Travel Tour Reviews

The 5 Best Maui Sunset Dinner Cruises – [2020 Reviews]

Have you ever seen a sunset over the water? Nature’s brushstrokes across the sky, a thousand hues of red and orange uninterrupted by any obstacles. It’s an amazing sight best observed from a boat, and now you can experience it for yourself by going on a Maui sunset dinner cruise.

Some Maui sunset trips are packed with great features, such as delicious local food and beverages, live music, stunning scenery, and whales during the winter months.

I’ve identified 5 top-rated Maui sunset cruises that I believe you’ll really enjoy. Why not read through my reviews and see which one appeals to you? Also see our Maui Travel Guide.

Best Maui Sunset & Dinner Cruises

 Maui: Sunset Dinner Cruise In Ka’anapaliMaui: 2-Hour Sunset Dinner Cruise From LahainaMaui: Breathtaking Sunset Cruise In Ka’anapali
editors choice
Departure Point Leilani’s Restaurant, Whalers’ Village, Kā’anapaliLahaina Harbor, exact location depends upon menu option selectedLeilani’s Restaurant, Whalers’ Village, Kā’anapali
Departure Time3:30 PM or 4:30 PM depending upon the time of year5:30 PM4:00 PM to 5:00 PM depending on the time of year
Duration2½ hours2 hours2 hours
Includes2½-hour catamaran cruise off the west coast of Maui, a buffet meal prepared by an award-winning chef, and an open bar 2-hour modern catamaran cruise, 2 complimentary drinks, choice of meal, and live entertainment2-hour catamaran cruise, open bar, and appetizers

Quick Answer: The 5 Best-Rated Maui Sunset & Dinner Cruises

  1. Maui: Sunset Dinner Cruise In Ka’anapali
  2. Maui: 2-Hour Sunset Dinner Cruise From Lahaina
  3. Maui: Breathtaking Sunset Cruise In Ka’anapali
  4. Maui: 2-Hour Sunset Sail With Open Bar & Appetizers
  5. Maui: Sunset Sailing Cruise With Champagne From Lahaina

Maui Sunset & Dinner Cruises Reviewed

#1. Maui: Sunset Dinner Cruise In Ka’anapali

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Leilani’s Restaurant, Whalers’ Village, Kā’anapali
  • Departure Time: 3:30 PM or 4:30 PM depending upon the time of year
  • Duration: 2½ hours
  • Includes: 2½-hour catamaran cruise off the west coast of Maui, a buffet meal prepared by an award-winning chef, and an open bar

If you are a food connoisseur, this is the best sunset cruise in Maui. Feast on a meal cooked by an award-winning chef while you enjoy a romantic sunset over the Pacific Ocean aboard Terlani—a luxury catamaran.

You’ll board the catamaran straight from the beach, so wear something suitable for braving the waves. Since you’ll likely get your feet wet, Crocs or similar waterproof footwear worn with shorts would be ideal.

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Your cruise will take you out into the ocean to experience trade wind sailing between the islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Maui. You can sip drinks from the open bar while admiring the scenery.

If you take this cruise between December and May, you’ll probably see humpback whales crashing through the waves. At any time of year, you’ll get fantastic views of the western coast of Maui and the Kahalawai Mountains.

The highlight of this cruise is your buffet-style meal prepared by the award-winning chef Paris Nabavi. Select what you like from grilled ono with a creamy pesto sauce, rotisserie chicken, chips and dips, garlic bread, sun-dried tomatoes, and brownies.

While you’re enjoying all those delicious dishes, I’m sure you’ll agree this is the best Maui dinner cruise. And while you’re eating, enjoy the beautiful sunset over the waves.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2 Maui: 2-Hour Sunset Dinner Cruise From Lahaina

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Lahaina Harbor, exact location depends upon menu option selected
  • Departure Time: 5:30 PM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: 2-hour modern catamaran cruise, 2 complimentary drinks, choice of meal, and live entertainment

This is an excellent Maui sunset dinner cruise for people who love live music. Take a 2-hour, scenic cruise aboard a high-tech catamaran and experience watching a sunset over the Maui mountains.

After boarding this stable catamaran in Lahaina Harbor, you’ll sail out into the Pacific Ocean. Sip your 2 complimentary drinks while you admire the western shoreline of Maui. Once away from the harbor, you can purchase alcoholic drinks.

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When booking this cruise, you will be asked to choose from a selection of menus. You can opt for a lobster-, fish-, vegetarian-, or prime-rib-based meal.

