If you’ve never been to Maui, the idea of traveling alone to the island might not be the first vacation that pops into your mind.
Maui is known as a romantic destination, a place where couples come to enjoy their honeymoon, celebrate an anniversary, or where families come to have a once in a lifetime trip. But you don’t have to fall into any of these categories to come to the Valley Isle.
If you’re already an avid traveler or backpacker, Maui is also not a place that screams affordability. But if you’re anything like me, you know you will find a way to make it work.
Sometimes Maui calls to you and you just have to go, whether or not you can find someone to tag along.
Can I Travel To Maui Alone?
When I first moved from France to California, I was convinced that one of my first trips was going to be to Hawaii. It was always a dream for me, the other side of the world, a place that was completely inaccessible until I moved.
Ten years passed and I got stuck with the idea that Hawaii was too expensive and that I wouldn’t enjoy myself if I went on my own. I always had excuses for not going.
But, eventually, instead of waiting to find the right traveling partner I decided it was time and embarked on a five week solo trip to the islands. I went to Maui first, and went back to Maui again before returning to California.
Maui had my heart.
After all, locals say “Maui No Ka Oi” (“Maui is the best”), because it is!
Don’t let the image of Maui as a romantic destination for honeymooners prevent you from seeing it for yourself, with others or on your own.
Benefits Of Solo Travel
Just like any other destination, experiencing the island on your own offers many benefits. There are so many things to do and things to see on Maui and you’re pretty much guaranteed to meet like-minded people.
Go at your own pace: if you travel alone you do whatever you want, whenever you want.
You don’t have to coordinate with anyone. Wake up when you want to wake up, eat what you want to eat, make your own schedule. Explore what is interesting to you.
Enjoy some alone time: sunbathing, reading, sleeping in. The simple things you don’t make time for at home.
Meet new people: truth is, when you travel alone you rarely end up alone. Make new lifetime friends and create amazing memories.
Get out of your comfort zone: whether you plan on it or not, it will happen.
Is It Easy To Travel To Maui Solo?
Maui is a great place to explore on your own.
As long as you have a place to stay and a vehicle, Maui is safe, easy to get around, and locals are nice and accommodating. The crime rate is low, and consists mostly of petty theft, so female travelers can enjoy peace of mind. A basic awareness of your surroundings is all you need.
Your biggest inconveniences might be having to drive more than you like. And you won’t have someone to watch your belongings while you’re in the water at the beach. Not to mention an uneven tan because you couldn’t get sunscreen on the middle of your back.
The real hiccup traveling solo to Maui is that it’s an expensive place to travel (and to live). Without anyone to share the costs of lodging, or a rental car (which is pretty vital if you want to explore) your initial spending might be higher than expected.
But there are ways to save.
Ways To Make Maui More Affordable
Save on food: Buy groceries and snacks you can easily take with you. Have a hearty breakfast and keep lunch light with just a few snacks that you can take to the beach. Eat at local delis and food trucks and take advantage of happy hour. It is the best way to go out without spending too much (check out the Maui Happy Hours App for a comprehensive list). It’s also a good way to stay out of the sun at the hottest time of the day.
Stay at a hostel or camp: no, you don’t have to stay at the Four Seasons to enjoy your stay on Maui. You’ll meet many more locals if you don’t stay at a hotel, and they might just show you their favorite waterfall, lesser known beach, or restaurant.
Rent a car from a third party reseller rather than big named companies. They are cheaper and you’ll be supporting a local business.
Buy gas at CostCo or Safeway in Kahului and save anywhere between 50 cents to a dollar a gallon.
Redeem credit card points for your flight or hotel stay.
Enjoy all the free and cheap activities Maui has to offer: go to the beach, go hiking, go snorkeling (a week long rental of snorkel gear costs around $25), whale watch from the shore, or go for a road trip to the top of Haleakala. You don’t need to spend money on a luau or parasailing if it’s not in your budget.
Which Island Is Best For Solo Travel?
Is it better to travel solo to Maui, Oahu, Kauai, or the Big Island?
