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Best of Maui
This overview tour includes some of the best of Maui, the Valley Isle.
KAHULUI AND WAILUKU
The main airport on Maui is at Kahului. Kahului is in the center of the northern coast of the island and is the largest city. Wailuku is just to the west. The beaches in this area have a different feel than those on the west coast and are more commonly used by the locals. There are a number of interesting attractions here, including Iao Needle in the Iao Valley and some great places to watch windsurfers and surfers in the winter. Although this isn't the best area for a "beach" vacation, it can be nice to spend one or two days here exploring the shops and local attractions.
Probably the first thing that any visitor to Maui notices when they leave the airport is what looks like a huge, rounded hill that dominates the eastern side of the island. In fact, the gentle slopes of Mount Haleakala are deceiving: it is really a 10,000 foot peak! The area on the mountain is known as the "upcountry" and is home to Haleakala National Park and the town of Kula. This area is unlike anywhere else on earth. Although it is extinct, the mountain's volcanic past has created an area of rugged beauty. Haleakala means "House of the Sun," and if you catch a good sunrise or sunset here, you will understand why.
Explore the Upcountry on our Haleakala page.
BACK TO THE BEACH
Heading down from the mountain, we head south across the island's central valley to reach the southern and western coasts. Since this part of the island is mostly in the rain shadow of the extinct volcanoes, sunny weather is the norm here. There are literally dozens of beach areas along this side of Maui. To the south, Kihei offers some bargain accomodation and Makena Beach provides the top spot to sun and play. Roughly in the middle of the island is the city of Maalaea. There aren't many beaches here, but it does offer some shopping. Further north you come to Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kahana, and Kapalua, all of which offer varying degrees of lodging, snorkeling, beaches, and shopping.
Explore Maui's beaches on our Maui Beaches page.
THE NORTHERN COAST
Beyond Honolua Bay in the northwest part of the island, the coastline curves around toward the east. This section of Maui is marked by tight turns next to beautiful sea cliffs, with green hillsides inland. A great day trip takes you north from Lahaina or Kaanapali to Kahakuloa Head. Kahakuloa Head is about halfway around the island on the way back to Wailuku.
Explore the northern coast on our North Coast Drive page.
THE ROAD TO HANA
Finally, no trip to Maui would be complete without a drive along the road to Hana town on the east coast. The north-northeast coast of Maui receives most of the rain of the island, and here the coastline has become a twisting, green beauty brimming with waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and quiet tropical valleys. Most people continue past Hana to the coastal section of Haleakala National Park, and possibly on to the grave of Charles Lindbergh. The Road to Hana is a full-day excursion but is not to be missed!
Tour the road to Hana on our Road to Hana page.