Ma’alaea Harbor: The Heart Of Maui’s Boat Tours

Most visitors to Maui pass close to Ma’alaea at some point, as the coastal town is perched between West and South Maui.

But despite the central location, Ma’alaea is best known for its harbor, which is the departure point for many Maui boat tours. 

Take a look at this guide to discover Ma’alaea Harbor!

A view of Maalaea Harbor on a sunny day, calm waters, and yachts bobbing.

What Type Of Boat Tours Are Available From Ma’alaea Harbor?

Ma’alaea harbor is the departure point for many of Maui’s most popular boat tours.

Boat tours operating from Ma’alaea Harbor include: Molokini tours, snorkel tours, Turtle Town tours, sportfishing tours, and sunset cruises.

Yacht charters and sailing cruises also operate from Ma’alaea Harbor. During winter, whale watching tours depart from Ma’alaea Harbor. 

Sometimes boats to the island of Lanai also run from Ma’alaea Harbor, although there are fewer of these tour options available.

The journey from Ma’alaea to Lanai takes roughly one hour, and provides views of the rugged Lanai coastline.

Boat tour operators such as Sail Trilogy, Alii Nui Sailing, Calypso, Pacific Whale Foundation, and Island Star Excursions all depart from Ma’alaea Harbor.

Where Do You Park At Ma’alaea Harbor?

The easiest place to park at Ma’alaea Harbor is on the pier itself. There are many parking spaces along the slip which are used by the boat tour guests.

Simply locate the slip you need, and park. The parking extends out onto the pier, so there are plenty of spaces. 

Ma’alaea Harbor can get busy, so you aren’t entirely guaranteed a spot on the slip. There is additional parking in Ma’alaea itself. Between the Maui Ocean Center and Carl’s Jr restaurant is a large parking lot.

There are many spaces here, and ample room for all visitors to Ma’alaea. From this parking lot there is a slight walk to the pier itself, but it shouldn’t take you much longer than five minutes. 

How Far Is Ma’alaea Harbor From West Maui?

It’s roughly a 30-minute drive from West Maui to Ma’alaea, if you’re leaving from Lahaina or Ka’anapali. If you’re staying further north, such as Napili or Kapalua, expect the journey to take closer to 45-minutes. 

  • To visit Ma’alaea Harbor from West Maui, follow the Honoapiilani Highway (Highway 30) southbound.
  • After passing through the tunnel outside Ma’alaea, you will see a sign for Buzz’s Wharf. Turn right here, and follow the road to the harbor.
  • If you want to park in the larger lot, keep driving past the harbor, until the Maui Ocean Center appears on the right. Carry on along the road, and the parking lot is also on your right.

How Far Is Ma’alaea Harbor From South Maui?

It’s only a short drive from Kihei, Wailea, and Makena to Ma’alaea Harbor. If you’re staying in a North Kihei condo, then Ma’alaea Harbor is only a couple of minutes away.

From elsewhere in South Maui, expect a 15 to 20-minute drive.

  • Follow the Piilani Highway (Highway 31) north from South Kihei. Alternatively, follow South Kihei Road, and turn on to Highway 31 when possible.
  • Stay in the left turn lane until Highway 31 reaches a T-intersection, and then turn left onto Highway 30 (Honoapiilani Highway).
  • Follow the road until the intersection for the Maui Ocean Center, and turn left. Carry on until you reach the harbor. Alternatively, turn into the larger parking lot, and walk to the harbor. 

An older photo of Maalaea Harbor, boats in dock.

How Far Is Ma’alaea Harbor From Central Maui?

Central Maui is only around 10 minutes away from Ma’alaea Harbor, while Paia is roughly 20-minutes away. 

  • From Paia, follow Highway 36 (Hana Highway) southwest, until you reach HI-380. Continue along HI-380 for roughly 5 miles, until you reach a left turning onto Highway 30 (Honoapiilani Highway).
  • Continue along until the intersection for Maui Ocean Center, turn left at the lights, and follow the road to the harbor.
  • From Wailuku, simply follow Highway 30 until you reach the turning at Maui Ocean Center, and then turn left toward the Harbor.
  • From Kahului, either follow Highway 32 to Wailuku, before turning on to Highway 30 and following the road south, or follow Highway 380 until the left turning onto Highway 30.

How Do I Find My Boat Tour At Ma’alaea Harbor?

Due to the large and convenient location of Ma’alaea Harbor, many boat operators choose this as their departure point.

And with boats frequently leaving and arriving, you might find it hard to spot your booked tour. Especially if you’re leaving on an early morning snorkel trip!

When you organize a boat tour, the operator is likely to provide you with a slip number. Facing the sea, odd slip numbers are to the left, and even slip numbers are to the right. Follow the numbers along until you find your departure point.

Although an estimated 800,000 visitors pass through Ma’alaea Harbor every year, it’s reasonably small, and not too difficult to navigate.

Keep an eye out for the logo of your tour company, and you should find your boat easily enough.

Is There A Bus To Ma’alaea Harbor?

The Maui Bus service does run direct services to Ma’alaea from West, Central, and South Maui. For visitors from Lahaina, the #20 bus goes direct to Ma’alaea.

From Ka’anapali, take the #28 to Lahaina, and transfer to the #20. The #20 also runs from Kahului to Ma’alaea. From Kihei, the #15 will take you directly to Ma’alaea.

Alternatively, you may need to catch the #10, and transfer to the #15. 

The bus is a cost-effective method, but it does make the journey longer. Keep this in mind if you have a boat to catch.

What Else Can You Do In Ma’alaea?

Ma’alaea is a relatively small destination, and many visitors simply pass through on the way to the harbor.

However, we highly recommend checking out the Maui Ocean Center, particularly if you’re visiting with young children.

The Maui Ocean Center is the premier aquarium on Hawaii, introducing visitors to what lies beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to take a Maui boat tour, there’s a good chance you’ll be leaving from Ma’alaea Harbor! We hope this guide will ensure your trip goes smoothly.

Scroll to Top