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.
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.
With its seemingly endless expanse of golden sand beach and perfect bodysurfing waves, the Makena State Park is a must-see. Big Beach is the number one spot for sunbathing and swimming. Little Beach, a five-minute hike up and over rocks, is a world-famous nude beach. The surrounding environs are perfect for a hike that offers splendid views of the deep blue ocean
Sprawled across a large part of the diverse Maui island is the Wai'anapanapa State Park. In Hawaiian parlance, the name translates to mean 'glistening fresh water', a fitting attribute of the park which refers to the presence of clear, sublime pools and water streams. One of these waterbodies is the small yet conspicuous black sand beach called Pa'iloa. Apart from natural features that are a part of the park such as seabird colonies and lava tubes, it is also surrounded by haunting legends spurred by burial sites, pictographs and ancient temples found in this region. Shrouded in mystery, nature and awe-inspiring beauty, the Wai'anapanapa State Park is certainly worth a visit.
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.
Tightly bound to the lissome eastern coastline of Maui, the iconic Road to Hana navigates through a motley of mesmerizing scenery, all packed into a 64.4 mile (103.6 kilometer) long drive that extends from Kahului to Hana. Around every corner, there is a slice of deep azure waters to encounter, a variegated expanse of close-knit jungles that hold mysterious worlds, and an enchanting mix of waterfalls, beaches and jade groves that are a mere hairpin-curve away. As one drives along the merrily winding coastline, frothy waves kick and crash against the side of the steep cliff, and nature's sounds lead the way. As many as 600 curves are wrapped into the serpentine embrace of this scenic road, and nearly 59 one-lane bridges mark the roadway. While this uninterrupted highway to Hawaii heaven and its deep cliffside curves may have one's stomach in knots, the visual reward that remains a constant throughout the journey caps off this remarkable drive.
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.
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.
Nestled on sweeping north coast of Maui, Paia is a sleepy beach town infused with a laid-back aura. With a gorgeous beach that is endowed with soft, white sand and the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, this place is synonymous with a tropical, sun-soaked wonderland. This pristine beach is lined with a wealth of restaurants where seafood specials are popular on all the menus as freshly-caught fish is served here everyday. Similarly, the Paia Fish Market is a frenzied destination brimming with diverse kinds of fishes, whereas the local shopping scene of the town is where merchants display their most unique artifacts and collectibles. In addition to food, shopping and fun, Paia's spiritual side can be best explored at the Paia Mantokuji Soto Zen Mission. While the picturesque Paia beach imbues unparalleled natural beauty, Paia's downtown, lined with colorful cabins, surf shops and boutiques, is a place which comes alive with a mosaic of arts, culture and a vibrant, touristy tenor.
There's enough on Maui to keep you busy above ground, but things can get overwhelming when you start looking below sea level. There are colonies of sea turtles, pods of dolphins, living coral reefs and hundreds of species of tropical fish. Makena Charters show you just a small portion of what there is to see: underwater caves, the reefs off Molokini, a sunken World War II tank, Turtle Town and more. The underwater action is nonstop. This is one of the last remaining six-person dive boats. Beginners and certified divers are welcome.
A husband-and-wife team of biologists owns this dive company. For experienced divers who don't want to disturb the underwater environment, it is an ideal option. Indeed, in the 20+ years that the Severns have been operating tours, they have garnered praise from customers worldwide. Small groups of experienced divers are led to various places around the island, exploring underwater caves, nudibranch colonies and other natural wonders. The purpose of the tours is to educate as well as entertain.
Burnt red earth and sparse vegetation marks the area around the Haleakalā Volcano, a shield volcano located in the eastern part of the island of Maui. Formed by fluid and completely molten lava, the mountain is a part of the Haleakalā National Park. Rare plant species like varieties of Silversword can be found in this area. Several lookout points along the mountain provide stunning vistas of the surroundings. The unique climate of the region, with its low humidity, is also ideal for astrophysical research. For the layman and the tourist, this means that this area has perfect conditions for stargazing.