Difference between revisions of "Maui"
Revision as of 04:47, 26 February 2007
"Maui no ka oi": that's Hawaiian for "Maui is the best", and this local motto reflects a common sentiment among natives and tourists alike: Maui really is the best part of Hawaii. With its wide beaches, lush rain forests, expansive mountaintop vistas, and humpback whales in the winter, Maui certainly makes an impressive case for itself.
Areas and Cities
Maui's Central Valley is home to much of the island's resident population with its two largest towns, and the center of island's agriculture industry, with sugar cane and pineapple fields in the saddle-like valley.
Kahului is the main gateway to Maui, and is the location of both the main airport and the harbor. Kahului is also the undisputed center of commercialism, home to a vast array of shopping centers, strip malls, and big box stores, which make it practically indistinguishable from anywhere on the US mainland. With few tourist attractions here, most tourists just pass through on their way from the airport to the resorts on the leeward coasts. However, there are some excellent budget accommodations available at motels near the airport, for a good bit cheaper than the prevailing Maui rates.
Wailuku, the county seat and government center, is a quiet former plantation town with an old time Main Street feel. It is the gateway to the Iao Needle, but has few other tourist attractions.
West Maui is the main tourist center of the island, home to most of the island's resort destinations.
Lahaina is an old whaling town on Maui's west coast, with a charming (though touristy) feel these days. Nearby are the master-planned resort areas of Kaanapali and Kapalua.
South Maui is one of the fastest growing areas on Maui, with high tech industries and a tourist center on the southwest coast.
Kihei is a recent upstart on the south coast. Beyond the omnipresent beaches and resorts, Kihei is home to Maui's small but growing high-tech industries, including a supercomputing center.
Sparsely populated East Maui centers around the village of Hana and the winding road that leads to it.
Isolated Hana is located on Maui's eastern tip surrounded by dense rainforests. The Highway to Hana is a tourist attraction in its own right, as it winds for hours through green valleys, past waterfalls, and over one-lane bridges.
Located in the foothills of Haleakala, the area known as Upcountry is a ranching area, and its cooler temperatures also lend itself to specialized agriculture.
Kula is also home to large ranches, and is home to the only winery on Maui, Tedeschi Vineyards.
Maui is shaped something like a figure eight turned on its side. The massive volcanic bulk of Haleakala anchors the island in the east, while the West Maui Mountains rise in the west. The two volcanic mountains meet in a narrow saddle-like valley heavily cultivated in sugarcane and pineapples. Because of this, the island also has the nickname "The Valley Isle."
Maui has a population of about 150,000 people, about the same as the Big Island but in a fraction of the area.
Kahului Airport (IATA: OGG) is the main airport for the island of Maui, and the second largest commercial airport in the state. It is a secondary hub for Hawaiian and Aloha Airlines, which provides interisland service to Kahului from the other major airports in the state. Several major U.S. airlines also provide non-stop service to Maui from the West Coast and beyond.
To get to Lahaina and Kaanapali, where most major hotels are located, exit the airport and follow route 380 to its junction with route 30, and turn left on route 30 toward Lahaina. For Kihei and Wailea, follow the above instructions and turn left on route 31 about a mile from the route 380 junction.
When departing from Kahului Airport for the U.S. Mainland, all baggage must be inspected by Hawaii State Department of Agriculture inspectors at the airport. Be advised that fresh fruits (with the exception of pineapples and treated papayas) are prohibited from leaving the islands to prevent the spread of fruit flies.
Maui doesn't have much of a public transportation system so you'll probably want to rent a car. Fortunately, renting a car in Hawaii is much cheaper than anywhere else in the United States. You can view more resources on Maui transportation including maps of OGG Kahului airport, destination drives to attractions and activities as well as discounted Maui car rentals information here.
Lahaina Kanaapali Railroad
Also called the Sugar Cane Train, the Lahaina Kanaapali Railroad is both an attraction and a means to travel between the Kannapali resort area and Lahaina Town. The official Lahaina Kanaapali Railroad web site offers more information as well as discounted tickets.
Humpback whales breed off the coast of Maui from about December to March. Whalewatching cruises make frequent trips, though often the whales are easily visible from shore.
Haleakala National Park offers alpine wilderness and stunning views of Maui and beyond (from the summit you can see five of the eight main islands, more than are visible from anywhere else in Hawaii).
