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Maui, Hawaii Travel Guide
Last Updated: May-05-2014, Hits: 5,021, Rating: 2, Reviews: 1, Votes: 1 Bookmark and Share
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Maui, Hawaii Travel Guide Restaurants (81)
Hotels and Lodging (50)
Bars and Nightlife (22)
Attractions (75)
Maps (6)
Links (5)
Additional Articles (2)
Services (7)
Hawaii Travel Forum (4)
Location: North America
Geography: Island, Beach, Mountains, Jungle/Rainforest, City
Vacation Type: Family, Romantic, Relaxation, Adventure, Cosmopolitan
Popularity: Touristy
Costs: Moderate, Expensive
Attractions: Golfing, Surfing, Spa & Wellness, Scuba & Snorkeling, Shopping, Hiking, Fishing, Ecotourism, Cultural Attractions, Scenery, Food Destination, Historical Sites, Gardens

Facts and Stats:
Nickname: The Valley Isle
Population: 143,574
Land Area: 727.2 square miles
Government: Constitution based federal republic
Telephone Area Code:808
Country Dialing Code: +1
Languages: English, Hawaiian
Electricity: 120v
Time Zone: GMT -10/HST
Current Time:

Maui is a stunning island with a kaleidoscope of natural sights and there is a huge variety in the scenery depending on where on the island you are. Don't miss the rainforests and waterfalls in Hana, the summit and mars looking crater of Haleakala, and the idyllic beaches of West and South Maui. It is the second largest of the island chain covering approximately 727 square miles. Maui's average temperature is between 75-85 degrees any day of the year. Most people stay in West and South Maui where it is sunnier and drier, and where most of the beautiful beaches are on Maui's 130 miles of shoreline.

The Hawaiian Islands consist of a chain of 132 volcanic islands. They are the northern extension of the Polynesian Islands in the south and central Pacific Ocean. The chain of islands occupies about two thousand miles. There are 8 main inhabited islands: Nihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. As with all of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui was formed by volcanic activity. Its shape today is the result of two large volcanic cones. The smaller of the peaks is West Maui and the larger peak on the east side is called Haleakala, or "House of the sun". The summit of this mountain features the Haleakala Crater. The narrow valley in between the peaks is where the sugar cane and pineapple fields are mainly comprised.

Brief History:
Hawaii is believed to have been settled sometime between 500 and 600 AD by the people of the Marqueseas Islands, and later by Tahitian and possibly other Polynesian explorers sometime around 1000 AD. These people became collectively known as the Kanaka Maoli, or the native Hawaiians. They lived in an organized and self-sufficient society with communal land. Sometimes at peace and sometimes at war, they expanded their territory over the 8 main islands. In the 1800's the entire island group was consolidated into one kingdom, The Kingdom of Hawaii, with Kamehameha as the first ruler.

Explorer James Cook arrived here in 1778 and this marked the first of many western explorers to come. They arrived to whale, to harvest sandalwood trees, pineapples, macadamia nuts, etc. Missionaries came to "save" the native people and also helped to establish a very lucrative sugar cane industry. As Hawaii's sugar cane industry grew so did the United States' interest in Hawaii, although the interest in the territory was also in part to having a strategic sea location for military operations. A temporary and provisional government was established by the United States to regulate the booming sugar cane industry, which brought into place the "Great Mahele" in 1848. This was an act that divided the land between the King and the people, and permitted private ownership of land. In a very short time, most native Hawaiians no longer had access to land, which had previously been communal. The temporary government was also responsible for the overthrow of the royal family and the establishment of Hawaii as an official territory to the United States of America. Hawaii became an official state of the United States on August 21st, 1959.

Maui is breathtakingly beautiful and there are many things to see and do outdoors. The Humpback whales come every year to breed off the coast of Maui from December to March. They are often seen from the shore, but there are also a variety of whale watching excursions available to get a better view of these graceful leviathans. Haleakala National Park has amazing views of Maui, and from the summit you can see 5 of the 8 main islands of Hawaii. From the crater, you can watch the sunrise and it is said to be the best in the world, albeit very cold. 'Iao Valley and 'Iao needle in central Maui have good hikes and views with lush rainforests. The road to Hana is very famous and popular. It is a long narrow winding road with amazing scenery, waterfalls, freshwater caves and "sacred" pools. You can find more information about Hana in our attractions section of this travel guide.

