Things to Do in Maui - page 2
You might never guess that the twisting labyrinth of branches, roots, and foliage engulfing the Banyan Tree Park square all stem from a single banyan tree. Planted in front of the Lahaina courthouse in 1873, the tree now consists of a dense canopy expanding more than 60 feet (18 meters) with innumerable offshoots providing shade for picnickers, art shows, and passers-by.
Most Maui vacations begin in the city of Kahului, home to this Hawaiian island’s airport and cruise port—the entry points for nearly all visitors. While most vacationers stay just long enough to rent a car and pick up supplies, stick around to experience the many sides of Maui, from its beaches to wildlife to agricultural foundation.
In the southern region of Maui near Haleakala lies Ulupalakua Ranch, the second largest cattle ranch on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Ulupalakua Ranch covers 18,000 acres stretching from the ocean up the sloping side of Haleakala Volcano. The ranch reaches an elevation of 6,000 feet at its highest point. Visitors to the ranch will mostly hang out at 2,000 feet, which still boasts incredible views of Maui and the nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai. The views are a big draw of Ulupalakua Ranch, but they aren't the only reason people like to visit it while traveling in Maui.
Ulupalakua Ranch also has many activities visitors can partake in. Horseback riding is available through Makena Stables. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy visiting as Ulupalakua Ranch is home to the only winery on the island. Sporting clay shooting is also available, which lets you shoot at a variety of stands, some with moving parts.
Visitors will also learn more about Maui's history through visiting Ulupalakua Ranch as it was originally founded in 1845 and still focuses on upholding the traditions and culture of Maui as well as preserving the island's agriculture and nature areas.
There’s something special about where Ocean organic vodka is made — perhaps it’s the fact that it’s created on a Maui farm or that it’s the only spirit made with organic cane sugar and deep ocean mineral water. Situated on 22,000 square feet of grass near the base of Mount Haleakala, the farm and distillery have scenic views of their sugar cane plants and the surrounding coastline.
Tours of the distilling process and farm take place daily, emphasizing the importance of organic farming and sustainability. With an emphasis on environmentally and socially conscious practices, the tour gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into production from start to finish. There is even a small herb garden on volcanic soil that produces the flavors for the cocktails they serve. Visitors can sample both the sugar cane juice or mineral water and the finished product.
On Maui’s north shore, Hanakao’o Beach Park combines a long sandy beach with a grassy picnic area for an ideal beach-day out. Take advantage of this local favorite for snorkeling—sea turtles are frequently spotted—and for strolls along the shore or shaded boardwalk. It's a quieter alternative to the neighboring Kaanapali Beach.
Dwarfed by neighboring Maui, Lanai is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island. Miles of backroads and open spaces, geological formations, and quiet beaches offer the opportunity for rugged adventure far from the beaten path. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all without having to go very far from Hawaii's more populated islands.
Tropical jungle and gorgeous valley views await along the popular and moderate Waihe'e Ridge Trail following an elevated spine in the West Maui mountains. From the ridge you’ll enjoy 360 degree views of the valley connecting Maui’s two halves, Maui’s riotous northern coast and undulating mountains that look as though someone took a massive green satiny cloth and draped it loosely with wrinkles and folds over tall hills. Waterfalls stream between the crevices and from several vantages the trail overlooks multi-tiered Makmakaole Falls, which rains down into a small basin from some 250 feet above.
The just under five-mile round-trip hike starts north of Kahului and ascends steeply from the 1,000-foot elevation at the trailhead to its zenith at Lanailili at 2,563 feet. The well-maintained path meanders over jutting tree roots and its sides are dotted with guava trees, ohi'a and tall ferns. Keep an eye out for native forest birds like the bright red 'apapane honeycreeper. At the end a picnic table offers respite overlooking a mist-shrouded valley. The return follows the same route.
Hailed as the best beach in America, Kaʻanapali Beach boasts miles of soft, white sand and crystal-clear water. What was once a retreat for the Hawaiian monarchy now hosts some of the most luxurious resorts in Hawaii.
Little Beach is smaller and more sheltered than many of the beaches on Maui. It is accessed by walking from the neighboring Big Beach, though the two are separated by a large lava rock wall and a five-minute hike. Its fine, white stretch of sand is only slightly more difficult to access than the average beach, but crowds are reduced here. Conditions are often good for both surfing and boogie boarding, and lava rock trails around the beach area lead to some smaller coves and viewpoints of the beaches of Makena State Park.
Also known as "Puʻu Olai,” the beach attracts a free-spirited crowd, with drum circles and fire dancing every Sunday evening. Aside from the blue waters and fine sands, it is a great spot to do some snorkeling (pending current conditions) and watch a famous Hawaiian sunset away from the crowds.
Just off Maui’s shore on the island of Molokai, Kalaupapa National Historic Park is the former site of two leper colonies. People living with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) have been quarantined here since the days of King Kamehameha, and a community of cured patients still inhabits the Kalaupapa Settlement, scenically surrounded by steep Pali cliffs. The park is dedicated to preserving the experiences of the past so that they might be learned from in the present and future.
Father Damien, a Belgian missionary, first came to Molokai in the 19th century and cared for the afflicted until his death. In doing so, he brought awareness of the disease to the rest of the world. Once completely isolated, the peaceful area is now a center for education and reflection. Historic churches, homes, and cemeteries can still be seen. Out of respect for the residents, the number of visitors is limited to 100 per day.
