Things to do
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Take a scenic ride in a helicopter
From the sky, you can get a good feel for the diversity of the island. The Hana/Haleakala helicopter tour is a popular one. You’ll see wonderful views of the Haleakala volcanic crater and get a peek from above at the Hana Rainforest Preserve. You’ll also be able to take photos of the many waterfalls and burial site of aviator Charles Lindbergh.
This package is priced from US$250. Blue Hawaii Helicopters offers six different trips, ranging from 30 minutes to two hours long.
Cruise down the road to Hana
The Hana Highway is one of the most gorgeous drives you’ll ever go on. The scenery is increasingly dramatic as you get closer to the rain forest. You’ll see pristine natural pools, waterfalls, lush valleys, bamboo forests and plenty of rainbows.
It’s only a 68-km journey, but the numerous twists, turns and single-lane bridges along the way turn it into an all-day trip. Rent a car or book an excursion through a local tour operator. Check with your hotel concierge for tour referrals.
Learn to surf in Maui
Maui has some of the best surfing in the world and some great spots to learn the sport. There are plenty of spots offering small waves and calm conditions around Lahaina. Or, head to Launiopoko Beach Park on the west side of Maui, 6 km from Lahaina. Sign up for lessons to get the basic technique down before heading out on the water. Companies like Surf Shack Maui offer lessons starting at US$49.
Bike down the Haleakala Volcano
Adventurous types will love this unique experience. Start at an altitude of 1,981 metres and snake your way down the winding road. The scenery along the way is breathtaking. Sunrise is the best time to go, offering the nicest views.
There’s no need to bring your own bike. Just book a package through a company like Maui Downhill or Maui Sunriders and they’ll provide you with all the equipment you need. There is even an option to have lunch or breakfast included.
You’ll need to get an early start the day for this adventure (around 2:30 a.m.), but it’s well worth it. Just remember to wear layers of clothing to keep warm. It tends to be cool here before the sun comes up.
Hike the Iao Valley State Park
At the end of Highway 32, near Wailuku is the Iao Valley State park, renowned for its rugged beauty. The famous Iao Needle can be found here, jutting more than 686 metres into the sky. This natural rock was once used as lookout point.
The park also has plenty of hiking trails, some of which are quite challenging. If you’re not in the mood to hike, cool your feet in the stream that runs through the dense greenery.
Look at tropical flowers and lavender fields at Alii Kula Lavender Farm
In the area known as Upcountry, Alii Kula Lavender Farm provides a quiet oasis away from the bustling resort areas. Butterflies flutter through the gardens where many types of lavender, orchids, protea blossoms and other tropical flowers bloom.
The views from the farm are truly gorgeous, with ocean views and fields of sugar cane in the distance. Pick up lavender-based products like infused salts and body products at the gift shop. Stay for lavender tea and a scone on the patio deck. There are some lovely picnic areas available with restroom facilities as well. Farm admission is free.
Sip some pineapple wine from Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch
Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch is the island’s only commercial winery. Try their sparkling, pineapple, grape and raspberry wines in the tasting room. The Hula O’Maui is a nice sparkling wine made from handpicked Maui Gold pineapples. All the wine labels here use artwork by local artists. A bottle from Maui’s Winery makes a nice gift for someone back home. Take a free guided tour through the grounds and soak up a bit of Maui’s winemaking history.
Explore an underwater world in Molokini
This crescent-moon-shaped island located off-shore from Maui is actually the very top of an undersea volcano. Its calm waters are perfect for a variety of marine life, making it one of the best places in the region to go snorkelling.
And getting here is half the fun. On the way there, watch for spinner dolphins, turtles and humpback whales. Packages include snorkelling gear, lunch, drinks and transfer to and from your hotel. Book a tour directly with Aqua Adventures or Adventure Maui, or ask your hotel concierge for a referral.
Take an ocean cruise
It may be only a few hours but a sunset cruise is a lovely way to end the day. It’s wonderfully romantic as you stand on the deck, drink Champagne or dance under the stars. And you don’t have to be a couple or honeymooner to enjoy it. The scenery and the setting appeal to everyone. Check out the dinner and dancing packages offered by companies such as the Lahaina Cruise Company.
Learn about Maui’s history in Lahaina
Lahaina, a former whaling village, is an ideal spot to dine and shop – and it also has some cool museums.
