Top 10 Active Maui Must Do's

If you are preparing to embark on a Maui Island vacation, chances are you are a fairly active individual or family. Our beautiful island and surrounding seas offer many opportunities to fulfill your exercise needs, allowing you to soak up the relaxation thereafter. Disclaimer: The following blog post includes activities considered by many to be extreme tests of physical limits and is for general information purposes only. Trilogy Excursions does not recommend any person engage in physical activities without first consulting a physician and/or taking appropriate safety precautions. Though beginner and advanced options are discussed, the old adage applies: when in doubt don't go out.

Maui Marathon, Half and 5K - Running

Photo Courtesy of: Salty Coconuts Apparel Co.

A Boston Marathon Qualifier, the beauty of Maui will steal your attention away from the sufferfest that is occurring in your body as you cruise through 26.2 miles of paradise. Starting at the Maui Mall in Kahului, the Maui Marathon will head out through Maui urbanity and settle into vast views of infamous cane fields. The waving of the lush green cane will keep you serene through Wailuku until you approach the base of the West Maui Mountains. Enjoy the breeze of Ma'alaea and get ready for some vertical. The Maui Marathon won't just hand you the picturesque view of the Pacific to your left and West Maui Mountains to your right; you have some some work to do before your eyes delight in the postcard sights. From here it is smooth sailing past nearly ten miles of surf and fishing beaches. If you are also a surfer, keep you eyes peeled as you pass the surf breaks called Grandmas, Thousand Peaks, Launiupoko and Guardrails to get a feel for your preferred spot. Those running at a good clip will want to keep in mind some folks may be snuggled up in tents sprinkled along the coast; might not be a great time to sing out loud to your favorite Prince track. If not, you might just have some cheer leaders giving motivational encouragement. The final stretch from Lahaina to Ka'anapali shifts you away from the ocean and into focus mode.  Tunnel vision will have your eyes on the prize: a Whaler's Village finish line, complete with Hawaiian music to serenade the crossing. 

Not ready to brave the West Side heat for the majority of a 26.2 mile run? Then you will be pleased to hear there are half marathon, 10k, 5k and 1 mile options. Parties traveling together with varying running abilities will be able to participate in one of the events under the Maui Marathon umbrella suiting individual styles. 

Photo Courtesy of: Salty Coconuts Apparel Co.

Like to add a little Hawaiian style to your run? Local clothing company headed up by Ironman Triathlete Jodi has got you covered. Salty Coconuts will outfit you in functional style.

Cycle to the Sun or bike tour with local Donnie Arnault and Ryder Hyjedal (professional cyclist) - Cycling


Photo Credit: Tad Craig Photography

Any die hard road cyclist knows the "pain cave" all too well. If you are a glutton for punishment, then Maui has just the race for you: Maui Cyclery's Cycle to the Sun Race. Held annually in June, riders have the option to complete the entire 36 miles ascending 10,000 feet of elevation solo or as part of a relay team. The prolonged butt and lung burner starts at sea level in the plantation town of Paia, which touts itself as the "Windsurf Capital of the World" and finishes at the summit of Haleakala. Majestic views of the North Shore come into view as you make your way to the old rancher town of Makawao. This is where the grade turns up a notch and those familiar with Haleakala put on the hurt like a horse kicked into high gear by its paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). The next 8,000 punishing feet up the volcano will not disappoint.

If your idea of "vacation" doesn't include a grueling ride that will leave your legs shaking for days thereafter, Maui Cyclery has options. Let shop owner and former racer Donnie Arnault be your guide. Donnie and his team will set you up with bike rentals and show you the best Maui has to offer for your fitness level. E-mail him at to schedule. 

