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. Hale Hoikeike at the Bailey House

    Historic Home

    This repository of the largest and best collection of Hawaiian artifacts on Maui includes objects from the sacred island of Kahoolawe. Erected...Read More

  • 2. Haleakala National Park

    Nature Sight

    Nowhere else on Earth can you drive from sea level to 10,023 feet in only 38 miles. And what's more shocking: in that short vertical ascent...Read More

  • 3. Iao Valley State Monument

    Nature Sight

    When Mark Twain saw this park, he dubbed it the Yosemite of the Pacific. Yosemite it's not, but it is a lovely deep valley with the curious...Read More

  • 4. Maui Ocean Center

    Educational Institution

    You'll feel as though you're walking from the seashore down to the bottom of the reef at this aquarium, which focuses on creatures of the Pacific...Read More

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  • 5. Napili Beach

    Beach

    Surrounded by sleepy condos, this round bay is a turtle-filled pool lined with a sparkling white crescent of sand. Sunbathers love this beach...Read More

  • 6. Old Lahaina Courthouse

    Museum/Gallery

    The Lahaina Arts Society, Lahaina Vistor Center, and Lahaina Heritage Museum occupy this charming old government building in the center of town...Read More

  • 7. Waiola Church and Wainee Cemetery

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Immortalized in James Michener's Hawaii, the original church from the early 1800s was destroyed once by fire and twice by fierce windstorms...Read More

  • 8. Wo Hing Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    Smack-dab in the center of Front Street, this eye-catching Chinese temple reflects the importance of early Chinese immigrants to Lahaina. Built...Read More

  • 9. Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    Maui's largest landowner, A&B was one of the "Big Five" companies that spearheaded the planting, harvesting, and processing of sugarcane...Read More

  • 10. Baldwin Beach

    Beach

    A local favorite, this big stretch of comfortable golden sand is a good place to stretch out, jog, or swim, although the waves can sometimes...Read More

  • 11. Baldwin Home Museum

    Historic Home

    If you want some insight into 19th-century life in Hawaii, this informative museum is an excellent place to start. Begun in 1834 and completed...Read More

  • 12. Banyan Tree

    City Park

    Planted in 1873, this massive tree is the largest of its kind in the United States and provides a welcome retreat and playground for visitors...Read More

  • 13. Hale Paahao (Old Prison)

    Jail/Prison

    Lahaina's jailhouse is a reminder of rowdy whaling days. Its name literally means "stuck-in-irons house," referring to the wall shackles and...Read More

  • 14. Kaanapali Beach

    Beach

    If you're looking for quiet and seclusion, this is not the beach for you. But if you want lots of action, spread out your towel here. Stretching...Read More

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  • 15. Kanaha Beach

    Beach

    Windsurfers, kiteboarders, joggers, and picnicking families like this long, golden strip of sand bordered by a wide grassy area with lots of...Read More

  • 16. Kapalua

    Beach

    Beautiful and secluded, Kapalua is West Maui's northernmost, most exclusive resort community. First developed in the late 1970s, the resort...Read More

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  • 17. Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Gardens

    Forest

    Picnic facilities dot the landscape of this county park, a memorial to Maui's cultural roots. Among the interesting displays are an early-Hawaiian...Read More

  • 18. Maalaea Harbor

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    With so many good reasons to head out onto the water, this active little harbor is quite busy. Many snorkeling and whale-watching excursions...Read More

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  • 19. Market Street

    Neighborhood/Street

    An idiosyncratic assortment of shops makes Wailuku's Market Street a delightful place for a stroll. Brown-Kobayashi and the Bird of Paradise...Read More

  • 20. Maui Tropical Plantation & Country Store

    Amusement Park/Water Park

    When Maui's cash crop declined in importance, a group of visionaries opened an agricultural theme park on the site of this former sugarcane...Read More

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