- Nickname: The Valley Isle
- The second largest island
- Home to Haleakala- one of the world’s tallest mountains
Maui can best be explained as an in-between island; offering the best of both worlds. It’s quiet enough to feel the Aloha Spirit but big enough to have most of the amenities of modern city living. It’s a bit of Oahu and a bit of Kauai mixed together.
Known as The Valley Isle, Maui is shaped like a butterfly with a large wing on the right, consisting of Haleakala, and a smaller wing on the left, consisting of the West Maui Mountains. In the middle is an isthmus or valley between the two wings.
Haleakala National Park is an adventurous wonderland that peaks at over 10,000 ft. above sea level. Meaning House of the Sun, Haleakala is the perfect place to watch the sunrise from high above the clouds. Hundreds of people gather in the wee hours for this one of a kind experience, waiting patiently in the cold, thin air. As the stars slowly begin to fade, the golden rays rise up from below, bringing with them warmth and light and revealing a landscape that is otherworldly. The red, iron rich sand covers a crater that is 2,600 ft. deep. Hiking trails such as the Sliding Sands Trail will take you down into the mostly barren crater. Very few plants and animals survive in such a unique environment and some can only be found on Haleakala, such as the Silversword.
On the northeastern side of Haleakala sits the remote town of Hana. To get there, you must embark on a magical journey down the Hana Highway. Starting out from Kahului Airport, the 52 mile trip will take around 2-4 hours and includes over 59 bridges, approximately 620 curves and a tropical rainforest. Take in the natural beauty every chance you get. Take a dip in one of the many waterfalls along the way and stop at vendors to sample the local flavors. Once you arrive in Hana, check out the red sand beach, also called Kaihalulu Beach. For an even more exciting driving adventure, there’s the Kahekili Highway along the West Maui Mountains. Not recommended for the faint of heart. Check your rental car agreement before you go, as many companies do not allow you to travel this road.
Maui is a hotbed for marine life and is known for both its whale watching and sensational snorkeling. Anticipating their first glimpse of the year, locals and tourists alike, anxiously await Humpback Whale season (Mid Dec.-Mid May). Whale watching tours are a great way to get up close and personal with these amazing mammals. If it’s snorkeling you’re after, there’s Honolua Bay, Black Rock, Molokini Crater, and Napili Bay to name a few. The warm waters attract a variety of colorful fish like the Humumunukunukuapua’a, Hawaii’s state fish, also known as a triggerfish. You are also highly likely to encounter a Honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. These majestic creatures are an endangered species and it is illegal to touch them. Keep your distance as you enjoy their beauty and grace.
From mountains to valleys to open ocean, Maui is the island that has it all. As some may say, Maui No Ka Oi, or Maui is the best!