Maliko Run - Stand Up Paddling


A group of us got together for a Maliko training run and focused on surfing swells. Video Cred:

Downwind paddling is for advanced paddlers only. If this is not you, read on to live vicariously, then check out the newbie sessions. Maliko Gulch in Haiku is nestled within a large hairpin turn of the Hana Highway. Adventure begins for many a waterman at Maliko Bay; Winter hosts big wave surfers launching jetskis on the days of Jaws and Spring/Summer attracts canoe and SUP enthusiasts beginning their 9 mile trek to Kahului Harbor. This nine mile passage is called the "Maliko Run".  A downwind run is just that - you paddle with the wind at your back and pick up wind swells in open water. A fast paddle cadence helps you jump on the bump and carries you until its time to catch the next bump. Downwind boards are upwards of 17 feet long helping the paddler traverse waves. Some boards come with a rudder and steering mechanism. You will want sun protection, plenty of water, nutrition and a buddy for the ride. Once you get to Kahului Harbor and celebrate your stoke, you can hitch a ride back to your car on the Moore Water Time Shuttle

If this is your first experience trying SUP, you can rent a very voluminous board and head to the gentle waters of Kahului Harbor or Kalama Beach Park. Mornings on Maui have less wind and flatter water so plan on getting in the water at sunrise. Anything later in the day will subject you to the possibility of fighting offshore wind to get back to the shore. No one wants to have to make the news for getting rescued in the ocean, so best play it safe. Heed the local adage: "When in doubt, don't go out". Second Wind in Kahului will rent you a variety of boards including downwinders. Pop in and visit the shop owner Kevin who will outfit you with the best board for you.

Surf Lessons

Photo Credit: Matthew Wheeler

What would a trip to Maui be without a surf sesh? If you have never before surfed, this is your chance to learn from the best on the best waves in the world. Before your dream of riding the waves like Maui native Eddie Aikau will come true (if this name doesn't ring a bell, make sure to watch ESPN's 30 for 30 HAWAIIAN: THE LEGEND OF EDDIE AIKAU), you will need some lessons.  With two locations, Kihei on the South and Lahaina on the West, Maui Surf Lessons LLC will give you the chance to catch a wave year round.  MSL is committed to the environment and gives back to Maui by doing a mini beach cleanup before every session. They also sell reef safe sunscreen to help keep our coral healthy. For more details on reef safe sunscreen, check out our blog post Is Your Sunscreen Reef Safe. Once set up with a rash guard, and all necessary surf equipment, you head out to a secluded surf break away from the crowds of large surf schools. So what's a rash guard? Is surfing going to give me a contagious skin condition?  No. But a rash guard is a snug fitting shirt that you wear in the water that will help protect your skin from exposure to the surfing wax on the board. We've all seen surfers swimming out to the swells on their stomachs and your tender skin needs protection not only from the wax, but many rash guards also include a level of SPF protection. Skin cancer is not in style and the sun in Maui can be intense, especially when on the water. Do I need booties? No... look around, how many surfers do you see wearing booties? None... except in the large surf schools. One major detriment of booties is they encourage you to leap off the board at the first sign of a wobble and jump feet first into the water. Booties are not super shoes and things in the water could actually hurt you if you land on them full force. You will learn to bail sideways not only to protect yourself, but also the delicate reefs that inhabit many popular surfing spots. Given this year's coral bleaching event, we need to be extra cautious so as to allow the the coral to recover. Your lesson will begin with a land based safety and surfing basics lesson. An then, with all this knowledge in your surfing tool belt you head out and ride the swells.  If visiting in the winter, you might even have a rare chance to head over to Pe'ahi to see the 60 foot swells of Jaws. You will appreciate the awesomeness of it even more having given surfing a shot.