The Wo Hing Temple Museum is a striking building, built in 1912 for the Chinese community. Chinese workers came to Hawaii to work on the sugar cane fields. The temple was used to host weddings, funerals and festivals linked to the lunar calendar. There is also a small theatre showing early movies created by Thomas A. Edison during his visits to Hawaii in 1898 and 1906. Browse the gift shop for unique trinkets to take home.
While in Lahaina, be sure to also visit the Baldwin House. Built in 1834, it was the home of Reverend Dwight Baldwin, the man who is credited with saving the lives of many people during the smallpox epidemic of 1853. Today, it provides a snapshot of 19th-century life through antiques and photographs.
Attend a slack key guitar performance at Napili Kai Beach Resort
The slack key style of guitar playing you’re sure to hear when you visit was originally brought to the islands by Mexican cowboys who came to work the cattle ranches. Today, you’ll can find these paniolos (cowboys) working at cattle ranches around Makawao.
For an experience closer to the resort areas, every Wednesday at Napili Kai Beach Resort, masters of the slack key guitar gather for an impressive show of traditional music. George Kahumoku Jr. serves as host and performer. The Grammy-winning artist is a legend among guitar players. Tickets are US$40 per person.
Stop for dinner at the excellent Sea House Restaurant or book a package that includes dinner and a show for US$78 per person.
The Shops at Wailea (Wailea)
Even if you’re only window shopping, the open-air promenade setting at The Shops at Wailea is a pleasant place for a stroll. You’ll find all the big luxury brands here, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Betsey Johnson, Coach and Tiffany & Co. The Shops at Wailea is also a good place to pick up beachwear by top surf labels like Quiksilver and Billabong.
There are a handful of art galleries here as well, selling works by local and international artists. From 14-karat gold whale pendants to hand blown glass sculptures – you’ll find something for everyone on your list here.
For small gifts and souvenirs, check out the selection at the ABC store.
Whalers Village (Kaanapali)
This open-air shopping complex is right off the promenade stretching along Kaanapali Beach. It has a nice assortment of gift stores, clothing boutiques, restaurants and fast food.
Stock up on beachwear here. Or, for a unique souvenir, consider Lahaina Printsellers. It has vintage art featuring Hawaiian birds, botanical drawings, maps, postcards and movie posters.
Market Street (Wailuku)
The shopping at Wailuku is eclectic, with plenty of antiques shops, small galleries and unique second-hand goods. On Market Street, you might just find a used ukulele to take home or an authentic vintage Hawaiian shirt. Here, the search is half the fun. If you’re looking for a good-quality instrument, try Mele Ukulele on Kaahumanu Avenue. It has the best selection of ukuleles around, ranging from US$60 to US$700 for handmade ones.
Front Street (Lahaina)
Lahaina is an old whaling village that has maintained its rustic charm. Front Street is the area’s main street, with plenty of shops and places to browse. You’ll find popular chain stores here as well as independent boutiques.
Check out Vintage European Posters for authentic posters from the 1890s to the 1960s. Then visit Glass Mango Designs, well known for its selection of jewelry made from Venetian glass.
Baldwin Avenue (Makawao)
Makawao, a former cowboy town, has great boutiques and art galleries. The Gecko Trading Company has a nice assortment of gifts, especially fashion accessories. And Maui Child Toys and Books offers items that will keep the kids amused, including books, toys, DIY kits and puzzles.
Pick up something to snack on at Komoda’s, a bakery famous for its cream puffs, doughnuts-on-a-stick and cookies. Get there before noon for the best selection.
Queen Ka’ahumanu Center (Kahului)
This is the first big mall you’ll see when you come out of the Kahului Airport. It has department stores like Sears and Macy’s mixed in among smaller shops. It’s a good place to stop and pick up any essentials. There’s also a Foodland grocery store if you want to stock up on items like juice and snacks.
Make a stop at this big box store on your way to or from the airport. Pick up inexpensive snorkelling gear so you don’t have to rent it at your resort. Or, grab essential sun gear like sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.
On your way home, this is a good spot for picking up affordable souvenirs. Leave room in your luggage for chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, Hawaiian coffee and a bottle of Maui’s own Ocean Vodka.
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman (Hawaiian, $$$)
Chef Peter Merriman is one of the founders of Hawaiian regional cuisine and his food is outstanding. At this eatery in Wailea, he creates his menus with local, sustainable and organic seasonal ingredients.
