Maui No Ka ‘Oi – Maui is the Best
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, in the United States. It has a population of just over 100,000 and is 727 square miles (1883 km) in size. Maui is part of Maui County, Hawaii. The larger (or better known) towns include Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Lahaina, Hana, and Wailea. Main industries are agriculture and tourism.
Maui was named for the demi-god Maui. In Hawaiian legend, he raised all the islands from the sea. Maui is also known as the “Valley Isle” for the large fertile isthmus (narrow land connection) between two volcanoes.
Maui is a volcanic doublet: an island formed from two volcanic mountains that are joined together. The older volcano, Mauna Kahalawai, is much older and has been very worn down. In common talk it is called the West Maui Mountain. The larger volcano, Haleakala, rises above 10,000 feet (3,050 m). The last eruption of Haleakala happened over 200 years ago, and this lava flow can be seen between Ahihi Bay and La Perouse Bay on the southeast shore.
A Few Must-Sees
Endangered Sea Turtles
Green Sea Turtles are a common sight off the coast of Hawaii, and if you are lucky you can catch a rare look of the nearly extinct Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Both species are considered endangered, but the Hawaiian Hawksbill population is dwindling at an estimated less than 30 nesting turtles. The hawksbill is known for its sharp, beak-like mouth and can reach a weight of 270 pounds, but nowhere near the massive Green Sea Turtle, which can reach 400 pounds. The fashion industry drove the hawksbill to near extinction, going after the beautiful exterior shell it is known for.
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are believed to live up to 80 years and most don’t reach sexual maturity until they are about 25 years old, and sometimes twice that long. Like salmon, turtles return to where they were hatched to lay their eggs. Every two or three years, they migrate hundreds of miles to nest. The females will lay two to three clutches of 100 to 110 eggs. They will then return back to their usual feeding area in the protected waters of the inshore reef.
A sure way to see these gentle sea creatures in their natural habitat is by taking a boat to Turtle Town. You’ll be able to snorkel around the many sea turtles that live there. Be sure to only look and don’t touch. Both the hawksbill and the green sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, making it against the law to harass or even touch the turtles. If you manage to see one either on the beach or in the water, be sure to give them at least 10 to 15 feet of space.
In season, the best way to experience our visiting Humpback Whales is up close and personal. Take a low cost trip out to the whales to watch them launch from the water and splash around.
In Ka’anapali, you will find Whaler’s Village Fine Shops & Restaurants. This is home to a museum that retells the history of Lahaina’s whaling era from 1825 through 1860. Inside contains a large collection of harpoons, tools, artifacts, sailor’s journals, sea chests, and ship’s logs as well as a scale model of a whaling ship and a large display of antique and modern scrimshaw art.
Recently renovated, a theater features continually playing whale and ocean-themed movies. Movies include following whales as they migrate from Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands including amazing footage from birthing to adulthood. Admission is free of charge.
Located in Kihei, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary maintains an education center that has displays and research material on humpbacks. Established in 1997, the sanctuary was created to protect the endangered whales. It extends over 1,400 square miles of coastal waters alongside the main Hawaiian Islands. The education center is located at 726 S. Kihei Rd next to Kalepolepo County Park and is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Parking and Admission is free of charge. Another excellent source of information about humpbacks is located at the Whale Discovery Center at the Maui Ocean Center.
Ecotourism, a genre not fully developed nor defined, is growing in interest from a quest for “something” beyond the obvious. A great number of Maui adventurers are seeking ways to “step off the beaten path” and engage in the many activities the natural environment of the island have to offer.
Do you like to kayak? Would you rather take a whale watching trip with knowledgeable guides? Or would you like to spend a day ocean rafting around the nearby island of Lanai? There are many possibilities out there. Some prefer taking adventurers into the rain forest and with the help of a harness and zip-line, you can take a flight thru the trees.
Rising 10,023 feet above Maui’s coastal areas, Haleakala, a massive shield volcano, is a very popular and easily accessible tourist destination. Many visitors like to make the trek up the mountain in the early morning to watch the sun come up. This ritual has become so popular, the crowds reach up to 1,000 per day, causing regulations to be imposed to limit early morning commercial traffic.
The volcano, located in the Haleakala National Park, has not erupted for more than 200 years. It is a place of legends and an interesting biological diversity that attracted more than 1.6 million visitors last year.
Early Hawaiians called Haleakala the “House of the Sun”. The sunrise is not overrated, but can be crowded. The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and extends over 30,000 acres from Kipahulu Valley to Haleakala’s summit. There are some great alternatives to the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd sunrise watch. A good idea is to plan one of the activities below that will bring you to open spaces away from the onlookers.
There are many vantage points above the clouds to watch the sky by day and the stars by night. Temperatures can get pretty cold up there ranging from 32 to 65 degrees F, and can on occasion, dip below zero. There are no food or gas facilities located in the park and there is a $10 entrance fee that is good for five days. It takes about two hours on paved roads to reach the park from the island’s coastal areas.
Road to Hana
Highway 36 is not your typical highway. With more than 600 turns and 50 or so one-lane bridges, Hana Highway weaves in and out between mountain streams and searing cliffs with amazing views along the way. Anyone who has experienced this highway, depending on their temperament, either clasp their hands in ecstasy or roll their eyes and shudder. This is no place for someone in a hurry to get somewhere.
It begins just past the Kahului airport and covers 52 miles of north-facing coastline between Pa’ia and Hana. If you resist the urge to stop alongside the breathtaking views or to take a dip in one of the roadside streams, the drive takes a minimum of two hours. There are places along the road that offer state maintained “waysides” with magnificent views that give you the chance to stretch those road-weary legs, have a picnic, and use the restroom.
Here are a few things to remember before you embark on this trip: There are no gas stations or restaurants between Pa’ia and Hana so it is a good idea to fill your tank and stomach before setting out. Be sure to get started early; around bridges, which require that one lane always yield to oncoming drivers, can easily become backed up in the later part of the day. Also, it is not the greatest idea to be driving this road after dark. In short, the best way to enjoy the road to Hana is by not driving yourself. Taking a guided van or coach tour frees you to watch the waterfalls and incredible ocean views instead of the winding road.
Maui is home to some of the best Luaus in the world. For the price of a nice meal, you receive an experience you’ll never forget. The luaus begin with a Lei greeting and open bar. You’ll feast on an assortment of island delicacies as you sit back and enjoy an incredible show specific to each luau. Most have fire dancers while you listen to the rhythmic drumming native to Hawaii’s Polynesian ancestors. Make sure to bring your appetite; your meal will be like no other!