Ever wonder if there was a vacation spot where you can relax in the sun and have the adventure of a lifetime? Let’s try the island of Maui in Hawaii. Oh, do I have a hard job. I have to show you around this beautiful isle. The hardest part is being here on the sand and not out there in the water. Now, Maui is the island I call the adventure island, because there is so much to do. From snorkeling and parasailing and all the water adventures to bike riding from the top of Mt. Haleakala. It’s fantastic. So if you’re ready, let’s explore Maui.
Maui is a magnificent island with many different kinds of scenery. From its lush rolling green hills to its winding coastline, the minute you set foot on the island you’ll know right away that you’ve found paradise. The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is actually known as “the valley isle.” It gets its name for the large fertile valley that lies between the two volcanoes that make up this majestic island.
And thanks to this variety of landscapes, there’re plenty of things for the adventurous tourist to do. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention an Hawaiian island is… the beach! Maui, definitely, has some of the best!
One of the most popular is Ka’anapali Beach, located on the west side of the island. It’s long, curving sand and calm waters make it a great place for the family. But there’s more to do here than sunbathe and jump off rocks. Thanks to the preservation efforts of the island, Maui has some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the world. With plenty of coves and reefs to explore, you’ll see some of the most amazing sea life. It’s fantastic!
Once you’re finished getting your feet wet, dry out with a bike ride down a volcano, Mt. Haleakala. Now everybody wears a helmet. Everybody gets a rain jacket, even though if it’s a clear day, it can be cold up there. You’re about 9,000 feet. There’s nothing like the wind in your hair as you coast along on your bike. Don’t worry about it erupting. Mt. Haleakala is the world’s largest dormant volcano and hasn’t gone off since 1790. And talk about great views…. On a clear day you can see six of the major islands from the top. Amazing!
Even though there are tons of fun things to do, the vibe of the island is really relaxed and laid back. Sometimes a little too relaxed. Maui is one place you’ll definitely want to rent a car. It’s really easy to get around. The maps are really detailed and you’ll know exactly where you’re going. But I have to tell you, the traffic here? Terrible. I spent an hour and a half going from the Kahului Airport over to the Lahaina side. But you just think, ‘I’m on Maui time.’ just relax and drive. Enjoy the view. And as you drive around the island, many places feel as if time is standing still.
You know, what I love about Maui is that you really get a feel for the history of the island because they preserve some of these old buildings so well. For example, the courthouse used to be the customs house for the whaling and trading ships. And it was here that the post master general lowered the Hawaiian flag and put up the United States flag when it was annexed to the U.S. in 1898.
In fact, if it’s a peek into Maui’s history you’re seeking, look no further than Lahaina. Often called the “jewel in the crown of Maui,” this old whaling port was once the capital of Hawaii. With its quaint streets and picturesque buildings, old Lahaina town is a must when visiting Maui. And a must for when visiting old Lahaina town is grabbing a little shade… Actually, a lot of shade!
Well, from the people who brought you the biggest yarn of string in America, I am bringing you the biggest tree in America. No seriously, this was planted in the late1800’s and it’s called an Indian banyan tree. It may look like there’re a lot of trunks coming down, but it’s all from the original root. There’re sixteen support trunks, or roots, coming down from this banyan tree that look very strange. People come in here and they carve their initials into the trunk. That’s kind of a tradition. But the shade, itself, covers about an acre. And I can tell you it’s at least 15 degrees cooler here. So, come and see the banyan tree. It’s located right behind the courthouse in Lahaina.
Lahaina may feel old fashioned, but there’re plenty of modern stores to choose from for a little shopping. You can shop high on the hog here in Maui or you can shop on the cheap. They’ve got some really nice jewelry stores and art galleries, or you can just go shopping for t-shirts and souvenirs. High or low, shopping is an activity on Maui.
If you’re looking for a bit of evening entertainment and you want to learn about the history of Hawaii, drop by the Maui Theater for Ulalena. This colorful performance of traditional and contemporary dance is a modern retelling of the story of Hawaii and its people. It is simply beautiful to watch.
When vacationing in a place that has so many fun things to do, I always like to find a quiet spot to kick my feet up. And I found the perfect place! The Plantation Inn offers peace and privacy but still keeps you close to the action. Once you’ve settled in at the inn, treat yourself to one of the best restaurants in Maui… which just happens to be located right on the premises.
It’s called Gerard’s and it is an integral part of the inn. Chef Gerard opened his restaurant here when the Plantation Inn opened. But, he found the hearts of the builders of the inn when it was in development, and they actually worked with him. They built the kitchen to his specifications and opened the inn with Gerard’s at the front.
