One of the most prominent nature preserves, Haleakala National Park was established to protect the unique craggy wilderness of Maui in the year 1961. Home to a virtually never-ending variety of natural wonders, the national park's uneven 33,265 acre-lands (13,462 hectares) shelter intricate networks of craters that pass through the mystical Kipahulu Valley, much of which is closed to tourists. The Kipahulu region is one of the park's most ecologically-rich areas that are home to more than 31 different species of Tardigrade colonies that populate most of Haleakala's eastern shores. The Haleakala Observatory offers the best views of the park's serene surroundings through a 12.04-feet (3.67-meter) advanced electro-optical lens.
Art critics call this the best cultural art gallery in the islands. It features furniture made out of extinct wood that has been helicoptered out of Haleakala Crater and paintings by artists who have not exhibited in any gallery for 25 years or more. Visitors will also find feather art composed of 10,000 feathers that were gathered from captive birds as they molted, then hand-washed, dyed and strung one by one on a framework.
Let it be known up front: these caverns are not an ancient burial ground, contrary to previous beliefs. If this revelation does not disappoint you too much, then perhaps this is the spelunking experience for you. Excursions range from a quick 50-minute lava tube tour to a six-hour adventure that is advertised as a journey to the center of the earth. You will view some breathtaking sights, including ancient stalactites, ledges and the stunning Dancing Sunbeam Skylight. Two different excursions are available. Call for prices and more information.
Located just past Mile Marker 10 on the road to Hana (Highway 36) are the verdant tropical gardens where the opening sequence of "Jurassic Park" was filmed. The 26-acre (10.52 hectare) park, designed by Alan Bradbury with the aim of restoring the area's natural ecosystem, contains 500+ trees, plants and flowers native to the Pacific islands. Stroll along Maui's best nature trails and enjoy a leisurely lunch in a lush picnic area. This is a great activity for nature lovers and families with children.
While one could not say that all roads lead to this museum, it could certainly seem that way to Maui drivers. Located at one of the largest intersections on Maui, it is adjacent to Maui's main sugar factory. The pungent aroma of sugar cane permeates the air for miles. The museum provides visitors with extensive information on the history of the sugar industry, as well as details about its cultivation and production. Many exhibits are interactive, making use of modern effects. There is a gift shop on-site if you wish to buy few things for your loved ones.
The first sight of Ho'okipa is likely to make a visitor pull the car over and stare. From the vantage point of the highway or the parking lot, one can appreciate the spectacle: a seemingly endless expanse of deep blue water, white rock and crashing waves. This beach has been called the windsurfing capital of the world and is popular with daredevil surfers as well. However, it is not recommended that you swim here; the surf is as perilous as it is beautiful, and sharp coral reefs lurk below the waves.
Known as the 'Valley Isle' for the lush vales etched between its towering volcanoes, the island of Maui is unlike any other. Verdant jungles sprawl across the landscape and meet the sparkling sea edged by sandy beaches. Flowers bloom in riotous color and their fragrance lingers well into the night, when stars litter the sky like so many fragments of sea glass. Here on the island of Maui, relaxation is a way of life - not simply a goal or idea. Visitors to the second largest Hawaiian island can indulge in walks along the beach, delicious seafood, and the pampering of a lifetime at one of the island's many spas. The more adventurous can explore the numerous hiking trails that wind through the jungle, clamber past lava flows, soar through the treetops on a zipline, barrel through waves on a surfboard, or dive to the depths of the crystalline ocean where awaits a forest of corals. There are also museums, fine dining, golf courses and some stellar beachfront resorts. Maui is a paradisiacal island that never ceases to astound.
Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery is an eco-friendly distillery that produces premium quality vodka. The sugarcane comes from its onsite farm which blends with mineral water from the deep sea to create this popular brand. It is touted to be the only vodka that is made from organic sugarcane. The drink is gluten-free and as close to nature as possible. Tour the facility and relax in the martini garden where you can sip a few strong cocktails amidst strawberries, pineapple and local flora.
Located near the 2500-foot level on the slopes of Haleakala, this neighborhood park and community center is one of the more peaceful on the island. It is an easy spot to find on the upslope side along the Kula Highway. The park offers plenty of shade, a picnic pavilion, tables and a shaded playground. A softball backstop and a community kitchenette are also on-site. The park is used regularly by community groups, sports teams and area residents. There are two small parking lots and restrooms. Open during daylight hours only, this park has a serene, upcountry atmosphere in a quiet setting that offers respite from the tropical heat. It's a fun spot where families can play and picnic. -Lottie Tagupa
Guide Randy shares a wealth of natural history, geological and botanical lore, and island folklore while leading hikers through Maui's magnificent wilderness. Several half-day and full-day hikes are offered, many to areas not usually visited by tourists. The "easy" three-mile Haleakala Waterfall Hike is appropriate for children. Several treks in the West Maui Mountains explore more remote, rugged, rainforest terrain. Snacks and minimal gear is included in tour prices. Discounts are available; check out the website for more information.