I’m obviously biased on this subject since I chose Maui as my home almost six years ago. Life on Maui revolves around the ocean and the mountains but you can also enjoy a relaxing night out without having to deal with crazy partygoers.
However, each island offers its own reward.
I explored Kauai by myself and it was also a great experience. Kauai is smaller than Maui and has even more of a laid back vibe. It’s a great place to spend time on peace and contemplation. Hike the Waimea Canyon or practice photography. You literally can’t take a bad photo there because it’s so beautiful!
If you’re looking for a more exciting nightlife or shopping opportunities, spend a few days in Waikiki on Oahu and get it out of your system before flying over to a neighboring island or cruising over to the North Shore to check out the surf and relax in a small town environment.
Big Island has a lot to offer for the outdoor adventurers, but as the biggest island of the Hawaiian chain (hence the nickname), it does take more time to get around. If you’re into road trips and spending a lot of time driving and admiring the wonders around you then you will be in your element. Or decide in advance which side of the island (Kona or Hilo) you’d rather explore and stick to it.
All islands are a safe place to travel on your own. Honolulu being the only large city in the state, it also has a higher crime rate, so be more vigilant when staying in the city.
Nightlife On Maui
Maui is more of a daytime place. People like to wake up with the sun and go in the ocean whether it’s to go fishing, surfing, or diving. Going out at night usually consists of a nice dinner or a few drinks at a local bar. If you’re looking for a party town, clubs or casinos, Maui isn’t the place for you. Restaurants generally close early and are the busiest around sunset. If you find yourself hungry after 9pm, your options will be limited.
The beach is a fun place to hang out at night. Dig your toes in the cold sand and gaze at the Milky Way, but avoid getting in the water once it’s dark. Yes, dark rhymes with shark…
Other than sharks, is it safe to go out at night? I’ve never felt unsafe on Maui. If you’re coming from a big city you already have the instincts you need to follow. Being a woman traveling alone just requires a little more awareness and street smarts than being a man. But that’s true for any solo travel. Trust your gut instinct.
If you’re staying at a resort, you are absolutely safe to sit at any hotel bar until it closes and stroll back over to your room or nearby hotel without running into any trouble. Local bars are safe as well but try to leave before the bar closes and people start gathering in the surrounding parking lots if you want to be extra careful.
A few nightlife rules to obey on Maui:
- Be aware of your surroundings. If someone makes you uncomfortable, walk faster, turn around and go the other way, walk into a nearby business, call a friend or go up to someone and ask for directions.
- Ask for advice on where to go: hotel staff, your Airbnb host, the local bartender. Don’t hesitate, they’re used to it.
- Always keep an eye on your belongings.
How To Meet People
Believe it or not, having social interactions while alone on Maui will be the last of your concerns. People share a way of thinking and a lifestyle here that facilitates human interactions, but to meet people you can also try out the following:
- Check your Facebook page to see if you know anyone living on Maui or visiting at the same time as you, you might get a nice surprise!
- Stay at a hostel: even if you get a private room (which I highly recommend), you can share stories, tips, a meal, or a drink with other travelers.
- Meet people on a tour: having fun and sharing something new with strangers facilitates new friendships.
- Meet people at the beach or at a bar/coffee shop: when I sit alone at a bar or coffee shop, someone always seems to strike a conversation with me.
- Keep your headphones in your bag, unless you are purposefully trying to ignore somebody. Being available is the first step to making connections.
Car Rental: Currently, car rentals are expensive and extremely hard to find due to the shortage of cars after the pandemic. When all travel shut down in March 2020, companies couldn’t even find space to park their cars so they ended up shipping or selling cars back to the mainland. As travel reopened, however, the demand outweighed the supply and now have people rent U-Hauls for their stay (don’t do that). Prices might be affected for a while longer.
Rideshare: you already know about Lyft and Uber. And now we have Holoholo, the new local rideshare in Hawaii, and again you’ll be supporting a local business.
Buses: With about one bus an hour, bussing around the island is not a great option unless you can time it just right.
