How to get the ‘wowie’ out of a trip to Maui
Seeing sunrise on Haleakala has gotten so much buzz that visitors now need a permit to enter in the early morning hours. Forget that. It’s cold up there, and driving up in the dark means you miss the scenery, and can’t tell if the summit will be socked in with clouds. Try seeing the summit at sunset, and don’t miss taking a walk down the Sliding Sands Trail (above) into the volcanic valley. Equally scenic, and visited by practically no one, is the Skyline Trail, which is just outside the national park boundary.
Three beach parks in Kihei—called Kamaole I, II, and III—are all you need for a family day in the fun in the sun, sand, and water. Kihei is less expensive than the resort strips of Wailea and Ka’anapali, featuring many mid-priced condos and resorts, as well as reasonable restaurants. A walking path skirts the beach parks (and other beaches) for miles.
Lahaina in West Maui was once the capital of the Hawaii under Kamehameha, and features many historical sites. It’s a great walk-around beach town, with lots of action at night. To find a more quiet spot to call your own in Lahaina head to the north end of town to Baby Beach (above) where swimming is safe and the horizon views of Lanai are serene.
Iao State Park gets hammered with tourists, including tour buses. Most visitors take the short walk to see the Iao Needle (above) and call it good. But a hike just above the Needle is where locals head for an inspiring view of the Wall of Tears, a cliff often streaked with waterfalls. (The park was hit by severe storms this winter, and repairs may take awhile.)
Ho’okipa on the windward (east) coast is the windsurfing capital of the world, where tourists can pull off the highway for a ringside seat. But most people miss equally colorful Kanaha Beach Park, just down the road, which is a kite-boarding extravaganza—and also draws windsurfers. A beachcombers’ path goes from Kanaha past the wild coastline of Spreckelsville, to Paia (near Ho’okipa).
More than any other island, tourist tend to gather at certain spots on Maui. But there are many places to call your own if you are willing to seek them out, rather than rely on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Maui Trailblazer is packed with ideas for the independent and curious traveler. If you’re considering visiting more than one island, consult the No Worries Hawaii book for guidance.