What are the best things to see and do in Maui?

Alana Folen

A large island with a topography that ranges from lush and tropical to volcanic, Maui has the perhaps the widest range of things to see and do of any Hawaiian island. Whether you’re spotting humpback whales frolicking in the Pacific or hula dancing at a luau, this Hawaiian island has plenty to offer. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks of the five best things to see and do in Maui.
 
1. Explore Haleakala National Park. Feel as if you’re on top of the world at Haleakala. This 10,023-foot summit offers unforgettable views of the island. Witness an enthralling sunrise, explore the park with ranger-guided tours or marvel in an explosion of stars as Haleakala provides a picture-perfect view of the night sky. This historic park is open 24-hours a day.
 
2. Whale Watch. Embark on a whale-watching journey from Lahaina Harbor. The channel off the coast of Lahaina is a premier spot to catch humpback whales at play. We recommend a visit during the winter months when the whales are most active.
 
3. Attend an Old Lahaina Luau. Submerge yourself in the Hawaiian culture with an evening of traditional Hawaiian music, cultural dances, island crafts and signature cuisine. This  luau is presented nightly on private grounds behind the Cannery Mall in Lahaina, West Maui.
 
4. Hike Iao Valley State Park. Central Maui’s Iao Valley State Park features one of the island’s most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. This renowned green-mantled rock outcropping overlooks Iao stream — perfect for hiking and sightseeing. It was here in 1790 at the Battle of Kepaniwai that King Kamehameha I clashed with Maui’s army in a quest to unite the islands.
 
5. Drive the Road to Hana. Deemed one of the best drives in the nation, Maui’s Hana Highway offers a uniquely breathtaking view of the island complete with more than 600 curves and 50 bridges to navigate. Although the trek may be a bit grueling (it can take up to four hours each way), the pristine beaches, lookouts and scenery you’ll find along the way are worth the effort.

  • On August 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Maui?

    Some of the best places to stay in Maui rival the beauty of the island itself. From the sprawling Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea to the intimate Travaasa Hana, you’ll find a resort that suits your style. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best places to stay in Maui.
     
    1. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Tucked on the north side of the island on the grounds of a historic pineapple plantation, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort has 463 rooms that sprawl around the beach and a 10,000 square foot tri-level pool. Framed by two championship golf courses, this family-friendly hotel has a unique roster of kids’ programs, from cultural encounters to the Jean-Michel Cousteau-designed Ambassadors of the Environment ocean education program.
     
    2. The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui. Situated on 22 acres of tropical landscape in Wailea, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui is the place to unwind after a jam-packed day of fun. Amenities include a full-service spa, three swimming pools (an adults-only pool and two activity pools connected by a 140-foot waterslide), complimentary self-parking and a variety of dining options.
     
    3. Grand Wailea. Part of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel collection, Grand Wailea is centered between the slopes of Haleakala and the grand Pacific Ocean. Rejuvenate yourself with a pampering massage at theForbes Travel Guide Four-Star Spa Grande, then enjoy the resort’s action-packed calendar of events, which includes everything from luaus to cultural and musical extravaganzas.
     
    4. Travaasa Hana. Located in the tiny town of Hana, Travaasa Hana offers an authentic sense of old Hawaii. Two room choices are available — Sea Ranch Cottages are havens tucked near the ocean, and are ideal for a romantic getaway, while the renovated Garden Suites and condos are family-friendly.
     
    5. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. The island’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resort remains one of its best places to stay. A sprawling, full-service resort that’s centered around an alluring pool, Four Seasons Resort Maui offers many things (yoga and pilates classes, nightly live music, a comprehensive kids’ program and more), but utmost is the relaxed but polished service. With a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star spa and Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, a Four-Star restaurant, onsite, you’ll be in paradise the moment you check in.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Alana Folen answered the question: Alana Folen

    Where is the best shopping in Maui?

    Take a break from Maui’s beaches or outdoor adventures and visit the island’s top shopping destinations. The best shopping in Maui is in some ways the best shopping in Hawaii—only Honolulu has as many high end and brand name stores. Queen Ka’ahumanu Center is Maui’s largest shopping mall with more than 100 stores and the island’s only department store. Don’t miss out on the high-end collection at The Shops at Wailea. With designers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta, you’ll get your fashion fix.
     
