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Visiting Maui: Mount Haleakala, Whales, Road to Hana, Jaws, Luaus, and Lahaina...

Updated on March 23, 2011

Visiting Maui: Is it the Best Hawaiian Island?

One of the most incredible places to visit in the United States is the islands of Hawaii located far out in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, it’s the most remote set of islands anywhere in the entire world and many of the species are indicative of that remoteness and not found in any other place. The state bird is a flightless goose about the size of the Canadian Goose, and is seen from time to time wandering the forests. However, I’m here today to talk about visiting Maui and why most people consider it the best island to visit, even when the other choices such as Kauai, Oahu, and the big island of Hawaii are absolutely stunning.

Visiting Maui is a great idea, and it's located right next to the big island even though that is many miles away, and also within sight of neighboring Lanai and Molokai. Lanai is famous for being almost totally privately owned as a pineapple plantation at some point; even though today it has a couple of top notch resorts there and is great for privacy and seclusion. Molokai is where they sent the lepers to get them off the other islands, and is famous for the Jesuit priest who settled there to help care for them on a strip of land near some cliffs where they were dropped off. Today, both are beautiful islands within a short distance from Maui, and it’s one of the big reasons for the arrival of the humpback whales in the wintertime there. Because of the proximity of all 3 islands near each other, the water is relatively shallow and ideal for breeding and raising their young. You will see whales spouting all the time if you visit in January through March or April, and one of the most amazing spectacles is watching a whale breach out of the water right next to you on a tourist boat! I’ve had that happen and if you go to Maui you’ll definitely want to take one of those excursions on the water to get a closer look at the whales.

Maui Coastline
Maui Coastline

What to do When Visiting Maui...

From shore you’ll also be able to see whale spout all around, and it’s a popular scene for tourists to gather around the shore during the day or sunset to watch for them. There are also very many nice snorkeling beaches available that are great for viewing lots of the Hawaiian tropical fish and different species that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Since the Hawaiian Islands were formed from volcanic lava, the rocks were black and because of that the resulting sand that came from the rocks can be black in some areas. You’ll be amazed at the black sands on the beaches if you’ve never seen it before. Not all the sand if black however, and certain areas are more prone to black sand than others. On some islands, such as Kauai, there is more dark red clay because it’s a much older island and had more time to break down the volcanic rock. But the big island, Hawaii, and Maui, are relatively newer and so they have more of the black volcanic sand around.  There is lots to do on the island, when visiting Maui...

One of the best places to stay on Maui is the Lahaina area over toward the west. Most of the higher class resorts are located here, and it’s facing Lanai and Molokai and good whale watching areas in the winter. They also have a lot of the tourist and traditional luaus here, and also the Maui Convention Center where they play basketball tournaments from time to time. Many PGA golf tournaments are also played in this area of Maui, and it’s very popular to attend when visiting Maui. Iao Needle and other smaller mountains are on this side of the island.

See Mt. Haleakala When Visiting Maui...

In the middle of the island is the huge 10,000 feet tall volcano  Mt. Haleakala, and it is very popular for downhill bike rides at dawn. If you plan on doing this, remember that it’s extremely cold at the top, about 30 degrees or so, and also very windy. You’ll have an incredible view of the surrounding ocean and islands from the top and be able to visit the ranger station, but make sure to dress warmly. After visiting the summit, the tour company will drive you down about 2,000 feet or so and then unload the bikes and gear and then you’ll start your downhill ride at that point. It is the steepest paved road in the U.S., so be ready for some heavy brake action! Lots of winding switchbacks will get your blood pumping, but you’ll have fun when visiting Maui! The downhill bicycle ride comes highly recommended, and everyone should try it at least once.

Another area of Maui that is a must see it the majestic “Hana Road”, or “Road to Hana”. This two lane (sometimes one lane) road takes you to the scenic windward side of Maui that is incredibly lush with tropical vegetation and waterfalls. There are lots of winding roads and switchbacks as you climb through the mountains, so it’s very, very important NOT to rent a car and drive yourself! I’m emphasizing this because that road is known as the “divorce highway” because of the hairpin turns and scenic views. Whoever is driving will want to be able to see all the sights but can’t because it takes so much to focus on the road. Driving off a cliff might ruin your day, so that would be inadvisable! Go ahead and take one of the many tour companies that go there every day in the safety and security of a van or bus. You’ll get to take many rest breaks, and visit some places that you would have normally missed. You’ll also get to travel the whole circumference of the island when visiting Maui, which is not possible in a rental car because of the extremely hazardous conditions and dirt roads on the southeastern side of the island. I’ve taken the tour twice and have not regretted it either time because there is so much to see and I might have missed a lot otherwise.

Those are the major points in Maui, and having personally been to all 4 of the bigger islands in Hawaii I consider Maui to be the best one. It’s very scenic, there are lots of outdoor activities to do, and because of the other islands close by it’s very beautiful and a great location for whale watching. The other islands also have their own special areas and places, and here are some links to find out more about Kauai and Oahu. So when you finally head off to the Hawaiian Islands, make sure to thing about visiting Maui!

Other Great Places To Travel Destinations:

You’ll love this resort on Paradise Island, near Nassau, and the many fun activities available for you and your family. Swim with dolphins, snorkel in a secluded cove with tropical fish, or enjoy the massive water park on property!

This is an island paradise to many people and is a great location in the Caribbean for those looking for a shorter trip. Lots of friendly people, great beaches, and awesome fun activities!


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    • scubadoggy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      It's definitely one of my favorite islands in the world, everyone should go at least once!

    • Wavecritter profile image


      7 years ago from Cocoa Beach

      What a splendid view =) You paint an inviting scene.


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