Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

Birding in Maui – Tips, Hotspots, and Guide

Last Updated on

flock of birds flying in sunbeam

Maui is easily one of the most beautiful cities belonging to the United States. Because of the tropical environment, it’s no shock that Maui is home to beautiful birds that are difficult to spot elsewhere.

In order to spot these birds, it’s best to walk along some of the most beautiful trails in the city. Below, learn about the 10 best hotspots for bird watching in Maui.

Top 10 Birdwatching Hotspots in Maui

1. Seven Sacred Pools Trail (‘Ohe’o Gulch)

Oheo gulch

Oheo gulch (Image Credit; Didier B Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Type of spot Loop
Difficulty Level Easy
Common birds seen Doves, Cardinals, waterfowl
Fee $15–$55

The Seven Sacred Pools Trail is a 0.6-mile loop. It is very easy and takes an average of 16 minutes to complete. Because of how easy this trail is, you’ll likely run into other adventurers, birders, and walkers.

Unfortunately, it can get a bit loud during the high season. As you know, increased noise will sometimes scare away the birds. It can also get a bit muddy after it rains. So, wear appropriate shoes and do not walk the trail if it is flooded.

Pros
  • Easy and accessible for walking
  • Great way to get the whole family involved
  • Meet other bird watchers
Cons
  • Dogs are not allowed
  • Gets muddy
  • Can be loud

2. Ohai Trail Loop

Type of spot Loop
Difficulty Level Easy
Common birds seen ‘I’wi, Apapane
Fee Free

Many people agree that this is one of the best spots in Maui for hiking and bird watching. The hike itself is easy, but the views are beautiful, and the area is home to a wide range of bird species. It has a simple loop route and is only 1.2 miles long.

This loop is a favorite among many travelers, which means this hike isn’t always secluded. Dogs are welcome as well. It can sometimes get loud, but the birds in this area are generally not afraid of people.

Pros
  • Easy
  • Free
  • Beautiful sites that the whole family can enjoy
Cons
  • Can get loud

3. Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail

Type of spot Boardwalk trail
Difficulty Level Easy
Common birds seen Heron, Egret, Stilts
Fee Free

The Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail is the perfect bird-watching spot if you have accessibility problems. The site itself is open year-round, but it has five public beach access points and five designated accessible spaces. The trail is even paved with partial railings.

Because of how gentle this trail is, it’s perfect for birdwatchers that can’t do any real adventuring. However, this site can get a little bit loud with children and dogs.

Pros
  • Easily accessible
  • Open year-round
  • Free
Cons
  • Can get loud

4. Lahaina Pali Trail from Maalaea

Type of spot Trail
Difficulty Level Moderate
Common birds seen Stilts, Plovers, Tattlers
Fee Free

If you enjoy hiking and trail running and want to see some birds while you are at it, check out the Lahaina Pali Trail from Maalaea. This moderately easy trail is perfect for exploring while birdwatching.

It can get a bit steep. So, this trail is not ideal for individuals with problems relating to accessibility. Still, it’s a great place to view a wide range of birds.

Pros
  • Great way to challenge yourself while enjoying the view
  • Well-marketed trail
  • Relatively secluded
Cons
  • Not very accessible
  • Tough terrain

5. Nakalele Blowhole via Acid War Zone Trail

Type of spot Out and back trail 
Difficulty Level Moderate
Common birds seen Roosters, shorebirds
Fee Free

If you are comfortable going off the beaten track, check out the Nakalele Blowhole via Acid War Zone Trail. The trail itself is moderately easy, making it an option for a wide range of birdwatchers.

However, part of the trail gets a bit rocky, and it is not very clearly marked. Don’t be afraid to go off on your own and really experience this great trail and check out exotic birds in the process.

Pros
  • Unique trail that allows you to explore on your own
  • Secluded
  • Free
Cons
  • Trail not clearly marked

6. Kapalua Village Walking Trail Lake Loop

Type of spot Loop
Difficulty Level Moderate
Common birds seen Shovelers, Geese, waterfowl
Fee Free

The Kapalua Village Walking Trail Lake Loop is 4.2 miles long, but it is relatively flat, making it a great option for those who have some challenges in terms of disability or accessibility. Most of the trail is even asphalt.

The trail can get a bit confusing because some of the maps are out of date, according to birdwatchers. So, pay attention to where you are going. As long as you get back on the main loop, you will make it back in one piece.