All dishes are cooked in a traditional Hawaiian style. But if you’re anything like me, the highlight of your cruise will be the coconut-dusted chocolate brownie and Hawaiian sweet rolls.

While you’re feasting on all that food, you can enjoy the live music played for your entertainment. When you’re swaying to the beat, I’m sure you’ll agree this is the best sunset cruise in Maui.

And when Maui sunset time arrives, just sit back, watch the sky, and find your inner peace.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3. Maui: Breathtaking Sunset Cruise In Ka’anapali

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Leilani’s Restaurant, Whalers’ Village, Kā’anapali
  • Departure Time: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM depending on the time of year
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: 2-hour catamaran cruise, open bar, and appetizers

If you don’t want a heavy evening meal, this cruise would be best for you. You’ll be treated to delicious appetizers and an open bar while watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

You’ll board the modern catamaran directly from the beach, so be ready to roll up your pants and wade through those waves. Once aboard, you’ll set off for a sightseeing cruise around the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai.

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While you admire the scenery, an experienced chef will prepare appetizers to sate your hunger. Thankfully, this is the best Maui dinner cruise for a light meal.

If you’re lucky, during the winter months you’ll see humpback whales swimming around the catamaran. Each year between December and May, whales gather in the warm waters around Maui to give birth.

The views of West Maui from the ocean are breathtaking, and you’ll be astounded when the sun sets because you’ll see the best sunset in Maui. Relax and sip a refreshing drink from the open bar as you contemplate the beauty found in Nature.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4. Maui: 2-Hour Sunset Sail With Open Bar & Appetizers

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Beachside of the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kā’anapali
  • Departure Time: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, depending upon the time of year
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: 2-hour catamaran cruise, appetizers, on-board trampoline, and an open bar

This cruise is great for people who love cocktails and want to try local beverages. Loosen up and relax as you take advantage of the wide range of Polynesian-style drinks offered by the open bar.

This is a beach loading catamaran, so wear shorts and waterproof shoes to avoid wet socks and pants. If you want to go a little crazy, you’ll love the trampolines provided for your entertainment.

But if you prefer to sit back and watch for whales, you’ll find both indoors and outdoors seating.

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Watch the scenery pass by and sample local beverages from the Maui Brewing Company, like Bikini Blonde lager or Sig Swell India Pale Ale. Or, if you prefer, sip Mai Tais, Kenwood Champaign, or La Terre Chardonnay. There’s a drink for every taste!

But you shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach, so it’s good you’ll also be treated to a selection of tasty appetizers on this Maui dinner cruise.

You can look forward to spring rolls, a crudités platter, and BBQ chicken sliders. Devour these tasty tidbits while you admire the beautiful sunset.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5. Maui: Sunset Sailing Cruise With Champagne From Lahaina

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Lahaina Harbor, main loading dock, in front of the Pioneer Inn
  • Departure Time: 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM, depending upon the time of year
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: 2-hour cruise aboard an ultralight catamaran, beverages, and light appetizers

If you want an authentic sailing experience, this is a great cruise for you. This ultralight catamaran performs like a traditional yacht as it skims over the waves.

While you wait for the sunset, enjoy a glass of Champagne, a local beer, or a Mai Tai. You’ll also be served light appetizers prepared by a top-rated Lahaina restaurant.

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So, relax and admire the view of West Maui from the Pacific Ocean. Between December and May, you might even get to see humpback whales swimming off the coast.

When the sun dips into the ocean, you’ll be in a perfect position to enjoy the play of light over the sparkling waves. That’s when you’ll learn that you can see the best sunset in Maui.

Make sure you take a good camera, because you’ll want to share this amazing scene with all your family and friends.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



Maui Travel Guide

When Polynesian adventurers found and settled the previously uninhabited island of Maui, they thought they had found Paradise.

maui sunset dinner cruise

You will too! There is so much to see and do on this compact island that you are spoiled for choice. You can go whale watching, climb a volcano, hike through tropical rain forest, and learn how to hula dance from professionals.

Before you go, it is in your interest to fully research the accommodations, transport arrangements, local foods, and attractions to ensure you get the most out of your visit. This guide is designed to help you on your way.

Airports & Entry

Most visitors to Maui arrive on an airplane or a cruise liner. Using either method, you’ll most likely arrive in Kahului.

