23 Things Maui Is Known And Famous For

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Maui is known for the haleakala volcano, sandy beaches, surfing culture and whale winter migrations. 

Maui is the second-largest island in Hawaii, rich with history, cultural heritage, and lots of attractions and activities ready for visitors to explore. Despite the geographical changes to The Valley Isle throughout the years, it remains a stunning destination.

What Is Maui Known For?

Maui is known for having some of the best Hawaiian beaches, volcanic Haleakala, lively neighborhoods, and plenty of natural landmarks. The island is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and you will find plenty of opportunities to dive into this interesting heritage here.

Maui is also famous for its distinct musical genre and exciting water activities that will expose you to the awe-inspiring biodiversity around. There are lots of adventures and things you’ll discover about this magnificent island.

History, Culture, And Traditions


Surfing is a huge part of Maui’s culture and has been so for years now. The water sport is almost synonymous with Hawaii.

The island, in particular, is home to some of the best surf spots in Hawaii, such as Honolua Bay and Jaws. It is no hidden fact of Hawaii that the region is a prime area for big wave surfing as well. Therefore, the state is an incredibly popular destination for wave riders from all over the world.

Most of the surfing areas have beaches, which are surrounded by resorts and hotels where you can lodge and explore the vicinity from. Snorkeling is another one of the famous water activities Maui is known for because of its rich and colorful marine life.

Paniolo Culture

When talking about Cowboys in America, we often think of states like Texas, Montana, or Utah. But did you know Maui is known for its Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) culture as well? In fact, the island’s rich ranching history is said to predate even the more known American West.

You can experience the unique blend of Hawaiian and Western traditions in Maui by attending rodeos and other events celebrating the island’s deep ranching heritage. Beyond the pristine waters, there is plenty to check out in Maui on land too!


The popular lei is a traditional Hawaiin garland Maui is known for crafting locally. Lei, which is made of flowers or other natural materials, is worn or displayed at almost every cultural event in Maui.

Apart from the typical Aloha shirt, this flowery “necklace” is another icon or symbol that often depicts Hawaii in shows and movies.

The island is home to numerous lei makers, who make these beautiful and intricate works of art using a variety of flowers. The friendly locals are always happy to teach visitors how to create, whether it’s at a cultural center or a workshop on the island.


Another fascinating cultural tradition Maui is known for is the Hula. This is a Hawaiian dance performed by women on the Hawaiian Islands.

The artistic form dates back hundreds of years ago, dramatizing ancient stories through hand gestures and rhythmic movement. These stories are told through a chant (oli) or a song (mele). The dance can be performed for ceremonies or entertainment.

Many hula schools are located in Maui, and you can enjoy and connect with hula performances at various events.


Hawaii is known for its numerous fine beaches, some of which are scattered across Maui. The island is home to some of the most beautiful, sandy shores in the world, making it a top destination for beach lovers.

The coastline boasts white sand and crystal-clear waters. Each beach has its unique quality, providing visitors with options to swim, sunbathe, surf, or just relax and take in the scenery.

Some of the popular beaches in Maui include Makena Beach, which is known for its long stretch of sand, and is a great place to snorkel. Families with children may enjoy the calm waters and stunning waters of Wailea Beach.


Maui has become one of the best places in the world to find whales, with humpbacks visiting the island’s waters from December to April each year. Whale watching has therefore become an enjoyable fascination that draws tourists to the island.

Your best bet to see these majestic creatures up close is with the whale watching tours in Hawaii. Every winter, operators open to curious visitors who want to catch a glimpse of these incredible marine beasts, and it’s totally worth all the time.

Hawaiian Music

Traditional Hawaiian music is the most popular music on Maui Island. The music scene in Maui is, however, diverse as there are various genres incorporated into it, comprising rock n’ roll, pop, and a Hawaiian reggae form called ‘Jawaiian’.

Hawaiian music is composed of instruments like drums and the more contemporary ukulele and the steel guitar.

