Once two separate islands, Maui embraces two volcanic peaks separated by an abundance of sugar cane and pineapple fields. On the east side of the island you'll find the town of Lahaina, save some time to relish in the breathtaking sunrise at Haleakala Crater then follow the long road to Hana for spectacular waterfalls and black sand beaches.
Naturally, some of Maui's history is similar to the other islands', with its sugar mills, whaling industry, stories of the Menehune, its culturally diverse workforce and King Kamehameha's conquering role. Maui
also has its stories steeped in myths and legends. The most spectacular mythological creature took the islands roped the sun to slow it down and create longer. Maui's home in the crater of Haleakala, the highest peak on the island, is called the House of the Sun.
Things To Do
Maui on its own is impressive but as Big Maui (Maui Nui), it is Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe. The island has its share of "big" boasts, including home to the country's biggest banyan tree, the biggest Buddha (excluding those in Asia) and the world's largest dormant volcano, Haleakala.
Maui is also known for preserving its cultural roots through architecture and Lahaina town is where you'll find 55 acres of a self-guided historic trail. More than 80 beaches on Maui provide plentiful days in the sun for multiple water sports, strolls, picnics and whale watching, to name just a few activities. Make sure to visit Kaanapali Beach and Puu Kekaa (Black Rock) for snorkeling. Makena (Big Beach) is one of Maui's largest, Polo Beach is fun for locals and families and Wailea Beach offers excellent swimming, plus an avenue to explore Wailea. Hookipa is the place to watch the art of windsurfing and Hamoa Beach is pleasant as well.
Take a half-day trip to Hana. The drive is packed with adventure and the activity is wrapped in thrills through your window, with 54 bridges, waterfalls, gardens and 52 miles leading to beaches and gardens upon arrival. Make sure the rental car has a full tank of fuel and pack water and snacks for this extraordinary road trip.
Haleakala National Park is a place that hints that the magic of Maui's mystical past just may be true, to those nonbelievers. A visit to the 'house of the sun' should start with a sunrise experience. A site this grand requires three visitor centers and for the sunrise, drive to the Haleakala Visitor Center, at 9,740 feet. Mountains, sea, rainforest, waterfalls, native birds, lava rock and cindercones, plus the coastal area of Kipahulu are further enticements of the 30,000 acre expanse of park. Hiking the Kipahulu area of Haleakala is particularly rewarding because of the Pools of Oheo, with vibrant native coastal plants, black lava rock, the refreshing sea and the occasional whale, dolphin and/or turtle. Horseback riding, stargazing and camping are additional options at this park whose Crater Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Multiple trips are necessary to discover more than a part of Haleakala. Any visit should account for changes in temperature and conditions; pack provisions as the conveniences of dining and lodging are at least 30 minutes away.
Molokini, a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District, is a small crescent-shaped island of 18 acres ideal for snorkeling and diving just three miles from south Maui's shore.
Eat and Shop
Maui's seaside dining and array of cuisines create a need to not miss any meals, snacks included. Shopping is just as diverse as dining. Funky art finds, impressive galleries and upscale shops mean gifts for all budget sizes.
Apparel, toiletries and some electronic essentials (digital camera, battery charger, cell phone charger, etc. ) are the main items to pack for a trip to Oahu. Anything forgotten is always available on the island, but to be prepared to land and head directly to one of the beaches, bring your swimsuit, sunglasses, sunscreen and sandals. If you're planning on hiking, bring good shoes. It's always good to pack primarily casual clothing plus a few nice outfits, at least one, for a fancy night on the town.
Your vacation rental will have some of the basic utensils and kitchen items.