The Hawaiian island of Maui is a destination for true nature lovers. For many Hawaii vacationers, Maui is just right — offering a taste of just about everything the Aloha State has to offer, from impressive wildlife to intriguing history and culture. Maui offers a stunning array of tropical landscapes, from rain forests to volcanoes, and outdoor activities ranging from golf to outrigger canoes. Also home to upscale shopping, fine dining, arts and entertainment, Maui is an ideal tropical destination.
While on a visit here, you can shimmy alongside professional hula dancers, golf along coastal fairways, snorkel alongside five different types of sea turtles or simply lounge along some of Hawaii’s most notable beaches.
Maui is divided into five distinct regions: Many travelers base themselves along the coasts of South Maui (home to the famous Wailea Beach) or West Maui, where the sands of Kaanipali Beach and the music from the Old Lahaina Luauare located. But the rest of the island should not be missed. Travel along the Road to Hana to experience East Maui’s scenic coastline, explore Haleakala — the world’s largest dormant volcano — in the Upcountry, and explore the former tribal battlegrounds of Central Maui’s Iao Valley State Park.
• So which beach do you go to just to swim and relax? Wailea. This beach caters to the sunseeking guests of several nearby resorts. Wailea feels much less rugged than some of Maui’s other beaches: The tawny-colored sand is lined by palm trees and a paved walkway connecting the shoreline to the area’s hotels, shops and restaurants. What’s more, visitors to this beach will have access to water sports equipment rentals. And because the waters here are relatively calm, Wailea Beach is great for those looking to swim or snorkel.
• One of Maui’s most popular strips of coastline, Kaanapali Beach stretches across 3 miles of the island’s northwest coast, offering plenty of space to surf and sunbathe. But coveted sand is just one of this beach’s many highlights: Kaanapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort area, and today it features several notable hotels and restaurants, two championship golf courses and the lively Whalers Village open-air shopping center.
• The Old Lahaina Luau is hands down one of the most popular things to do for first-time Maui visitors; those who have taken in the show highly recommend devoting an evening to this luau in particular for a fun intro to Hawaiian culture. While you admire the performers’ hula and firedancing skills, you’ll dine on Hawaiian specialties such as kalua pua’a (pork roasted in an underground oven), fresh mahi-mahi and poi (mashed taro plant).
• The Road to Hana is a scenic highway that twists through the lush rainforest and past the cascading waterfalls that line the island’s eastern shore. Those who have driven the Road to Hana highly recommend taking your time and stopping as often as possible. There are several notable photo opportunities along the way, including the Twin Falls around the 2-mile marker (driving from Kahului to Hana); and the Wailea Overlook or Waikani Falls around the 21-mile marker. The Waianapanapa State Park and Hookipa Beach are also popular stops.
• More than a million tourists annually visit Haleakala National Park, home to the world’s largest dormant volcano. Once you reach the top of Haleakala, you can keep going — down into the mouth of the volcano. The Haleakala Crater measures 19 square miles and offers a stark glimpse of Hawaii’s early beginnings. Trails into the crater will lead you past a desert-like landscape, making for unique photo opportunities. According to recent visitors, watching the sunrise from here is also a great experience.
• Like Haleakala National Park, Iao Valley State Park offers visitors the chance to admire something other than the beach. Iao Valley State Park features numerous hiking trails, many of them leading to or offering excellent views of the Iao Needle. The most popular path is the 0.6-mile Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop, a paved walkway that leads straight to the iconic rock formation and through a botanical garden.
Best foods in Maui:
Maui is on board with the local food movement — here, you’ll find plates piled high with freshly caught fish and regional produce. To find these ingredients prepared in the island way, you’ll want to stray from resort-heavy areas. Maui’s towns (and its countryside) brim with local mom-and-pop joints serving such specialties as pork roasted in banana leaves, poi (ground taro root) and haupia, a creamy coconut custard.
• People love Coconut’s Fish Cafe, especially its ‘famous fish tacos’ that can be assembled with any combo of 17 ingredients including their celebrated coleslaw and mango salsa.
• Probably Maui’s most popular restaurant (and with good reason), Mama’s fish house is world famous for its cozy setting, super friendly service and (most importantly) its amazing food. Seafood lovers will be especially in their element here.
• 90% of the menu at Merriman’s is locally sourced fresh line-caught fish, grass fed meats and Hawaiian grown produce.
• Hali’imaile general store is a great place to taste local produce such as Maui’s famed sweet onions.
• Monkeypod Kitchen is a fun and laid back place to unwind and enjoy a wood fired pizza, homemade cream pie, craft beer, ‘culinary’ cocktail — or whatever else your taste buds crave. Monkeypod Kitchen boasts more than 30 craft beers — on tap!
• For ‘ono grindz’ in an unassuming and authentic island style setting, there’s nowhere better than Sam Sato’s. The dry noodles and plate lunch come stacked high, and are highly recommended.
• Chill out with a shave ice — Hawaii’s most refreshing sweet treat. Locals and visitors alike love Ululani’s ultra yummy version and reckon it’s the tastiest Maui has to offer. For the ultimate in snowy fluffiness, try the “Haleakala” flavor combo — topped with sweetened condensed cream and cream mix.
Shopping in Maui :
• Attracting the most discerning visitors and locals alike, the Resort is home to three retail boutiques: Cabana (casual designer apparel), Ports (sundries and logo wear) and 22 Knots (high-end women’s fashion). Peruse merchandise from top luxury designers, including such iconic brands as Missoni, Stella McCartney and Lanvin. Several times a year, the boutiques feature trunk shows, for which elite designers travel to Maui to grant exclusive access to their newest collections.
Best hotels in Maui:
• Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – visitors are impressed by the beautiful setting and ample amenities.
• The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua – with its epic views of Molokai Island — is popular with travelers trying to escape bustling Lahaina.
• Andaz Maui at Wailea – orgeous grounds, attentive service and a new Iron Chef-helmed restaurant are just a few of the reasons guests are gushing about.
• The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui is a laid-back suite– and villa-filled resort of which island visitors can’t seem to get enough.
• Hotel Wailea, in Maui, Hawaii, stretches across 15 acres of picturesque and expertly manicured tropical gardens.