Maui, the “Valley Isle”, is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is a land dominated by two volcanoes, Haleakala to the east, and Pu’u Kukui to the west with a wide valley between them that makes up the middle of the island. Notable sights on the island include, besides Haleakala National Park, the old town of Lahaina, which has several historical buildings, the Iao Valley, with its “Iao Needle”, a sacred area to Hawaiians but open to visitors, and the beautiful “Road to Hana”, a scenic drive along the northwestern coast. Be aware that there is no way of looping back to central Maui, so that the drive must be retraced, a roundtrip of more than 5 hours without stops. Get a map of the Hana Highway prior to setting out and plan stops, designated by milepost number, for maximum enjoyment.
Haleakala National Park gives the visitor a look at the otherworldly landscape of a volcanic crater and even allows a descent into the valley created by erosion at the top of the mountain. An interesting activity involves watching the sunrise from the top of the mountain (be advised that this requires a very early start since the drive up the mountain is over thirty miles and is steep and winding in parts). Another common park activity involves renting bicycles, being trucked up the mountain and riding down (not for the faint of heart, but there are numerous stops along the way for rest and recuperation).
Must sees while in the park include the Silversword plant, which grows only on the summit of Haleakala and lives for fifty years before flowering and dying. Look closely at the plants on display at the Summit Visitor Center. Also be sure to take a walk on one of the trails at the summit for great views of cinder cones and for panoramic views of Maui. The adventuresome should definitely bicycle down the mountain. Tour groups are abundant.
1. While in Lahaina, make reservations for the Lahaina Lu’au, the most famous and nicest luau in the islands, with excellent entertainment and a beautiful setting.
2. On the “Road to Hana”, be sure to stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park to picnic or take pictures on the small black sand beach with interesting black rock arches offshore which contrast nicely with the gorgeous teal-blue water. There is also a lava tube cave.