Wainapanapa State Park has black sand beach, sea arch, sea caves, a small blowhole to see.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
Many tour boats run out to the spectacular volcanic atoll Molokini a few miles offshore, known for terrific visibility and abundant fish. There are also plenty of beaches, especially in the west and northwest, where you can simply wade in and get to excellent snorkelling spots just offshore. Black Rock (at the north end of Kaanapali Beach) is one such place. There are several local shops where you can rent snorkel gear by the day or week.
Many different companies lead mountain bike trips down Mt. Haleakala. If you can ride a bicycle, you can do this. It's a 26 mile trip, but you only have to pedal for about a quarter mile. Generally, there are trips that start with watching the sun rise at the top of Haleakala, then trips that start later in the morning. Be aware that for the sunrise trips, you'll probably end up leaving your hotel at 2AM, or even earlier if you're staying in the Lahaina or Kapalua area. It takes some time to drive to the top of the mountain, get everyone equipped, etc. Your tour group will probably lend you some type of jacket and gloves, but plan on being cold while you're waiting for nature's show -- the overnight temperature will probably be in the 40s or 30s. Many find the 10,000-foot summit's view of the pre-dawn colors and ensuing sunrise breathtaking enough to justify the early start and the cold. Others beg to differ, advising visitors to get a good night's sleep and take the later trip. For those excited about the sunrise, a fair warning: cloud density at the mountaintop can be hard to predict, so you may not see as far as you might like.
Most Rental companies will also rent you a bike, a bike rack, and some gear so you can ride Haleakala at your own pace (assuming you have someone willing to drive you to the top). This is a great option if you're a speed demon but not without certain dangers. Riding down Skyline, the trail head of which is located beyond a cattle grate just below the summit of Haleakala (but above the visitor center) off a side road that leads to the observatory, is an exhilarating scream down a fire road covered with lava chips, shifting sand, and unforgiving hard-packed dirt, very technical and very fast. A fall will definitely remove some skin, at the very least. Single track trails exist as well: one is Mamane, the trail head of which can be found about half-way down Skyline on your right. Do not ride a bike below the Waipoli access road. Doing so will be a violation of park rules (posted signs are fairly hard to miss) and will also be no fun at all as the trails are simply too small and difficult and you will just have to climb back up to the access road to leave the park anyway. And it will very likely be cold and you will very likely be soaked (think: cloud-forest), so don't do it. Once you hit Waipoli simply ride out of the park with Haleakala on your right and the ocean below on your left. Getting stuck on Haleakala after dark can be very hazardous as it often freezes. Riding down the paved road like the packaged tourists do is much safer and easier, of course, but maybe not quite so much fun.
Also, it's hunting season year-round on Haleakala, so try not to let yourself be confused with a wild boar.
Hikers are drawn to Haleakala National Park. One good route starts from the visitor center near the top to dormant volcanic cinder cones; the trail head is 8/10 mile past mile marker 7 on highway 340. There's also a fantastic hike called "13 Crossings" which traverses a stream 13 times. On the way, you'll see a bamboo forest and at the end a waterfall.
Road to Hana
Take the road trip on Hwy 36 (Hana Hwy) stopping on the road to see waterfalls, lush greenery and beaches. A private aroboretum and botanical garden (with an entrance fee) called "Garden of Eden" around the 10-mile marker has peacocks, bamboo gardens and view of Puohokamoa Falls. The round-trip will be difficult to complete in one day, so stay over in Hana to break it into two days. Wainapanapa State Park, 2 miles east of Hana, has cabins to offer. There are other private nicer places to stay, also in and around Hana.
As one would expect from a tourist mecca like Maui, there are several areas to find good shopping. Also as one would expect, the prices can be quite inflated. ABC Stores can be found all over Maui and the other Hawaian Islands and offer souvenirs and beach junk (such as sunscreen and straw mats) at potentially lower prices than tourist traps.
Historic Lahaina Town
Whaler's Village (Kaanapali Area)
Whaler's Village Shops and Restaurants is located just off Kaanapali Beach and is home to lots of stores and restaurants, including plenty of high-end stuff like Coach and Tiffany.
Many bars up and down the strip of Kihei that provide for a fun nightlife. Be prepared to head to bed early (11 or 12) Not too many places are doing much after that.
To get from Maui to the other Hawaiian Islands usually involves a short plane flight. If you want to go to Honolulu you will find frequent non-stop service. Most other destinations offer a couple of non-stop flights a day or a stop in, you got it, Honolulu.
Ferries run 5 times a day between Lahaina and the island of Lanai. Each way takes approximately 45 minutes, and costs $25 per person per direction. During high winds the boat ride can be particularly rough, so bring something for seasickness if you don't do well on boats. Cruise ships are also an interesting option.