Scooter rentals: super fun to zoom around Kihei or Lahaina with, but not convenient to get around the rest of the island.
Hitchhiking: thinking of just walking along the road and jutting your thumb out? It’s actually more common than you think but it is still illegal in the State of Hawaii. Use caution and your intuition if you decide to hitch a ride (or pick up a person in need), and don’t put your thumb up, that’s what will get you a ticket. Stand by the side of the road with your arms crossed and a friendly local will soon stop to help you out.
Maui Solo Travel: Where To Stay and What To Do
So you’ve decided to embark on a solo journey to Maui. And although a big part of traveling alone is the freedom to do what you want without an agenda, it doesn’t hurt to get a few pointers before landing on the Valley Isle.
Having an idea of where to stay and what you can do on your own before you arrive will help you get the most out of your precious time in paradise.
Best places to stay solo on Maui (on a budget)
If you plan on just relaxing by the pool with a cocktail, Maui has many hotels to choose from, from luxury to mid-range. The following hotels are a bit more budget friendly than others, and are all located steps from the beach and are close to several attractions.
Keep in mind that due to the pandemic, prices are unusually high at the moment.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel: a favorite for locals on a staycation, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is a more affordable option on the popular Ka’anapali Beach where you can snorkel, paddleboard, and go cliff jumping at Black Rock (or watch the local kids do backflips).
Maui Coast Hotel: in the heart of Kihei and across from the beach, you’ll have a lot of options within walking distance, from beach activities to shopping and dining.
Napili Shore Resort: newly renovated condos right on Napili Bay surrounded by tropical gardens. However, the resort and nearby beach is usually busy and frequented by families.
Maui doesn’t have many hostels to choose from but it’s a great option if you’re on a budget and want to meet other solo travelers. Some hostels offer free tours, which is perfect if you’re not a planner or don’t have a car.
Here are some hostel options on different sides of the island and with different vibes:
Banana Bungalow hostel in Wailuku: Close to a few shops and bars but not within walking distance to the beach. Banana Bungalow does offer free daily tours, and they’re not boring: road to Hana, snorkel tour, crater hike. They’ll do all the work for you. Just get up on time and hop in the van. The property also has a large communal area with a pool table, shared kitchen, hammocks, and even a hot tub. Relaxing during the day but definitely more upbeat in the evenings. Mixed dorms, female only dorms, and private rooms are available.
Aloha Hostel in Paia: this clean and quiet hostel is conveniently located on the North Shore and is an optimal spot if you’re a surfer or kitesurfer. There are free daily tours and free breakfast. Dorms and private rooms are available.
Tiki Beach Hostel in Lahaina: this hostel is just steps away from the beach and the bustling Front Street and is a very convenient location to explore Lahaina and its surroundings. Tiki Beach Hostel organize weekly activities such as Friday nights BBQ. There are mixed dorms, female dorms, and tents available.
The weather is optimal in Hawaii if you decide you want to camp. Stay away from crowded touristy areas and explore different parts of the island. Enjoy being surrounded by nature or falling asleep to the sound of waves.
Maui has several types of campsites (federal, state and private), but they all require a reservation, so plan ahead.
Don’t want to travel with your gear? Go Camp Maui has you covered with SUV and camp gear combo rentals available (from 3 to 10 days).
Camp Olowalu is a privately owned campground just a few miles south of Lahaina. Clean and comfortable, it is also the most centrally located for access to other hot spots and offers equipment rental on site (snorkel, paddleboard and kayak). Choose between cabin, tentalows, tent, and RV/car camping.
Hosmer Grove: how about spending the night on the slopes of Haleakala? Located at about 7,000 feet in the Haleakala National Park, it’s a pretty “cool” spot (expect colder temperatures) to spend the night before or after hiking the crater.
Wai’anapanapa State Park: yes, you can also camp right by the famous Black Sand Beach! The campsite has 12 well maintained cabins with furniture and electricity and a grass area for tent camping. Full facilities available.
