Photo directly to the left was taken at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. We booked the Oahu Circle Island Tour with Maui Sights and Treasures, using Discover Hawaii Tours. It was great!! Small vans took us around, not buses, and we experienced Pearl Harbor, Oahu's North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and much more...
You can contact a small, locally owned company that tries the activities BEFORE they recommend them. Having done the first two, we now choose the last. We use Maui Sights and Treasures in Kihei, Maui. All the people that work for Maui Sights and Treasures LIVE ON MAUI. They know which companies really serve you well, and which ones don't. The money you spend with Maui Sights and Treasures stays ON ISLAND, which supports the local economy. And, the best part is, their prices are really, really good. If you want to spend your time comparison shopping, you will find that the prices offered by Maui Sights and Treasures is always within a dollar or two of what the activity company offers as their lowest rate, usually their Internet Rate. So, make your life easier and just go to Maui Sights and Treasures! My family and I have been doing the other two choices for years, and finally found Maui Sights and Treasures. I'm so glad we did!! The customer service is excellent, and we have never been disappointed with the activities they recommended. To see all they have to offer, just follow this link to their webpage. www.MauiValues.com HAVE FUN!!
If you really want to see the hidden gems on the road to Hana, consider going with www.nokaoiadventures.com Wade is the owner and operator of No Ka Oi Adventures. He will customize the experience to you and show you all the hidden gems along the way that you won't find alone. After years of doing the Road to Hana on our own, we finally paid for a private guide. I am sure glad we did! Wade showed us so much that we didn't know existed, and was well worth every penny we spent. It will seem like a lot to spend for something you can do alone, but trust me, it is worth it!
Over the years, we have also enjoyed time with the following tour operators:
~ Maui Snorkel Charters We had a fantastic excursion to Molokini with them.
~ Big Kahuna Adventures A great place to start for beginner group lessons in surf or SUP.
~ Soul Surfing Maui A great choice if you are looking to take your surfing to the next level!
~ Sail Maui I love their boat, Paragon. It is a small boat experience that is high-quality.
~ Maui Sailing Canoe So much fun and a classic, Hawaiian experience not to be missed
~ Maui Dreams Dive Shop Fantastic dive group if you are certified already, or want to try it out
Take the time (one full day) to drive the road to Hana. You will find lots of waterfalls, gorgeous scenery, incredible ocean vistas, lots of tropical foliage, etc. It is a very curvy drive, so plan carefully if you have anyone that gets car sick. I suggest a convertible for this trip as it helps to alleviate the car sick problems AND has the bonus of putting you much more intimately into the scenery, which is spectacular. All, and I mean ALL, of my favorite scenery shots of Maui come from the road to Hana. It never fails to amaze. Now, I'm from Colorado, so narrow, winding roads are no big deal to me. BUT, they do bother some people, so be aware that the road to Hana IS VERY CURVY AND NARROW. It is also worth every minute!! Pack lots of drinks and snacks, take your camera, suits and towels, and a jacket. You are likely to run into rain. Enjoy!!
No matter who you choose to book with, here are some basic suggestions. If you are on Maui between December and early April, DO A WHALE WATCHING TRIP. It is an inspiring experience that the whole family will enjoy. I mean it, even my youngest (in the kayak to the right) is thrilled by the sight of the whales. My preference if you want to go in a big boat is to go with Pacific Whale Foundation, as they are truly the experts. However, I definitely think it is best to see the whales from a kayak or canoe. If you decide to try your luck getting semi-close in a kayak, please go with a guided group. They know all the laws, and will keep you and the whales safe. The photos to the right were taken about a mile off the coast of Makena. Yes, they're real! I took them myself!! We were with South Pacific Kayaks ( http://southpacifickayaks.com ) and had an AMAZING experience. We had an even closer experience near Cove Park in Kihei while on an excursion in an Outrigger Canoe with Blue Soul Maui (https://bluesoulmaui.com) It was breath-taking and I can't imagine ever getting closer to these awesome creatures. After our whale encounter, we surfed a wave in the outrigger canoe and enjoyed a Maui sunset from the canoe. It was incredible!!! A once in a lifetime experience!
There are so many choices when you begin planning the activities you want to do on Maui!
You can locate each vendor directly on the Internet, make tons of phone calls, do all your shopping around, and hope you find the best ones.
You can contact one of those big activities carriers where the person you talk to has probably never even been to Maui, much less tried all the options.