Maui, also known as the "Island of Valleys," is the second largest Hawaiian island. The island is famous for its world-renowned beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, humpback whales (during the winter months), farm-to-table cuisine, and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets at Haleakala. It's no surprise that Maui has been voted "Best Island in the U.S." by Condé Nast Traveler readers for more than 20 years.
Maui can be roughly divided into five regions: West Maui, South Maui, Central Maui, North Shore, and Upcountry Maui.
West Maui is known for its stunning scenery, from rugged mountains to the turquoise waters of the Pacific. It is home to some of Maui's most famous beaches, such as Kaanapali and Kapalua, as well as the historic town of Lahaina, once the center of whaling in Hawaii.
South Maui is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Wailea, Kihei, and Makena, as well as world-class resorts, golf courses, and restaurants.
Central Maui is where you will find the island's main commercial center, Kahului, as well as the charming town of Wailuku. It is also home to Maui's airport, the main hospital, and the University of Hawaii Maui College.
The North Shore is known for its rugged coastline, giant waves, and surfing culture. It is home to the famous surf spot of Jaws, as well as the bohemian town of Paia.
Upcountry Maui refers to the higher elevations of the island, stretching across the mountains and valleys that separate the central valley of Maui from the coastal areas. It is known for its picturesque ranches, orchards, and farms, as well as the Haleakala National Park with its spectacular volcano that rises 10,000 feet above sea level.
Most visitors to Maui start their vacation in Central Maui by arriving at Kahului Airport (OGG), where a large portion of the island's population resides. This area offers many interesting attractions and sights that are not overrun by mass tourism.
One of the most popular attractions in Central Maui is the peaceful Iao Valley State Park, which features misty forests, green valleys, and rushing streams. Take a leisurely stroll on the paved pathway and witness one of Maui's most famous landmarks, the 366m tall Iao Needle.
At the entrance of Iao Valley State Park, you can explore local shops, visit restaurants, and historical sites in the charming town of Wailuku.
Kahului, the neighboring town, is a bustling shopping district with Maui's largest mall. You can find everything you need here if you're preparing for a unique journey. The Hana Highway passes through the town. Follow the highway to Paia Town, where the legendary Road to Hana begins.
If you think of Maui, you probably imagine the stunning east coast of the island: tiered pools of waterfalls in lush rainforests, roadside pineapple stands, hairpin turns along steep cliffs. All of this can be found on the Road to Hana. This is one of the main reasons why East Maui is a must-visit for any traveler.
The Hana Highway (HI-360) starts in the town of Kahului in Central Maui and travels 84 km along the north coast of the island, passing by Paia. The drive to Hana can take about 3 hours or the whole day, depending on how often you stop for photos and food stands.
After navigating through the 600 curves and over the 50 bridges, you will arrive in Hana. In this charming small town, time seems to be an abstract concept and "Aloha" is the motto. Located near Hana is the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park and the impressive Pools of Oheo (also known as the Seven Sacred Pools). Here you can cool off perfectly after the long drive.
South Maui is known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and crystal-clear waters. One of the most popular destinations in South Maui is Kihei, a lively beach town with plenty of shops, restaurants, and water sports activities.
Just south of Kihei is Wailea, a luxurious resort community with high-end hotels, golf courses, and upscale shopping. Wailea also boasts some of the best beaches in Maui, including Wailea Beach, which is consistently ranked as one of the top beaches in the world.
Further south, you will find Makena, a more secluded area with pristine beaches, lava rock formations, and excellent snorkeling spots. One of the highlights of Makena is Big Beach, a long and wide stretch of golden sand with clear turquoise water.
South Maui is also a great place for whale watching during the winter months when humpback whales migrate to the warm waters off the coast of Maui. Overall, South Maui offers a mix of relaxation and adventure, making it a popular destination for visitors of all ages.
West Maui is known for its stunning landscape, from rugged mountains to the turquoise waters of the Pacific. Here you will find some of Maui's most famous beaches, such as Kaanapali and Kapalua, as well as historic towns like Lahaina, which was once the center of whaling in Hawaii.
Kaanapali is a beach resort on the west coast of Maui with miles of white sandy beach and crystal-clear water. There are numerous hotels, resorts, restaurants, and shops catering to the needs of tourists.
Kapalua is another beach resort on the northwest coast of Maui. Here you will find some of Hawaii's best golf courses, first-class restaurants and accommodations, as well as a picturesque beach known for its pristine beauty.
The historic town of Lahaina is a must-visit for all visitors to West Maui. Here you can visit the Whaling Museum, stroll through the numerous art galleries and souvenir shops, or simply enjoy the historic buildings and picturesque scenery.
In West Maui, you will also find the famous Nakalele Blowhole, a natural geyser formation that erupts spectacular water fountains during high surf.
Upcountry Maui refers to the higher areas of the island that stretch over the mountains and valleys that separate Maui's central valley from the coastal areas. Here, you will find a completely different landscape compared to the tropical beaches and rainforests that otherwise make Maui so famous.
Upcountry Maui is known for its picturesque ranches, orchards, and farms. The town of Kula is known for its avocados, and the town of Makawao is known for its horses and rodeos. Here, you will also find the Haleakala National Park with its spectacular volcano that rises 3,055 meters above sea level.
A visit to the Haleakala National Park is a must to experience the beauty of Upcountry Maui. Here, you can experience the sunrise over the crater or hike through the breathtaking landscape. The observation platform at the Haleakala Summit offers a spectacular panoramic view of the island and the Pacific.
Upcountry Maui is also a great place to try local products, from coffee to wine. The region is known for its coffee plantations, and there are several wineries that offer wine tastings. Additionally, you can find many art galleries and craft markets where you can buy local artwork and handcrafted products.
Haleakala is an active volcano and the highest point on the island of Maui, rising 3,055 meters above sea level. The name Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian, as the volcano often rises above the clouds and offers spectacular sunrises.
The Haleakala National Park stretches across the volcano's crater, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience the sunrise or sunset over the crater and go on hikes through the picturesque landscape. The Haleakala crater is one of the largest in the world and offers an impressive view of the lunar landscape, which is crisscrossed by different colors and shades.
There are also several hiking trails in the national park, including the Sliding Sands Trail and the Halemau'u Trail, which lead through the breathtaking landscape of the crater. There are also opportunities for camping and stargazing, as the crater is an excellent place for clear night skies due to its remote location and high altitude.
Haleakala is also an important place in Hawaiian culture and history, as it is considered a sacred place and seat of Maui, an important figure in Hawaiian mythology. The volcano is also an important habitat for rare plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to Hawaii.
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