Starters are simple but delicious. Try the handcrafted blue crab cakes and an order of garlic truffle oil fries. Decisions are tough to make here, so feel free to order a few dishes and share. Try a wood-fired pizza like the Maui Gold (with pineapple and Kalua pork), fresh fish tacos, homemade gnocchi with goat cheese or a peppercorn-rubbed beef filet steak.
For dessert, share generous slices of Kula strawberry pie, coconut cream pie or chocolate cream pie.
Star Noodle (Asian, $$)
In the industrial area of Lahaina, look for the building with the red-tiled roof. This stylish new eatery is attracting a crowd and the line-ups confirm its popularity.
The noodle dishes come out of the kitchen at a fast pace. The pad thai is especially good, with plenty of flavour and no sticky sweet sauce. The seared tuna is tasty and there is a good selection of sake to accompany your meal. For dessert, try the Portuguese donuts, served still warm on a stick with three dipping sauces.
Japengo (Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa) (Pan-Asian, $$$$)
This eatery has a gorgeous setting overlooking Kaanapali. The sushi lounge is a great space to nibble on fresh, tasty sushi. Try the signature Japengo Tengu, a combination of whitefish, crab, tuna, avocado and spicy eel aioli deep fried in tempura panko batter.
The standout dishes in the dining room include grilled ahi ahi and Singaporean chili crab. The service is attentive and friendly. Cocktails are prepared courtesy of a mixologist who uses fresh juices and great care in bar creations.
Kō (Fairmont Kea Lani) (International, $$$$)
Maui is a mix of many cultures and the menu at Kō in Wailea pays homage to Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese and Portuguese cuisine. The most popular starter is the Ahi “On the Rock” You Sear It. Just like it’s name indicates, you sear this dish yourself using a super-heated black rock delivered to your table. The crispy calamari is tender and gently spiced with ko-chu-jang sauce. For more substantial fare, choose the coconut-curry lamb chops, or the tender rib-eye steak.
Cheeseburger Restaurants (Burgers, $)
This popular Hawaiian restaurant chain opened its first location on Front Street in Lahaina (Cheeseburger in Paradise), and has another location at The Shops at Wailea (Cheeseburger Island Style). Here, you’ll find simple cheeseburgers and at least 15 other burger variations, including venison and buffalo. Kids can even order their own mini versions of the burgers! If you don’t eat beef, opt for the fish and chips, Polynesian coconut shrimp or grilled ahi sandwich.
Start off with nachos made from tender Kalua pork and topped with melted colby jack cheese, jalapenos and guacamole. And get an order of the crispy fries too. Happy hour means savings on drinks (local beers included) and food.
I’O (Pacific rim, $$$)
I’O’s oceanside location means you’ll get serenaded by the sound of the nearby waves while you eat. Chef James McDonald has a knack for creating classic dishes with a Hawaiian twist. His appetizers include oyster bruschetta, grilled crostini crowned with grilled oysters and spicy cilantro butter and chives. McDonald has his own farm called O’o in Upcountry so you can be sure his ingredients are fresh.
Try McDonald’s roasted beets with feta cheese and macadamia nuts. The risotto choices are enhanced with carrot and beet juice flavours as well. Meaty mains include a veal porterhouse steak, curried lobster and fresh catch of the day.
Ruby’s Diner (Breakfast, $)
This chain restaurant is located in the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului. It serves three meals a day, but the best time to go is at breakfast. The pancakes and waffles arrive at your table piping hot, light and fluffy. Another good option is the cinnamon roll french toast combo. The omelettes here are particularly good and there are healthy, lighter options as well.
A breakfast menu just for kids lets them choose from dishes like pigs in a blanket and silver dollar pancakes. The kitschy 1950s-style decor adds to the fun.
Hula Grill (International, $$)
The dining room at Hula Grill overlooks the boardwalk along Kaanapali beach. With its cosy, inviting feeling of an old plantation house, it is also the ideal spot for catching the sunset and people watching.
From the raw bar, choose fresh fish in lime juice and coconut milk. It’s the Hawaiian equivalent of ceviche, made famous in Peru. Or try kiawe (a type of local wood) fire-grilled shrimp or lamb chops. The coconut seafood chowder has lobster, shrimp, scallops and fresh fish, simmered in a delicate coconut cilantro broth. Have the fresh catch of the day encrusted with macadamia nuts or tandoori-style (slightly spicy).
To cleanse the palate, enjoy some homemade sorbet in flavours like mango, white pineapple, raspberry and guava.
