Exploring Maui 101 - Regional Highlights
Maui is not like Oahu or the Big Island. Sure it has its share of tacky tourism and resort rows with ABC stores almost counting well towards a dozen, but for the most part it maintains an air of pure Hawaiian spirit. This is due in great part to the challenging, although beautiful at every turn, terrain and geography, in addition to the efforts of local Maui residents and governing bodies attempting to “keep the country, country”, an expression often seen on road side signs while driving through the North Shore of Oahu but with not as much success as locals would like. Regardless, Maui manages to have something for everyone, whether you are looking for a succession of galleries, shops and eateries, or complete seclusion from the trappings of being on of the world's most cherished tourist destinations.
Below is a basic detailing of the island, working it's way from one of the islands most popular destinations of Lahaina in West Maui to the winding road of Hana along the unspoiled North Shore where your exploration has either been completed or just begun. Along the way we have included brief highlights from each region to help you decide which part of the island suits you best or to aid in planning your itinerary of getting to know the Valley Isle in it's entirety.
Aloha & welcome to Maui!
Location - 27 miles west of Kahului, 4 miles south of Ka'anapali
Getting here & around – 45 Min from Kahului Airport taking Route 380 to Route 30. Shuttles and taxis are available from airport.
About - Lahaina is a popular tourist destination packed full of shops, galleries, eateries, hangouts, watersports, history and a little bit of everything that Maui has to offer all rolled into one seriously charming – yet bustling - beach haven.
Front Street pictured on left (between Hotel & Canal Streets)
Front street is home to a bevy of shops, galleries, eateries and hangouts and is recognized by the largest Banyan Tree in the state, planted at the center of it all and begging to be photographed.
Location – 4 miles north of Lahaina
Getting here & around – Resorts offer shuttle service throughout the area and the Maui Bus system operates relatively frequently (on Hawaiian time of course).
About - Ka'anapali is a well know resort row in Maui.
Ka'anapali Beach (Black Rock)
Black Rock is a fantastic play area and scenic masterpiece for the adventurous beach lover.
Whaler's Village (2435 Ka'anapali Pkwy)
Upscale shopping mall facing Ka'anapali Beach
KAPALUA & KAHAKULOA
Location – Kapalua is 10 miles north of Ka'anapali and 36 miles west of Kahului
Getting here & around – Shuttles and taxis are available from the airport.
Kahakuloa is lacks development, making it a perfect escape from the tourist heavy areas of West Maui while Kapalua is renowned resort community and serves as a “perfect getaway” for some of the world's elite celebrities, golfers, and those that can afford to spend endless days enjoying the northernmost section of West Maui.
Julia's Best Banana Bread (7465 Kahekili Hwy, Kahakuloa)
Forget resort delicacies for a minute and stop at this glowing green roadside stand for the best banana bread on the island, if not the world (with exception of your grandmother).
Location – 13 miles south of Kahului, 14 miles southest of Lahaina.
Getting here & around – Take Route 380 from Kahului airport to Route 30. Ma'alaea is a Maui Bus transportation hub.
Maui Ocean Center (Honoapi'ilani Hwy past Ma'alaea Harbor)
The Maui Ocean Center is an aquarium and entertainment complex containing plenty of shops and eateries.
Location – 9 miles south of Kahului, 20 miles east of Lahaina
Getting here & around – Drive along Dairy Road until you reach Mokulele Highway.
About – The sun always shines on the dry side of the island, literally and figuratively, unless development, a growing population (relative to tropical islands) and traffic are a turn off.
WAILEA & BEYOND
Location – 15 miles south of Kahului bordering the south of Kihei
Getting here & around – Take Route 311 (Mokulele Hwy) from Kahului airport to Route 31 (Pi'ilani Hwy). Shuttles and taxis are available from the airport as is the Maui Bus (Kihei Islander Route)
About - Wailea is the resort community of Maui's South Shore.
Makena Beach (Big Beach) pictured on left
Shops at Wailea (3750 Wailea Alanui Drive)
Upscale shopping mall
KAHULUI & WAILUKU
Location – 3 miles from Kahului airport, 9 miles north of Kihei
Getting here & around – From Kahului airport, Hana Highway will turn into Ka'ahumanu Avenue which will lead directly to both Kahului and Wailuku. The Maui Bus offers a free service between the two points, bringing tourist to and from shops and eateries.
About – This is Maui's commercial hub.
