Maui, Hawai’i

After landing by plane or boat in Kahului, we are off to explore Maui. Let’s start by driving the Road to Hāna along the north shore and then we will explore the western, sunny coast. Soon you will discover why 2.5 million people vacation on the Valley Isle each year.

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1 Kahului Bay near Kahului on Maui, Hawaii

Maui is Hawaii’s second largest island. Less than 150,000 residents live on the 727 miles of paradise yet about 2.5 million people visit here each year. When tourists arrive, the Kahului Bay is typically their first view of the “Valley Isle” because both the airport and ship harbor are located along this northern coast. Kahului, which is the island’s biggest city, is nestled between the West Maui Mountains and Mount Haleakala.

Pier 1 140 Hobron Ave, Kahului, HI 96732
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2 Ho’okipa Lookout Scenic View along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I highly recommend you spend a day driving along Highways 36 and 360 in northern Maui, better known as “The Road to Hāna.” From Kahului, it is just over 50 miles. That may not sound very far but it will take you more than three hours to travel one way because the winding road has over 600 curves. Along the way you’ll see spectacular scenery like this at Hookipa Lookout. It is located at mile marker 9.

Hookipa Park & Hana Hwy Haiku, HI 96708
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3 Waves at Ho’okipa Beach along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

One look at the waves along Ho’okipa Beach and it is easy to see why the coastline of this 8.5 mile park is famous among windsurfers. The wind is often strong so the surf is almost always up. This is the site of many professional competitions but almost every day you will see plenty of board action. However, if you are not experienced, it is best to watch because under certain conditions this shoreline can be very treacherous.

Hookipa Park & Hana Hwy Haiku, HI 96708
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4 Barbwire Fence along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

There is so much gorgeous scenery along the 52 mile Road to Hāna that it is tempting to keep stopping your car and rushing towards the edge of cliffs to get the best photo. I know because I did. But you’ll also see lots of fences that are either protecting private property or you from danger. It is best to heed these so that you have a safe day and all your memories of Maui are great ones.

Hookipa Park & Hana Hwy Haiku, HI 96708
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5 Couple Watching Crashing Waves along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

When in Maui, you can stop and smell the Lokelani roses, which is the island’s official flower, or better yet stop along any scenic view of the coastline and smell the Pacific Ocean as it crashes onto shore and cools you off with a fine mist. Few moments are more romantic.

Hookipa Park & Hana Hwy Haiku, HI 96708
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6 Trail Along River in Ko’olau Rainforest in Ho’olawa Valley on Maui, Hawaii

The Ho’olawa Valley on Maui receives about 80-100 inches of rain a year, so the walking trails through the Ko’olau Rainforest are surrounded with lush vegetation. This is one of two streams that feed the pair of waterfalls on the Wailele Farm property.

6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
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7 Woman Jumping Off Twin Falls in Ho’olawa Valley on Maui, Hawaii

This woman stood on the ledge of Twin Falls trying to get the courage to leap while her friend continually dared her to do it. Finally, after several agonizing moments, she took a deep breath, extended her arms and jumped. She screamed all the way down before plunging deep into the water. When she emerged she had a big smile on her face.

6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
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8 Red Ti Plant Leaves in Ho’olawa Valley on Maui, Hawaii

At first glance, this plant with red, maroon and green leaves which was growing wild in a rainforest is very pretty. But it is also very versatile to Hawaiians. The ti plant is considered to bring good luck, so it is used during weddings and as a gift to new home or business owners. Many locals also incorporate them into their landscaping at the four corners of their house to ward off the evil spirits. Plus, it is used in cooking and for making an alcohol named okolehao.

6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
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9 People Walking to Caveman Falls in Ho’olawa Valley on Maui, Hawaii

These people are wading through knee-deep water in order to get a closer look at Caveman Falls, one of two waterfalls at Wailele Farm, better known as Twin Falls. Although this is private property, admission to the park-like setting is free. It is an excellent place to stop during your drive on the Hāna Highway. They also offer a fruit stand, snacks and restroom facilities.

6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
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10 Rocky Still Pond in Rainforest at Ho’olawa Valley on Maui, Hawaii

There is so much natural beauty on Maui that you find yourself rushing towards the next dramatic scene in order to see everything. As a result, you often overlook something as simple as this small pond. It is very calming to stop a minute to watch the reflections of the rainforest as they dance across the water and above the rocky bed.

6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
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11 Honomanū Bay Elevated View from Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Once Highway 36 becomes Route 360 on the Road to Hāna, the next 30 miles are constantly curving and twisting. If you are driving, you will rarely have time to look at the gorgeous scenery. And unfortunately there are not many places to turn off for a breather in order to enjoy the breathtaking views. But just beyond mile marker #13 you will want to enjoy this lookout over Honomanū Bay. If you want a closer look, two questionable roads lead down to either side of the beach.

