BY SAM EHRHART | STAFF WRITER
The island of Maui has always held a special place in my heart. My grandparents moved to this island in 1993 and I have visited them multiple times since kindergarten. While I live on Oʻahu, Maui is my home inside my heart. I have come to know Maui like the back of my hand, and I have partaken in a multitude of fun adventures throughout the island.
Pack some sunscreen, grab your slippahs and a snorkeling mask, and let’s travel to the 10 best places on the island of Maui.
10) Hiking through Makawao Forest Reserve
Makawao Forest is located near the the small town of Makawao, which is nestled on Mt. Haleakalā. This trail winds you through a lush forest filled with evergreen and eucalyptus trees. Due to the high elevation of Makawao Forest, a jacket and long pants will be needed for the hike. This trail fully immerses hikers in a tranquil environment — the forest is extremely quiet and one feels at peace among nature. It is important to note however, that this trail is very strenuous. The trail’s entirety is approximately 6 miles long, but hikers can choose how far to hike. Makawao Forest’s trail involves many tall hills, slippery areas, and downward slopes you must conquer to reach the end. While the trail can be difficult, the beauty of Maui’s Upcountry transports you to a unique area which is similar to the Pacific Northwest, and it is worth it in the long run.
9) Hiking at Waiheʻe Ridge Trail
The Waiheʻe Ridge Trail is located in the northeastern corner of Maui. This trail takes hikers up the impressive slopes of the West Maui Mountains. This hike will take people through lush rain forests, rain showers and clouds to reach the summit of the mountain. This trail will offer people amazing views of giant waterfalls, green valleys, rushing creeks, and a panoramic sight of Maui’s coastline. This hike, which is difficult, is not as challenging as Makawao. This trail is 2.2 miles long, and a walking stick, sneakers, and a rain poncho is advised for the typical slippery rocks, mud puddles, walking through clouds, and vertical climbing along the hike. The summit of the Waiheʻe Ridge Hike offers some of the most beautiful views on the entire island of Maui. While the hike takes a while to complete, it is certainly worth it.
8) Drive on The Road to Hāna
The Road to Hāna is one of the infamous activities to do while on Maui. This road will take people along the coastline of Maui from the small town of Pāʻia to the isolated town of Hāna. While the Road to Hāna itself is lackluster, the opportunities along the road are what make it so special. This road takes travelers past waterfalls, swimming holes, scenic lookouts, food trucks, and a black sand beach (called Honokalani Beach). The Road to Hāna allows people to pull their car to the side of the road and to then hike through rain forests or beaches to explore Maui’s nature up close and personal. While there isn’t much to do in the actual town of Hāna, the Hāna Highway is a pathway to unlimited adventures.
7) Hiking at ʻIao Valley State Park
ʻIao Valley State Park is located in the West Maui Mountains past the small town of Wailuku. This valley offers visitors trails to hike around, a Native Hawaiian garden, banana trees, and history plaques to read. ʻIao Valley is a significant place for Native Hawaiians since this is the location where King Kamehameha I conquered King Kalanikūple of Maui in a bloody and violent battle. The most prominent feature of ʻIao Valley, though, is ʻIao Needle — a tall mountain that looks exactly like a needle. The state park gives gorgeous views of the needle and it has a rushing river for people to swim and play in. The main downside to ʻIao Valley is that it is almost always raining at the park. More days than not, black rain clouds prohibit enjoyment at the park. However if you visit ʻIao during a sunny day, you will lay eyes upon a magnificent geologic wonder and learn all about a Hawaiian battlefield.
6) Eat Dinner at Mama’s Fish House
Mama’s Fish House, or commonly referred to as Mama’s, is arguably the most exquisite and refined restaurant on the entire island of Maui. Mama’s is located near the small town of Pāʻia and it is situated on a beautiful beach. Mama’s boasts extremely delicious seafood such as ono fillets, ‘ahi steak, mahi-mahi, lobster tails, and crab legs. The menus will also tell you where, when, and who caught the seafood you will be dining on. The restaurant’s desserts melt in your mouth, and they taste like a piece of heaven. This restaurant’s entrees value in price range from $48-85 per item. It is recommended that a reservation for Mama’s should be created many days in advance since the restaurant’s tables fill quickly. If you are willing to pay the price, this esteemed 5-star restaurant will make you feel like a millionaire for a couple hours.