Kahului is the main settlement on Maui, hosting its commercial shopping centers, light industrial areas, a deep-draft harbor for cruise liners, and Kahului Airport.

Although Maui only boasts a population of 155 thousand, over 5 million passengers pass through Kahului Airport every year. Many flights from the mainland involve a layover in Honolulu, but there are direct flights.

When booking, try to get a direct flight to save time. There is only one terminal building at Kahului, but you can find all the usual amenities on the second floor.

maui sunset cruise dinner

The Visitor Information Office in the central building is open from 7:45am to 9:45pm, and there are information desks throughout the airport. ATMs and internet stations are found throughout the second floor.

The airport shops—a DFS, gift store, jewelers, and newsstand—open at times varying from 6am for the newsstand to 8:45am.

All the shops close around 9pm. While the earliest of the 9 food outlets—Starbucks—opens at 5:30am, they are all closed by 10:30pm.

There are 8 car rental companies operating from the airport, but it’s a good idea to book in advance to save time at the airport and ensure that there’s a vehicle available.

A convenient and affordable shuttle service connects the airport to the main tourist accommodation locations on the island, including Wailea, Napili, Makena, Lahaina, Kihei, Kahana, Ka’anapali, Honokawai, and, of course, Kahului’s commercial center.

The Maui Airport Shuttle Service desk can be found in the Baggage Claim area, and no reservations are required. The desk opens at 5:30am and closes after the last flight arrival of the day.

If you are traveling light, the local public transportation system is an affordable option. Cash fares on the Maui Bus service are $2 per person for a single ride or $4 for a day pass.

Route 35 (Haiku) and Route 40 (Upcountry) operate every 90 minutes from 5:30am and 6:00am to 9:40pm and 10:11pm respectively.

However, the public bus has a strict luggage policy, so only one suitcase or carry-on bag is allowed and must fit on the passenger’s lap or under their seat. So, Maui Bus is only an option if you are a “hand luggage only” kind of flyer.

Taxis pick up from the front of the baggage claim area, but they are expensive. The metered rate is $3:00 per mile. That means it would cost you approximately $65 to Makena, $78 to Lahaina, and $105 to Kapalua.

Cruise ships moor at Pier 1 in Kahului Deep Draft Harbor. Maui Bus operates a service that stops at the harbor, and taxis are an option. It is a 25-minute walk from Pier 1 to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, Kahului’s main commercial center and transport hub.

Planning Tips

It’s always best to be prepared. Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your stay on Maui.

Tip #1: If you want to see whales, go in winter

During the summer, humpback whales feed and congregate around Alaska. In winter, they migrate south to mate and calve. From mid-December to mid-April, there are an abundance of whale sightings in Maui.

Between 10 and 12 thousand whales congregate in these tropical waters. Whales are often visible at a distance from the beaches and will circle any small boats that approach their pods. Winter is the best time to whale watch in Maui.

Tip #2: Take your time to appreciate all that Maui has to offer

Perhaps you only want to see the whales or surf in the sunshine, but there’s a lot more to see and do in Maui.

Don’t miss the opportunity to climb a volcano, explore inside a lava tube, experience a traditional luau, and visit the historical royal town of Lahaina. See the information on Nightlife and Attractions below.

Tip #3: Book Maui tours in advance, especially during winter

Maui is a popular destination for tourists, so tours quickly sell out. Book in advance to avoid disappointment. You wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself if you went all that way only to miss your opportunity to whale watch because the tours were full.

Since many tours offer free refunds up to 24 hours before the activity begins, you’re not taking a risk if you book before you go. Just check the refund policy of each tour before you book.

Tip #4: Take summer clothes and raincoats

Because Maui is tropical, you need to pack summer clothes. However, don’t forget it also rains a lot on the island. Light raincoats are an excellent idea.

If you intend to see the sunrise or sunset from the top of Haleakalā, you will definitely need a jacket. And if you plan to visit a plush Martini lounge or attend a luau, you should bring something a bit smarter for those special occasions.

Tip #5: Buy traditional local craft souvenirs

If you want to take home something unique, check out the Maui Crafts Guild in Paia, a small settlement a little east of Kahului just off the Hāna Highway.

This store is a member owned and operated cooperative where you will find the actual artists inside the store eager to speak to you about their arts and crafts.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Maui not only has a unique ecosystem with plants not found in the other 49 States, but it also boasts an uninterrupted cultural history.

That means during your stay you have the unique opportunity to taste genuine Polynesian food untainted by European colonial influences.

