Maui was voted “Best Island in the World” in the 17th annual CONDE NAST TRAVELLER Readers' Choice Awards Poll for the eleventh consecutive year.
Maui's natural beauty is the result of its explosive creation. Millions of years ago it emerged from the sea when volcanic eruptions formed two separate islands. These islands were joined when the enormous lava flow from Haleakala filled the gap between two volcanoes. When the eruptions ceased and the volcanoes went dormant, Maui was left with ric, red soil for growing sugar cane and pineapple, a landscape that varied wildly from palm fringed, golden sand beaches, to the mammoth reaches of Haleakala's 10, 023 foot summit and its enormous, moon-like crater, to the vertical forest, drop-dead gorgeous waterfalls and rugged sea cliffs in the mystical district of Hana. A big chunk of that natural beauty was preserved for all time when the federal government cam aboard to create the nearly 30,000 acre Haleakala National Park.
The legacy of the volcanoes was matched only by ocean with its bottomless mystery, its teeming reefs, soothing trade winds, dancing surf, dolphins, whales and warm temparatures, ranging from 70 to 80 degrees F. - slightly cooler than on land Maui County is designated as a National Marine Sanctuary, because it is home to endangered species such as the humpback whale and green sea turtles.
The large landmass on the eastern portion of Maui was created by majestic Haleakala(House of the Sun), the 10,023-foot dormant volcano at its center. Haleakala is popular with the hikers and sightseers. This larger landmass is called East Mau. Locals often refer to any are on this side of the island that is elevated as Upcountry. Upcountry communities of Makawao, Pukalani, Kula, and Ulupalakua each have their own unique attraction and charm. The sunny and dry leeward South Shore includes busy Kihei town, Wailea and Makena. Windward towards the Central Valley is Spreckelsville, with beautiful beach areas, and Paia where surfing and windsurfing are international-class activities. The whole eastern side of East Maui is a lush tropical rainforest of bamboo and other jungle flora. Here, the road to the small village of Hana twist and turns for miles along the coast. It is well worth the time to explore the sites on this road. Many small villages, breathtaking coastal views, verdent greenery, and tidy little taro farms from yesteryear will delight your senses and provide some of your most vivid memories of Maui. Be prepared to spend mostof the day going to and from Hana. The road is narrow, winding and slow going.
Central Maui, between East and West Maui, is given over to cane fields. The sister cities of Kahului and Wailuku are located here, as well as the island's economic and governmental offices. Movie theaters, several shopping centers and all types of goods and services can be found here. There is a Wal-Mart, Costco, Big-K, Lowe's and a Home Depot close to the airport.
Three smaller islands are visible from the western flanks of Maui, roughly from north to south; Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe. The County of Maui is comprised of these three islands and Maui proper. Lanai and Molokai each have towns and lodgings available and are readily accessible by ferry or small aircraft. Due to years as a military practice target Kahoolawe is now in the process of being cleaned of unexploded ordinance and replanted with native flora.
West Maui makes up Kapalua, Napili, Kahana, Honokowai, Kaanapali, Lahaina, and Olowalu.
Lahaina is the historical center of Maui, and it was the original whaling capital of the world. Many boat tours, diving expeditions, snorkeling trips, dinner cruises and sports fishing jaunts originate from the bustling port. There's theater that houses stage productions, great restaurants, luaus, historic sites, a magic theater, shopping and art galleries. It's hard to imagine visiting Maui without spending time in Lahaina. (That's why parking is a challenge!)
Maui is a tropical island with a fairly mild year-round climate tempered by the Pacific Ocean. At sea level the average afternnonwinter temparature is around 75 F/23 C during the coldest months of December and january. August and September are the hottest summer months with average temperatures in the low 80s. Like most volcanic tropical islands, however, many different microclimates mean packing for a variety of conditions: swim suits and light hot weather clothing for the beaches, a lightweight windbreaker for the occasional shower at higher elevations, and more serious protection during inclement conditions when hiking Haleakala.
Dress is usually quite casual. Sports clothing or beachwear is appropriate for almost all daily activities. If you plan to do anything at higher elevation, like enjoying one of the 20-mile-long bicycle runs down Haleakala or hiking the crater, use layers and be prepared for rain or drizzle. Tropical weight evening attire (casual) will be OK for all but the fanciest nightspots.
