Maui has accommodations to fit every kind of dream vacation, from luxury oceanfront suites and historic bed-and-breakfasts to reasonably priced condos that will sleep a family of four. Remember to consider when you will be traveling to the islands. Maui has two seasons: high and low. The highest season, during which rooms are always booked and rates are at the top end, runs from mid-December to March. The second high season, when rates are high but bookings are somewhat easier, is summer, June to September. The low season, with fewer tourists and cheaper rates, is April to June and September to mid-December.
After a few days of just relaxing on the beach, the itch to explore the rest of Maui sets in: What’s on top of Haleakala, looming in the distance? Is the Road to Hana really the tropical jungle everyone raves about? What does the inside of a 19th-century whaling boat look like?
There is far more to the Valley Isle than just sun, sand, and surf. Get out and see for yourself the other-worldly interior of a 10,000-foot volcanic crater; watch endangered sea turtles make their way to nesting sites in a wildlife sanctuary; wander back in time to the days when whalers and missionaries fought for the soul of Lahaina; and feel the energy of a thundering waterfall cascade into a serene mountain pool. Whether you’re traveling for adventure or relaxation, there are plenty of amazing Maui activities to keep you entertained.
In the past decade, with the ascension of Hawaii Regional Cuisine into national prominence, and with Maui as Hawaii’s visitor-industry success story, the island’s best chefs have opened their Maui doors and turned this island into a culinary nexus. One such dining experience includes the weekly Maui Chef’s Table, a 7-course farm-to-table meal at the stunning Mill House Restaurant at Maui Tropical Plantation. You can also dine well at Lahaina’s open-air waterfront restaurants, where the views are spectacular! There are budget eateries here, as well. Maui’s old-fashioned, multi-generational mom-and-pop diners can still be found in Makawao, Wailuku and Lahaina, clinging to the edge of existence in the older neighborhoods of Maui. Although you’ll have to work harder to find them in the resort areas, you won’t have to go far to find creative cuisine, pleasing style, and stellar views in Upcountry, south, central and west Maui.
The island’s most prestigious entertainment venue is the $28-million Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului, a first-class center for the visual and performing arts. It has proven to be a great success, a Maui star: Since its 1994 opening, the state-of-the-art facilities have attracted first-rate performers and sold-out shows. Bonnie Raitt has performed here, as have Hiroshima, Pearl Jam, Ziggy Marley, Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson (a local resident), not to mention the finest in local and Hawaii talent. It has booked world class cultural exhibits, rock and reggae, the Lakota Sioux Indian Dance Theatre, Carlos Santana, the Maui Symphony Orchestra, the stars of the Moscow Ballet, John Mayall, Kenny Loggins, magic shows, top Hawaiian performers, the Hawaii International Film Festival, and many other notable acts.
The center is as precious to Maui as the Met is to New York, with a visual-arts gallery, an outdoor amphitheater, offices, rehearsal space, a 300-seat theater for experimental performances, and a 1,200-seat main theater. Whether it’s hula, the Iona Pear Dance Company, Elton John, or Hawaiian-music icon Keali’i Reichel, only the best will appear at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. For more intimate and/or scenic performances, Maui Tropical Plantation also hosts concerts and a variety of festivals throughout the year. Activities are well publicized locally, so check the Maui event calendar or ask your hotel concierge what’s going on during your visit.
So, what do you do on Maui when it’s too late for a Haleakala sunrise, not quite happy hour, and not sunny enough for the beach? Go shopping, of course, a major activity on this particular island. And why not? You can leapfrog from one shopping center to the next simply by following the main road and enjoy the views of Haleakala or the West Maui Mountains in between. Maui is also an arts hub of the islands, with a large number of resident artists who show their works in dozens of galleries and countless gift shops.
From Kula to Hana, Maui is also the queen of specialty products, an agricultural cornucopia that includes Kula onions, upcountry protea, Kaanapali coffee, world-renowned potato chips, and many other treats that are shipped worldwide.
Maui’s gorgeous finds are particularly rewarding. Residents work, live, and shop for everyday needs in Central Maui, and it’s home to first-rate boutiques for specialized tastes as well: Historic Wailuku has its own antiques alleys (N. Market and Main streets), Paia Town is home to a handful of chic boutique shops, and the Ka’ahumanu Center in neighboring Kahului is becoming more fashionable by the month. Makawao’s boutiques are worth seeking out, and finally, the Wailea Shopping Village in the exclusive golf resort area of Wailea, just south of Kihei.
No matter what you decide to do while you’re here, one thing’s for sure – a trip to Maui is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed, renewed and relaxed!