Maui is the second busiest island in Hawaii. People have tried to learn from Waikiki, and are working hard to control development. But this is the only place outside of Honolulu where you'll find pay parking for a shopping center, and will run into regular traffic jams at rush hour.

Top things we like to do

  • Haleakala Crater. We've never made the trek in the dark to see the sunrise, but have been there early in the morning and still able to watch the clouds roll into the crater. The trip up to the crater is enjoyable, going through farmland, Eucalyptus forests, and ending up above the tree line. Web site. Another option to consider is horseback riding in the crater; a neat way to go (Pony Express Tours)!
  • Whale watching. If you're on Maui in the winter, look for whales! You can see them surprisingly well from shore, but whale watching boat trips get you much, much closer. There are lots of trips available, but the Pacific Whale Foundation is a non-profit group with excellent trips, so you can also feel like your money is going to a good cause.
  • Iao Needle area. Park with lots of trails, bridges, streams, and things to see. The parking lot always seems crowded, but isn't bad within the park. A small park nearby (Kepaniwai County Park) has several old houses from various cultures (Japanese, Filipino, etc.) and is fun to walk around.
  • Lahaina. A small town trying to balance history against development, and doing a fairly good job at it. Good shopping and restaurants.

We've been on the road to Hana, and while it was very pretty, we don't really recommend it. A long drive with lots of twisty turns and tons of traffic. And the biggest problem - after you reach the end of the road and finish seeing things, you've got the same long drive heading back! So the last time we were on Maui, we drove part-way down the highway, and then turned around after a while. Still got to see lots of waterfalls and beaches, but didn't kill a full day!

Notable restaurants

  • Roy's Kahana Bar and Grill (between Kaanapali and Kapalua) - upscale dining (same chain now has many restaurants on the mainland)
  • Roy's Kihei (Kihei, Highway 31 at Lipoa, in the corner of the shopping center parking lot) - see above
  • Hula Grill (Kaanapali) - upscale dining near the beach
Recommended guidebook (now in its 5th edition)