Most visitors to Maui choose to stay in one of the two major resort areas, which include Kaanapali (on the west side) and Wailea (on the south side). Each boasts an endless number of breathtaking beaches, a wide variety of restaurant and shopping choices, and world-class golf courses and spas. For those willing to explore, though, the island has a great deal more in store.
Rising 10,000 feet above sea level, Maui’s dormant volcano, Haleakala, provides numerous hiking experiences, as well as the possibility of seeing the endangered nene goose (found only in the Hawaiian Islands) and the extraordinarily rare silversword plant (found in no other location on Earth). Visitors and locals alike also flock to Haleakala to marvel at the rising and setting sun; after all, the volcano’s name translates into “House of the Sun.” Several tour companies even drive groups up to the summit and lead a guided bicycle trip down the volcano after sunrise. Warm clothes are a must for Haleakala adventures, as pre-sunrise and post-sunset temperatures often fall below freezing.
Although those staying in Wailea may find excellent snorkeling right off the beach from their resort, a short car ride leads to possibly the best snorkeling on the island. The Ahihi-Kinau Reserve marine conservation area offers easy entry and the opportunity for snorkelers of all levels to see an array of native fish. Those interested in venturing out a little farther will also be treated to beautiful coral formations and possibly honu, Hawaiian sea turtles. Go in the morning for the calmest and clearest water, don’t forget your reef-safe sunscreen, and make sure to protect the preserve by obeying the signs.
Hungry for a particularly unique Hawaiian experience? Try the infamous Road to Hana, where approximately 600 curves lead to barely-populated lush green landscapes, black sand beaches, and even a red sand beach. In fact, with so much to see along the way, it may be best to leave early in the morning and plan to stay overnight. Not to be missed: the Pipiwai Trail, a four-mile hike of moderate difficulty, leading through an otherworldly bamboo forest to a 400-foot waterfall.
One trip to this island and it’s easy to understand why residents and visitors agree that “Maui no ka oi” – Maui is the best!