Maui

Those who know Maui well understand why it's earned all its superlatives. The island's miles of perfect beaches, lush green valleys, historic villages, top-notch water sports and outdoor activities, and amazing marine life have made it an international favorite. But nature isn't all Maui has to offer: it's also home to a wide variety of cultural activities, stunning ethnic diversity, and stellar restaurants and resorts.

Maui is much more than sandy beaches and palm trees; it's a land of water and fire. Puu Kukui, the 5,788-foot interior of Mauna Kahalawai, also known as the "West Maui Mountains," is one of Earth's wettest spots—an annual rainfall of 400 inches has sculpted the land into impassable gorges and razor-sharp ridges. On the opposite side of the island, the blistering lava fields at Ahihi-Kinau receive scant rain. Just above this desertlike landscape, paniolo (cowboys) herd cattle on rolling fertile ranchlands. On the island's rugged east side is the lush tropical Hawaii of travel posters.

In small towns like Paia and Hana you can see remnants of the past mingling with modern-day life. Ancient heiau (platforms, often made of stone, once used as places of worship) line busy roadways. Old coral-and-brick missionary homes now welcome visitors. The antique smokestacks of sugar mills tower above communities where the children blend English, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipino, and more into one colorful language. Hawaii is a melting pot like no other. Visiting an eclectic mom-and-pop shop—such as Makawao's T. Komoda Store & Bakery—can feel like stepping into another country, or back in time. The more you look here, the more you find.

At 729 square miles, Maui is the second-largest Hawaiian Island, but it offers more miles of swimmable beaches than any of its neighbors. Despite rapid growth over the past few decades, the local population still totals less than 200,000.

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  • 1. Waianapanapa State Park

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    Home to one of Maui's few black-sand beaches and freshwater caves for adventurous swimmers to explore, this park is right on the ocean. It's...Read More

  • 2. Garden of Eden Arboretum

    Garden/Arboretum

    Just beyond mile marker 10 on the Hana Highway, the Garden of Eden Arboretum offers interpretive trails through 26 acres of manicured gardens...Read More

  • 3. Hamoa Beach

    Beach–Sight

    Why did James Michener describe this stretch of salt-and-pepper sand as the most "South Pacific" beach he'd come across, even though it's in...Read More

  • 4. Hana Cultural Center Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    If you're determined to spend some time and money in Hana after the long drive along the Hana Highway, head to the Hana Cultural Center Museum...Read More

  • 5. Hanawi Falls

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    At mile marker 24 of the Hana Highway, just as you approach the bridge, look toward the mountains to catch a glimpse of Hanawi Falls. This lush...Read More

  • 6. Huelo

    Town/Village

    When you see the colorful mailboxes on the makai (toward the ocean) side of the road around mile marker 5 on the Hana Highway, follow the...Read More

  • 7. Kaeleku Caverns

    Cave

    If you're interested in spelunking, take the time to explore Kaeleku Caverns (aka Hana Lava Tube), just after mile marker 31 on the Hana Highway...Read More

  • 8. Keanae Arboretum

    Garden/Arboretum

    Here you can add to your botanical education or enjoy a challenging hike into the forest. Signs help you learn the names of the many plants...Read More

  • 9. Keanae Overlook

    Town/Village

    Near mile marker 17 along the Hana Highway, you can stop at the Keanae Overlook. From this observation point you can take in the quiltlike effect...Read More

  • 10. Koki Beach

    Beach–Sight

    You can tell from the trucks parked alongside the road that this is a favorite local surf spot. Watch conditions before swimming or bodysurfing...Read More

  • 11. Ono Organic Farms Farmers' Market

    Market/Bazaar

    The family-owned Ono Farms offers certified organic produce at this roadside market at an old gas station—the only one in Hana. Depending on...Read More

  • 12. Piilanihale Heiau

    Archaeological Site/Ruins

    This temple was built for a great 16th-century Maui king named Piilani and his heirs. Hawaiian families continue to maintain and protect this...Read More

  • 13. Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    Many believe the stretch of landscape between mile markers 19 and 25 of the Hana Highway contain the most picturesque waterfalls on Maui. While...Read More

  • 14. Twin Falls

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    Keep an eye out for the Twin Falls Farm Stand just after mile marker 2 on the Hana Highway. Stop here and treat yourself to some fresh sugarcane...Read More

  • 15. Waikamoi Nature Trail

    Trail/Path

    Slightly after the town of Huelo, the Hana Highway enters the Koolau Forest Reserve. Vines wrap around street signs, and waterfalls are so abundant...Read More

  • 16. Wailua Overlook

    Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

    From the parking lot on the side of the Hana Highway near mile marker 21, you can see Wailua Canyon in one direction and Wailua Village in the...Read More

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