Golf and spa
Spa Moana (Hyatt Regency) ($$$$)
The Kaanapali resort strip is a busy place, but at the very end of it, you’ll find an oasis of tranquility at Spa Moana. Just a splash away from the ocean, you can easily lounge in the beachside lounge before and after your treatments.
Treatments here borrow from Hawaiian medicine and use local ingredients. In the Awapuhi Body Healing body treatment, awapuhi ginger is mixed with native herbs and applied as a skin-nurturing masque. Or, try a lomi lomi massage – a traditional method where the masseuse uses long, rhythmic strokes to ease tension and muscle aches.
Spa Grande (The Grand Wailea) ($$$$)
There’s a good reason why the word grande is in the name of this multi-award-winning spa. It’s huge in every possible way. Spa Grande offers a long list of services, including treatments for kids and water therapies. It’s a multi-level facility (55,000 sq. ft. in total) with a variety of relaxation rooms. Leave plenty of time to enjoy the facilities, even if you are only there for a one-hour treatment.
Treatments include the Terme Hydrotherapy Circuit. It features a eucalyptus steam room, Swiss jet shower, cascading waterfall massage and various baths for soaking in. Other unique treatments incorporate volcanic ash, shells, seaweed and tropical flowers.
Heavenly Spa (Westin Maui) ($$$)
Near the Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach, this hotel spa has a gender-neutral look that will make guys feel at home too. Its soft palette of grays and cool whites creates a peaceful atmosphere.
Try the Pohaku hot stone massage. Heated basalt stones are strategically placed on your body to melt away muscle tension. The massage therapist also slides them in long strokes over the body to give soothing heat where it’s needed most. Book the Synergy-Heavenly couples massage and take advantage of the candlelit private suite. Or, stop in for the mini pedicure, a quick 25-minute treatment to leave your feet looking sandal-worthy.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa (Kapalua) ($$$$)
Don’t rush your experience here. Spend at least a few hours before or after your treatment relaxing by the private outdoor pool and cozy relaxation areas. Take a plunge in the heated whirlpool or spend some time in the cedar sauna.
Attention to detail is what makes this spa special, with fresh flowers throughout the spa, blossoms placed on massage beds and extra thick and large bath towels. Treatments include access to a 24-hour fitness centre.
Wailea Golf ResortWailea Golf Resort boasts three 18-hole courses offering a full-spectrum golf experience for players of all abilities.
If you’re a serious golfer, test your skills on the Gold course, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design of just over 7,000 yards that played host to the Champions Skins Game in 2007. Several tee decks ensure the Gold can be challenged by just about anyone. The Gold course showcases some of Maui's most striking natural beauty, including gorgeous views of Molokini islet and the ancient lava formations that are the very core of the Hawaiian Islands.
Wailea's 6,800-yard Emerald course has been honoured by Golf for Women magazine as one of the most female-friendly courses in the United States. The Emerald's wide fairways, reasonably distanced holes and lack of forced carries make it an excellent venue for anyone looking for a fun afternoon on the links. The same is true of the Blue course, a classic layout that showcases a terrific view of the island's dormant volcano, Mount Haleakala.
As of May 2011, Gold and Emerald green fees for non-resort guests ranged from US$225 during peak season to US$160. In the fall low season, the resort offers a US$450 pass for three days of unlimited golf.
Kaanapali Golf Resort
If kinder, gentler golf is more your speed, the two courses at the Kaanapali Golf Resort, which underwent a US$13-million renovation five years ago, have a tee time with your name on it.
The Royal Kaanapali course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. hosted the annual Skins Game on the Champions Tour in 2011. It's the more difficult of the two course layouts, measuring just under 6,700 yards from the back tees, but with roomy fairways and spacious greens.
The Kai course has a playable resort-style layout that measures just over 6,400 yards and puts a greater premium on accuracy than its more challenging cousin. The Kai hosted the Golf Channel's popular reality TV series The Big Break in 2008.
Lessons are always available at Kaanapali, which features a well-stocked pro shop as well as putting greens and a practice range. As of May 2011, various golf packages were available to guests staying at the Sheraton Maui, including passes for unlimited same-day golf, club rentals and daily breakfast for two.
