Maui is an attraction-filled destination that seems like a compilation of Hawaii's best qualities. Surfing beaches? Check. Volcanoes? Several. Family-friendly? Definitely. Posh resorts? Absolutely. The legions of vacationers that come back home teary-eyed and hypnotized can't be wrong -- this is where you learn Hawaii is more than a series of islands, it's also a spiritual experience. Step off the plane, take one whiff of the plumeria blooms and you'll be hooked ... continue»
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The best time to visit Maui is between April and May and between September and November. Both seasons are pleasant on the island and you will find the lowest airfare and most agreeable room rates. If you're into surfing, you'll want to travel in the winter -- just book as early as possible to get a discounted rate. Families like to visit Maui in summer, which is also when the waters surrounding the island are the calmest.Best Times to Visit Maui»
Maui consists of many townships strewn throughout its 727 square miles, but you're going to want to leave them and explore the area's abundant natural offerings and less traveled corners.
Much of South Maui is lined with residential neighborhoods, condominiums and strip malls, and the area isn't the primary tourist center of the island. Nevertheless, the popular and luxurious Wailea resorts, such as Four Seasons Wailea, the Grand Wailea and the Fairmont Kea Lani, sit in southern Maui, featuring several excellent and upscale beaches and several golf courses. This area is also centrally located, so if you plan to visit west, east and central parts of the island, it’s not a bad place to book your hotel.
The most popular town on the island is Lahaina, on Maui's west end. Restaurants, nightclubs and galleries are located along the town's main thoroughfare, Front Street, as well as nearby the cruise port. Part of the town's popularity is its walkability. The town of Ka'anapali, located about 10 minutes north of Lahaina by bus or car, is also a vibrant tourist center with many shops, restaurants and accommodation options.
Kapalua, a resort community on the island's northwestern coast, has five pristine, publicly accessible beaches and two championship golf courses. The sleepy town of Napili, just south of Kapalua, offers some reasonably priced hotel options right on the beach.
Surfing enthusiasts will definitely want to check out the North Shore's Paia. The former plantation town consists of large beaches and old cane fields. A popular beach for families on the North Shore is Baldwin Beach, while Ho'okipa Beach attracts kitefliers and windsurfers. If you want to check out the island's surf scene, definitely head to any of the North Shore beaches during the winter. Always beware of the rough waters and check swimming conditions before venturing in.
The Haleakala National Park in upcountry Maui (defined as higher elevation areas near the island’s center) features some of the island's best hiking and nature viewing opportunities. Hikers can camp out in the area with a permit. The park’s namesake Haleakala volcano is among Maui’s top tourist draws.
The Road to Hana
The island's most famous road is the 68-mile Hana Highway, commonly known as the "Road to Hana." Located between the towns of Kahului and Hana, the three-hour drive's approximately 620 curves and scenic views are a must for first-time visitors.
Travel to the Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui to witness another of Maui's most famous natural landmarks: The 1200-foot Iao Needle, an enormous rock peak that writers say provides an excellent backdrop to a day of hiking.
If you're in Maui, chances are you're standing on part of Haleakala, the shield volcano that comprises 75 percent of the island's surface. You can explore the crater at Haleakala National Park, which includes two excellent hiking trails. The park is also a great spot to see the stars.
The small island of Molokini, just a few miles off of Maui's west coast, is another popular stop for tourists. The island offers excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. Charters to Molokini leave daily from Ma'alaea Harbor and Lahaina Harbor.
Maui is a very safe place with little crime. Your main concern should be staying safe in parks and on hiking trails and, most importantly, in the water. Never hike or swim alone, and be sure to consult weather and tide conditions before entering the water.
The best way to get around Maui is by car, particularly if you're going to explore on your own, and you can easily rent one at the airport for a great day rate. And speaking of airports, Maui has three; most vacationers fly into Kahului (OGG) on the island's north coast. Many of the resorts have shuttles to cart you around the major sites, and to provide transportation to and from the airport, but you can also have your hotel call you a taxi. There are also public bus routes that travel through some areas in the north and northwest.Getting Around Maui»