Maui consistently lands atop travel-magazine reader polls as one of the world's best, most romantic islands. Why? How about a wealth of glorious beaches, luxe resorts, gourmet cuisine, fantastic luaus, and world-class windsurfing, whale watching, snorkeling, diving and hiking? Maui is known as the 'Valley Island' because of its two large extinct volcanoes divided by a tropical central valley. It's the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands and the most developed of the Neighbor Islands. Its windsurfing and surf spots are some of the best in the world.
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There's splendor everywhere, from soulful sunrises to sunset swims.
Maui truly is a sight for sore eyes. Feast your peepers on spectacular sunsets, dormant volcanoes, beaches from your wildest dreams, marvellous marine life and lush tropical landscapes aplenty. Venture underwater for yet more dazzle - fish and coral that give a new meaning to the word 'technicolor'.
Is there ever a wrong time to go to Maui? Winter (December to March) is high season. It's a bit rainier in winter and a bit hotter in summer (June through August) here, but there are no extremes and cooling trade winds modify the heat throughout the year. Winter storms can last for days, which can make this season slightly less appealing than summer, but not by much.
If you're on a tight budget, low season is April to mid-December, when accommodation rates are cut by up to 30%. Avid divers should come in summer, skilled surfers in winter. Come in September or October for cultural events such as the Aloha Festival. Beware of crowds and high prices around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Easter.
What To See
Big Beach (Oneloa Beach)
The crowning glory of Makena State Park, this untouched beach is arguably the finest on Maui. In Hawaiian it’s called , literally 'Long Sand.' And indeed the golden sands stretch for the better part of a mile and are as broad as they come. The waters are a beautiful turquoise. When they’re calm you’ll find kids boogie boarding here, but at other times the breaks belong to experienced bodysurfers, who get tossed wildly in the transparent waves. There is a lifeguard station heres broad as they come. The waters are a beautiful turquoise. When they’re calm you’ll find kids boogie boarding here, but at other times the breaks belong to experienced bodysurfers, who get tossed wildly in the transparent waves. There is a lifeguard station here.
One of Maui's most important historical sites, Haleki'i-Pihana Heiau holds the remains of two adjoining temples atop a knoll with a commanding view of central Maui.
The site was the royal court of Kahekili, Maui's last ruling chief, and the birthplace of Keopuolani, wife of Kamehameha the Great. After his victory at the battle of 'Iao in 1790, Kamehameha came here to worship his war god Ku, offering the last human sacrifice on Maui.
ʻIao Valley State Park
If you've seen just one photograph of Maui's lush interior, odds are it was of 'Iao Needle, the green pinnacle that provides the focal point for 'Iao Valley State Park. Nestled in the mountains, 3mi west of central Wailuku, this park extends clear up to Pu'u Kukui (5788ft), Maui's highest and wettest point.
You don't need to be a geology buff to get off on the mammoth Ka'eleku Caverns, formed by ancient lava flows. The caves are so formidable that they once served as a slaughterhouse - 17,000lb of cow bones had to be removed before they were opened to tourists! Winding your way through the extensive underground lava tubes you'll find a unique ecosystem of stalactites and stalagmites.
This gorgeous strand gets the seal of approval! Not only do tourists sun on the beach here, but endangered monk seals occasionally haul out on the soft, white sand to snooze the afternoon away as well.
This crescent-shaped beach, with its clear view of Molokaʻi across the channel, is a sure bet for a fun day in the water. Long rocky outcrops at both ends of the bay make Kapalua Beach the safest year-round swimming spot on this coast. You’ll find colorful snorkeling on the right side of the beach, with abundant tropical fish and orange slate-pencil sea urchins.
Take the drive immediately north of Napili Kai Beach Resort to get to the beach parking area, where there are restrooms and showers. A tunnel leads from the parking lot north to the beach. This is also a start point for the Coastal Trail.
Wai'anapanapa State Park
Wai'anapanapa means 'glistening waters', and the clear mineral waters in the cave pools here will leave you feeling squeaky clean. There's a natural lava arch on the right side of Pailoa Bay, bordered by low rocky cliffs and a coastal trail with ancient lava stepping stones. Two impressive lava-tube caves are just a five-minute walk from the parking lot.
Haleakalā National Park
No trip to Maui is complete without visiting this national park, containing the mighty volcano that gave rise to East Maui. The volcano's floor measures a whopping 7.5 miles wide, 2.5 miles long and 3000ft deep - more than enough to swallow Manhattan. From its towering rim there are dramatic views of its lunarlike surface.