Maui is one of the most remarkable places on the planet. The island is home to colorful corals, lush rainforests, black sand beaches, and two massive shield volcanoes. There’s so much to see — and photograph! — that it can be hard to fit everything in on one trip.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the eight best photo spots on Maui. This list is designed for photographers of all skill levels — from professionals to people who just want to take better selfies. The list also includes a number of “insider tips” to help make these spots more accessible and enjoyable.
1. Ukumehame Beach Park
Ukumehame Beach Park is one of my favorite places on West Maui. The park is off the Honoapiliani Highway — about 15 minutes south of Lahaina. Despite it’s proximity to the highway, it’s easy to miss. In fact, I drove by the park for years before I finally stopped to photograph it.
The star of Ukumehame is an old kiawe tree, which sits along the water’s edge. The tree is hauntingly beautiful. And under the right light, it’s one of the best spots for landscape photgraphers on Maui.
Insider’s Tip: Ukumehame Beach Park is an obvious location for sunrise or sunset photography. But, it’s also a great place for night photography. I recently photographed Ukumehame at night — under a full moon — and I had the beach to myself.
2. Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
I love rainbow eucalyptus trees. They have vibrant, multicolored bark, which turns shades of green, red, purple, orange, and brown. Due to their intense coloration, these trees are favorites of both nature lovers and photographers.
Luckily, there are a number of places to find rainbow eucalyptus trees on Maui. The most-visited spot is at mile marker 7 on the Road to Hana. But my favorite grove of trees is at the Ke‘anae Arboretum. The rainbow eucalyptus trees are on the west side of the arboretum — towards the back of the park.
Insider’s Tip: Many, if not most, of Maui’s rainbow eucalyptus trees have been vandalized. Sadly, people continue to etch their initials into the bark of these beautiful trees. This creates challenges, particularly if you intend to photograph the trees’ multicolored bark.
3. Mala Wharf
Mala Wharf is an old storm-damaged pier just north of Lahaina. There’s something about the pier’s broken concrete and mangled rebar that is eerie and strangely beautiful. The destruction lends itself to a number of interesting compositions, particularly if you have a drone or an underwater camera. It’s absolutely worth a visit.
Insider’s Tip: If you stop at Mala Wharf, bring a snorkel. You’ll get an even better sense of the destruction from below the water. Plus fish, turtles, and sharks hang out around the pier.
4. The Turtles of Kaanapali Beach
I consider myself a landscape photographer, not a wildlife photographer. But I love Hawaiian green sea turtles. These graceful creatures seem to have discernible personalities. They’re also a lot of fun to photograph.
Over the years, I’ve visited a number of turtle “hot spots” on Maui. One of my favorite locations is near Hanakaoʻo Park — on the south side of Kaanapali Beach. Admittedly, you won’t see a lot of colorful coral or beautiful fish here, but you should have no trouble finding turtles as they cruise past Kaanapali Beach.
Insider’s Tip: There’s a free parking lot at Hanakaoʻo Park just south of Hyatt Regency. The turtles usually hang out at a rocky point not far from the parking lot.
Less than a mile south of Olowalu, you’ll find another one of my favorite spots on Maui. This stretch of coastline is known for calm water and great views of Kaho’olawe and Molikini. But what makes it noteworthy — at least among photographers — is what you’ll find along the water’s edge: things like an old drainage pipe and a number of partially-submerged kiawe trees. It’s a great place to experiment with a neutral density filer or take an epic selfie.
Insider’s Tip: If you visit Olowalu, make sure you stop at Leoda’s Pie Shop. I love their Banana Cream Pie!
6. Ke’anae Peninsula
The Ke’anae Peninsula is unlike many of the other places on this list. It’s a rugged and unforgiving landscape. It’s also hard to get to, particularly if you’re staying on the westside of the island. But it’s well worth the trip.
When I was there, I chose to photograph the Ke’anae Peninsula with a drone. From this vantage point, you get a sense of the jagged rocks and the deep blue water along Nua’ailua Bay. But it’s also a great place for more traditional landscape photography.
Insider’s Tip: If you drive out to the Ke’anae Peninsula, make sure to stop at Aunt Sandy’s. I’d highly recommend her world-famous banana bread, as well as the pulled pork sandwiches and the shave ice. It’s my favorite lunch spot along the Road to Hana.
7. Pa’ako Beach (Secret Cove)
Pa’ako Beach is the least-secret “secret beach” on Maui. In fact, it’s probably the most photographed beach on the island. But there’s a reason it’s so popular. It’s one of the most picturesque spots on Maui. Anyone — regardless of skill level — can walk away with a great photo from this spot.
Insider’s Tip: Be prepared to share the beach with throngs of people, particularly if you photograph Pa’ako at sunset.
8. Pipiwai Trail
The Pipiwai Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes on the island. The 1.8 mile trail cuts through a thick bamboo forests and ultimately leads to Waimoku Falls. It’s a great spot for tourists and photographers alike.
If you’re a photographer, the path through the forest serves as an obvious leading line. But don’t be afraid to experiment while you’re there. I’ve seen a lot of interesting abstract photos of the bamboo itself.
Insider’s Tip: The Pipiwai Trail is a very popular hike. So if you want to photograph Pipiwai without any people on the wooden walkway, arrive at sunrise. Also, be sure to bring bug spray. There are a lot of mosquitoes on the trail.