You can enjoy live performances of Hawaiian songs at music concerts or even catch Hawaiian artists performing in parks.

Areas And Districts


Lahaina is a historic town located on the west coast of Maui. Once known as Lele, it was a popular whaling village that has since transformed into one of the most famous hotspots Maui is known for.

The town is popular for its art galleries and trendy restaurants and shops which give you a taste of the laid-back Hawaiian vibe. Some of the prominent tourist attractions here include historic sites like the Lahaina Jodo Mission and the Baldwin Home Museum.


Kihei is a famous beach destination on the southwest coast of Maui. The area is lined with sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, which are perfect for water activities.

Asides from its stunning beaches, Kihei is home to a variety of restaurants, shopping centers, and golf courses that visitors can enjoy. Nearby is the Ma ‘alaea Harbor Village – the central point between Kihei, Lahaina, and Wailuku, which is connected by various trails that are familiar among hikers and cyclists.


Talk about lush forests, stunning waterfalls, and a rugged coastline, this remote district has it all. Hana is located on the east coast of Maui and is one of the least spoiled gems Maui is known for.

One of the most popular attractions here is the winding Hana Highway, which offers you a scenic view of the rainforest and coastline. That said, there are many touring opportunities in Hana. You can explore the historic Hana Bay and the Kahanu Garden, which houses one of the largest Hawaiian temple ruins.


Kaanapali is another famous area in Maui that boasts miles of sandy beaches and clear waters, coupled with a rich variety of resorts.

Located on the west coast of Maui, Kaanapali offers visitors plenty of fun opportunities. You can enjoy water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing. The district also has a bustling nightlife and is packed with fancy shops and restaurants.

Kaanapali is one of the liveliest places in Maui and a must-visit destination for travelers looking to have fun and meet new people. Some of the best beaches in Maui are also located here.


Perhaps the most famous district in Maui, Wailuku serves as the county seat of Maui County. The district has a rich history and cultural heritage, which is certainly worth exploring! c Historic sites, such as the Bailey House Museum and the Kaahumanu Church, are all famous tourist destinations to learn more about the region.

There are also plenty of other attractions and fun opportunities including cultural events and festivals, such as the Maui Onion Festival. Art lovers can attend Maui Film Festival and the Maui Arts Cultural. These events pull large crowds to the region.

You can seize the opportunity to take advantage of the rich shopping and dining Wailaiku offers. Don’t miss the charming boutiques and restaurants that serve up traditional Hawaiian cuisine.

Landmarks And Architecture

Iao Valley State Park

Iao Valley State Park is located west of Wailuku. This stunning park boasts breathtaking green scenery that really showcases the natural beauty of Maui.

The park is home to mountains with plenty of trails that are popular among hikers. Its main attraction is the Iao Needle, a rock formation standing 1,200 feet tall in the valley.

Visitors throng Iao Needle not just for the spectacular greenery but also for its role in one of the defining events in Hawaiian history. This was where King Kamehameha recorded his victory against the Maui ruler back in 1790. 

If you can hike to the peak of this treasured Hawaiian landmark, you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the entire park.

Bailey House Museum

One of the most important landmarks in Maui is the Bailey House Museum, located in Wailuku. Owned by the Maui Historical Society, the museum is home to a large collection of artworks that date back to the pre-European era.

The museum also has exhibits that give visitors insights into the Hawaiian gods, the Hawaiian royal family, and some of the most prominent figures in the history of Hawaii.

This historical site is a must-visit for tourists looking to learn more about the long history of Maui and Hawaii.

Haleakala National Park

Named after the dormant volcano located in the area, Haleakala National Park is one of the popular Hawaiian landmarks spanning a vast 33,265 acres.

This park is well known mainly because it encompasses the Haleakala volcano, which is one of the only two volcanoes found in Maui. The Haleakala is considered the largest dormant volcano in the world, making it one of the most famous features Maui is known for.

