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10 Places for Awesome Pictures on Maui

Updated on September 2, 2014

Sunset on the Ocean

While many West and South Maui beaches offer spectacular views of the sunset, there's nothing quite like being out on the water, sipping a mai tai, eating fresh seafood, listening to live music and watching the sun fade into the horizon with views of the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala behind you.

That's a Maui sunset.

If you're looking for some truly stunning photos to make your friends back home even more jealous than they already are, a sunset cruise is the way to do it. Pride of Maui, a favorite for locals and visitors alike, offers nightly sunset dinner and cocktail cruises out of Ma'alaea Harbor. Toll free 1-877-867-7433

West Maui Mountains from the Pride of Maui
West Maui Mountains from the Pride of Maui

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Picture ID

Ma'alaea Harbor

Iao Valley

Iao Valley is part of a beautiful State Park located in Central Maui and a must-see for nature lovers.

Steeped in historical significance, Iao Valley was the site for the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai, where King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army in an effort to unify the Hawaiian islands. As you may have guessed, his plan eventually worked and this battle was one of many that shaped the course of Hawaiian history.

The Iao Needle, one of Maui's most recognized landmarks, is a 1,200 ft. rock outcropping that makes for beautiful photos any day of the week. There is a short, paved walk up some stairs where you can get a better view of the needle, or you can hop the fence and hike up to get a better view of the valley.

If you're looking for a spot to relax and spend some time, take a walk down the trail that parallels the fresh water stream and bring some picnic gear to make a day of it. It rains here often, so be prepared to get wet and enjoy a Jurassic Park-esque day of adventure (minus the dinos)!

Entry is $5 per car and free for residents.

Iao Needle
Iao Needle
Iao Stream
Iao Stream

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Picnic blanket & goodies
  • Water
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Bug spray
  • Umbrella

Iao Valley State Park

La Perouse Bay

Named after the first European to set foot on Maui, French Admiral Jean-Francoise de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse (whew!), who landed here in 1786, La Perouse is known today as the most recent lava flow on Maui... if you can call 1790 recent.

To see this lesser visited, beautiful area of the island, head South on Route 31 past Makena, where you'll be greeted with picture-perfect views of the turquoise water against jagged lava rock.

As part of the 'Ahihi Kina'u Natural Area Reserve, La Perouse Bay is protected by state law and is a great place to catch a glimpse of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, who come here during the day to rest in the shallow water, or take a hike along King's Highway for a stunning view of the rugged Maui landscape.

While swimming here can be dangerous because of the rocky entrances, it also offers great snorkeling and diving if you're up for an adventure.

La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Lots of water
  • Sunscreen
  • Appropriate shoes

La Perouse Bay

Wailua Falls

Although the majority of the stops along the Road to Hana offer stunning photo-ops, don't miss Wailua Falls, a 200 ft. cascading waterfall 7 miles South of the town of Hana at Mile Marker #45.

Wailua Falls can easily be seen from the road, but stop and make the short walk to the base to enjoy it up close, where a nice pool awaits for a quick, refreshing dip.

There is plenty of parking and expect a crowd.

Wailua Falls, East Maui
Wailua Falls, East Maui

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing suit
  • Cash (if you want to buy items from vendors set up in the parking lot)

Hana Highway

Wai'anapanapa State Park

Since entry here does not require the ability to correctly pronounce the name of the park, you should be good to go.

Located a couple miles before Hana town, plan to spend a while exploring this gorgeous park, home of the famous black sand beach, freshwater caves, ancient temples, burial sites, blow holes, lava tubes and sea arches.

Entrance is free and camping and lodging are available.

Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach
Lava Tube
Lava Tube

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Appropriate shoes
  • Bathing suit

Wai'anapanapa State Park

Makena Cove

Also known as "Secret Beach" to many, Makena Cove is practically a year-round wedding factory, thanks to its top notch scenic beauty.

Less than a mile South of Big Beach on Makena Road, look for the gap in the stone wall on your right and you're there.

Get here early in the morning for nice snorkeling, views of the neighbor island of Kahoolawe and to avoid photobombing the several wedding parties that will undoubtedly show up later in the day.

