David is an avid traveler who enjoys seeking out relaxation and new experiences and sharing his insights with other eager adventurers.
The Hawaiian island of Maui is home to many picturesque beaches with beautiful views and gentle waves, but that isn't all the island has to offer its visitors. Relaxing spots are not exclusively beachfront, there. The island is full of locations that immediately transport you to your own haven of solitude and relaxation.
With this in mind, here are five relaxing spots around Maui that are not located on a beach, but will leave you with memories of tranquility that will last a lifetime.
1. Hiking the Iao Valley State Park
Found in an extinct volcano, Iao Valley State Park is a lush oasis perfect for those who love to hike and relax at the same time. It’s easy to take out your camera here and walk around the park for hours snapping photos of the rain forest and beautifully kept gardens, but if you take a careful step off the beaten track, you will discover a series of truly relaxing spots just for you.
On my first visit to the state park, my wife and I walked along a groomed path listening to the sound of gentle water on the other side of the treeline. Thirty seconds later, we had our bare feet in a cool stream next to a small waterfall. It's that easy to find a private escape at Iao.
Take a little time to explore Iao Valley State Park and let yourself wander to find your own personal quiet spot to drift away in your own thoughts.
2. Explore the Maui Upcountry
You might not think the side of a volcano has anything relaxing on it, but you will be delighted by the Upcounty. The Upcountry on Maui is located on the slope of Mt. Haleakala, which is covered by gentle rolling hills, cow pastures, and breathtaking views of the island from a few thousand feet above the ocean.
The Upcountry is full of unique character and villages like Kula, Pukalani, and Makawao that reflect the area’s history as a land of fertile farms and cattle ranches. Yes, cows on Maui. I didn't believe it when I was first told by a local, but cows dot the Upcountry landscape, grazing and enjoying their days in paradise.
With spectacular views and a range of spots to stop and explore, the Upcountry is far from the beaches but will be close to your heart. Take a drive or a gentle bike ride through the Upcountry. You won’t be disappointed.
3. Cycle Down Mt. Haleakala
For anyone visiting Maui for the first time, it’s hard to miss Mt. Haleakala. Towering 10,032 ft. above the ocean, you can see it from almost any place on Maui. For the adventurous traveler still seeking a relaxing spot, you can travel up Haleakala for the sunrise early in the morning and then cycle down the mountain all the way to the beach (the ride is virtually all downhill). I assure you, it is relaxing! If you take it slow and have the time to stop along the way down, you will be welcomed by stunning views and clear air.
You can do a self-navigated ride by renting a bike or by joining a small group of riders for a guided tour. Enjoy stunning vistas to rest at and take in the view throughout your journey. Bring some refreshments for a picnic and have a laid-back morning or afternoon on your way down one of Hawaii’s most popular excursions.
4. Stopping Along the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is one of the most popular activities for those visiting Maui. It isn’t your typical relaxing activity, given the 600 turns along the 32-mile route. And, did I mention the more than 50 one-way bridges?
Don't worry though, your destination to Hana and the ‘Ohe‘O Gulch Pools are not the only attraction. The journey itself has so much to offer. Take in gorgeous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes by pulling over to the side of the road for a few minutes. There are several designated spots to stop and stretch, including small, tropical gardens that are well maintained and an excellent opportunity to have a picnic near the ocean or in a rain forest.
Most drivers who make the trek to Hana are focused on completing the long drive and barrel past the hidden—yet signed—parks along the road that house peaceful walking trails complete with benches to relax on and think. If you start your journey to ‘Ohe‘O Gulch early enough in the day you will be able to drive down the Road to Hana, along the coast, and grab a little rain forest and waterfall relaxation. And, start early in the day if you can. You're not the only one trying to get to Hana.
5. Pools at ‘Ohe‘O Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools)
The Pools at ‘Ohe‘O Gulch are routinely named as one of the top tourist destinations on Maui, and for good reason. These naturally formed pools are a beautiful and relaxing place to sit next to and take a refreshing dip. As a warning, the pools are on the other side of the Road to Hana and can take several hours to reach from the main resort towns on the west side of Maui.
If the Pools at ‘Ohe‘O Gulch are on your list of places to hit when on Maui, try staying late in the day and avoiding weekends. Also, take note of days the cruise ships are in dock at Kahului as well. You can ask your hotel concierge for these details. Nothing is as stressful as waiting behind a line of 80 cars and tour buses headed to the Pools along the Hana Highway only to be bombarded by hundreds of tourists swimming in the same pool and trying to snap that perfect Instagram selfie.
© 2019 David Tubbs
Liz Westwood from UK on August 13, 2019:
This is a very well-illustrated and interesting article. I laughed at the selfie taking tourists!