5) Swim with honu at Poʻolenalena Beach
Poʻolenalena Beach, or commonly referred to as Secrets Beach, is a gorgeous beach located in the town of Wailea. Secrets Beach offers calm waves for swimming, crystal clear water for snorkeling, and a long flat sandy floor for swimming ease. Secrets Beach’s biggest attraction is the high number of honu (sea turtles) that frequent the beach. On every visit to this beach, I have always seen at least one honu swimming around, but there are usually more than one at a time. The honu are mellow creatures that will allow snorkelers to swim alongside them; on some occasions the honu will even bump into you as they are trying to reach food. The water at Poʻolenalena is perfect for floating, swimming laps, and for throwing a football with friends or family. There is one note to make about this beach, however. A section of Poʻolenalena Beach is clothing optional, meaning that there are typically nude swimmers at this part. If skinny dippers offend you, then it is enjoy your day at the other end of the beach.
4) Grab a cold snack at Beach Street Maui Shave Ice
The town of Kīhei boasts perhaps the tastiest shave ice on the entire island. Located in between Kamaʻole Beach I and Kamaʻole Beach II, Beach Street Maui Shave Ice offers a delicious cold treat in dozens of flavors. This shave ice melts in your mouth, and buyers can choose yummy flavors such as blackberry, li hing mui, banana, pink lemonade, papaya, and many more. The staff who work here are also extremely friendly, and they always serve your orders with a smile and a feeling of aloha. If shave ice isn’t your style, then customers can also purchase coffee, smoothies, shakes, teas, and sandwiches and snacks. This shave ice spot is a necessary stop for anyone on Maui.
3) Visit the summit of Mt. Haleakalā
Haleakalā is the tallest mountain on Maui and it is the third tallest mountain in the entire state of Hawaiʻi. The summit of Haleakalā is at 10,023 feet in elevation. Haleakalā’s summit is a unique wonder all in its own–the top of this volcano looks exactly like the surface of Mars. Very few plants or animals are seen at Haleakalā’s summit. However, Haleakalā is the home for the endangered state bird of Hawaiʻi, the nēnē, and it is also the home for the Silversword, a rare endemic plant that only grows on Mt. Haleakalā. Visitors on Mt. Haleakalā can walk on hiking trails throughout the volcano’s crater, and the hike will whisk people to a foreign planet. Due to the high elevation of Haleakalā, it is always chilly and sometimes there is even snow on the ground. As a result, it is highly recommend that you wear a coat, sneakers, and long pants for the summit. Gloves, a hat, and scarves may also be needed in the winter months. Additionally, some people may have trouble breathing on top of the mountain. Haleakalā is worth it in the end. The volcano is unlike anywhere else in the world; it is like a slice of Mars placed onto Earth.
2) Snorkeling at Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay is situated in the town of Kapalua in the northwestern corner of Maui. The bay’s water is well protected from the Pacific Ocean, which means this beach has small waves and is perfect for snorkeling. Kapalua offers some of the greatest snorkeling on the island. Stick your head underwater, and you will instantly see coral of every color, moray eels, honu, lobsters, sea cucumber, hundreds of tropical fish. You’ll also be able to see in every direction for an extremely far distance. Kapalua is safe for keiki but is not great for swimming. The beach drops off quickly, and then you are surrounded by coral and aquatic life. You must be cautious to not bump into coral or a sea urchin. This bay offers extremely soft sand to lay on, but the beach fills quickly so is best visited early in the morning.
1). Snorkeling at Mokuleʻia Bay
Of every location on Maui, Mokuleʻia Bay (also called Slaughterhouse Beach) is located in the extreme northwestern tip of Maui, past Fleming Beach and right before Honolua Bay. Mokuleʻia gets the nickname Slaughterhouse Beach since it was once the location of a slaughterhouse for captured whales in the 1800s. This beach offers the best snorkeling on the entire island. Swimmers usually see honu, moray eels, lobsters, squid, octopi, sea cucumbers, humuhumunukunukuapua’ā, and thousands of other types of marine life. Snorkelers may also see an occasional young shark swimming near the coral. Mokuleʻia Beach has white sand, calm surf, and tons of room to spread out and relax on. Besides the snorkeling, Mokuleʻia has two trails that take you through a rain forest and a rushing stream before you reach the actual ocean. This beach is often overlooked by tourists since there are not many signs for its location and parking for the beach is done on the side of a twisty road. If you are willing to park your car near a curve, walk down a lot of stairs, take a short hike through the forest and through a creek, you will lay eyes on the most gorgeous location in all of Maui.
The Valley Isle is absolutely beautiful, and there is unlimited adventure awaiting anyone who ventures to it.