Pros
  • Easy enough for most bird watchers
  • Secluded areas
  • Accessible
Cons
  • Maps are outdated

7. Nakalele Blowhole Trail

Nakalele Blowhole Maui

Nakalele Blowhole Maui (image Credit: Nakalele Blowhole Maui CC BY-SA 3.0)

Type of spot Out and back trail
Difficulty Level Moderate
Common birds seen Herons, Plovers, waterfowl
Fee Free

If you want something a little bit challenging but not too difficult, you should try the Nakalele Blowhole Trail. This trail is 1.2 miles long and takes about 41 minutes to complete. It is beautiful to visit all year long to watch birds.

This trail can get a bit loud at times. Because it is moderately easy, many people take to this trail. Additionally, dogs are allowed, which can further scare away birds, depending on how rambunctious the dogs are.

Pros
  • Easy enough for most bird watchers without being too easy
  • Beautiful year-round
  • Free
Cons
  • Dogs are allowed
  • Can get loud

8. Kahakapao Loop Trail

Type of spot Loop
Difficulty Level Moderate
Common birds seen Myna, songbirds
Fee Free

If you want to discover birds in the Hawaiian forests, you will enjoy the Kahakapao Loop Trail. Because this trail is a loop, it is pretty easy to walk on, but it is long so that you don’t run out of things to look at either. You can also enjoy hiking and horseback riding on these trails.

This trail can get a bit loud since it is free and moderately easy. Dogs are welcome as well, further increasing the noise. At least dogs are required to be on a leash on this trail.

Pros
  • Easy enough for most bird watchers without being too easy
  • Beautiful year-round
  • Free
Cons
  • Dogs are allowed
  • Can get loud

9. Sliding Sands Trail

Type of spot Out and back trail
Difficulty Level Hard
Common birds seen Finches, Chukar, Pheasants
Fee $15–$55

If you are a serious hiker, you need to check out the Sliding Sands Trail. This trail is 11 miles long and takes about six hours in five minutes to complete. Because of its difficulty, this is one of the more popular out and back routes in Maui.

Since this trail walks through the secluded Hawaiian mountains, you can spot a ton of birds and natural wildlife. Just note that this hike is tough and does not offer much accessibility.

Pros
  • Beautifully secluded
  • Challenging hike
  • All-day adventure
Cons
  • Not accessible

10.Lahaina Pali Trail From the Ukumehame (West) Trailhead

Type of spot Out and back trail
Difficulty Level Hard
Common birds seen Sparrows, Cardinals, Pheasants
Fee Free

The Lahaina Pali Trail from the Ukumehame (West) Trailhead is a trail mainly enjoyed by serious adventurers. The trail itself is hard, but it shows you breathtaking views of the rocky mountainous coast. You’ll be able to enjoy sights of waterfowl and raptors.

Even though dogs are allowed on this trail, this trail is normally pretty quiet and secluded, ensuring that you can enjoy birds and peace. It does not offer much accessibility, and it gets very hot and windy with no shade.

Pros
  • Beautiful, secluded views
  • Access to various bird species
  • Free
Cons
  • Very little accessibility
  • Tough terrain

What Birds Can I See in Maui?

Because Maui has a tropical environment, it is home to a wide range of exotic birds. Not to mention, Maui itself is pretty secluded, which means the birds aren’t scared away as frequently as they would be in other parts of the world.

Some of the most popular birds that you can see in Maui include:

  • Nene
  • Myna
  • Chukar Partridge
  • Red-Crested Cardinal
  • Tropical Java Finch
  • Spotted Dove
  • Cattle Egret
  • Hawaiian Stilt
  • Black-Crowned Night Heron
  • Zebra Dove
  • Nutmeg Mannikin
  • House Sparrow
  • Wandering Tattler
  • Red-Tailed Tropicbird
  • Brown Booby

This list is far from including all the birds that you can find in Maui, but they are some of the most noteworthy and favorites among birdwatchers.

a house sparrow on a tree branch

Image Credit: KnipsKaline, Pixabay

FAQ

What is the state bird of Hawaii?

The Nene is the state bird of Hawaii. It is sometimes called the Hawaiian Goose, and it is considered one of the rarest geese in the world. You will mainly find this goose climbing along the rocky Hawaiian terrain.

What are the best spots for bird watching in Maui?

Maui is home to many beautiful spots for bird watching. Some of the most popular spots include Kanaha Beach Park, Haleakala National Park, and Kealia Pond National Wildlife Rescue.

Conclusion

Now that you know all the best trails for spotting birds in Maui, pick one that matches your hiking abilities and needs. Whether you were looking for a family-friendly park for watching birds in passing or a serious climb for bird watching, Maui has it all.


Featured Image Credit: sbw18, shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

Robert Sparks Profile Picture