Snorkeling and scuba diving is very popular in Maui. You can rent the equipment at dive shops, which will also provide you with a map of good spots to snorkel (or dive if you are certified). You can surf, body board, boogie board or swim. You can hike lava tubes, to the top of Haleakala, or through bamboo forests. You can dive from sea cliffs or waterfalls, or zip-line over a canyon. You can kayak the shorelines, or you can charter a boat for sailing, whale watching, diving, dinner cruises, or just for seeing the calm beautiful waters and coastline. You can rent horses, ATVs or Mountain bikes. And last, but certainly not least, there are the beaches. Maui is often called the Ocean Island because it has so many lovely beaches. Beaches worth checking out include: Ka'anapali beach, Wailea beach, Makena (big beach) beach, and Palauea beach.

Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family and it describes the islands perfectly. Everyone is connected and everyone shares. If you run out of food, your neighbors will leave a big pot of Portuguese Bean Soup on your porch. If you have a big yard project to do, neighbors pitch in to help. There is a stereotype that the locals hate the tourists, and while it might be true for some, most locals in Hawaii are very friendly and are very big hearted. However, there is some tension relating to the tourist and the islander that probably should not be ignored. The Hawaiian Islands experience a huge amount of tourism year round, and some people just aren't well behaved. This, in combination with various political grievances, namely a desire expressed by some native Hawaiians to be sovereign apart from the United States, can contribute to a lot of frustration for the native Hawaiians. When you are on vacation in Hawaii, if you are polite and respectful, the islanders will be polite and respectful to you as well. This includes understanding their pace, which is quite laid back compared to what people from larger cities are accustomed to. Although nothing like the slow pace of the Caribbean or South Pacific, Maui is still on island time.

There are a plethora of restaurants in Maui, many of them are world class and you will be able to find any type of food you may be craving. However, if you want to go local, tasting the local Hawaiian food ("grinds") can be quite a treat. Luau meals are very tasty featuring lau lau (fish and pork wrapped in taro leaves), kalua pig (smoked pork cooked in an underground oven called an imu), lomi lomi salmon (a tomato and onion relish with smoked salmon) and of course, poi (cooked and mashed taro root). OK, let's be honest, poi sucks and virtually nobody walks away from their first luau with a newfound love for the stuff.

Be sure to get a plate lunch complete with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad, and your choice of teriyaki beef or chicken. Also good are the kalbi ribs, a Korean style bbq cross rib that is sweet, sticky, and very good. For the sweet tooth, malasadas and shave ice are sure to please. When ordering fish in restaurants, you will notice fish is referred to in its Hawaiian name as follows:
  • Ahi: Yellow fin Tuna
  • Mahi-Mahi: Dolphin fish
  • Ono: Wahoo
  • Opakapaka: Crimson Snapper
  • Opah: Moonfish
  • Shutome: Swordfish
  • Kawa Kawa: Bonito
Be sure to check out our restaurant guide for more information on the dining scene.

The Hawaiian Islands are a part of the United States so the currency is the same. Hawaii is rather expensive, and Maui is the most expensive of all the Hawaiian Islands. Restaurants and groceries are a little pricey. You can buy cheaper groceries at Wal Mart or Costco if you plan on cooking any meals in. There are also some restaurants that wont break the bank. If you like to bring home souveniers, Wal-Mart or Costco are also cheaper than the various shops around the island. Accomodations tend toward very expensive. It is pretty hard to find a place for less than $150.00 per night. Renting a car is cheaper in Hawaii than most of the states, so that's a plus!

Tipping practices are the same in Hawaii as everywhere else in the U.S. (15% for meals).