Stargaze at the Hyatt Regency (age 8 and up)
Maui is an ideal place to see the stars. Take a look at them through the special 16-inch reflector telescope with the help of the Hyatt Regency’s director of astronomy. Using computer software, you’ll be able to identify more than 1,000 objects, from star formations to galaxies. Tour of the Stars shows are scheduled for 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. nightly. The cost is US$25 per adult and US$15 per child. A couples-only option is available at 10 p.m. nightly.
Milk a goat at Surfing Goat Dairy (age 9 and up)
This working goat farm and dairy is where Surfing Goat Dairy cheeses (a favourite among many island chefs) are made. Activities here include milking the goats and feeding the herd. Afterwards, the kids receive ribbons that say, “I Milked a Goat Today.” The cost is US$12 per child and US$15 per adult. While you’re there, try the delicious products offered for sale.
Discover marine life at Maui Ocean Center (ages 3 and up)
Maui Ocean Center is a state-of-the-art marine park devoted to fostering understanding and respect for Hawaii’s marine life. Check out the live coral displays (the largest collection in the U.S.) and the resident green sea turtles. The turtles are part of a hatch and release program that sees them eventually released into the wild.
Allow at least a couple of hours for your visit. You can even stay for lunch. A day pass is US$26 for adults and US$19 for children (ages 3 to 12).
Roam the black sand beaches at La Perouse Bay (all ages)
Most of Maui’s beaches have golden or white sand, but there are some, like the one at La Perouse Bay, that have black sand. Although not a good beach for swimming, La Perouse’s surrounding lava fields make it worth the visit.
After Haleakala erupted in the late 1790s, lava flowed down to the sea and cooled along the way. Giant black boulders dot the beach and the fields around it. There are walking paths here that offer kids a good look at the surf pounding against the rocks and the surfers who dare to tackle it.
Just follow the one and only road that goes past all the resorts in Wailea. There are no facilities here (other than an outhouse), so bring your own drinks and snacks.
Go underwater in a submarine (age 5 and up)
Discover the beauty of the undersea world around Maui when you take a trip in a submarine with Atlantis Submarines. It’s like being in an aquarium without getting wet. Kids will get a great view of the abundant reef life through the large circular windows.
The sub also goes to The Brig Carthaginian, a replica of a 19th-century whaling ship, now serving as an artificial reef. Kids must be at least 36 inches tall to ride in the submarine. Tours run daily at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Barefoot Bar, Hula Grill (Casual bar, $$)
Stick your toes into the sand without going to the beach. The tables and chairs here sit on silky sand, providing the perfect place for a cocktail or light snack as the sun goes down.
The mai tais are especially good, made to order and served in funky glasses. There’s also live music on select nights. Happy hour brings in the resort crowd, so don’t arrive too late or you may be waiting for a table.
Leilani’s on the Beach (Beach bar, $$)
The whir of the blender from the bar seems constant at this popular beachside bar and restaurant. The slushy cocktails here (try the mango daiquiris) are heavenly on a hot day. Happy hour starts early and runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Draft beer and select cocktails (mai tais and house margaritas) are US$4. There’s also live music from Thursday to Sunday.
Old Lahaina Luau (Music venue, $$$)
At the Old Lahaina Luau, the action starts long before the sun goes down. Guests pile in and sit at family-style tables to enjoy a full buffet dinner. When it gets dark, the entertainment begins.
The show is a mix of storytelling, hula dancing and live music. Many residents consider this the most authentic luau because it focuses more on Hawaiian culture and less on Polynesian.
The venue overlooks Lahaina Harbor, offering a clear view of the sunset. The staff here is friendly and refer to guests as “family.” And by the time you leave, you really will feel that way – thanks to the warm hospitality.
Cheeseburger in Paradise (Dance club, $$)
The late-night crowd comes to this bar for its lively music scene. From swing to salsa, reggae and top 40 hits, you’ll find a little bit of everything here. This bar gets busy closer to 11 p.m. when the dancing starts and the cocktails flow.
Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli (Lounge, $$)
At this classic Italian eatery, many diners stick around for the music long after supper is done. Depending on the night, there is live Hawaiian, R&B, country or Latin music at this long-time favourite hangout in Makawao.
Timba (Dance club, $$)
This stylish venue is a hip addition to Lahaina’s nightlife scene and is designed for maximum mingling and dancing. Timba takes its cocktails seriously and bartenders use local ingredients like Maui’s Ocean Vodka, watermelon and pineapple in their creations. Wine and Champagne lovers have plenty of options to choose from, too. At Timba, the action starts at 9 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m.
