During my recent weeklong cruise around Hawaii with Norwegian Cruise Line, the island that I was most looking forward to exploring was undoubtedly Maui. For years, I have heard that Maui is a literal paradise and as someone that loves tropical destinations, I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. The cruise actually docked for two full days in Maui, which gave my mom, my friend Kayla, and I plenty of time to hit up the wheelchair accessible Maui highlights!
For our two days in Maui, we rented a wheelchair accessible van from Wheelers Van Rentals of Hawaii. The minivan had a side-entry ramp, the passenger seat was removed so that I could sit in the front, and there were tie-downs to secure my wheelchair. It really couldn’t have been any better and we loved having the freedom to enjoy Maui with our own vehicle, despite it being more costly (nearly $700 for the two full days) than the accessible shore excursions offered by the cruise line.
I had pretty high expectations for Maui, but it managed to be even better than I could have ever expected. Over the course of two days, we saw majestic waterfalls, ate the best coconut shrimp of our lives, enjoyed a luau, and much more. Maui is an incredible destination and has a lot to offer for wheelchair users. If you’re looking for wheelchair accessible Maui attractions and things to do, keep reading for all of my suggestions!
Wheelchair Accessible Maui Attractions & Things to Do
Drive the Road to Hana (and see the many sights along the way)
Before visiting Maui, nearly every time I Googled “things to do in Maui”, the number one recommendation on most lists was the Road to Hana. I had actually never even heard of the Road to Hana until I started planning our trip, but all of the photos I saw of it online looked amazing. So, after getting off the ship and picking up our wheelchair accessible rental van, our first adventure in Maui was driving the Road to Hana.
The Road to Hana is a scenic drive that has beautiful views and lots of must-see stops along the way. The road is extremely curvy, but smooth all the way to Hana and not bumpy, so it was quite nice. I’ve taken some scenic drives in my travels, but I honestly think that the Road to Hana was the most beautiful drive I’ve ever enjoyed. It was just unbelievable… in the absolute best way.
You could honestly spend days enjoying the Road to Hana in its entirety because there are so many beautiful sights to see. However, we only had about six hours for the Road to Hana, as we had to get back for a luau. Whether you have multiple days to enjoy it or just one day, it’s certainly worth doing, but I would say that six hours is kind of the minimum amount of time I’d plan for the Road to Hana.
Some of the stops that we loved on the Road to Hana were:
• The Garden of Eden at mile marker 10. This is a botanical garden & some of the trails were very rough as a wheelchair user since they aren’t paved, but I was able to see a waterfall and where the opening scene of Jurassic Park was filmed. It was beautiful and definitely worth visiting.
• Kaumahina State Wayside Park at mile marker 12. This is a quick, easy stop with great views of the northeast Maui coastline.
• Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park at mile marker 22. It has an accessible paved trail to a waterfall and was probably my favorite stop on our journey. There are picnic tables and bathrooms here as well.
• Nahiku Market near mile marker 29. There were shops selling souvenirs and I had the best coconut shrimp of my life at a local food truck/eatery here called Island Chef. I would definitely suggest eating here! You will not regret it, I assure you.
After having lunch at Nahiku Market, we turned around and headed back, so we didn’t make it all the way to the town of Hana (at mile marker 34). But it was such a memorable experience and next time, I’m going to plan for more time, so we can go further.
In addition to the stops listed above, we also saw dozens of waterfalls along the way and you can easily pull over to snap photos. We’d just be casually driving on the Road to Hana and then, all of a sudden, there’d be a gorgeous waterfall right by the road. I’m telling you, The Road to Hana is a must-do on Maui! With so many incredible stops, it can take a while to do it, but it’s so worth it.
Attend the Old Lahaina Luau
In the weeks leading up to our trip, I was telling some friends about our trip to Hawaii and they immediately said to attend the Old Lahaina Luau. I booked tickets for the luau the very next day and was really excited to check it out. Attending a luau in Hawaii is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember and the Old Lahaina Luau did not disappoint. There are quite a few different luaus in Maui, but the Old Lahaina Luau is consistently rated as one of the best in all of Hawaii.