Award winning chef, Gerard Reversade, specializes in contemporary island French cuisine that is to die for! I was lucky enough to get a private table with him to see first-hand how he comes up with his culinary creations. We made ahi tartar and Maui salsa, together! I might just get the hang of cooking, yet! This is featured on the menu, along with lobster, cool soups and very interesting vegetable and fruit sides from all over the islands. For dessert, homemade sorbet! It is quite an epicurean delight, to say the least.
If you’re in the mood for a more local flavor, don’t worry, there’s plenty to choose from. Maui isn’t just cheeseburgers and hotel food anymore. They actually have some really nice restaurants here with history and ambiance, and gourmet cuisine taking advantage of some of the local island produce and fish. But, whether you’re dining casual or elegant I have two words for you: make reservations. Go online and call ahead, and don’t forget, the islands are a few hours earlier than the main land. You’re going to be hungry early.
After a fabulous meal and a little rest and relaxation, it’s back to the beach for more island adventure. Oh my gosh! Whale watching, dolphin cruises, snorkeling trips, submarine rides. There’s parasailing. I mean, whatever you can do on the water you can find it right here in Lahaina. But how do you decide which one to take? Well, you can check all the tourist magazines and look at the adds, or my favorite, eeney – meeney- miney- moe – catch a cruise by the toe – if it’s expensive let it go – eeney – meeney – miney – moe. Works for me. Looks like we’re going parasailing!
Floating high in the sky above the water, parasailing is a great way to take in some of the best views of the islands. And, if you get too relaxed, the tour guides are there to give you few thrills. But don’t worry. It’s all part of the experience! When you’re getting dipped (landing), it feels like you’re dropping slowly into the ocean. It’s so blue and you can just see into the deep aqua water. It looks like you’re going to be down there and then you just kind of coast into the water.
Most people think of Hawaii as endless beaches, beautiful resorts and sensational sunsets. But there are many hidden gems on this island just waiting to be discovered that will allow the adventurous to get to know the real Maui.
Like the old Kahakuloa Village on the northwest side of the island. This old fishing village is one of the most isolated places on the island and one of the most beautiful. However, getting there isn’t easy. The road is really narrow, down to one lane in a lot of places, and full of twists and turns. But it’s definitely worth it. I mean, where can you find a fresh banana bread stand? And if you like hiking, the trails to Kahakuloa Head are some of the best.
If getting to know Maui is your goal, then there’s no substitute for a good old fashioned road trip. That’s right! One of the best ways to take in the true beauty of Maui is to take the majestic road to Hana. This scenic drive starts at Kahului and stretches over 131 miles along the north shore to the east side of the island. The drive winds past waterfalls, beaches, bridges and spectacular ocean views. It is also full of several interesting stops along the way that you’re sure to want to visit.
One of the first places you’ll come across is the little town of Pa’ia. In the 1880’s this was home to the workers who worked at the sugar plant just outside of town. After the sugar industry died down, it was later rediscovered in the 60’s by mainlanders. Most loved it so much they never left! I heard somebody describe Pa’ia as a hippy town where everybody’s kind of laid back and mellow. Well I don’t know if I believe that but it is cute. There’re wooden storefronts, art galleries, boutiques, cafes. I liked it.
Of course, while you’re in sugar country, you’ll definitely want to check out one of the many sugarcane fields. I always knew that sugarcane grew in Hawaii but I’d never seen it before. I had no idea what it looked like. And there it was, just growing wild in the field on Maui…looked like corn to me. Imagine eating sugarcane right out of the field.
What is Hawaii really famous for? Oh! Pineapple of course and you should smell it when it’s fresh out of the field. Unbelievable, and what’s great? You can ship it home. They will pick it, box it for shipping and deliver it right to your plane for you, and it is already pre approved for entry into the mainland. However, check with them before you purchase so there are no snags at the airport when you get home.
Maui is a true paradise… That’s obvious. So it’s not surprising to find the Garden of Eden here, Hawaii’s version, anyway. The Garden of Eden Botanical Gardens is almost the halfway point to Hana. There you’ll find an amazing variety of native plants, exotic flowers, trees and birds from the South Pacific. And, when it comes to entertaining your kids, this place is for the birds… Bud’s Birds that is. You’ll get a kick out of their funny tricks as your kids pose for pictures with ten of the best trained macaw parrots in the world.
After the twisting, winding breathtakingly beautiful drive, treat yourself to the Hotel Hana-Maui overlooking the spectacular Maui coast. Hana is the perfect place to get away from it all. This quiet little town hosts all sorts of activities from hiking along the coast to sunbathing on the beautiful beaches of Hana Bay. Fantastic!
Well there you have it. Maui may be laid back and mellow, but as you’ve seen, there are plenty of adventures here for you and your whole family to discover. This is so beautiful. What a great place for a vacation. I can see why people say that Maui is their favorite island here.