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Superior Vanda lei

 Relax, refresh and rejuvenate on Maui.

 

The Magic Isles are an adventurer's delight. Here you can immerse yourself in activities that accommodate visitors with all levels of experience and physical ability. 

Whether it's a vigorous hike through Haleakala Crater, a comfortable afternoon of whale watching on a luxurious and stable ocean-going vessel, snorkeling over an incredible tropical reef, or gliding through the air in a state-of-the-art helicopter, Maui's activity providers have everything you need to fully enjoy our Islands' unique natural environment. 

 

Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, is named after a god that, legend has it, lassoed the sun and slowed its progress, giving the Island more sunlight than the average day. Whether or not you put any stock in this legend is up to you, but from all the ways you can enjoy this magnificent vacation hub, you will certainly wish the legend is true! Maui has been named by both Condè Nast and Travel and Leisure magazines as the best island in the world. With outrageously beautiful beaches, terrain that varies from lush rain forests to mountainous moonscapes and activities that can include biking, camping, golfing, tennis, snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, kayaking, parasailing, surfing, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding, and a myriad of others, it is no wonder why the locals say Maui is "simply the best!"

 

How do you choose a beach? That is the big question you will have to ask yourself when visiting Maui. With over 180 miles of coastline and at least 80 sun drenched beaches, your decision will probably be based on your energy level and the activities you want during your beach experience. Some beaches are better for swimming than others. Some are perfect for snorkeling. Some are great for just hanging out and people watching. Which part of the sunshine you enjoy depends mostly on your mood at the time. Kaanapali Beach, on Maui's west coast, is one of the most famous and most beautiful of all the beaches on the island. The four miles of beautiful golden sand routinely make the list of America's best beaches as reviewed by Dr. Stephen Leatherman (Dr. Beach!), the country's leading "beachologist." Also on the west coast, near Kihei, the beaches of Kama'Ole Beach Park (named Beaches I, II, and III) are all great beaches for a family outing. White sand and plenty of room make these beaches very popular on the weekend, so go early to reserve a spot. The beaches around Hana, on the southeastern tip of the Island, have sand ranging in color from white to black to red. The most famous of these is Hamoa Beach, which is also on Dr. Beach's best list, and was called by the author James Mitchener, "the world's most beautiful beach." The most unusual of the Hana beaches, Red Sand Beach, is compromised of bright red sand that is formed out of volcanic rock.

 

Windsurfers will find a home in the waters off of Ho'okipa Beach Park, in Paia, on the northern portion of the island. Heavy trade winds and consistent waves have earned the area the reputation as the best windsurfing spot in the Islands, possibly in the world. A bit of advice from a local: rent your equipment on the island. Get safety information about the reefs and remember, the first sailor on the wave owns it!

 

Scuba divers and snorkelers will want to catch a ride out to the Molokini Crater. Located three miles off of the western coast, this extinct volcano is one of the finest dive destinations in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The various coral formations have names like, "Reef's End, The Back Wall, Mid-Reef, and Taco Flats." Get your fill of over 250 species of fish, spooky looking but harmless reef sharks, and frisky dolphins who want to share in the fun. Experienced and higher rated certified divers will want to check out the back side of the crater for some of the best drift diving in the world. If you happen to be visiting Maui between November to April, you will be privy to the added bonus of watching humpback whales frolic in the waters off of Lahaina. You can rent any number of charters out of Lahaina harbor that will take you up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.

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Shoppers will want to visit Lahaina, on the northwest coast, for the top notch specialty shops that dot Front Street. A slew of artist's galleries and trendy boutiques are located in the center of this former whaling port. In between shopping stops, check out the local craftsmen and street entertainers as they make leis, weave baskets, and demonstrate hula techniques! You also might want to catch a glimpse of one of the world's largest Banyan trees. Located near the Pioneer Inn, the tree was planted with one trunk and only stood 8 feet tall. Today, it has grown to 50 feet tall, has 12 trunks, and covers an area close to two thirds of an acre!

 

Hikers and other outdoorsy enthusiasts will appreciate the moonscape splendor of Haleakala National Park. The most popular natural attraction in the Hawaiian Islands is also the world's largest dormant volcano. Nowhere else on earth can you go from sea level to 10,000 feet in 45 minutes and never leave the ground. There are many ways to enjoy the crater. Early risers will drive up in the pre-dawn darkness to take in the sunrise over Haleakala. Others will traverse the paths through the park on horseback. Adventurous souls will ride a bicycle, with special breaks, down the winding 38-mile road from the summit. The heartiest of explorers will pack up their camping gear and prowl the interior of the volcano, a scene so resembling the moon that NASA has Astronauts train here.

 

For sheer scenic beauty, hop in the car just outside of Kahului, on the northern coast, and take a spin along the Road to Hana. This storied route twists and turns its way over 54 single lane bridges, and literally hundreds of hairpin turns. The entire trip is a feast for the eyes. The road snakes by waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, tropical jungle, tarot fields, and some of the bluest water imaginable. It leads into the picturesque town of Hana, itself another visual feat.

 

The views alone will make the greens fees worth the price of a round of golf on Maui. The Island is home to some of the most difficult and famous courses in the U.S. Resorts like Kapalua, Kaanapali, and Wailea have loops that have hosted PGA, Senior PGA, and LPGA events. The North Course at Kaanapali is one of two courses in the Islands designed by golf architectural legend Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Plantation Course at Kapalua is home to the prestigious Mercedes Championships held each January on the PGA tour. Pros and high handicappers alike can find a course that suits their game. Just practice your "knock down" shots, as the winds rush up suddenly and show no mercy!

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Kihei

 

Kihei's near-constant sunshine and the fringe of sandy beaches -- some of the loveliest on the island -- along its six-mile-long stretch on Maui's southwest coast continues to attract avid sun-and-sand worshippers. The beaches have incredible views of Lanai and Kahoolawe as well as West Maui. At sunset, the orange orb of the sun seems to hang for a long time over the water before sliding gently into the sea. The breezes off the ocean during the late afternoon and early twilight hours bring a cooling, welcome relief from the heat of the day.

Because it rests in Haleakala's rainshadow, Maui's southeastern shore gets an average of 13 inches of rainfall each year which makes the likeliness of a sunny beach day great. It is the driest, sunniest spot on the island. Couple that with a long, almost continuous line of beautiful beaches with exceptional views of the neighboring islands and Molokini as well as predictably gorgeous sunsets and it is easy to understand why the area is one of Maui's most popular resort destinations.  South Maui, like West Maui is also a frequent visiting place for tourists and kama'aina (locals) alike who enjoy the warm sunny weather. The trade winds which bring rain and cooler temperatures to the islands do not directly hit South Maui, creating warmer weather than other parts of the island.

 

However you choose to spend time on Maui, either in an active pursuit of fun, or lounging on a gorgeous beach, you too will leave the island saying, "Maui is truly the best!"

 

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