Maui Rainbow

“Maui Rainbow” by Matt McGee

The “Magic Isle” of Maui is a favorite for many visitors to Hawaii. Along its southwest shore, you will find miles of sandy beaches and some of Hawaii’s best resorts. The beach towns of Wailea and Kihei offer great shopping and dining, but if you want a more natural beach experience, check out Big Beach at Makena State Park, where the backdrop of lava cliffs makes this secluded beach one of Maui’s most beautiful coastlines. From here you can see the tiny island of Molokini, a popular site for snorkel boat tours. The most famous beach on Maui, however, is Ka’anapali Beach on the western shore. As well as being home to multiple resorts, golf courses, and the Whaler’s Village Mall and Museum, this is a great area to swim, snorkel, and watch the sunset. Every night, there is a cliff diving ceremony off Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock), which ancient Hawaiians believed to be an entry point to the netherworld.

Nearby your tour group will find the town of Lahaina, whose rich past and thriving present make this town a must-see on your Maui trip.  Lahaina was the first capital of Hawaii in the early 1800s, later became a busy whaling port, and was also home to many Chinese and Japanese immigrants who worked on Maui’s plantations. On the Lahaina Historic Trail, you will see many sites associated with these events, including the Baldwin Mission House, Seaman’s Hospital, Wo Hing Temple, Jodo Mission, and the first school west of the Rockies.

Golden Rays over Maui

“Golden Rays” by Bruce Bouley to enjoy the shopping, art galleries and food it offers today.  If your feet grow tired, rest beneath Lahaina’s enormous banyan tree, which was brought from India in 1873. In the evening, you can embark on a sunset whale-watching tour, feast at one of Lahaina’s many luaus, or enjoy the ‘Ulalena at Maui Theatre – a spectacular production about Hawaiian mythology.

While less populous, the north side of Maui offers many interesting attractions. Spend a morning at the Maui Ocean Center in Wailuku and see tropical fish, sea turtles, and other creatures. You can even walk through a tunnel surrounded by sharks and rays! While in Wailuku, make sure you see the 1200-foot Iao Needle, site of the 1790 battle where Kamehameha conquered Maui. Then travel into the upcountry, where you can tour various farms, browse unique shops in Paia, Kula, and Makawao, or drive to the volcanic summit of Haleakala.

Continuing east on the highway to Hana, you will encounter one of Hawaii’s most scenic drives – passing rainforests, waterfalls, and cliffs. Hana itself is home to some of Maui’s most beautiful landscapes. Here you can see the cascading pools of Oheo, sink your toes into gray sand at Hamoa beach, stand beneath Koki Beach’s rugged red cliffs, explore Wainapanapa State Park, or hike the Pipiwai Trail to 400-foot Waimoku Falls.

It is easy to see why Maui is a favorite to visit again and again!