Maui - The Magic Isle
is pink and its flower is the
great diversity in its landscape, attractions (both
scenic and man-made), lodging choices and the ability
for visitors to enjoy themselves. With two of the
world's best scenic drives (the roads to Hana and up
Haleakala), Maui is a great destination that's exotic
but not too foreign; Hawaiian but familiar. It's truly a
tropical paradise, offering everything a visitor would
want to see or do.
Did you ever drive above the clouds? You will – if you
decide to visit the lofty, cloud-topping summit of Maui's huge Haleakala
Maui is the second largest of
the islands in land area. It's centrally located among the other islands and
offers steep mountains, spectacular waterfalls, remote valleys and lush
rainforests. With more than 120 miles of shoreline encompassing 80 exquisite
beaches, sparkling seas and coral reefs, along with an abundance of
attractions and things to do, Maui meets almost everyone's idea of the
perfect tropical paradise.
The ancient god Maui is known
throughout Polynesia, not just in Hawaii. He is sometimes called Maui of the
Thousand Tricks. Hence the island's name "The Magic Isle."
Topographically, Maui has three
distinct areas: the rugged and largely unexplored mountains of West Maui,
the valley in the center, and Haleakala to the southeast.
Maui is known as "the Magic
Isle," or "the Valley Isle," because of the large plateau between its two
massive volcanoes, Haleakala and ancient Mauna Kahalawai. It's also possible
that it may have been named the Valley Isle by ancient Maui people for the
Iao Valley, which figures so prominently in the island's
history. This was where, in one of Hawaiian history's bloodiest battles,
Kamehameha the Great conquered the island. It remains a popular tourist site
to this day for its historic importance, green beauty and steep cliffs.
An awe-inspiring attraction on
Haleakala, the showpiece of a
27,000-acre national park. This massive volcano is
officially classified as "active" but not
currently erupting. Its name means "House of the Sun,"
and it's the highest point on the island. Stark and
barren, it's an unforgettable place to experience.
travel agents will tell their clients to drive to the
summit to watch the sunrise (when clouds are least
likely). Another very popular activity (for the
moderately adventurous) is to bike down from the top.
eastern part of the island lies the picturesque town of
Hana. Another great recommendation for
visitors is to drive the 50-odd miles on the Hana
Highway to experience the lush rainforest sights along
the way. There you can visit both the sleepy little town
itself and the freshwater
Pools at Oheo a little farther down the
road from Hana.
On the western shores of Maui
lies the town of
Lahaina. Once a raucous whaling center with a rough, tough
history, Lahaina is now a great collection of historical sites, restaurants
and shops, and is one of Maui's most popular visitor attractions.
While some people have the false idea that Hawaii is
super-expensive, many mid-priced yet extremely comfortable accommodations
are available. There are some downright bargains for the budget-conscious
too, as well as upscale and super luxurious for those of you who want the
very best. The bottom line: For what you get for your money, Hawaii is an
Accommodations come in all price ranges. Condos, rented
homes and bed & breakfasts, along with other unique options (such as tents
on the sand), are available.
Maui has two major resort/accommodation areas: West and
South Maui. Both are made up of smaller communities and resorts, and offer a
great base for you while you discover the many wonders of the Valley Island,
with accommodations that range from the opulent to the quaint. You’ll also
discover lodging choices in the leeward towns of Kahului and Wailuku.
West Maui offers lodging in the port town of Lahaina, the resort area of
Kaanapali, the condo areas of Honokowai, Kahana and Napili, and the resort
area of Kapalua.
The South Coast (which is actually more west-facing) offers lodging
choices in Maalaea and Kihei, and the more upscale Wailea and Makena areas.
A few charming properties are located in Hana, with some lovely Bed &
Breakfasts and small inns hiding out in Upcountry Maui.
Haleakala National Park - House of the Sun
Maui's main attraction,
Haleakala volcano - whose official status is "active, but not currently erupting" -
attracts more than 1.3 million visitors per year. The
drive to the summit rises from sea level to 10,000 feet
in only 37 miles. There are at least 33 switchbacks, so
expect a slow, careful drive.
sunrise from the summit is the park's most popular
activity and a tradition for most visitors. Sunsets here
can be spectacular also, but clouds are more likely.
popular activity for active outdoor types is to bicycle
down from the top. (Several local vendors provide the
bikes and have guides to accompany the cyclists down.)
Clients who visit should wear something warm, because
the temperature drops a lot as you get higher.
Haleakala, the world's largest
dormant volcano, is 10,023 feet high and has a crater big enough to hold
Bay – beloved to surfers, revered by Native
Hawaiians, treasured by conservationists – is the azure
jewel of the Honolua ahupua’a (ancient Hawaiian
land division) on Maui’s northwest shore. Bordered north
and south by basaltic cliffs, the bay is a marine
conservation area home to colorful corals, green sea
turtles and thousands of tropical fish.
On any given
day visitors trek through to snorkel the bay’s warm
turquoise waters. Farther up the road, and a dusty
assortment of surfers’ trucks lines the old pineapple
road leading down the bluff. At the base of the steep,
slippery trail is the right-breaking point surf
described by The Encyclopedia of Surfing as one
of the best waves in the world.