Our visit started by taking some photos with the beautiful ocean in the background and shopping around. There were various vendors selling authentic Hawaiian souvenirs, jewelry, and more, so it was fun to shop for a bit before dinner and the main show began. We were also able to watch them unearth the pig from the imu. If you’re wondering what this means, they basically cook the pig in the ground and then pull it out once it’s fully cooked. It’s a traditional way to cook pigs in Hawaii and seeing the entire process was pretty fascinating.
For the dinner, we had a private table with a great view of the stage. We were served poi, Lomilomi salmon, poke, kālua pig, desserts, and so much more. Everything was delicious and I was shocked at how much food we got. You certainly get your money’s worth!
During the dinner, we watched the show and it was wonderful. There were hula dancers, traditional music, and I actually learned a lot about Hawaii’s history and culture throughout the show. It was spectacular and I was thoroughly entertained during the entire show.
Wheelchair accessibility at the Old Lahaina Luau was great. There were paved paths throughout the area, so I never had to roll in any sand. The staff was tremendously accommodating and friendly as well. If you’ll be on Maui as a wheelchair user, I would definitely recommend experiencing the Old Lahaina Luau!
See one of the largest Banyan trees in the U.S.
One really unique thing to see on Maui is Lahaina’s massive banyan tree. We started our second day on Maui by viewing the tree and it was astounding! This banyan tree is more than 60 feet tall and sprawls across an entire city block. It’s the perfect place to visit on a hot day, as the banyan tree provides a lot of shade.
In the area surrounding the banyan tree, there are a lot of great souvenir shops and all of the ones that I wanted to go inside were wheelchair accessible. I ended up buying a Christmas ornament, a magnet, a hat, and some treats for friends and family members back home. This was the perfect area for stocking up on souvenirs.
Shop at Whaler’s Village and relax at Kaanapali Beach
One of our last stops on Maui was Whaler’s Village. Although this is a truly unique shopping experience, and is called the island’s premier oceanfront retail center, it is so much more as well. Here, I was able to buy some great items, eat a delicious lunch on the waterfront, enjoy a heart-racing escape room experience, and simply relax at the beach and enjoy those Hawaiian sun rays.
Whaler’s Village is located in Maui on the world-famous Kaanapali Beach. With over 80 shops, including Louis Vuitton, Ray-Ban, some awesome Hawaiian based retailers, and family apparel shops, this area is a multilevel complex. An elevator is available to access all levels.
Located on the upper level, we couldn’t resist trying our skills at Maui Escape Rooms. If you have never been to an escape room, you should try it! It is so fun to see if you and your friends can find your way out by finding hidden clues and racing against the clock, so that you can unlock the door and get out before time runs out. It’s always a mad rush, but such a fun bonding experience.
After this, I was ready to see the beach and relax. So, located just in front of Whaler’s Village is Kaanapali Beach. This beach is a gorgeous 3-mile stretch of sand and sun. I was able to roll along the beach on a paved path that went really far down the beach. The palm trees and lapping waves were soothing to my soul and I was able to take in the beauty of the ocean.
Rolling along the beach made me a bit hungry and it was lunchtime after all. Narrowing down the options posed a dilemma, as there are fast food and full service oceanfront restaurants offered in Whaler’s Village. But when I saw the open seating and scrumptious menu options at Leilani’s Beach Bar, I knew I needed to try it. The menu included fresh fish, seafood, cocktails, and craft beers. I finally selected the fresh fish tacos for my entree and oh my, what a perfect choice that was! The fish was cajun rubbed with roasted tomatillo aioli, cheddar and jack cheese, shaved cabbage, chile de arbor salsa, fresh tortilla chips and my choice of a corn or flour tortilla.
I was almost too full after the fish tacos, but not too full for ordering the Kimo’s Original Hula Pie. You absolutely can’t go to Hawaii and not eat a Hula Pie. This thing was huge! It was dessert with a chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted macadamia nuts, and whipped cream. It makes my mouth water just typing these words!
After our late lunch, it was time to head back to the cruise ship and begin our journey to the next port of call in Hawaii. While driving toward the ship though, we actually saw a couple whales out in the ocean. It was a fairytale ending to our time in Maui and I am already dreaming of what all I’d love to do next time I’m there. Maui is a tropical paradise and full of wheelchair accessible things to do. What more could you ask for?!