The Hawaiian Islands – Maui
Maui is known as the Magic Isle and is the second-largest in the Hawaiian chain. It is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Conde Nast Readers have consistently named Maui one of the “Best Islands in the World”.
The main visitors’ centers of the island are West Maui, defined by the deep valleys and ridges of the West Maui Mountains and South Maui, on the southern flanks of the Haleakala Crater. These areas are the sunny shores where most of the island’s resorts are located. The rest of Maui is defined by small-town charms and spectacular landscapes.
West Maui is home to Kaanapali Beach, three miles of white sand beach with crystal clear water. There are lots of activities available at Kaanapali like, parasailing, outrigger canoes and ziplining. One of Kaanapali Beach’s most famous attractions is the daily cliff diving ceremony. Held every evening at sunset, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off of Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.
Just south of Kaanapali is the historic whaling village of Lahaina. A fun place to just wander around; old grog shops have been transformed into over 40 art galleries, shops and restaurants.
South Maui is known for its beautiful crescent-shaped beaches and stellar golf courses. The area’s signature beaches include Wailea Beach, Polo Beach – with excellent swimming and snorkeling – and Ulua Beach Park. Located inland from Wailea is Haleakala National Park – home to Maui’s highest peak. Haleakala is actually the largest dormant volcano on earth and its crater is roughly the size of the island of Manhattan! Its best known for spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The Haleakala Visitor Center near the summit is one of the best viewing spots.
In Central Maui, don’t miss Iao Valley State Park. Its home to one of Maui’s most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200 foot Iao Needle that was used as a natural alter in Hawaii’s early days. There is a well-marked, paved pedestrian path leading from the parking lot to view Iao Needle and the ridge-top lookout provides incredible views of the valley. The needle is sometimes covered in clouds, so an early start is your best bet for a good view.
Along Maui's rugged eastern coastline is the peaceful town of Hana, considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. The legendary road to Hana contains 620 curves and 59 bridges. The road leads you through flourishing rainforests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the lovely views, so get an early start and take your time on your drive.
Hana town has many small town pleasures to enjoy. Browse the Hasegawa General Store and Hana Ranch Store for unique souvenirs. Swim and sunbathe at Hamoa Beach, cited by author James Michener as the most beautiful beach in the Pacific. Snorkel at Waianapanapa State Park, a beautiful black sand beach. Or visit Hale Piilani, the state’s largest heiau (Hawaiian temple), in Kanahu Gardens, one of five National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii.
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