The Hawaiian Island That's An Unexpectedly Perfect Fall Destination

Millions of people visit Maui every year, and there's no question as to why. Maui has beautiful beaches and clear water teeming with wildlife, along with a deep, rich cultural history. Peak seasons on Maui are summer and winter — summers line up with school vacation, and in winter, lots of people are looking to escape the snow and get a dose of tropical sunshine. So, if you want to miss the masses of tourists and enjoy all the benefits that entails, plan your trip to Maui in the fall. You'll be amazed at how lovely it is.


With not as many people visiting, costs for accommodations and tours will be lower in the fall when compared to the pricier seasons before and after, and the weather will still be balmy, with temperatures ranging between around 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall is technically still a part of hurricane season for Hawaii, though these are rare on the islands. Rainy season starts in about mid-November and goes through around mid-March, which means that some of the island's waterfalls may not be quite as impressive in autumn as they are at other times of the year. And what would a visit to Maui be without getting in the ocean? The water temperature in early fall is often the warmest of the entire year, getting up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Enjoy some of Maui's most famous attractions with fewer crowds

The relative lack of tourists in autumn means that you'll have easier and better access to some of Maui's most famous attractions. That includes driving the famous Hana Highway, aka "Road to Hana," which takes you the 52 miles between Kahului to Hana on the eastern edge of the island past waterfalls, lush rainforest, and colorful sand beaches. If you're stressed about making the drive yourself (it's got more than 600 turns and more than 50 one-way bridges) or if you just want to soak in all the scenery without having to watch the road, there are a number of tour operators who will take care of the driving for you.


Another iconic Maui activity is watching the sun rise or set from the summit of Haleakalā, Hawaii's largest volcano, in Haleakalā National Park. Watching the sun appear, or disappear, over the horizon from the 10,023-foot-tall summit of the volcano is definitely an idea to add to your travel bucket list. Keep in mind that while there will be smaller crowds in the fall, reservations for sunrise have been required by the National Park Service since 2017, no matter what time of year.

Enjoy the warm water of autumn as you watch for sea turtles

One of the highlights of any trip to Maui is getting to see a honu, or green sea turtles. Turtle nesting season on Maui can run through fall, which means you'll get a chance to spot them out on the beaches. It's particularly magical to see sea turtles as you're swimming with them, and remember, water temperatures on Maui are warmest in September and October. One of the Maui resorts where you can go swimming and snorkeling with sea turtles in that lovely warm water is Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on Kāʻanapali Beach near Black Rock. The resort also has traditional lele kawa, or cliff diving, every night from the famed lava outcrop, and it's much easier to enjoy with not as many crowds.


You can combine snorkeling with turtles with stand-up paddleboarding with Paddle On! Maui at Makena Landing. You'll paddle out with a guide to a sea turtle "feeding station," where you may see half a dozen sea turtles at once. Or you can take a boat ride out to Molokini Crater, one of Maui's most famous snorkel and scuba spots, where, again, fewer tourists certainly work in your favor. Keep in mind that it is illegal to touch sea turtles, and you should stay at least 15 feet away from them. If they happen to swim close to you, don't make any sudden movements or loud noises.

Maui has some amazing fall festivals

There are also a number of annual fall festivals on Maui. There's the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, which takes place over three weeks and three islands, including Maui, where hundreds of food and drink experts come together to show off their skills and local ingredients in one of the tastiest events you can imagine. The Hawaiian Airlines Made in Maui County Festival is the first weekend of November, and it features more than 100 local vendors and artisans selling everything from soaps to jewelry to furniture.


For more uniquely Hawaiian cultural experiences, the Ukulele Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center is held each October, and in September and October, Maui holds events for the Festivals of Aloha, which include events like concerts, parades, lei-making classes, and hula demonstrations — all to promote and celebrate Hawaiian culture and heritage.

When traveling to Maui and Hawaii in general, no matter what time of year, make sure to do so with respect. A few of the easy ways you can do that: Support local businesses, practice "leave no trace" ethics wherever you go — pack out any trash and take nothing with you — and wear reef-safe sunscreen. If you're not sure if your sunscreen qualifies, not to worry, you can find free Raw Elements sunscreen dispensers at more than a dozen Maui beaches; the non-nano zinc oxide they use to protect your skin from the sun doesn't harm corals or other marine life.