Snorkel Trip Lana'i

Photo Courtesy of Trilogy Excursions

You have come all this way, so why not hop over and explore another Hawaiian island? The smallest publicly accessible island in the Hawai'ian chain is just a 90 minute catamaran cruise away. Conveniently departing from Lahaina at times that circumvent Pali (Honoapiilani Hwy) traffic, Trilogy Excursions welcomes you into their 'ohana (family) from the moment you step on the boat. The Discover Lana'i tour starts with carbo-loading on the way with the Coon family cinnamon roll recipe, accompanied by fresh fruit, coffee and juice. Don't get too relaxed; you will want to have your camera ready for the seasonal humpback whales and spinner dolphins who frequently usher the boat into Menele Harbor. Once disembarked, you will make your way to Hulopo'e Bay Marine Sanctuary. Though public, Trilogy Excursions is the only company with commercial access to the beach keeping the experience capacious. From here the activities abound. Once suited up with snorkel gear, you may swim right from the beach into the world of large parrotfish, schools of convict tang, saddle wrasse, slate pencil urchins, goatfish, yellow tang, humhumunukunukuapua’a, peacock groupers, whitemouth morays, and the list goes on. Did I mention spinner dolphins? Trilogy crew keep tabs on guests from the beach as well as on surfboards in the water. They also keep an eye out for marine wildlife you won't want to miss. Warm up and check more off your activity list by taking a stroll to the rocky tidepools. Pods of water that are formed when the ocean tide splashes over lava rock, tidepools are the perfect dwellings for hermit crabs, urchin and juvenile fish. If you brought your hiking shoes, Sweetheart rock is just a 15-20 minute walk away. Legend has it that a Lana'i warrior, determined to keep his wife's otherworldly beauty to himself, confined her in a sea cave near the rock. A sudden and violent shift in the sea took the life of the imprisoned princess, leaving the warrior stricken with grief. So the story goes, the warrior scaled to the top of the 80 foot rock with his beloved's deceased body and buried her in a tomb. The legend ends with the warrior leaping from the rock to his death. This may not uplift you, but the sight of the iconic rock in stunning surroundings will wash away and brooding frame of mind. If all of this has not fulfilled your itch to be active, a beach volleyball net is ready and waiting. Now that you have worked up your appetite, allow the tasty smells Captain Coon's Kiawe grilled BBQ chicken guide you to Trilogy's Hale O Manele Pavilion. Captain and Crew will serve you in style while overlooking Manele Bay. Though leaving may be tough, setting sail back to Maui while enjoying ice cream and cocktails makes it easier to endure.

Recovery Massage

Photo Courtesy of: The Maui School of Therapeutic Massage

Maui can be quite expensive, it is after all an island in the middle of the Pacific that imports tons upon tons of goods from the Mainland everyday. Extreme and recreational athletes alike stand to benefit from massage therapy which can be très cher . Did you know the Maui School of Therapeutic Massage offers student clinic massage for $30? Hours vary seasonally so it is best to review the website and reservations may only be made by phone. Student clinic interns are required to complete clinic hours for their certification and do so under the supervision of Licensed Massage Therapists. In a way, both parties benefit from the clinic.  The school specializes in training the traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, a technique steeped in Hawaiian prayer, harmony and love. If you request Lomi Lomi, you should feel fully immersed (not surprised) as you hear your therapist begin and end the session with a Hawai'ian chant. The long flowing strokes are an excellent method of rejuvenation as well as introduction to Hawaiian history.

Outrigger canoe

Photo Credit: Matthew Wheeler

Though the landscape is dramatically different, a Maui coastal tour by outrigger canoe will transport you to a time when migration to Maui Nei (beloved Maui) began. A canoe outfitted with a lateral stabilizer or alma, carried some of the first settlers to the Hawaiian islands. Venture out with Hawaiian Paddle Sports whose team of certified marine naturalists educate you not only on the local wildlife, but also on the historical significance of the area. Your day begins with instruction on paddling as a cohesive team, a traditional chant "asking for permission to head out into the ocean" and blowing on the conch shell three times. The stable canoe and team paddle effort make for a smooth ride out to a snorkel location such as Olowalu. Here you can jump in the water and take in the views of Maui's coral reefs. Since Olowalu hosts a turtle "cleaning station" you are nearly guaranteed an opportunity to float alongside the green Hawai'ian sea turtle (but don't touch!) as tropical fish remove algae from its shell. After you cruise back to shore, enjoy coconut water from a freshly cracked coconut and learn how to make rope from its fiber.

For the thrill seekers, Hawaiian Paddle Sports is the only company on Maui that offers Outrigger Canoe surf sessions. The surfing canoe is smaller, holding only four paddlers and has a rocker more conducive to turns. During this session you will learn traditional Hawaiian commands and use them as your team of four catches waves.


