Many people dream of a tropical vacation on Maui – and it is truly a magical place. Maui is the most magical, the most alluring, the most exciting of all the Hawaiian Islands. It has the best beaches, best golf courses, best windsurfing, best weather, and the sweetest pineapples you’ll ever taste, Maui Gold – Maui is No Ka Oi!
When visiting Maui, besides soaking up the sun and sipping a mai tai or BBQing with friends by the pool, many people as what else there is to see and do? To answer that, here’s 10 great activities you won’t want to miss while visiting Maui – the Valley Isle – part 1 of 2.
Haleakala is a place almost of pilgrimage for many visitors. The dormant volcano looms large on the island – you can see it from just about anywhere on the island. In the center of it at 10,023 feet, its summit is the highest point on Maui. Besides a visit to the informative Haleakala National Park Visitor Center, you can go on a horseback ride or hike down into the 3,000-foot-deep Haleakala crater. If time permits, consider exploring ancient lava flows and see silverswords here, which are rare, silvery flower stalks indigenous to the area. But for a spiritual journey, try to go there early and catch the sunrise.
Because the Sunrise experience has become so popular, you will need to get a reservation ahead of time and there are limited spots each day. Check with the parks service for the most up to date information.
2. Road to Hana
The ‘Road to Hana’ is considered the most scenic drive in all of the Hawaiian islands. It begins just south of Kahului (near the airport) and winds down the southeast coast of Maui, just over 55 miles, twisting and turning around with 600+ bends and curve, crossing over 56 narrow, mostly one-lane bridges. The scenery enroute is stunning, with lush vegetation and sweeping views of the ocean at every turn, and scores of swimming holes beneath waterfalls, ideal for a picnic and a splash or two.
You will find many attractions along the Hana Road, including the Keanae Peninsula, a serene patch of green with an overlook with panoramic views, the Keanae Arboretum which incorporates an authentic representation of a Hawaiian rain forest, the 126-acre, tropical Kahanu Botanical Gardens, and finally at your destination is the hidden, laid-back town of Hana itself. Here you’ll find the centerpiece of Hand – The Hotel Hana-Maui.
Lahaina, located on the West Maui coast, is one of Maui’s most historic towns. Once the capital of Hawaii, it later turned into a bustling whaling town. Today, it is probably the most “happening” place on Maui. It definitely is the most colorful place on the island, filled with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, art galleries, not to mention high-end boutiques. When visiting, be careful as Lahaina is not without it’s “tourist traps”. Still, there’s a lot to see and do here: some of the main attractions include the Whaling Museum, Brig Carthignian, Jodo Mission, the 19th-century waterfront Pioneer Inn, and the jaw-dropping Banyan Tree which was planted here in 1873 and now occupies an acre of land, with a branch spread of 50 yards, supported by myriad aerial roots and 12 major trunks!
Ka’anapali is Maui’s best-known beach resort and one of the three main tourist resort and condo lodging destinations. Aside from the big name Hotel / Resort Chain hotels lining its shore, the white-sand Ka’anapali Beach offers some of the best snorkeling and swimming conditions offered anywhere on the island. Its notoriety has inevitably also made it one of the most visited, as well as the most crowded beaches on Maui. One of the afore mentioned “tourist traps” includes the ‘Sugarcane Train’, which runs between Lahaina and Ka’anapali, but despite it’s price, offers good views of the area. Don’t forget to visit Kapalua just a short drive north of Ka’anapali, with a lovely beach and even awesome sunsets.
5. Iao Needle
Iao Needle, probably the most photographed landmark on the Valley Isle. Located where else, but in the Iao Valley State Park. It’s a lush valley in the West Maui mountains, where the moss-covered stone spire rises 1,200 feet vertically from the valley floor. With many trails and planks to hike, all with abundant tropical flora and excellent photo opportunities. The state park is easily accessible from Kahului and Wailuku.
For the rest of the Top 10 List, please check back soon!