Mulligans on the Blue (Pub, $$)
An Irish pub might seem out of place in Wailea, but this one works. Mulligans is a lively space that has nightly entertainment. From Rockin’ the Eighties night every Monday to performances by Irish bands, there’s always something going on at this pub on the island. Uncle Willie K, famous for his ability to perform in a wide variety of music genres, from Hawaiian to Italian opera, also regularly takes the stage.
The bar menu offers Irish beers (Guinness, Harp and Smithwicks) on tap, alongside those from England (Bass Ale), the U.S. and local brews (Big Swell IPA). Tropical drinks, whisky drinks and martinis are also available.
The Hana Highway is one of the most scenic drives on Maui. Maui’s Road to Hana (officially called Highway 360) has 600 curves and 54 one-lane bridges. Take in the fresh ocean air infused with guava and eucalyptus aromas as you navigate tight S-bends along the jaw-dropping coastal terrain.
The road passes through lush tropical rain forests and steep cliffs. Add rain and the drive can be harrowing. Plan for a winter or spring journey to avoid summer traffic gridlock.
The seemingly short 68 km trip to Hana from Kahului takes around three to four hours, depending on how many times you stop. Start early and go at an easy pace, especially if it’s soggy out.
Cruise to the surf centre of Paia on the island’s north coast for freshly roasted coffee and tasty pastries from Anthony’s Coffee Co. It also offers boxed lunches – a good idea, considering the relatively few options on the road. Paia is also the last stop for gas before Hana, so be sure to fill up here.
Once you get to Hana, take some time to unwind and check out the sites. Take a walk along Hamoa Beach, a relatively obscure yet beautiful stretch of sand rimmed in lava rock. It’s hidden down a flight of stairs off Haneoo Road with waves that break at the shoreline. If it’s not beach weather, opt for a quick massage or dip in the whirlpool at the Hotel Hana-Maui’s Honua Spa to loosen up road-weary muscles.
Pay homage to the Hawaiian gods at the nearby Kahanu Garden (self-guided tour admission is US$10), which houses the ancient temple ruins of Pi’ilanihale Heiau.
If you want to grab a bite to eat before getting back on the road, drop by the Hana Ranch Restaurant in the town centre. Offering a Polynesian twist on ranch style grub, it’s open daily and best known for its burgers.
For upscale dining, visit the renowned Hotel Hana-Maui and visit Kauiki or Paniolo Lounge, both overlooking Hana Bay. Most of the hotel’s produce, seafood and meats are sourced on Maui or from the neighbouring islands.
When you head to Hana, the journey is as important as the destination. So make sure to check out these must-sees along the way.
Stretch your legs at this must-stop photo op, where quilt-like taro plant patches bump up against the striking Pacific Ocean backdrop. You might even see locals casting nets into the blue waters to catch dinner. Not far up the road, the Halfway to Hana food stand serves up its famous (and delicious!) banana bread.
Upper Waikani Falls
The waterfalls are the big attraction here and they certainly don’t disappoint. For a less-crowded, scenic view, scramble down the rocky trail to the base of the falls on the far side of the bridge. It’s slippery, but not overly challenging if you have proper shoes.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
This park has more highlights than you likely have time for – black sand beach, amazing views of rugged lava coastline, underground lava tubes, sea arches, freshwater pools and even an ocean blowhole. The beach looks gorgeous, but the sand is pebbly and the surf is rough.
Cruise past Hana to Oheo Gulch for one of the most epic seascapes on the planet. Where Highway 360 changes to 31, you’ll find a stunning string of pools and waterfalls cascading into the deep blue ocean. At the Ohe'o Pools, more commonly referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools, it’s the lower pools that are the nicest and best for swimming.
As part of Haleakala National Park, the gulch costs US$5 to enter, but the fee also gives you access to the Pipiwai Trail and the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, plus the Haleakala Crater off Highway 37.
About 1.5 km past Oheo, visit this funky produce stand selling organic veggies, taro and tropical fruits. Its claim to fame is its bicycle-powered smoothie blender. Pay five bucks to pedal (and blend) your way to a fresh, delicious fruit smoothie with rare tropical ingredients like the tangy and creamy soursop.
Lanai is a small island just off the coast of Maui. It’s a paradise within paradise and worth exploring. The island is the sixth-biggest Hawaiian island. If you could turn back time, Maui would be a lot like Lanai. It’s not very developed and there are no crowds or traffic lights. In fact, only 48 km of its roads are paved.
