Admit it – you’re grinning already, even before you step on the plane. It starts with the idea of Maui…the anticipation. Maybe you can hear the twang of a steel guitar and feel the balmy breezes. But it’s once you arrive that the real thrill begins.
The beaches themselves would be reason enough for all this excitement. Maui’s entire west coast is fringed with golden sands, some backed by resorts, some full of beach towels and boogie boards, others as naked as the day they were born.
Maui boasts world-class conditions for anything that involves a wave. Yet each of its shores has a different temperament. You can ride monster breaks if you’re a pro or learn to surf in gentle waves if you’re not. Snorkel with sea turtles. Kayak with dolphins. Pin a sail to your board and fly with the wind.
Exploring on land is equally awesome. Strap on a pair of boots and hike the crunchy moonscape surface of the world’s largest dormant volcano. Twist your way along the jungly cliff-hugging Hana Hwy, soaking up waterfalls and swimming holes. Or take it airborne on an adrenaline-charged swoop down Hawaii’s longest zipline.
Diversity is a big part of the allure. Maui’s resorts are world-renowned. Out of the limelight but equally worthy are the cozy B&Bs, offering the opportunity to experience island life up close. As for the food scene, it’s proudly locavore from the fresh catch reeled in by Hana fishers to the grass-fed beef raised in Upcountry pastures. Foodies could spend their whole vacation touring farms and dining at chef-driven restaurants.
A harborful of sailboats offers more splashy fun. Take a sunset cruise, sail to a sunken volcano, see humpback whales eye to eye. And just in case your thirst for adventure or quietude is so great that not even Maui can slake it, a quick leap across the channel delivers you into the arms of Maui’s smaller siblings, Lanaʻi and Molokaʻi.
Need to know
Kihei & South Maui
Sunsets are a communal affair in South Maui – just look at the throngs crowding the beach wall at Kamaʻole Beach Park II in the late afternoon. It’s a scene repeated up and down the coast here every day. Dubbed Haole-wood for its LA-style strip malls and white-bread resorts, the region is a bit shiny and overbuilt.
Locals stop to point out rainbows in Lahaina, a one-time whaling village tucked between the West Maui mountains and the ocean, and so inviting that humpback whales return yearly to raise their young. Ancient Hawaiian royals were the first to converge on this sunny spot, followed by whalers and missionaries.