    Pay a visit to Lahaina’s quaint Front Street to explore the eclectic array of art galleries, clothing stores and jewelry shops. Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind souvenirs to bring home. Finally, if you’re looking to score great deals, bargain for your buck at the Maui Swap Meet, held every Saturday morning in Kahului. With close to 200 vendors and thousands of customers, it’s a flea market worth browsing.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Alana Folen answered the question: Alana Folen

    What are the best things to do with kids in Maui?

    The kids (or keiki as they say in Hawaii) will fall in love with Maui. The Hawaiian culture revolves around family, and as such, kids are welcome (and catered to) just about everywhere. Here are five of the best things to do with kids in Maui:
     
    1. Explore Maui Ocean Center. Take a journey under the sea without getting wet. Open year round, Maui Ocean Center brings the wonders of Hawaii’s ocean to life as it showcases more than 60 indoor and outdoor exhibits, such as Turtle Lagoon and Hammerhead Harbor.
     
    2. Ride the Sugar Cane Train. Hop aboard the Sugar Cane Train and take in the sights and sounds from historic Lahaina to the resorts of Kaanapali. With a blast of its steam whistle this open-air locomotive is reminiscent of Hawaii’s nostalgic charm.
     
    3. Play at Baby Beach. Perfect for little ones, Baby Beach, located in the north part of Lahaina, is known for its calm waves. The attractive beach’s offshore breakwater blocks many of the big waves from reaching shore.
     
    4. Smell the flowers at Ali’i Kula Lavender. Make your way to Upcountry Maui and make a day of it at Ali’i Kula Lavender. The intoxicating aroma of lavender will awaken your senses. Kids will enjoy exploring the farm, which flourishes with lavender, vibrant proteas, roses, native Hawaiian plants and more.
     
    5. Giddy up at Piiholo Ranch. Get in touch with your inner cowboy, or paniolo, at Piiholo Ranch in Upcountry Maui. Located on the edge of the rainforest, 2,000 feet above sea level, this ranch is a top-notch spot to saddle up and explore the rugged upcountry Maui landscape. Riding lessons for kids are available, and the children will also love the Kids “Wrangler” Camp.
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  • On August 16, 2012
    Alana Folen answered the question: Alana Folen

    What are the best things to see and do in Maui?

    A large island with a topography that ranges from lush and tropical to volcanic, Maui has the perhaps the widest range of things to see and do of any Hawaiian island. Whether you’re spotting humpback whales frolicking in the Pacific or hula dancing at a luau, this Hawaiian island has plenty to offer. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks of the five best things to see and do in Maui.
     
    1. Explore Haleakala National Park. Feel as if you’re on top of the world at Haleakala. This 10,023-foot summit offers unforgettable views of the island. Witness an enthralling sunrise, explore the park with ranger-guided tours or marvel in an explosion of stars as Haleakala provides a picture-perfect view of the night sky. This historic park is open 24-hours a day.
     
    2. Whale Watch. Embark on a whale-watching journey from Lahaina Harbor. The channel off the coast of Lahaina is a premier spot to catch humpback whales at play. We recommend a visit during the winter months when the whales are most active.
     
    3. Attend an Old Lahaina Luau. Submerge yourself in the Hawaiian culture with an evening of traditional Hawaiian music, cultural dances, island crafts and signature cuisine. This  luau is presented nightly on private grounds behind the Cannery Mall in Lahaina, West Maui.
     
    4. Hike Iao Valley State Park. Central Maui’s Iao Valley State Park features one of the island’s most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. This renowned green-mantled rock outcropping overlooks Iao stream — perfect for hiking and sightseeing. It was here in 1790 at the Battle of Kepaniwai that King Kamehameha I clashed with Maui’s army in a quest to unite the islands.
     
    5. Drive the Road to Hana. Deemed one of the best drives in the nation, Maui’s Hana Highway offers a uniquely breathtaking view of the island complete with more than 600 curves and 50 bridges to navigate. Although the trek may be a bit grueling (it can take up to four hours each way), the pristine beaches, lookouts and scenery you’ll find along the way are worth the effort.