Haleakala National Park is also home to abundant flora and fauna and has more endangered species than anywhere else in the United States. In addition to checking out the volcano, watching the sunrise and sunset is one of the popular activities here.

Ka’ahumanu Church

Ka’ahumanu Church is a historic building located in Wailuku. The current structure – the fourth – was built in 1876 and named after Queen Ka’ahumanu, who was once regent of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.

Ka’ahumanu had first requested that the church be named after her when she attended a religious meeting in Wailuku in 1832. It was until a more permanent structure was built for the church by Edward Bailey that the queen’s request was finally honored.

The building is Gothic and features a bell and three clock faces; chandeliers also hang in the interior. You can attend Sunday services and join the congregation to sing hymns in the Hawaiian language.

Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater is a Marine Life Conservation District and a prime destination for scuba divers and snorkelers.

The crater is surrounded by clear waters through which you can see a diverse range of fish and other sea life. The water is also home to colorful, picturesque reefs that are not just beautiful but an important part of the marine ecosystem.

If you are not interested in scuba diving or snorkeling, fret not! There are also boats and canoes available to take you on a tour near the crater.

Famous Food In Maui


Malasadas are a tasty donut that’s a signature treat in Maui. The donut is prepared with sweet yeast dough and coated with sugar. They come with a variety of fillings like custard and haupia.

It has a Portuguese origin but since it was introduced in Hawaii over a century ago, it has become a staple food across the state, especially on Maui island.


This is a famous Hawaiian food that’s very popular in Maui and has even gone international. It consists of pieces of raw fish marinated in soy sauce, onions, sesame oil, and a few other tasty seasonings that give it its tongue-licking flavor.

There are plenty of restaurants on the island that offer variations of poke, whether it’s limu poke, shoyu poke, or spicy ahi poke, your taste buds can never be prepared for the delicious sensations that will hit them.


Famous People From Maui

Sarah Barrese

Former actress and professional poker player, Sarah is one of the most famous people from Maui. She gained popularity during her acting career.

Baresse was born in Maui, where she spent a small part of her infancy before moving to Paris, France with her model mom. She returned to the United States in 1985 and gained her first film role four years later.

She is best known for her role as Tracy Billings in The Hangover films, which she reprised in 2011 and 2013 for the second and third installments.

Gavin Leatherwood

Fans of Netflix’s hit show ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ would instantly recognize Gavin Leatherwood, who played the lead male role in the show as Nicholas Scratch.

Gavin was born in Maui and spent his childhood here before moving to California. Gavin is currently gaining acclaim in the film industry as he has consolidated on the success of ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ with a significant role in HBO’s series ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’.

Candis Cayne

Candis Cayne is not only one of the most famous people Maui is known for, she is probably the most famous transgender woman from the city.

Born in Maui, Candis graduated from Henry Perrine Baldwin High School in Hawaii. She started as a performance artist with the name “Candis Cayne” in a gay bar in New York before she started appearing behind the screen.

Candis has appeared in prominent shows, such as ‘CSI: NY’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

Cedric Ceballos

Cedric Ceballos is one of the most famous sportspersons from Maui. Ceballos was born in Maui, though he has Mexican ancestry

The former basketball player played in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and is best known for his stints with the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ceballos had a career total of 8,693 points, 3,258 rebounds, and 723 assists. His achievements include making the 1995 NBA All-star team and winning the 1992 NBA Slam Dunk contest.

Discovering More Things Maui Is Known For

This Hawaiian island is often seen as a paradise for sightseeing, outdoor activities, delicious food, and culture. Maui is known for many other things and activities that tug at the curiosity of travelers.

Whether it’s snorkeling in crystal clear waters, exploring lush green forests, or enjoying a local luau with traditional Hawaiian dishes and entertainment, there’s never a dull moment. There are many more natural landmarks and historical sites waiting for you to discover and explore.



Book Your Flight

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Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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