7 things you didn’t know about Maui

Maui has a firm place in our collective imaginations as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world – full of sun, sparkling blue waters and endless beaches. How much do you know about the history of the island, though?

As you’re packing your bags and getting ready to head to your Maui vacation rental, why not learn a few facts about the history of the place you love so much?

1. How did Maui get its name?

Legend holds that the demi-god Maui pulled the Hawaiian islands from the sea, becoming the namesake. Some claim the island itself resembles the mythological being’s head and body, explains Go Maui. However, other accounts attribute the name to it’s discoverer, a Polynesian navigator, who named it after his son.

2. Maui was an island of many tribes.

Circa 12th century, Maui was divided into three kingdoms – Hana, Waikulu and Lahaina, according to Frommer’s. The rise and fall, family listings, fighting and political intrigues of these tribes were recorded in chants. It wasn’t until three centuries later that Maui united under one ruler, Piilani.

“Hike up Haleakala, a shield volcano that rises 10,063 feet above sea level.”

3. You can hike a volcano.

Visitors can head over to Haleakala National Park to hike up Haleakala, a shield volcano that rises 10,063 feet above sea level. While the volcano is dormant, its sheer size makes it visible from nearly anywhere on the island. Also, Haleakala means “house of sun” in Hawaiian, so bring your sunscreen.

4. Visitors can roadtrip through a rainforest.

The Hana Highway is 52 miles of gorgeous views. You have the ocean on one side and jungle and waterfalls on the other. According to National Geographic, a drive on Hana Highway will take you across 59 bridges and more than 600 curves. Travelers should considered taking a car with four-wheel drive and be prepared to stop during the trip. There are many attractions along the way, including the Garden of Eden and Botanical Arboretum, or what you may recognize as the title sequence from Jurassic Park. This  adventure is a true escape from the modern world.

5. Take in beaches of many colors.

You’ve probably seen plenty of beige-colored sand, but what about other shades? Kaihalulu Beach, which is at the end of the Hana Highway, sports beautiful, red sand. Also located on the way to Hana is Waianapanapa Beach, which is covered in sand made of lava pebbles, making it an unforgettable black color, according to Hawaii Magazine.

Visit one of Maui's uniquely colored beaches.Maui has beaches with black, red and white sand.

6. A tree the size of a city block.

A tree might not sound like the most thrilling of vacation adventures, but Maui’s 142-year-old banyan tree occupies nearly an acre of downtown Lahaina. This is rumored to be the largest tree in the United States, according to the San Francisco Gate, and is a popular meeting spot for festivals and parties. Making the banyan tree even more spectacular, it has aerial roots that grow into trunks once they reach the ground. As a result, the tree has more than 16 trunks supporting it.

7. Try the best banana bread.

Outside the small town of Kahakuloa, visitors can get a taste of Julie’s banana bread. This famous treat is sold at a wooden roadside stand and is made daily from local bananas, Travel and Leisure writes. While you’ll have to navigate some windy roads and hairpin turns, it’s rumored to be well worth the trek.