Because Maui is an island surrounded by abundant marine life, it’s no surprise many restaurants feature seafood on their menus.

A popular dish is Opakapaka, which is crimson snapper either steamed, baked or grilled. Monchong is a deep-water fish marinaded and grilled.

Raw tuna is a favorite with the locals and is found in traditional foods like Poke. Poke is like Japanese Sashimi but with the raw fish served in hearty chunks rather than thin slices.

Something unique to the Hawaiian Islands is luau food cooked in an earth oven called an imu. A tasty example of luau food is Laulau, made with pork, chicken, or fish.

The selected meat is wrapped in taro leaves and then cooked inside the imu for hours until it grows soft with a smoky taste. Delicious!

While many North Americans might consider either bread or potato to be their staple food during meals, on Maui taro is the staple root crop.

Taro is most often consumed as Poi, a thick paste that is either baked or steamed. Poi is slightly sour due to fermentation during its preparation.

And for dessert, why not try some Banana-Apple Fruit, Breadfruit, or Kulolo. Banana-Apple is a common fruit eaten cold or hot.

Breadfruit is melon-sized and is served boiled, deep-fried, baked, or steamed. Kulolo is steamed taro pudding. Yes! Taro is a versatile root.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Despite Maui’s small size, you will find a good selection of venues to let your hair down.

The island offers something for everybody’s taste, from a plush Martini lounge to a rowdy beach watering hole where locals play pool and watch the big game live. But something truly special only experienced in the Hawaiian Islands is a luau.

If you want to dress up and drink in style, you could head to the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua and visit the Alaloa Lounge.

They offer outdoor or indoor seating and live entertainment Thursday through Monday. The Kapalua Martini is a local specialty you should try.

At the other end of the scale is Life’s A Beach in Kihei, a beach lounge frequented by locals.

As well as the football and pool tables you’d expect from a popular watering hole, they also have regular evening entertainment. They offer everything from open mic nights to live reggae bands.

But for a fun-packed evening of traditional songs, stories, food, and drink, you won’t do better than an organized traditional luau.

For around $130, you can experience Lei Greetings, observe the Imu Ceremony (cooking a pig in an earth oven), Hula Dance, and play Hawaiian games.

The highlight is a performance by locals telling the story of how their ancestors first discovered and populated Maui, aided by the gods.

Getting Around

If you want to explore the Hāna Highway with the flexibility to stop wherever and whenever you choose, your best option is to rent a car.

However, if you don’t want to do this, you can get around by public transportation, shuttle bus, on a tour, or by taxi. Maui Bus, the public bus service, is an extremely efficient and cheap way of getting around the island.

But Maui Bus’ focus is on getting the locals where they need to go, which might not be what you want to see.

A tour bus will take you exactly where you need to go, but on their schedule, not yours. Taxis are an option for nearby attractions, but at $3 per mile, they are expensive for long journeys.

Accommodations

Most visitors to Maui stay near one of the larger settlements along the coast, but not Kahului, which is relatively industrial and less touristy than other towns.

Popular locations include Kā’anapali, Kapalua, Kihei, Lahaina, Mākena, and Kapalua. There are also hotels and resorts in the Up Country area around Kula.

When deciding where you want to stay, think about what you most want to see and do while you’re on the island.

Bear in mind that towns like Kā’anapali, Kapalua, and Lahaina on the leeward, west coast will be a lot drier and a little warmer than towns like Hāna on the windward, east coast.

Also remember that although the island is small and settlements close to one another, the roads meander, and there are mountains in the way. If you decide to stay in Hāna but intend to visit Lahaina, allow 3 hours each way for the drive.

When you’ve chosen your target location, you will find lots of resorts, hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to choose from. Tourism is big business in Maui, so there are rooms available to suit any budget.

Weather

Although Maui is a small island, you will experience several distinctly different climates while traveling around. This is a product of the island’s unique geography.

There are two important variables: elevation above sea level and position in relation to the two mountainous regions.

If you are on one of the whale tours in Maui, your boat will be at an elevation of 0 feet, but if you are admiring the view from atop Haleakalā, your elevation is 10,000 feet.

The higher you climb, the cooler the air temperature will be. As a rough guide, every 1,000 feet you rise above sea level, the temperature will drop 3.20F.

This means that when the beach is 700F, the summit is 380F! Although Maui’s climate is tropical, snow sometimes appears at the summit. If you decide to climb Haleakalā, make sure you take warm clothing in your backpack.

