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.
ʻIao Valley & Central Maui
Welcome to the flat bit. Central Maui is the isthmus connecting the West Maui Mountains to mighty Haleakalā, giving the island its distinctive three-part shape. This odd wedge of topography, Maui’s most arable piece of land, was once known only for its fields of waving sugarcane, but it now boasts a potpourri of attractions.
Most Hawaiian islands have a working town like Kahului, full of warehouses, strip malls, shopping centers, and that island-wide magnet, the big-box store. Like its counterparts, Kahului also contains Maui’s main harbor and airport, turning it, in the eyes of many, into a transit stop. But at the same time, you’ll find a great swathe of local life here.
Hana & East Maui
Rugged and remote, East Maui is the go-to spot for Mauians looking to get away from it all. Instead of golf courses and beach resorts, you’ll see a face that’s hardly changed in ages. In slow-moving Hana you’ll learn to talk story – l-o-n-g story – with people who take a personal approach to everything. Keep going and you’ll reach sleepy Kipahulu, which makes Hana look urban.
An eclectic mix of surfers and soul-seekers cluster in Paʻia, also known as Maui’s hippest burg. Once a thriving plantation town of 10,000 residents, it declined during the 1950s when the local sugar mill closed. Then, like some other well-known sugar towns (eg Hanapepe on Kauaʻi, and Honokaʻa on Hawaiʻi, the Big Island), Paʻia successfully reinvented itself.
Heavenly Hana. Is it paradise at the end of the rainbow or something a little bit different? Due to its history and its isolated location at the end of Hawaii’s most famous drive, Hana has a legendary aura. But many travelers are disappointed when they arrive to find a sleepy hamlet, population 1235. But that is only because Hana takes more than an hour or two to understand.
The Road to Hana
With its tumbling waterfalls, lush slopes, and rugged coasts, the Road to Hana is certainly beautiful. But it's the sense of earning the beauty that makes a drive on the road so special. Spanning the northeast shore of Maui, the legendary Hana Hwy ribbons tightly between jungle valleys and towering cliffs.
Kapalua & Northern Beaches
Kapalua has long been a sacred place for Native Hawaiians. In the 1900s it was also the site of a productive pineapple plantation. Currently the home of a posh resort with several top-notch lodging options and two world-class golf courses, Kapalua is making an all-out effort to lure in guests.
Haleakalā National Park
To fully experience Maui – or at least peer into its soul – make your way to the summit of Haleakalā. Like a yawning mouth, the huge crater opens beneath you, in all its raw volcanic glory, caressed by mist and, in the experience of a lifetime, bathed in the early light of sunrise.