My desire to visit Hawaii grew back in middle school; when a classmate (boy) ripped off a piece of a Geography text book with a picture of the Hawaiian Islands and handed it to me as if it was a treasure. The boy whispered “I will take you to Hawaii when we grow up”. It was enough to spark my interest to look up these tropical islands and dream about it later.
Almost twenty years later my dream came true. Tickets in hand, I was heading to Maui, HI.
Just like in school I did my homework and researched things to do on the island. I guarantee the first surprise you’ll encounter is when you rent a car. Prices for renting a car are sky rocketing; I almost thought they were trying to sell me one. However, if you are planning to get out of your hotel and go see places, you’ll need transportation.
One of the first things on my list was the zip line overlooking the ocean and Iao Valley. There are plenty of tour companies to choose from and different zip lines. I picked the package with 8 different zip lines. While it was not a nerve tickling attraction, it still gives you some adrenaline boost, and is especially enjoyable due to the amazing views.
Every sightseeing book about Maui has the 52 mile road to Hana in it. The 52 miles road is an attraction itself. This Road to Hana has over 620 curves and 60 bridges! The Highway goes along the coast and has some of the most spectacular views on the island. You will want to stop at every view point, but wait until you get to the final destination. No, it is not the town of Hana itself! The hidden treasure of this trip is the Seven Sacred Pools also known as Pools of ‘Ohe’o. These are natural pools surrounded by topical tropical forest from one side and Pacific Ocean from other. It is a truly magical place. Even though the round trip, from Kaanapali area to Hana, takes about 12 hours, it was absolutely worth the drive. One of the stops I do recommend making along the way is the Wai’anapanapa State Park. It is a perfect rest stop with breathtaking views and a great spot to enjoy the black send beach.
One of the most photographed places in Maui is the Haleakalā Crater; which is one of the largest dormant volcanoes in the world. It raises high above the clouds, and it feels like as you have reached the Heavens. Seeing clouds below your feet is a mind blowing experience. Most of the tourists try to get there for sunrise or sunset when the clouds are tinted red by the sun. Either you choose the sunset or sunrise. Be prepared to freeze like never before. The temperature drops dramatically because of the high elevation.
From day one I was looking forward to going snorkeling in the Hawaiian clear and warm waters. Paying only $50 for the tour, I got to explore the ocean with a professional. In a small group of four people, our guide took us to a hidden local spot by the coral reef. In the secluded and quiet lagoon, we were able to enjoy the countless schools of colorful and tropical fish. We were even able to hold a sea cucumber and star in hand and view many unknown underwater creatures. Not much is as good as the experience of swimming next to a turtle! While snorkeling, we encountered a few turtles browsing around.
If you are sensitive to motion, I do not recommend you trying deep sea fishing and/or snorkeling tours. I convinced myself that I can handle the 7 hour tour to the Molokai and Lanai Islands. While the tour itself was a great deal, including plenty of time for swimming and snorkeling, the seasickness certainly downgraded my pleasure. So be prepared to have some Dramamine pills on hand if water isn’’t for you.
If you love hiking, make sure to visit Iao Valley National Park and Twin Falls. Both hikes are very easy with beautiful views. I picked plenty of fresh and delicious guavas from the trees while hiking there.
Despite being one the main country’s touristic destinations, Maui preserved some peaceful places which seemed to not have been touched by civilization. One of the quietest areas was the Lavender Fields. Time seemed to have passed by through the ages with little to no changes to the geographic beauty of these areas.
Depending on what your preferences are, there are a few main areas on the island to visit. Most of the luxury resorts are located in South Maui, especially the Wailea area. Kihei is on the Southern part of the island, but consists mainly of condominiums and vacation rentals. Both locations are known for the best weather on the island. Despite the relatively small size, Maui has slightly different weather, mostly in terms of rain and humidity. West Maui, including Kaanapali and Lahaina, experience more rain and clouds, but Kaanapali still counts as the major area for tourist accommodations.
When vacationing in Maui, don’t forget to explore the red sand beaches on Kaihalulu Bay (or Koki Beach); as well as the black sand on Wai’anapanapa State Park. These are not ideal beaches to lie down on, but they have a definitely unique Hawaiian vibe worth seeing. In the meanwhile enjoy the lavish nature, clear warm waters, ocean breezes, and the magical Island of Hawaii. The memories will stay with you forever. Aloha!