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Did You Know … ?
- Hawaii’s last sugar plantation, on Maui, was set to cease operations in 2016.
- Bats are Hawaii’s only native warm-blooded land animals.
- Maui’s Puu Kukui mountain holds the U.S. record for the most rain in 12 months, 739 inches, December 1981-December 1982.
- Lahaina was the capital of Hawaii from 1802 to 1845.
- For most of the 20th century, Lanai was the world’s top producer of pineapple.
The second largest of Hawaii’s islands, Maui appears on the map to be two islands knit together like conjoined twins; Maui is in fact two side-by-side volcanoes. The largest town Kahului sits in the valley between the volcanoes while Lahaina, a mid-1800s whaling port on the island’s west coast, has become a lively destination for dining, shopping, art and entertainment.
Maui is a vision of volcanic peaks, forested slopes, dramatic ridges and valleys, and 120 miles of shoreline with more than 80 beaches. Haleakala National Park is at the heart of the eastern twin, encompassing the Haleakala volcanic crater.
Visitors drive up to the Haleakala Crater for the views, even better for sunrise, or to launch hikes back down. The major roadways parallel much of the coast. The most noted drive is the 50-plus-mile Hana Highway — noted because of its 54 bridges and its roughly 600 curves. It extends from Kahului eastward and southeast to the town of Hana, which sits below the Haleakala Crater and overlooks the ocean.
Maui also gives access to neighboring islands, Lanai, Molokai and Molokini. Molokai once accommodated a famous, or infamous, leper colony (1866-1969).
Tourists choose Maui for water-based activities, ranging from snorkeling and swimming to scuba diving and windsurfing. But, tops for triggering the adrenalin is the surfing. There are places for beginners to learn the sport and spots for the very experienced. However, surfing becomes a spectator sport when professionals are towed into monster waves by jet skis.
For hikers, the mountainsides and valleys offer trails suited to visitors of varying skills. They can hike on the side of the Haleakala volcano and even camp inside its crater. For any visitor, Maui and its neighboring islands are prime territory for watching humpback whales (December through May) and dolphins.
Visitors attend luaus and visit museums and historic sites relevant to understanding the area’s history and its lifestyles, past and present. Museums devoted to whaling and sugar, as well as the remains of Hawaiian temples, housing platforms, manmade fishponds and petroglyphs are among the attractions.
Finally, as with other Hawaiian islands, the sun can be intense; plan accordingly.
Things to do for Venturers
- Have a jet skiing day anytime from June through November, when the whales aren’t around.
- In winter, surf at Honolua Bay in Kapalua or Hookipa Beach near Paia. Hookipa is good for windsurfing year round. If a beginner, head to surf spots in Lahaina or elsewhere on the island’s west coast. Also, watch the pros take on the treacherous monster waves beyond Hookipa.
- For experienced divers, head to the Cathedrals dive site off Lanai’s southern shore.
- Camp inside the crater at Haleakala National Park. A permit is required to camp in the national and state parks on Maui.
- Drive the super-curvy Hana Highway. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended.
- Explore Haleakala National Park on foot by hiking the Halemanuu Trail or the Sliding Sands Trail down from the volcano’s crater. Or, elsewhere, take the designated hiking paths to Mooula Falls or Waimoku Falls.
Things to do for Centrics
- Consider a day trip to Lanai to snorkel in its Hulopoe Bay, a marine reserve. On Maui, choice sites include Kaanapali Beach or Honolua Bay, the latter only in summer when the surf is quieter.
- Attend the Makawao Rodeo and Paniolo [Cowboy] Parade over July 4 weekend. Or consider these: Maui hosts whale and flower festivals (both in winter) and onion and hula festivals (both in spring). In summer, Lanai hosts an annual pineapple festival.
- Sport fishing is a natural here. Charter boats can be arranged from Lanai, Maui and Molokai. If you’d rather, kayak the waters of any of the three islands.
- Take hula and lei-making lessons.
- Visit the site of Hawaii’s leper colony on Molokai, now encompassed by Kalaupapa National Historic Park.
- Look back in time. Maui’s Halekii-Pihana State Monuments feature remnants of religious temples and a reconstructed house of refuge, and the Olowalu Petroglyphs site is what the name suggests. On Lanai, Kaunolu Village features its own temple, plus the ruins of 86 house platforms, and Molokai still preserves 13th century Hawaiian fishponds, reflecting a form of fish husbandry.
Things to do for Authentics
- Choose a beach or two on Lanai, Maui or Molokai. Among them, the islands offer 225 miles of coastline. East Maui boasts one of Hawaii’s black-sand beaches.
- Cruise for a chance to spot whales and dolphins. Other cruises offer lunch or dinner or even a cultural theme.
- Relish the choices for a golf outing on Lanai, Maui or Molokai.
- The luau option is always on offer for a reason. Commercialized or not, it offers traditional music, the hula and Hawaiian food specialties such as kalua pig (pork cooked in a pit) and poi (pounded taro).
- Mark your calendar for Lahaina’s Friday Art Night for evening access to galleries and a chance to meet some of the local artists. Also, consider museums with relevance to Maui’s recent history; they include a former missionary’s home, a whaling museum and sugar museum.
- Experience a steam train, the 1890s Lahaina Kaanapali Railroad, and get panoramic views of Maui. In town, follow the Lahaina Historic Trail for more on the past, before as well as after European contact.
For more information, consult the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau at www.gohawaii.com and click on the Maui button.