More Things to Do in Maui
Known as both the Hana Lava Tube and Ka'eleku Caverns, these subterranean caverns were created when lava once cooled on the surface here but continued to flow underneath the ground above. Now there are hundreds of unique rock formations throughout the half mile long cavern system, including stalagmites and stalactites. The Kaeleku Caverns are the largest accessible lava tubes on Maui. It is estimated that the caves were formed nearly 30,000 years ago, and legend would tell us they are the work of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire.
Water drips from the ceilings of the caves, but bats and insects are noticeably absent from the environment. Much of the caverns look as though they’ve been coated in chocolate. It’s an underground landscape that feels almost otherworldly, waiting to be explored. Above ground, there is a unique red Ti botanical garden maze that is also easy to get lost in.
Fresh cheese fans will love this working farm’s Island-take on a traditional goat dairy on the slopes of Haleakala. Pens near the entrance underscore its unusual name—happy kids and off-duty does climb on a playground of elevated and colorful old surfboards. In total, Surfing Goat Dairy’s 42 acres are home to more than a hundred Swiss Saanen and French alpine goats that provide milk daily, the basis for fresh cheese and all-natural goat’s milk products created onsite.
Started by German expats and supported by a crew of workers that includes a regular rotation of college-aged goat farming interns, Surfing Goat Dairy runs short daily tours of its milking operation and three room dairy. Tour-goers can feed alfalfa to baby goats and will receive a brief overview of the cheese-making process and the equipment used to pasteurize, ripen and form the cheese. Tours include tastings from a selection of their 30 goat cheese flavors such as “Rolling Green” made with garlic and chives and “Purple Rain” made with Maui lavender. In addition to their small gift shop, which also sells soaps, truffles and t-shirts featuring the farm’s happy ungulates, fans will be comforted in the fact that that hotels, shops and restaurants throughout the Islands and as far away as New York, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas and Phoenix import and feature their cheeses.
The city of Wailuku sits on the northern coast of Maui, once a major tourist destination on the island and now a commercial and governmental center. As the Maui County seat, Wailuku is home to the county government and was historically home to some of the Kingdom of Hawaii's most esteemed leaders. It was also a major center of the sugar cane industry in Hawaii in the 19th century.
The town is situated on the coast, but at its back is the mouth of the Iao Valley, a gorgeous and lush state park that was sacred to the old Hawaiian gods and a burial ground for Hawaiian royalty. The valley was also the setting for a legendary 18th century battle in the fight to unify the islands as one kingdom. Visitors to Wailuku today can explore the city's historic monuments, browse its unique local shops and restaurants, and use it as a base for visiting the Iao Valley.
Makawao is a town in Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country beside the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala volcano. The Paniolo culture of horseback riding and cattle wrangling has been present here since the 19th century, with green hillside pastures and ranches throughout the area. The Paniolo influence can still be felt — with horse-hitching posts in the streets and with the unique architectural style of the downtown buildings. Rodeos take place some weekends here, the largest of which is held annually during Fourth of July.
In the past, plantations covered this densely forested area. The name ‘Makawao’ means “eye of the forest.” The higher elevation in this area makes it especially conducive to agriculture, including pineapples and the Maui onion. Today, the town of Makawao is known for its thriving art scene. As such, there are dozens of art galleries, shops, small restaurants and boutiques to explore along the town’s main street.
The town of Wailea is located on Maui's southwestern coast, known as a beach resort with spectacular beaches and luxury resort hotels.
Wailea itself is relatively small, with a population under 6,000, but it's home to no less than five resort hotels – including two huge luxury properties. There are a number of really excellent beaches, such as Ulua Beach, Polo Beach and Wailea Beach, and there are three golf courses that make Wailea a popular draw for golfing vacations, too.
Even if you're not staying in one of the fancy beachfront hotels, you can still enjoy Wailea's gorgeous scenery. Put on your walking shoes and head for the coastal nature trail that winds along the water. It's paved, so it's easy going, and it'll give you an up-close look at an abundance of unique Hawaiian plants. In the morning, the trail is full of joggers, and in the evening, it's an ideal spot to watch the sunset.
Located on Maui’s eastern shore, Kahului Harbor serves as both a commercial port and a cruise ship harbor. If you visit the island on a cruise, this is where you’ll likely dock. If you’ve booked a shore excursion, a tour representative will pick you up here; rental car companies also offer shuttles to their offices at the nearby airport.
The Bailey House is a historical house and museum operated by the Maui Historical Society. It houses the largest collection of Hawaiian artifacts on Maui, many dating back to the 19th century when the house was built. The home was constructed as a mission in 1833 on what was then the royal compound of Kahekili, the last ruling chief of Maui, and the second story contains many of the koa wood furniture that belonged to the missionary Edward Bailey, who lived in the house. The first floor contains remnants of native Hawaiian life, from wooden bowls and utensils to spears and shark teeth used in battle. The museum also houses a private collection of Edward Bailey’s paintings of Maui along with the oldest surviving photographs of the island.
Outside you can view dozens of native Hawaiian plants in the house gardens. There is a 100-year-old outrigger canoe and a historic surfboard that belonged to Duke Kahanamoku in an outdoor gallery beside the entrance to the house.
The towering pagoda, giant Buddha statue, and well-manicured grounds of Lahaina Jodo Mission near downtown Lahaina reflect a world an ocean away. Get a window into Japanese culture as you wander grounds modeled after a Japanese Buddhist temple and constructed in honor of Japanese immigrants who once worked in nearby sugarcane fields.