Lahaina and Environs
whose name means "merciless sun," was the royal capital
of the early kingdom. It became a raucous town in the
mid-1800s, when it was known as the "whaling capital of
the Pacific." Today, it's the biggest attraction in West
Maui and a National Historic District, offering restored
buildings, museums, missionary homes, and much more for
those interested in its rich history.
who love to eat, shop and party, the broad spectrum of
stores, boutiques, nightclubs and eating establishments
will satisfy almost everyone. You can ride a restored
sugarcane train which takes you between Lahaina and
Maui's largest resort area.
sight for those who visit the central area of Maui is
Maui Ocean Center located at the Maalaea
Harbor Village. This five-acre complex features local
sea-life. The star attraction is the immense 100-foot
long, 600,000-gallon tank, which has a walkway through
it, allowing for a three-sided view of the marine
Maui Tropical Plantation lies to the
north of Maalaea at Waikapu. There, you can take a
40-minute tram ride through fields of papaya, sugarcane,
pineapples and other tropical agricultural products on a
real 120-acre working plantation.
attractions nearby include
Kepaniwai Park. Once the site of a
ferocious battle in 1790, it's now a cultural tribute to
the ethnic groups that settled Maui.
Nature Center Interactive Science Arcade
offers hands-on and interactive natural science exhibits
and is fun and educational for the entire family.
1831, the Lahainaluna High School in Lahaina was the
first American school established west of the Rocky
Whale Watching Excursions
Pacific humpback whales migrate from Alaska each year to
give birth and winter in Hawaiian waters, primarily
between December and March.
relatively close to shore and provide an amazing and
inspiring sight as they leap, spout and spy-hop (peek
above the waterline to see what's happening). They're
particularly prevalent in the channel separating Maui
from Moloka’i and Lana’i, making Maui a prime whale
On Maui you
can visit museums and exhibits dedicated to both the
whales themselves and to the whaling industry of the
mid-nineteenth century. You can also book whale-watching
cruises that are offered not only from Maui but also
from the other islands for an up-close look at these
humpback whales, Hawaii's state mammal, are endangered.
Of the 1,500-2,000 remaining, about 1,200 come to the
islands to spend the winter.
The Road to Hana
miles of horseshoe turns, one-lane bridges and narrow
shoulders, packed with beautiful sites and vistas.
Driving the road to Hana is another tradition for
visitors to Maui. Some elect to leave the driving to
someone from an escort service so they can see
everything along the way without worrying about the
twisting drive. The Hana Highway is one of the world's
greatest drives, filled with lush tropical foliage,
waterfalls, freshwater pools and breathtaking scenery.
sleepy little town that lies toward the end of the
highway, is reminiscent of old Hawaii. Because of its
green, tropical location, it's sometimes known as
several roadside stands sell picnic baskets with food
for the long trip to Hana.
the road from Hana, in Haleakala National Park, is
Oheo Gulch, featuring about two-dozen
pools. With a beautiful series of waterfalls cascading
into the sea, it's a sight to see and offers swimming
(when the flow is gentle) and picnicking.
Lindbergh, the famed aviator, is buried in the
churchyard of the Kipahulu Hawaiian Church, a couple of
miles beyond Oheo Gulch.
A Marine Preserve and one of
Hawaii's best dive and snorkel spots is this sunken, crescent-shaped
volcanic crater off Maui's western shore. Its clear, calm, protected waters
are home to a multitude of sea-life, including great swarms of colorful
fish, sea turtles, reef sharks and manta rays.
A collection of shops and
restaurants, the village also has a free museum dedicated both to humpback
whales and the industry that revolved around them. Of special note is the
re-creation of a whaling ship's forecastle that strikingly conveys the
living conditions of the whaling men.
Bailey House Museum
is the headquarters of the Maui Historical Society,
located in what was once the home of missionary and
sugar planter Edward Bailey and his wife. It now
provides a look back at missionary life in the 19th
century, with artifacts and paintings.
Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum, near Kahului, was
built in 1902 and is still functioning. The supervisor's
house has been turned into a museum chronicling the
northern slope of mighty Haleakala lies Upcountry Maui.
This is a scenic area dotted with cattle ranches and
farms principally producing Maui Onions (which are
sweeter than most), hibiscus and the otherworldly protea
with its Old-West flavor coupled with trendy art
galleries, is a unique blend of new-age and cowboy.
Down by the
seashore in East Maui is little Paia, a small bohemian
town with specialty shops and eateries and is especially
noted for windsurfing at nearby Hookipa Beach.
Upcountry Maui, this winery offers picnic areas under
spreading trees and some fine wines, including
sparkling wines and one made from pineapple juice.
Wine tasting takes place in a cottage once used by King
Maui Arts And Cultural Center
visual arts gallery, a 300-seat experimental theater, an
outdoor amphitheater, and a 1,200-seat main theater,
this state-of-the-art entertainment venue in Kahului is
a showcase for world-class talent, along with the best
in local and Hawaiian entertainment.
Tree in Lahaina was planted in 1873. It's now more than
50 feet tall, has 12 major trunks and shades two-thirds
of an acre. It's so big that special events are held
A state park
on the outskirts of Hana that offers camping or rustic
cabins. There's an easy six-mile trail that parallels
the ocean and meanders by lava cliffs, groves of stately
lauhala trees, caves, a blowhole and Waianapanapa Beach.