Due to the prevailing trade winds, most rainfall hits the north- or the northeast-facing shores, leaving the south and southwest sections relatively dry. As you make your way to various sections of Maui it is interesting to note the differences in terrain brought about by rainfall differential. Besides the trade winds, elevation also plays a role in determining an area's microclimate. You will encounter everything from barren lunar-like desert with cactus bunch grass to lush tropical creepers and wild ginger to a bamboo forest to stands of eucalyptus and pines.
Hawaii is one of the world's safer tourist destinations, but all travelers should be aware of just few basic cautions. As usual, common sense and a not allowing yourself to become careless are the most important attributes the seasoned traveler can possess.
Consider these “rules of the road” for your safety:
Hot tip#1 -if you don't mind Turbo-prop 32 seat airplanes and can get to Honolulu in time to make the last flight to Kapalua airport at 4:40 pm, then do it. You will be about 1/2 mile from our condo. You still have to make a call and get the shuttle to the Rental Car lot, but it is less stressful in a big way. The airport code for Kapalua is JHM & Aloha Island Air is the airaline. If you can't arrive at Kapalua, maybe you can arrange to fly out there.
Hot tip#2 -Rental car pickup time/stress saver at Kahului airport. When you get there pick up your luggage, have someone stay with the luggage outside and send just one of you on the Rental Car shuttle bus. Or, send someone on the Rental car shuttle immediately and one to the luggage claim area.
Hot tip#3 -Parking in Lahaina is a premium. Tip - public parking are that isnt widely used. Coming from the north on Hwy 30 take the Front Street turn off. Drive to Dickenson Strret and take a left, go one block and taje a left onLuakini Strret, the parking lot will be on the right 1/2 block down. Leave the lot and head across the street and follow the sidewalk out to Front Street.
Hot tip#4 - STAND-BY GOLF
If you are a golfer who wants to play at some of the outstanding golf courses on Maui or any of the neighbor islands while saving money, call Stand-by Golf. For same-day or next-day tee times, you won't get a better price, not even from the golf course! The friendly and professional staff at Stand-by Golf is familiar with the beautiful and challenging courses on all islands and can provide suggestions, planning tips and directions to the courses. No fees, special cards or gimmicks - just golf. Call 1-888-645-2665 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., daily.
Hot tip#5 -Best ways to check for “airfares”. The rates to Hawaii are seasonal for the most part and planning way ahead (6-9 months) used to work the best. But now people are making travels plans 2-6 months out, so it appears the airlines have reacted. The airlines also have added more flights to Hawaii so there are some deals out there.
f you are really flexible on your travel dates sign up with Travelocity's Fare Watcher. You will set up a profile: email address, home airport and the places you want to keep an eye on, e.g., Kahului, Maui (OGG). They have an option that allows you to select a price, so when the airfares drop below that point they send you an email.
ALEXANDER & BALDWIN SUGAR MUSEUM
A&B is Maui's largest landowner and historically one of “Big Five” companies developed the island's agricultural economy with sugarcane. The museum is an operational sugar refinery nestled next to the post office in Puunene. The business of sugar forever altered the island's ethnic, economic, and environmental mix. Early plantation modes of doing business are still felt in many sectors of Hawaiian commerce and government. The museum provides ample opportunity for a full understanding of the importance of sugar in this process: 3957 Hansen Road, Puunene: (808) 871-8058. Cost: $5. Mon.-Sat. 9:30-4:30.
Edward and Caroline Bailey were two prominent missionaries who came to Wailuku to run the first Hawaiian girls' school on the island. The Maui Historical Society runs a museum on site with a collection of artifacts and some of Edward's paintings. Tapa cloth making and other artifacts are also shown. 2375A Main Street, Wailuku: (808) 244-3326. Cost: $5. Mon.-Sat. 10-4.
Built of coral and stone in 1835 by an early missionary to Lahaina, this house has been restored to period furnishings and will give the visitor a good view of missionary family life of the time. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation is headquartered in the house and can answer your questions about other historic Lahaina sites. 696 Front Street, Lahaina: (808) 661-3262. Cost: $3. Daily 10-4.
HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK
Haleakala Crater is the main attraction of this large national park and certainly one of the most unusual in the U.S. Hiking and camping is permitted and both offer rare opportunities to experience life at high elevation in the tropics. Many loops take hikers through the “crater”, more properly the eroded center of the dormant volcano than a true volcanic crater, and are several miles in length. Care must be taken to allow for unexpected weather like high winds, heavy rain, cold, and so on. Inclement weather, however, seldom stays long. Beautiful, clear days are more common.
Check out the Haleakala Visitor Center for information and exhibits on wildlife and geology, and Puu Ulaula Overlook at the summit for a breathtaking view of the crater. The summit is nearly always open to watch the sunrise-or the sunset- which at 10,023 feet can be quite awe-inspiring. Haleakala Crater Road, Makawao, Telephone: (808) 572-4400. Cost: $10 per car.
For a slice of old Hawaii, visit the quaint and remote town of Hana on the rainy side of the island. Stop in to the Hana Cultural Center Museum (Ukea Street) for displays and information about the area. Hana Highway, Mile Marker 35.
This is one of the world's top windsurfing and surfing spots, offering both waves and wind to the adventurous. If surfing culture is your thing, you'll not fail to find it here. Warning! This is not for beginners and swimming is risky here! Small BBQ areas and plenty of viewing spots will allow you to check out the wave action. Free parking is available in one of two lots. Highway 36, about 2 miles northeast of Paia.
IAO VALLEY STATE PARK
Shrouded in mist, subject to eerie light effects, Iao Valley is a beautiful deep valley cut into the mountains west of Wailuku. Several easy hikes on well-defined paths usually mean a lot of tourist traffic. Come early in the day to explore the area. Iao Valley Road, 5 miles west of Wailuku. Cost: Free. Daily 7-7.
This is not exactly a laid-back beach, but a good one if you like to people watch. Excellent snorkeling is a hallmark of this area and Black Rock can be a diving platform into the waters below. Any of the Kaanapali exits off Honoapi'ilani Highway will take you to the beach. Restrooms and other amenities are available in the several nearby hotels.
MAKENA BEACH STATE PARK
The locals call this Big Beach. Free from hotel and condo development, this stretch of sand offers great walking and swimming. The more adventurous can try Little Beach, just past the large cinder cone hill on one end, where clothing is optional, even if technically illegal. Off Wailea Alanui Drive.
MAUI ARTS & CULTURAL CENTER
Lots of events play at this multi-million dollar facility, from classical, rock, and jazz concerts to movies (shown every Wednesday in Castle Theatre) to art exhibits and various classes. An outdoor area often features smaller concerts and meals and treats are available here before events. Kahului Beach Road, Kahului: (808) 242-7469 box office. Weekdays 9-5.
MAUI OCEAN CENTER
Other than the ocean itself, this is the best place to experience the wonderful variety of life found in Hawaiian waters. Tidal exhibits, large walkthrough aquaria, smaller up close aquaria, and a well-stocked retail store round out your trip here. Eating establishments and a variety of retail stores in the immediate area of Maalaea abound. Honoapiilani Highway. (Highway 30), Maalaea Harbor. Maalaea: (808) 270-7000. Cost: $18.50. June-Aug., daily 9-6; Sept.-May, daily 9-5.
This beautiful and romantic beach is the home of the Kai Beach Club, a favorite of honeymooners. There are showers and a footwash. Upper Honoapiilani Highway, look for Napili Place or Hui Drive. 5900 Lower Honoapiilani Highway, Kapalua.
Favorite hangout of surfers, hippies, spiritual seekers, artists, and beach rats, this colorful town is the heart of the North Shore and still retains its local flavor. Many small eateries and boutique shops make this a worthwhile place to stop. Paia is also home to a Tibetan Buddhist temple called Karma Rimay O Sal Ling, on Baldwin Avenue a half mile from the traffic light. Highways 390 and 36, Paia.
TEDESCHI VINEYARDS AND WINERY
Pineapple wine, for some an acquired taste, is for sale here, as well as a small selection of the area's more usual varieties. Various buildings on the ranch house a tasting room, historical exhibits, and artifacts. Make sure you stop at the old General Store. Kula Highway, Ulapalakua Ranch, Ulapalakua: (808) 878-6058. Cost: Free. Daily 9-5, call for tour times.