Photo Courtesy of: The Sporting Club of The Pacific

The Sporting Club of the Pacific was started by a group craftsmen and athletes who gathered to share ideas and collaborate. The prolific sessions resulted in art and products that enhance varying experiences. We are not talking about performance enhancing drugs, though the natural benefits of the juice pack may have you feeling a natural high. Feats such as surfing JAWS or freediving into the depths of the pacific require an athletic aptitude (and perhaps insanity) that are physically draining. The Sporting Club of the Pacific folks determined there was a need for nutrient dense sustenance without taxing the body with energy sucking digestion. Digestion is not only an energy suck, it also robs the circulatory system of precious oxygen needed for sustained breath holds experienced while getting pummeled by waves or exploring the big blue. So how do you prevent bonking without eating? You drink juice. The Sporting Club of the Pacific prepares juices utilizing Maui made ingredients sets them up in packs for pre, during and post exercise. The term "packing" on Maui has come to mean packing your body with the nutrition needed to tackle Maui Nei's natural feats. If you are like me, you are not likely to surf the 70 foot behemoth Jaws, but any new exercise you experience on Maui will deplete you in new ways. Why not enjoy local fresh juices while doing it?

Kite Boarding Lessons

Photo Courtesy of HST Hawaiian Sailboarding Techniques

When visiting Maui, a kitboarding sesh is a must do. If you have never ventured out on the water tethered to a kite, look no further than Alan Cadiz's Hawaiian Sailboarding Techniques. Alan Cadiz started his own windsurfing school in 1985. As the natural evolution of windsurfing to kiting progressed, so did HST. With 25 years of experience training newbies on the water, you will be in good hands. The HST crew start you by flying a kite on the beach before sending you off for water starts. Your instructor follows along with a Stand Up Paddle chase board offering pointers and technique tips along the way. As your skills improve, you may be outfitted with a waterproof radio for constant communication.

Already have some experience with the kite? Try out a foil board! with enough speed, a board outfitted with a hydrofoil lifts out of the water appearing to hover. A foil board is faster, offers a less bumpy ride and the rider can make faster turns. You will learn Hawaiian commands and utilize them as you paddle and catch waves. The future is in foiling, so jump on board early. Check out Kai Lenny on his new downwind foil...

Waihee Ridge Trail - Hiking/Trail Running

Photo Courtesy of: Trilogy Excursions

Sure, it is only 2.5 miles up to the peak of this glorious hike, but consider this: the elevation gain is 1,563 feet! Before you go, make sure you are prepared. There's no access to drinking water, no facilities and though the summit is generally cool and overcast, the journey can be brazenly hot and humid. Prepare for climate changes, muddy ascents, a serious lack of undulation and numerous spider webs. So why does anyone do this hike? Because the terrain changes in the 2.5 miles are no ka oi! Right from the start of the Waihe'e Ridge Trail, you walk up a brutally steep concrete road. Consider it a "palate cleanser" for the lungs, prepping them to take in the fresh Maui Mountain air. As you pass through a gate, look for walking sticks left by previous hikers; you might appreciate it later. Pay attention to the exposed roots and ruts in the forested portion of the trail and enjoy the shade. As you walk out of the woods, you are greeted by a panoramic valley view with Maka'maka'ole Falls in the distance. A perfect spot to regroup, there is a bench on the trail where you can sip some water and snap a photo before heading onward. Once you pass through a second gate, you will be traversing the spine. The sweet sounds of rushing water in the distance are coming from the expansive valley to your left, while the big blue delights your eyes to the right. Those of you who love mud races and obstacle courses will thoroughly enjoy climbing on all fours through the next passage while others will appreciate the sections of stairs built into the earth. Don't hesitate to take a rest on the tree shaped like a bench; the trail is relentless from here to the top. Once at the peak, you will either be coasting through the clouds or blessed with a new vantage point overlooking Maui and Moloka'i. Drink in the sights that surround you, the sounds of happy birds in the brush and of course plenty of water. The rest is as they say, a real quad burner. Coming back down the Waihe'e Ridge Trail can be just as if not more difficult than going up, and the vista is no less rewarding. Now is your chance to snap photos of everything you didn't get while you were overwhelmed by Maui's beauty, or gasping for air or both. Leave your walking stick for the next adventurers and remember not to take anything other than your memories, photos and energy bar wrappers from the 'aina (land). To remove any piece of the area or any Hawaiian land for that matter is kapu (forbidden) and believed to enact the curse of Pele until returned.

By Contributor Kate Middleton