us wrong—since we're obviously fans of snorkeling—but there's something calming and uniquely peaceful about swimming and breathing underwater. Listening to the rhythmic sound of your breath and the calming flurry of bubbles, and a place where briefly, even for a moment, it's completely and totally quiet.
Spring Break is a great time to learn a new hobby, and it's possible to get your scuba certification in only a couple of days. One of the best places to take scuba lessons on Maui is at Ka'anapali Beach, where the shallow depth and wealth of marine life make it the perfect place for learning. Also, conditions in spring are often pretty good since the winter swells are declining, and since there are still plenty of whales offshore, the entire dive takes place to the sound of whales singing in the distance.
*Note: If you're considering getting certified on your Maui Spring Break, check out the PADI e-learning section where you can complete the academic portion of the course before you arrive on island.
Go Waterfall Hunting In Hana
Even though we're all about the ocean in Maui, there are dozens of other land based adventures to experience here on Spring Break. One of our favorites is jumping in the car and driving the Road to Hana—stopping at places along the way in search of your own private waterfall. Now, it's important to realize when searching for waterfalls, that rocks can be slippery, conditions can change, and you're fully aware of the risks.
Never trespass on private property (especially where it says "No Tresspassing"), and always assess the current conditions to see if you're up for the challenge. There are plenty of guidebooks and travel websites with detailed directions to waterfalls, and one of the best ways to maximize the experience is to spend a night in Hana. This way, instead of trying to rush through the drive in only a single day, you can leisurely linger at tropical falls while everyone else is in a rush, and then wake up the next morning before everyone arrives—perhaps even choosing to watch the sunrise from Wai'anapanapa State Park—and make your way to the Pools of Ohe'o to enjoy them without the crowds.
Learn About Hawaii's Past—And Help To Build Its Future
Visiting Maui and enjoying the activities is a great way to spend a Spring Break, but to infuse the trip with a long-lasting and meaningful sense of accomplishment, consider volunteering your time with a cultural organization. Even if it's only for a single morning, volunteering is one of the best ways to engage with the local community—as well as to learn the rich past of Hawaiian culture on Maui.
To spend a morning planting trees in an ancient Hawaiian village, Maui Cultural Lands hosts trips at 9:15am on Saturdays. Meet in the parking lot of Pu'ukoli'i train station across from the Westin Ka'anapali Villas, and in addition to touring an ancient village that was built over 600 years ago, visitors have the chance to lend a hand in reviving the Hawaiian culture.
Sail Away Into The Sunset
Finally, what better way to end an epic Spring Break than by sailing away into the sunset? There's the sound of waves gently lapping the hulls as the sun sinks low on the horizon, and the melodic tunes of slack key guitar wafting ever so softly on the breeze. For families visiting the island with children, a Ka'anapali sunset sail is the perfect way to end the trip and finish right on the beach. Or, if it's a romantic couple's getaway trip that overlaps with spring break, opt for the Captain's Sunset Dinner Sail—an adults only, luxurious sail unlike any other on the island.