WAIANAPANAPA STATE PARK
This park is close to Hana, right on the ocean. An ancient heiau (sacred outdoor arrangement of stones) and burial sites are near. Many hikes, excellent swimming, black sand beaches, and freshwater caves offer the visitor much to do. The natural beauty of the area is magnificent and quite unforgettable. Old, somewhat dilapidated cabins can be rented with a permit for under $30 per night. Early reservations are recommended. The tent camping area supports a limited amount of people and often fills up weeks in advance. Hana Highway, near Mile Marker 32, Hana, Telephone: (808) 984-8109. Cost: Free.
Opulence, in landscape, architecture, and natural beauty characterizes the Wailea area. Latest addition is the Shops at Wailea, considered Hawaii's most beautiful and exclusive shopping center. Several large and world-class resort hotels are found here, interspersed with expensive privately owned condominiums. The Grand Wailea, the Four Seasons, and the Kea Lani offer art, shopping, dining, and well-maintained beach areas open to the public. The paved beach walk along the hotel beachfronts and condominiums is a real treat in early morning or sunset hours. Wailea, at the far end of Piilani Highway, park in any hotel parking lot.
Located on the historical Front Street in Lahaina, Kimo's sits on the oceanside of Front Street and has an excellent view of Lana'i and Moloka'i. If you are in for a fine dining experience with friendly service, Kimo's is the place to go. 845 Front Street, Lahaina. Telephone: (808) 661-4811
Sitting on the world famous Kaanapali Beach, you can enjoy the beautiful Maui sunsets at Hula Grill. It is located in Whaler's Village in Kaanapali. 2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Bldg. P, Lahaina. Telephone: (808) 667-6636
CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE
Want a big juicy cheeseburger to go with your music? Hang with the locals here and satisfy both cravings. The Restaurant is on Front Street at Lahainaluna Road. For lunch/day time - Always go up to the 2nd floor and request a table at a window ocean side, wait at the bar if you have too. Good to go for dinner and listen to live music. Just a cool place and not expensive either. 811 Front Street , Lahaina, Telephone: (808) 661-4855.
MAUI MYTH & MAGIC THEATRE
No doubt about it, this show will astound you with its professional presentaion and excellent cast. The talented cast consists of at least 20 singer/dancers and 5 musicians, and features a lot of high tech wizardry and an authentic retelling of some of Hawaii's most treasured cultural stories. At the end of the 75-minute performance you will already be looking forward to seeing the show again. Dinner/theater packages are offered in conjunction with select restaurants as an option. 878 Front Street, Lahaina, Telephone: (808) 661-9913 or (877) 688-4800. Reservations essential. Cost: $49.50-69.50. Tues.-Sat. 6 and 8:30.
The Moose offers no-cover live music on Tuesday and Thursday. On other nights it is recorded music. The young crowd likes it here, at least in part because of the dancing, and the large size dinner specials. 844 Front Street, Lahaina, Telephone: (808) 667-7758.
Another jazz club. Live Venues, Dancing, Comedy and Biliards. Located in Lahaina at 744 Front Street, Telephone: (808) 667-5299. Cover Charge varies depending on the night of the week.
THE FEAST AT LELE
Fine island dining at its best on the beach will make an evening spent here a memorable one. This is a great place to have an excellent three-course meal, drink some first-rate wine from an extensive list, and enjoy the company of your significant other. 505 Front Street, Lahaina, Telephone: (808) 667-5353. Reservations are absolutely necessary for this popular spot.
WARREN & ANNABELLE'S
For a slightly campy magic act that doesn't take itself too seriously, this show is well worth the ticket cost. Magician Warren Gibson plies his trade in a posh nightclub setting complete with red carpets and rich wooden bar. You will enjoy excellent pupus, desserts, and unusual cocktails as he entertains you with tricks while his assistant Annabelle plays piano. No one under 21 is allowed. Lahaina Center, 900 Front Street, Lahaina, Telephone: (808) 667-6244. Reservations are required. Cost: $36. Mon.-Sat., 7 and 8:30.