Bailey House (2375 A Main Street, Wailuku)
Premium collection of Hawaiian crafts and artifacts
Market Street (Wailuku)
Home to shops, collectibles and furnishings as well as one very popular eatery and coffee shop Cafe Marc Aurel which has a great selection of wines.
Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului Beach Road. One Cameron Way)
Maui Tropical Plantation & Country Store (1670 Honoapi'ilani Hwy, Waikapu)
Location – 15 miles east of Kahului, 28 miles east of Wailea
Getting here & around – Take Route 37 (Haleakala Hwy) from Kahului airport which runs into Route 377 (Kula Hwy).
Tedeschi Vineyards & Winery (Kula Hwy)
Try the best selling (for a good reason) Pineapple Wine
Keokeo (Kula Hwy)
This small town (barely) is home to one of the best coffee shops on the island, Grandma's Coffee Shop, and the Keokeo Gallery is home to some of the best artwork. Be sure to stop by this quaint little hub of charm.
Haleakala National Park (Route 377 to 378 – Haleakala Crater Rd) Haleakala National Park is where you will find the world famous Haleakala Crater, a tour hour (38 mile) drive to a summit reaching 10, 023 feet into the heavens above Maui. There are many stops - visitors centers, points of interest, outlooks, hiking trails and amazing scenery - along the way if you do not feel like making the complete journey, but let us tell you now that it is more than worth the trip. The peak of this crater offers one of the best sunrises and sunsets in the world.
Location – 10 miles east of Kahului airport
Getting here & around – Take Route 37 to Pukalanai and turn left on Makawao Avenue OR take Route 36 (Hana Hwy) to Pa'ia and turn right onto Baldwin Ave.
About - One of Maui's best destinations for boutique shopping.
PA'IA & BEYOND
Location – 9 miles east of Kahului airport
Getting here & around – Pa'ia is found at the intersection of Hana Highway and Baldwin Avenue.
About – Pa'ia is the gateway to the world famous Hana Highway, which means this will pretty much be your one and only chance to stock up on gas, goodies and provisions before partaking on one of the most scenic journeys of your life. There are many boutique stores, shops and eateries in Pa'ia, but if you are short on time don't spend too long here which will only cut into your time along the amazing coastal drive ahead.
THE ROAD TO HANA - Hana Hwy (approximate 3 hr drive one way)
The Road To Hana is a 55 mile unspoiled winding and bending strip of Hawaiian paradise that opens visitors up to the chance to see lush tropical vegetation, waterfalls cascading into cool blue pools, and ocean side stops offering relaxation and photographic dreamscapes.
Twin Falls is found just after mile marker #2 and is identified best by the fruit stand that lets visitors know they are a short hike from swimming in emerald green pools fed by the falls above. Near mile marker #14 you will find Honomanu Bay, a massive valley fronted by a black sand beach. Waikani Falls past mile marker #21 is yet another, if not the best, waterfall along the road. Grab a coffee and browse Hawaiian arts & crafts at Nahiku Ti Gallery between mile markers # 27 and # 28 then head over to Hana Lava Tube (Ka'eleku Caverns) left on Ula'ino Road past mile marker # 31 for some adventurous underground exploration. Further down the road you can make a novelty stop by the tiny Hana Airport, complete with picket fence runways. One of the best beaches in Maui is found at after mile marker at Wai'anapanapa State Park, home of Black Sand Beach, offering sea cave and cavern discovery and an ancient foot path that can take you on a 3 mile hike to Hana should you wish to abandon your party and/or vehicle for whatever reason.
Finally (well, not really), the town of Hana, a place wealthy in Hawaiian history and legend, await visitors and shows them the true spirit of Hawaii. This is mellow Maui at its best. If you aren't lulled into complete submission by Hana's charm, then you can continue your journey by going further and turning left at Hamoa Beach for a swim, surf, or shade under coconut trees. Nearby is Koki Beach with the palm lined islet Alau taunting you bring a kayak next time. You'll be glad you continued past Hana when you come upon Ohe'o Gulch at mile marker # 42 where the Seven Sacred Pools collect both fresh stream water AND tourists along its path and if you are into a two mile hike, the Waimoku Falls are found by following upstream.
Believe it or not, we only touched the surface in regards to the North Shore of Maui and the famed Road To Hana, but no Exploring Maui 101 thesis could be complete without spending a full day on this magnificent stretch of Hawaii. The Road To Hana leads to Maui, no matter the direction you take.