Honomanu Park Hana, 668-670 HI-360, Haiku, HI 96708
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12 Dramatic Waves Pounding Shore along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Most resorts on Maui are located on the western or leeward side of the island because it is sunnier, warmer and drier. But if you want to experience dramatic waves, your best bet is the northeast coast. The trade winds usually take direct aim at this windward side, creating thundering surfs that are pure joy to experienced boarders.

Kalaloa Point, Hana Hwy, Hana, HI 96713
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13 Ke’anae Peninsula Elevated View from Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

This peninsula at about mile marker #16 on Route 360 is home to the Ke’anae Arboretum. It offers free admission to see their 150 types of plants including taro, bananas and papaya. You can visit indoors and walk outside on the paths that take you along several terraces. Most of the species are clearly identified.

750 HI-360 Haiku, HI 96708
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14 Pua’a Ka’a Falls along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

The Pua’a Ka’a Falls is not the largest or the most dramatic waterfall that is available along the Hāna Highway, but it is easily accessible from the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park turnout at mile marker #23. It is a great place to stretch your legs or have a picnic lunch. And the falls is much more attractive than the translation of its name which means “rolling pig.”

Pua'a Ka'a Falls Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708
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15 Waves Pounding Rocky Outcrops along Hāna Highway, Maui, Hawaii

There is something so mesmerizing about watching huge waves slam into rocky outcrops and explode into a spray that fans out in every direction. Then the ocean swirls and boils into lovely patterns of white and blue. As the froth begins to dissipate, the next wave hits. The action is hypnotizing.

174 Keawa Pl Hana, HI 96713
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16 Hāna Beach Park at Hāna on Maui, Hawaii

By the time you reach Hāna after your very long excursion, your first impression could be disappointment at what looks like a small town of about 1,200 residents. But before you start your return trek back to Kahuli, take some time to walk around Hāna Beach Park. It will help to sooth your jangled nerves and give you the courage to get back into your car.

174 Keawa Pl Hana, HI 96713
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17 Hāna Bay at Hāna on Maui, Hawaii

Most people drive the Road to Hāna for the scenic journey and not the destination. But this remote community has a colorful history that dates back about 1,500 years when it was first settled by the people from the Marquesas Islands. For example, Queen Ka’ahumanu, the wife of Hawaii’s first monarch, was born here in 1768. More recently, Charles Lindberg, the famous aviator, retired in Hāna. When he died in 1974, he was buried at nearby Palapala Ho’omau Church Cemetery. There are also several Hawaiian legends associated with Hāna.

174 Keawa Pl Hana, HI 96713
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18 Lahaina Lighthouse at Lahaina Harbor on Maui, Hawaii

In 1840, King Kamehameha III commissioned the first lighthouse on the Pacific coast. This is the fifth light to be built on the same spot at Lahaina Harbor on Maui Island in Hawaii. This white-washed, concrete, 39 foot tower began operations in 1917. It was converted to solar power in 2009. Today it is managed by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

675 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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19 Double-hull Sailing Canoe in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

The Hui o Wa’a Kaulua is a non-profit organization in Lahaina whose mission is to restore old Hawaiian double-hull sailing canoes. Their first was the single-mast, 42 foot wooden canoe named Mo’olele which means “Leaping Lizard.” In 2014, they renovated and launched the larger, 62 foot voyaging canoe named Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani. Both serve as floating classrooms.

Lahaina Harbor 37 Canal St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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20 Old Lahaina Courthouse in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

When the Lahaina Courthouse opened in 1859, it housed not only courtrooms but also the offices for the governor of Maui plus the customs, tax and postal functions. It is now the visitor center for the historic district. Inside is also the Lahaina Heritage Museum that displays such historical artifacts as the last Flag of Hawaii that flew until the kingdom was overthrown in the late 19th century and annexed to the United States. The building has been extensively restored in 1925, 1998 and 2013.

648 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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21 Pioneer Inn in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

Lahaina was the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and, since 1962, the Lahaina Restoration Foundation has done an excellent job of preserving about a dozen landmarks and countless artifacts in order to preserve the town’s historic past. A key leader of this effort has been George “Keoki” Freeland. His grandfather built the Pioneer Inn in 1901. It is now one of the oldest hotels in Hawaii and it is still owned by the family. It has been featured in several films and TV shows.

698 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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22 Hyacinth Macaw in Lahaina on Island of Maui, Hawaii

The blue coloring of the hyacinth macaw is stunning and is accented by the yellow patch around its eyes and the base of its curved beak. This endangered species, which primarily lives in the Pantanal region of Brazil, is the largest macaw. This beautiful parrot, also called a hyacinthine, is owned by David Vanzo from the town of Lahaina on the west coast of Maui, once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

698 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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23 Lahaina Inn in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

One of several charming features of Lahaina on the west coast of Maui is that so many of their old buildings have either been preserved as museums or been renovated as a thriving business for tourists. The two-story Lahaina Inn is a good example. It was built in 1938 for the Maui Trading Company which was a general merchandise store. It later became a hotel but most of it except for this façade was destroyed in a fire during the 1960s. From 1986 through 1989, it was lovely restored to reflect its historic past. It is also filled with antiques that give it a special quaintness.

