When you tell people you are headed to Maui, they are likely to respond with a good deal of envy. In the Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards, Maui was voted the top island for 20 consecutive years – and with good reason. In a single day you can go from the hot sandy beaches of Ka’anapali to the cool thin air of Haleakala, which rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level. But even though the diversity of Maui is incredible, what is even more spectacular is how your heart will overflow with the benevolence and beauty of Maui’s island culture.
For those lucky enough to be in, or headed to, the "Magic Isle" here are a handful of our favorite places and things to discover ...
West Maui – Home to the XTERRA World Championship, the sunny coast of Maui was once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. Today, it’s a hub of resorts, amazing cuisine, and spectacular sunsets. Just 45 minutes from the Kahului Airport, Lahaina is a great place to spend a day. While it is chock full of galleries, restaurants, and boutiques, Lahaina remains one of the most historic towns on Maui. Once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina was also a major whaling town in the mid-1800’s.
You can still get a feel for old Lahaina as you stroll down lively Front Street, ranked one of the “Top Ten Greatest Streets” by the American Planning Association.
Kapalua Coastal Hike to Dragon’s Teeth – Located just beyond the chapel at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, you will come to a pathway that marks the boundary for the Honokahua Burial Site. In the 1990’s, over 900 skeletons were found here, on this sacred land, which is why the Ritz-Carlton Hotel is so far from the ocean.
You can pay respect to this heiau – or ancient site – by following the 1.76 mile Kapalau Coastal Trail which stretches from Kapalua Bay Beach, past Namalu Bay and Oneloa Bay to D.T. Fleming Beach in Honokahua Bay.
Local Artist, Phillip Sabado – A successful local artist, Phillip Sabado’s work has been commissioned all over the state of Hawaii. On Maui, he offers classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at his studio in Wailuku. His adult classes take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-3pm and on Fridays from 10-12pm. His keiki classes take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-5pm and on Saturdays from 10-12pm. For more information, contact 808.242.6762.
Honolua Bay – On Maui’s northwest shore, Honolua Bay is known for its powerful waves and long rides. From the bluffs above the shore, you can watch experienced surfers do their thing. Surfing lessons are available during the spring, summer, and fall.
Upcountry Maui – If you are dreaming of misty mountains and Haleakala then you need to head Upcountry to Maui’s higher elevations. Here, you will find taro and goat farms, wineries, and maybe even a genuine paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy. The paniolo culture began when King Kamehameha III invited vaqueros from California to teach Hawaiian ranchers to wrangle cattle. Just a day’s drive from XTERRA headquarters at the Ritz-Carlton, you will feel as though you are in another world.
Pukalani Farmer’s Market – If you are headed Upcountry, don’t miss the Pukalani Farmer’s Market, which is held every Saturday from 7AM until 11AM. Here you will find fresh fish, locally grown organic produce, macadamia nuts, local coffee, local honey, tropical floral bouquets, and lilikoi butter.
The Road to Hana – While the journey from Kahului to Hana is only about 50 miles, it can take up to four hours. You’ll want to take your time not only because of the narrow roads, bridges, and hairpin turns; but also to take in the waterfalls, incredible ocean views, and lush rainforests along the way. In total, the Hana Highway includes 620 curves and 59 bridges.
To learn more about the amazing island of Maui, visit www.gohawaii.com.