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. 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

  • 2. Oo Farm

    Farm/Ranch

    About a mile from Alii Kula Lavender are 8 acres of organic salad greens, herbs, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, fruits, and berries—all of it headed...Read More

  • 3. Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

    Ruins

    South of Makena State Park, the road fades away into a vast territory of black-lava flows, the result of Haleakala's last eruption and now a...Read More

  • 4. Garden of Eden Arboretum

    Garden

    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

  • 5. Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

    Trail

    Natural wetlands have become rare in the Islands, so the 700 acres of this reserve attract migratory birds, such as Hawaiian coots and long...Read More

  • 6. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

    Garden

    Hawaiian and Polynesian species are cultivated at this fascinating 7-acre garden, including Hawaiian bananas; local varieties of sweet potatoes...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

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