Based on the idea of “paying it forward,” the online service Coachsurfing enables you to get in contact with a large community of travelers willing to open their homes to strangers. Create a profile (the more extensive the better) and start connecting with residents before your trip. Generally, hosts are willing to have guests for a couple of days or up to a week. The service is also a great way to get in touch with other travelers in the area who might want to meet up for a hike or a cup of coffee.
Activities to do on your own
Is it safe to go hiking on your own? Some places are safer than others. For example, I don’t recommend going on waterfall or jungle hikes on your own because the chances of hurting yourself are higher. You can slip and fall and with no phone reception so that you might not be able to call for help.
There have been a few scary local news stories that start with someone going on a hike alone.
Keeping that in mind, there are some good hikes to do alone: La Perouse, Waihe’e Ridge, and Wai’anapanapa coastal trail are stunning and safe trails. But avoid going on your own to hikes on the road to Hana (such as the bamboo forest), or in Iao Valley.
Can you go snorkeling alone? It is always safer to have someone look out for you. But if you’re a good swimmer and the conditions are optimal (i.e., the water is clear and flat, not choppy or murky), give it a shot. You can also opt for a popular spot with other snorkelers around to give you some peace of mind. Always follow the number one rule: if in doubt, don’t go out.
The main problem is leaving your belongings unattended on the beach for a long period of time.
If you can easily walk from your accommodation to a snorkeling spot, then leave your belongings behind. But after six years on Maui, no one’s ever taken my shoes, my towel, or my chair at the beach. Is stealing cell phones still a thing?
Best snorkel spots accessible from shore: Honolua Bay, Mile Marker 14 next to Olowalu, most beaches in Wailea, Dumps (Ahihi Kinau Natural Reserve).
Activities best to do with a tour company:
Road to Hana: although driving the road to Hana is an experience in itself, it is a long drive and I think it is better enjoyed with company. And currently, I don’t advise anyone to drive it on their own AT ALL. The road is saturated, and there are no places to park. Instead, trust a local to do the hard work for you so you can take in the magic of the jungle.
For an escapade tailored to your dreams book a tour with The Magic of Maui Experience. Your local guide Dana (or one of her trusted guides) will give you a personalized experience and guarantee a day you will never forget, complete with awesome photo ops. You have the option to get a one-on-one tour, or bring along new friends.
Haleakala bike tour: looking for some adrenaline? Maui Easy Riders offers the coolest ride on the island: a 25-mile downhill guided tour down the slopes of Haleakala. Choose between a morning or a sunset bike tour. Don’t worry about the gear, Maui Easy Riders provide all that stuff for you. The company also offers a tour around the West Maui Mountains, a lesser known drive than the Road to Hana but an epic journey nonetheless.
Whale watch/ snorkel tour: I recommend opting for a raft or catamaran boat tour, as they offer a more private/ luxury experience than the charter boats. Molokini is an absolute must while on Maui and you are guaranteed to meet people and have an extraordinary time (and see whales during the winter months). The staff is always knowledgeable and accommodating as well.
Surfing lessons: With a plethora of surfing schools to choose from, the only decision you need to make is when to ride the waves. Lessons include gear (board, water shoes, rashguard), an on-land lesson on how to “pop” up, and a pro with you in the ocean. Guaranteed to catch your first wave! You might need a little push. They’ll do that too.
If you’re more into animals than humans…
Surfing Goat Dairy: Go for a casual tour of the upcountry goat farm or sign up to help the farmers milk the goats before bedtime. While you’re there, make sure to taste their award winning cheeses.
Beach Buddies at the Humane Society: Miss your pooch at home? The Humane Society has a program allowing residents and visitors alike to take a shelter dog for a fun day out! Go to the beach, for a hike in the forest or just relax in the park, it’s up to you. And they provide all the supplies. Every Wednesday and Friday from 11am until 4pm.
Cat Sanctuary on Lanai: A quick ferry ride from Lahaina will take you to the neighboring island of Lanai for the day where you can cuddle as many cats as you want. And with 600 of them on the property, you won’t have to fight for attention.