Our Favorite Tours & Activities
We love Hawaii for the outdoors. The waterfalls, hikes, and snorkeling can’t be beaten. Here we share our favorite can’t miss activities that are free or a small fee like a park entrance or parking fee.
At times there are things to do that we need a professional guide or their boat to explore. Then we dabble in guided tours and company-operated activities.
For a complete Hawaiian Island experience, these are tours that can’t be missed. You will probably find locals on these tours with you.
Whale Watching by Pacific Whale Foundation
December to April is the whale season on Maui. The largest migration of humpback whales in the world come to Maui. Erica, Henry and I love going whale watching. We go out four times a year with different operators. We have found the best experience with a toddler or young children is to go on a larger vessel, like the ones operated by the Pacific Whale Foundation and Boss Frog’s. They both provide wonderful service and a smooth ride.
Cruises start at $38 if booked online. The large cruises with up to 149 passengers are the lowest price whale watching tour. The 2-hour cruise includes headphones to hear the whales underwater, activities for kids to learn about whales, and the cruise is led by a Marine Naturalist to explain whale behavior.
For an adventurous whale watching experience and my personal favorite, try a raft. Adventure is a strong word as the ride is smooth and comfortable but it is fast. You can choose to sit in a seat or on the raft sides. We always go out on Ultimate Whale Watch and Snorkeling. The experience can be more intimate as whales are more comfortable to come up to the raft compared to a large boat. Plus, rafts hold 16-passengers or less so you can ask the Marine Naturalist more questions. Ultimate Whale Watching tour for 2-hours, the one we do, is $84
Receive 10% off your Ulitmate Whale and Snorkel Tour bookings by using the promo code “HVG” at checkout!
Whale sightings are guaranteed or you can go again for free.
Olowalu Kayak Snorkeling
Olowalu, south of Lahaina in West Maui has one of the most pristine and unique reefs on Maui. The reef is a few hundred yards offshore from Olowalu Beach so hop in a sea kayak to go snorkeling. Why not?
Olowalu Kayak snorkeling is $65 per person and $45 for children 7 -12 years old. Tour times are from 8:00 to 10:25 and 11:00 to 1:30 daily. Book ahead as they fill up fast.
Erica and I loved this trip. Located in Camp Olowalu we shared a twin-seater, open kayak to go snorkeling for 2.5 hours. A small group of 6 others joined us plus an expert guide to keep us safe and informed.
It was a quick kayak, let’s say 15 minutes before we anchored and jumped in. We had our freedom to snorkel and return to our kayak to rest or warm-up.
Visibility around Olowalu fluctuates so we had to reschedule once. Olowalu Kayak made rescheduling super easy and they are the ones who informed us about the conditions. They really want everyone to have a wonderful experience.
Stop at Leado’s Pie Shop afterward!
GungHo Sailing offers private chartered sailing adventures. Set sail under professional sailor Captain Keahi Ho up and down the West Maui Coast. The GungHo accommodates 6 passengers and has trips for 2 to 4 hours. Starting at $650.
My dad’s one activity he wanted to do during his 2-month stay on Maui was to go sailing. GungHo Sailing did not disappoint. Berthed in the Lahaina Wharf, we sailed the channel between Lahaina and Lanai island.
We opted to head north towards Kaanapali to get more wind and we got wet. The 34-foot sailboat is fast and sturdy. We then headed south for a leisurely sail. It was an ideal activity to do with the family. We all got a chance to take the helm and help with the sails. We had a blast.
Hawaii (Big Island)
Night Manta Ray Snorkeling by Manta Magic (Hawaii Oceanic)
Night manta ray snorkeling is in my top 5 lists of activities to do in the world. It was thrilling to be in the water, at night, and have a manta ray within inches of my head. I loved it.
Trips are around 3 hours and include a trained lifeguard and a naturalist. Manta ray sightings occur about 85% of the time. For my trip, they didn’t have any sightings at the northern location earlier that day so we went south to find them and we did.
The folks at Hawaii Oceanic ran the show brilliantly. They got us into wet suits for comfort (the water is over 75 degrees), gave us a safety briefing, informed us about manta rays, and were strict about respecting and not touching the animals. As a Hawaii Ocean Watch preferred service provider, they are certified as eco-friendly.
We don’t share secret spots of the Hawaiian Islands because there are none. Don’t get me wrong, there are some must-see activities and sites to check out. These are well-publicized. If there is a hard-to-get-to waterfall down a forbidden, unmarked trail then it is best left alone. We respect the land and the people who live there. Be wary of secret spots that put you in places tourists shouldn’t go.