The not-so-secret "Secret Beach"
The not-so-secret "Secret Beach"

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Snorkel gear
  • Sunglasses

Mahana Ridge

Pack your hiking boots. You're going to need 'em for this one.

In Northwest Maui, you'll find plenty of beautiful hiking trails around the town of Kapalua. However, if you're looking to spend the day totally immersed in nature, the Mahana Ridge Trail, an epic 7 mile hike that ends at the beautiful D.T. Fleming Beach Park, is the one to take.

You'll be treated to views that are well worth the long walk, including Mokupe‘a and Honokahua Gulches and land formerly used to grow coffee and pineapple, but just make sure you plan accordingly.

Hikers are required to take the Kapalua Resort shuttle to the start of the trail, which begins at Maunalei Arboretum.

What to Bring

  • Lots of water
  • Food
  • Appropriate shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable clothing

Kapalua, Maui

Molokini Crater

One of Maui's most famous attractions, Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped, volcanic atoll that sits a couple miles off of Maui's South shore and happens to be the place for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Make the short trip by boat and you'll see why thousands of people flock here every year to enjoy the water, which offers visibility upwards of 180 feet most days. You'll be joined by thousands of tropical fish and treated to beautiful reef and views of several of the neighboring islands.

Take your camera and capture the beauty of Molokini and the surrounding views of Maui's shoreline. There are lots of available snorkel and scuba charters to choose from, and most leave early in the morning from Ma'alaea Harbor or Kihei Boat Ramp.

Backside of Molokini Crater
Backside of Molokini Crater
Reef and Tropical Fish
Reef and Tropical Fish

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Snorkel gear (usually provided by tour operators)
  • Towel

Molokini Crater

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala, Maui's highest peak, sits an impressive 10,023 feet above sea level and offers views unlike anything else on the island.

Although still considered an active volcano, Haleakala hasn't erupted since 1790. The crater, which is large enough to hold all of Manhattan, stretches 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep and is an absolutely stunning sight.

The drive to the top of the volcano takes approximately 2 to 3 hours and goes well above the cloud line. The best time to capture unforgettable pictures is sunrise, which means leaving around 3:00am for most. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, make the trip up for sunset for an (almost) equally beautiful view.

Entrance is $10 for vehicles, $5 for hikers and bikers. Bring warm clothes... it gets cold up there!

What to Bring

  • Warm clothes - jackets, blankets, sweaters, etc.
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Water

Haleakala National Park

Bamboo Forest

No trip to Hana is complete without a visit to the "Seven Sacred Pools", or Ohe'o Gulch.

Not only is this a great place to stop and swim, enjoy a picnic and relax, but the Pipiwai Trail, which sits above the pools, is a can't miss Maui experience. This two mile hike (one way) will take you down a path through a stunning bamboo forest and eventually lead you to Waimoku Falls, a 400 foot cascading waterfall.

This hike will make you feel like you're in another world, so take your time and enjoy the beauty of nature, one step at a time. The trail can often be muddy and slippery from rain, so prepare for both.

What to Bring

  • Hiking shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof bag
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Lots of water
  • Food

Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park

BONUS: Surfboard Fence & Shark Mural

Along Maui's north shore, a picturesque surfboard fence lines the side of the road, just a mile past Paia Town. The perfect spot for commemorating your upcoming Hana adventure, we highly recommend a stop.

Also visit Kuau Store next door for picnic lunches and local snacks and snap a photo of the shark mural on the side of the building.

This area is one of the most photographed and easily accessed on Maui's north shore, so take a look at boards that have braved many Hawaiian surf sessions and enjoy the view!

When going east, pass Paia Town and the surfboard fence will be a mile down on your left hand side.

Surfboard Fence in Kuau
Surfboard Fence in Kuau
Shark Mural on the side of Kuau Store
Shark Mural on the side of Kuau Store

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Appetite
  • Your Smile!

What's your Favorite Maui Spot?

If you could only go to one Maui spot for photos, which would it be?

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© 2014 mauisnorkeling

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