With its quaint villages, volcanic landscapes and picturesque coastline, Maui is the true embodiment of a paradise island. Boasting 120 miles of pristine coastline surrounding an interior of dramatic volcanic landscapes and lush subtropical rain forest, it is little wonder that Hawaii’s second-biggest island is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful and romantic places.
With an impressive array of sandy beaches and world-class resorts, some travelers will surely be tempted to spend their trip lounging on the beach, but for those seeking adventure, here are three great ways to explore this incomparable island.
Haleakala National Park
The most striking feature of the island’s landscape is undoubtedly the towering peak Mt. Haleakala. At 10,000 feet high, this peak is the world’s largest dormant volcano and the highest point on the island. A drive up the twisting mountainside road is a great way to explore the unique diversity of Maui’s landscapes.From the lush subtropical rain forest at Haleakala’s base, a 38-mile journey will take explorers to the volcanic basin of the volcano’s crater.
Hawaiians regard the mountain as a sacred site, so tourists are forbidden from exploring the crater, but the summit area affords sumptuous views of the volcano and its surrounding areas, particularly at sunrise.
Amid the stark volcanic landscapes and verdant back country lie miles of winding hiking trails, through which visitors can explore the natural wonders of the park, including freshwater falls as well as rare and endangered species of animals and plants.
Formerly a thriving fishing village, Lahaina is now a popular tourist town and one of the most beautiful communities in all Hawaii. The town retains much of the old-world charm from its heyday as the capital of Hawaii during the early 19th century. Lahaina’s main drag, Front Street, is lined with stalls, trinket and souvenir shops, as well as some of the island’s finest restaurants, bars and cultural attractions. For a taste of real Hawaiian culture, check out the famous Old Lahaina Luau, one of the most popular and authentic luaus in all of Hawaii.
Road to Hana
Beginning in the town of Kalua, a winding two-lane highway meanders through 55 miles of scenic coast and plush subtropical forests to the unspoiled heart of Maui. The road to Hana is a centuries old path that showcases many of the island's most spectacular sights including charming churches, farms, roaring waterfalls and vast stretches of idyllic ocean views. At road’s end lies the small town of Hana, and beyond are the falls and pools of Oheo Gulch. Traffic on the Hana Highway tends to become relatively heavy during the high season, so be sure to leave early and return late to avoid major congestion.