You may begin your ascent in the tropics, but you’ll arrive to weather more like the Arctic. Up Country Maui is wetter and cooler than neighboring South Maui because it sits at a higher elevation.

The low-lying central valley, where the airport is situated along with Kahului and Maalaea, is windy but dry and usually sunnier than other areas.

The trade winds hit the windward, eastern shores of the island, bringing moist air. As that air climbs the mountains, it releases the moisture as rain.

This leads to a lot of rain on the east side of the island, hence the rainforests.

The leeward, western shores, because they are sheltered from the wind by the mountains, only get a remnant of the rain. This makes the western shores relatively dry, especially where sheltered by Haleakalā.

The average temperatures on Maui don’t change too much from the winter to the summer. Because the island is in the tropics, it’s almost always warm.

In the coolest winter months, the average high is 800F and the low 650F, but around 10F cooler along the Hāna Highway.

If you want to snorkel, the ocean temperature is a pleasant 750F. Winter is the season that sees the most rainfall. In the warmest summer months, the average high is 840F and the low 700F but 830F-690F around Hāna. The ocean temperature rises to around 800F in summer.

Attractions

Maui is an island steeped in natural beauty and cultural history. There are many interesting places to visit and activities to enjoy. You can hike through the rainforest, snorkel in the crystal-clear water offshore, watch whales in the Pacific, or attend an authentic luau.

Maui is volcanic in origin, created by lava flows from two volcanoes. Haleakalā is the larger of the two volcanoes, responsible for over 75% of Maui’s landmass. You can find Haleakalā at the heart of Haleakalā National Park, which is a popular destination for tourists.

If you enjoy photography, you’ll love the sunset over the Pacific Ocean viewed from the summit of Haleakalā. And once the sun has gone down, Haleakalā is also a fantastic place to stargaze, when it is not cloudy.

At 10,000 feet elevation and with no light pollution, you get an uninterrupted view of the cosmos. The main feature of the park is the volcano’s crater. It is 7 miles long, 2 wide, and approximately 2,600 feet deep.

Another popular attraction inside the park is Hosmer’s Grove. This is an unusual collection of invasive trees from all around the world, including eucalyptus from Australia and pine from North America.

Visitors love to explore the Hāna Highway—Hawaii Routes 36 and 360. The highway winds along the North Shore between Kahului in Central Maui and Hāna in East Maui. Built by King Pi’ilani in the 16th century, this ancient road has a longer history than the Union.

It is only 64½ miles long but features 59 bridges, most only one lane wide, and many sharp bends. Driving along the highway, you will frequently stop to photograph the lush tropical rainforest.

You can also visit waterfalls, walk along stunning black-sand beaches, and view scenic mountains. However, if you decide to travel this route, expect delays. Even without stopping, the drive between the two towns takes 2½ hours.

Over in West Maui, the most popular destination for hikers is Iao Valley State Park. This is a stream-cut valley within the tropical rainforest, which features a distinctive natural landmark. Rising 1,200 feet from its base, the Iao Needle is a stunning basalt formation.

Not far away, on the north coast, you can find Nakalele Point. This scenic area of cliffs is famous for its blowhole, which spouts jets of seawater 100 feet into the air like a geyser.

Tourists fascinated by the cultural history of Maui flock to Lahaina, the largest settlement in West Maui. Once the residence of the royal family, Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820 to 1845.

Here is where you’ll find the oldest buildings and learn about local history. Lahaina still projects the ambiance of a 19th-century whaler’s seaport. The settlement’s historic district boasts 9 important historical buildings built between 1823 and 1901.

The 1859 Court House was constructed over the site of the royal palace, and the United States Marine Hospital dates to 1842. Banyan Tree Park occupies the site of the 1831 Lahaina Fort and features the largest banyan tree in Hawaii planted in 1873.

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Value
Food & Beverage

We chose the Sunset Dinner Cruise In Ka’anapali as our Editor's Choice for the best sunset dinner cruise in Maui.

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Robert Baker

I had the good fortune to be born in a first-world country at a time when fast international travel became possible for average people. Having shared meals with families in huts with no electricity and dirt floors, I appreciate the "little" things that my fellow Englishmen take for granted. Over the years I've worked in many different fields. I've been an archaeologist in the Scottish Hebrides, an accountant in London, and taught English in China. However,I've never enjoyed any other job as much as writing.

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