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. Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center

    Educational Institution

    The grande dame of Maui's visual arts scene, "the Hui" hosts exhibits that are always satisfying. Located just outside Makawao, the center's...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. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Fort Ruins

    Ruins

    Coral stone ruins are all that remain at the site that served mostly as a prison; however, the ruins are actually not the real leftovers from...Read More

  • 10. Grave of Charles Lindbergh

    Cemetery

    Many people travel the mile past Oheo Gulch to see the grave of Charles Lindbergh. The world-renowned aviator chose to be buried here because...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Hauola Stone

    Ruins

    Just visible above the tide is a gigantic stone, perfectly molded into the shape of a low-back chair and believed by Hawaiians to hold healing...Read More

  • 14. Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Built in 1927, this beautiful open-air church is decorated with paintings depicting Hawaiian versions of Christian symbols (including a Hawaiian...Read More

  • 15. Lahaina Harbor

    Marina/Pier

    For centuries, Lahaina has drawn ships of all sizes to its calm harbor: King Kamehameha's conquering fleet of 800 carved koa canoes gave way...Read More

  • 16. Lahaina Jodo Mission

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Established at the turn of the 20th century by Japanese contract workers, this Buddhist mission is one of Lahaina's most popular sites thanks...Read More

  • 17. Piilanihale Heiau

    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

  • 18. Pioneer Mill Smokestack & Locomotives

    Historic District/Site

    The former Pioneer Mill Company used this site to mill sugar back when Lahaina's main moneymaker was sugarcane. In 2010, the Lahaina Restoration...Read More

  • 19. Halekii-Pihana Heiau State Monument

    Ruins

    Stand here at either of the two heiau (ancient Hawaiian stone platforms once used as places of worship) and imagine the chief of Maui surveying...Read More

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