127 Lahainaluna Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761
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24 Shopping Along Front Street in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

Lahaina’s downtown, especially along Front Street, is the quintessential shopping district of a tropical resort town. You’ll find plenty of galleries, jewelry stores and souvenir shops plus restaurants, bars and nightclubs. For example, Sargent’s Fine Art is one of over 30 art galleries you can explore. These stores range from offering upscale pieces from renowned artists to inexpensive but lovely works by local artisans. You might also enjoy attending the Friday evening “Art Night” that is hosted by several of the galleries.

802 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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25 Wo Hing Museum in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

During the 19th century, thousands of Chinese immigrants came to Maui to help construct roads and to work in the sugar plantations and mills. A Chinatown evolved in present-day Lahaina. To support their cultural traditions, they formed a fraternal group named the Wo Hing Society. In 1912, they built this meeting hall. It was restored in 1983 by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and is now a museum. Out front is a monument to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary who once lived in Lahaina and went on to become the “Father of Modern China.”

848 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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26 Hanakao’o Beach Park’s Canoe Beach in Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii

On the leeward side of Maui just off the Honoapiilani Highway, which is also called Route 30, is the Hanakao’o Beach Park. In addition to this attractive scenery, the 4.8 acre park offers picnic areas, restrooms and a clubhouse for local outrigger canoers which earned it the nickname “Canoe Beach.” As you can see, it is also monitored by a lifeguard, one of the few along the western shore. This is the perfect place to spend the day with the family.

2501 Honoapiilani Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793
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27 Woman Wading at D.T. Fleming Beach in Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

This woman is enjoying walking in the aquamarine water along the 1,500 foot shore of D.T. Fleming Beach in Kapalua. It was rated as the Best Beach in America in 2006. Its namesake is David Fleming, the man who introduced growing pineapple in west Maui during the early 20th century. The adjacent park is equipped with restrooms, a picnic area and a lifeguard station.

5960 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761
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28 Girl Flying Across Fleming Beach in Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

This little girl was so excited when she arrived at Fleming Beach that she looked like she was going to take off flying across the waves like Peter Pan.

5960 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761
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29 Hanging Prop Roots of Banyan Tree near Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

These dangling vines from a banyan are called aerial or adventitious prop roots. They help the tree to spread laterally by reaching the ground and then forming a new trunk. The banyan typically grows in tropical forests. They sprout when a seed is carried by a bird and dropped into a crevice of a building or another tree. Over time, it will cover the host with its tangled root system thus earning it the nickname the “strangler fig.”

Honolua Bay Access Trail & Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
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30 Bays along Northwest Coast near Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

The northwest coastline near Kapalua consists of a series of beaches nestled along inlets that stretch from this Honolua Bay to Honokeana Bay which is a few miles away. Many of them are divided by small rocky points that were formed by lava during the eruption of the West Mau’i Volcano. A few of these beaches are not only the best on Maui but they are also consistently rated among the top ones in the U.S.

72-74 Bay Dr Lahaina, HI 96761
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31 Surfer Riding a Wave near Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

Maui has over 30 beaches so if you are looking for a place to go surfing you are bound to find a spot that matches your experience level. But wave conditions not only vary significantly by the beach location on the island, but the surf also changes by the season, day and even hourly based on the prevailing winds. Three popular bays among surfers are Maalaea, Hookipa and Honolua Bay.

6501 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
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32 Surfers in Honolua Bay near Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

If you follow Route 30 until it ends above Honolua Bay, you’ll discover a favorite remote spot among surfers. The best view of all the action is from the top of a cliff called Lipoa Point. If you are an experienced surfer, this is where you want to climb into your wetsuit, climb down a dirt path to the water and then climb onto your board. You are about to have a lot of fun.

6501 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
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33 Male Surfer Carrying Board Along Beach near Kapalua on Maui, Hawaii

The best waves on Maui for surfing tend to be over reefs. This can make it fun while you are floating around on your board because the clear water makes it easy to see all of the beautiful coral and marine life below. However, it can also be dangerous because not only is the coral sharp but so are the lava rocks that protrude near the beaches. The best advice is to wear a wet suit and reef shoes.

6501 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
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Dramatic Sunset over Mountains in Kahului on Maui, Hawaii

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and that includes another day in the paradise of Maui. But just before nightfall, you will often be rewarded with some of the most stunning sunsets you have ever seen. Simply spectacular! Aloha!

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