2. Amazing Food and Culture
It’s no secret that the Hawaiian islands have wonderful dining options – with all the fresh fruit and seafood you could ever want. When you’re visiting Maui, a rental car is an absolute MUST for getting around. Regardless of where you’re staying, Lahaina is worth spending a day or afternoon in. It’s an old whaling village, that has transformed into a cute seaside town with shopping and dining options galore. A stroll down Front street will satisfy your souvenir wants and your hunger. You can also visit the art galleries that are scattered on the street. They offer surfing and whale watching tours from Lahaina and even camping on the beach. You’ll also find one of the best luaus on the island here – the Old Lahaina Luau.
A first-time visit to Maui is not complete without visiting Haleakala. This volcanic crater offers the best sunrise and sunset views on the island. You have to wake up very early to get to the summit to see the sunrise, but the colors you see as the sun is waking up are spectacular. Be warned though, it’s very very cold at the summit. The National Park offers activities from hiking, to horseback riding, and some tour operators even operate sunrise bike tours so you can view the sunrise and then do a bike ride from just outside the park into town.
4. The Road to Hana
One of my all time favorite things to do on Maui is the Road to Hana. It’s quite literally a road that goes to the little town on Hana. The road curves around the northern edge of Maui, and winds back and forth until you arrive in Hana. Along the way there are places to stop to hike to see hidden waterfalls, and just before you enter Hana there is a black sand beach to visit too. You have the option to drive the road yourself, or to take a tour. Because the road is so narrow, the max speed is usually 20 mph so it takes all day to complete. If you leave early you have the best driving conditions. You want to be sure to fill up your gas tank as well because there isn’t anywhere to stop until you get to Hana. If you do decide to explore on your own, I strongly encourage you to purchase the book, Maui Revealed, as they list in detail which road markers to stop at to hike to waterfalls. You’ll want to map out your journey in advance though so you know where you want to stop as your time will be limited. If you’re staying in West Maui, you’ll drive through Paia town and Ho’okipa before you continue on to Hana. Paia is a great spot to top off your gas tank, grab breakfast and a coffee. Ho’okipa has a beach park you should definitely put on your list – it’s a very popular spot for the Honu – Sea Turtles to sun bathe at; be sure you do not touch them as it’s illegal to do so. Other popular stops on the Road to Hana are Twin Falls, Upper Waikani Falls, Wailua Falls, Hana Lava Tube, Wai’anapanapa State Park and the ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools).
5. Surfing and Beach Time!
Surfing is obviously a pretty big deal on the islands, even if you’ve never surfed before. Most of the resorts and places in the beachside towns offer lessons and rentals. It’s something you have to try once in your lifetime. Alternatively even just driving to Ho’Okipa lookout to watch the local surfers is something you should put on your to-do list. As I mentioned earlier, Honolua Bay is also a great spot for surfing in the winter months; but it’s for the experts. If a great beach is your focus, I suggest staying in Wailea. The beaches here are wider and larger and are really only used by resort guests because of the way they’re laid out. You will get more public use as you move north to Ka’anapali. If you’re traveling with little ones, I would definitely take a morning or afternoon to visit Baby Beach, also known as Pu’unoa beach. This beach is shallow and safe for little kids because of the offshore reef, but the swimming here is poor. Another Baby Beach is on the North Shore of Maui, that includes Baldwin Beach park. It’s on the Western end of the beach and is located just before you get to Paia.
It’s a really beautiful beach, not just for kids, that offers a protected lagoon for swimming. It does get windy in the afternoons, so it’s best used in the mornings. Word of advice, Baldwin Cove, which is part of Baldwin Beach Park does offer topless sunbathing, so just keep that in mind. Also if you venture past the cove, there is a clothing-optional beach as well.
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