Lanai is still a gem waiting to be discovered and there’s an untouched tranquility about it that is appealing. The landscape rolls out in front of you here, without any man-made structures in sight. It is home to Hulopoe Beach, voted the best in America by Dr. Beach (a.k.a. Dr. Stephen Leatherman), America’s Foremost Beach Expert. It was the former home of the pineapple industry and is currently home to two championship-level golf courses (The Challenge at Manele and The Experience at Koele) and a pair of luxury Four Seasons resorts.
Going back in time in Lanai
Lanai was uninhabited up until the 1500s. King Kamehameha had a favourite summer fishing retreat here in the early 1800s. The area later became a cattle ranch and was eventually turned into the Pineapple Isle by James Dole (of fruit sticker fame). Soon, the island became the world’s leading grower and exporter of pineapples.
While the Dole name and the fruit that made James Dole rich are still present on the island, the pineapple industry has since left, having mainly moved overseas. But you’ll still find Dole’s influence here. The Hotel Lanai was a hotel Dole built for his executive staff and VIPs who frequented the region. There’s also a Dole Park where locals like to meet and picnic.
Hulopoe Bay is a swimmer and snorkeller’s paradise
Hulopoe Bay is an incredible spot for swimming and snorkelling. The sheltered bay has large tidal pools carved out of volcanic rock. And with calm waters, the pools are great spots for the kids to wade in shallow waters, easily spotting sea stars, hermit crabs and small fish. Spinner dolphins can also be seen playing and jumping further out on the bay. In the winter season, you may even spot a humpback whale.
If you feel energetic, take a 20-minute hike up the rocky cliffs to Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock). It’s one of Lanai’s best known landmarks and it’s a great spot for a clear view of the sunset.
Visit the enchanted garden of Keahiakawelo
Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) looks like an alien rock garden with reddish-brown rocks strewn across the landscape. It’s barren but beautiful. Legend says the vegetation that grew here was used by two priests challenged to see who could keep a fire burning longer.
At dusk, the rock garden appears at its most dramatic. Rock towers and spires formed by centuries of erosion glow in the light of the setting sun.
The road to get here is unpaved and accessible only with a 4x4 vehicle. The easiest way to get here is to book a day-long trip with Trilogy. The company offers a Discover Lanai tour, which includes a sail over to the island, breakfast, a guided tour, a barbecue lunch, snorkelling and access to the Hulopoe Marine preserve.
Calendar of events
Maui Onion Festival (May)
This festival celebrates the famous Maui Kula onion. Chefs demonstrate how to cook with it and go head-to-head in a recipe competition. Join locals for onion tastings, hula shows and jazz and other live concerts. Then, for the ultimate challenge, there is a raw onion-eating contest, with separate competitions for adults and for children ages 14 and younger.
Kapalua Food and Wine Festival (June)
This culinary celebration is the longest-running festival of its kind in Hawaii. Try some of the world’s best wine and many delicious dishes at reasonable prices. Some of Maui’s best chefs are on hand for cooking demonstrations and meet-and-greets.
Maui Film Festival (June)
Many movie stars, including big names like Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers and Owen Wilson attend this annual film festival in Wailea. There’s a chocolate-themed event, dance party and lots of films to watch. Some movies are even shown on a large outdoor screen under the stars.
Makawao Rodeo (July)
Cowboys aren’t something you usually associate with Maui but you can find them working at cattle ranches around Makawao. Here, cowboys are called paniolos and they show up in droves for this annual rodeo competition on July 4. In addition to the rodeo, there’s entertainment, country and western dancing, rodeo clowns, plenty of food and sunshine.
Maui County Fair (Late September)
This old-fashioned fair is good, wholesome fun for the entire family. Mingle with locals as they participate in various competitions, such as quilt-making and orchid displays. There are also plenty of Hawaiian foods available, so come with an appetite. Just be sure to go on the rides before you eat. To avoid parking headaches, take one of the free shuttles from the designated lots around Kahului and Wailuku.
Maui Orchid Society Show (Early October)
Orchids, both wild and cultivated, are abundant in Maui. Dozens of varieties are showcased at this annual event held in Wailuku, hosted by the members of the Maui Orchid Society.
Children’s Hula Competition (Hula O Na Keiki) (November)
Hula students from around the state and Japan gather at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel to show off their moves. The competition honours the long history of hula and its role in Hawaiian culture.