Getting There and Around:
The main airport in Maui is Kahului Airport (OGG) in Central Maui. There are also 2 smaller airports, Kapalua Airport (JHM), located north of Kaanapali and Hana Airport (HNM), located in Hana. If you are flying from the mainland, you will need to go through Kahului. Kahului Airport is located between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains, three miles east of the town of Kahului. Aloha, Hawaiian, American West (US Airways), American Airlines, ATA, Continental, Delta, and Northwest all fly into Maui.

Getting around in Maui is pretty difficult without a car. Fortunately, it isn't terribly expensive to rent a car. Definitely rent one, or you will miss a lot of what Maui has to offer. You can rent them in advance and pick them up at the airport you fly into.

Driving times from Kahului airport to:
Haleakala: 1 hour 45 minutes
Hana: 2 hours 30 minutes
Kaanapali: 50 minutes
Kapalua/Napili: 1 hour
Kihei: 20 minutes
Lahaina: 45 minutes
Wailea: 35 minutes
Wailuki: 10 minutes

There was an inter-island Superferry that was in operation, however, in 2009 the courts ruled that the law that allowed Superferry to operate was unconstitutional and the ferry service was grounded and filed for bankruptcy. As of mid-2010, there are again talks of starting some sort of inter-island ferry service.

Entry Requirements:
If you are a US citizen, traveling to Hawaii is like traveling between states. You are not required to bring a passport, and the paperwork you will need to fill out is required by the US and Hawaii State Departments of Agriculture to prevent harmful plant pests and diseases from coming into Hawaii. If you are not a U.S. resident, you will be required to have a passport.

Below are the current weather conditions in Kihei.

High season in Maui runs from mid-December to mid-April, but that is not when the best weather occurs. The table below shows the average highs, lows, and rainfall for Kihei.

Month Avg High Avg Low Average Rainfall
January 81 63 2.55"
February 81 63 1.6"
March 83 64 1.03"
April 84 64 0.68"
May 85 65 0.52"
June 87 67 0.35"
July 88 69 0.5"
August 89 69 0.34"
September 88 69 0.71"
October 87 68 1.33"
November 85 67 1.67"
December 82 65 2.32"

  • Humpback whale migration starts at the end of November and early December. Be sure to find a good spot and keep your eyes open for the telltale spout. If you are lucky you might even see them breach out of the water, a most spectacular sight.

  • It is considered very impolite to refer to the U.S. mainland as "the States" or to otherwise imply that Hawaii is not part of the U.S. Asking, "Do you accept American money?" or "How do you like the United States?" is probably considered both rude and ignorant.

  • Theft is a minor problem in cities, beaches and parks. Just be smart, don't leave your valuables out in the open on the beach or in your car and you should be okay.

  • Hawaii has a reputation for shark attacks, but really this is because there are so many people in the water year round. In fact, given the thousand of people in the water everyday, and given that there is an average of only 2 shark attacks per year, your chances of being attacked are extremely unlikely. Just be intelligent about your choices. Don't swim alone, be cautious in deep and murky water, and if you are bleeding, get out of the water. For more information read our shark awareness article which can be found in the Additional Articles section toward the top of this guide.

  • Do get an underwater camera - you can buy cheap disposable ones that take decent pictures. The water is clear and there are so many lovely underwater scenes, you will regret not having one.

  • If you do go to see the sunrise atop Haleakala, dress as warmly as your suitcase permits. It is very very cold up there.

  • Take your time on the road to Hana, just pull over if cars want to pass you. And be careful, it is a difficult drive.

  • Services:
    Maui weather update: (808) 877-5111
    Maui Visitors Bureau: (808) 244-3530
    Maui Police Department: (808) 244-6340
    Kahului Airport: (808) 872-3830

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    User Reviews (1)

    Reviewed by: sloshed
    Review date: Apr-20-2009

    I first went to Maui for my honeymoon in 2001. At the time, I was very impressed with Maui, partially because I had never been anywhere tropical before. We went back in 2007 for a friend's wedding and I doubt I will ever go back. It has become too crowded, too many strip malls, too many people on the beach, etc. Speaking of beaches, Maui's don't hold a candle to those in the Caribbean and South Pacific. or even those in Kauai. There are beaches in California and even Oregon that are better than Maui's. Finally, Maui is way overpriced. It is tough to find a place to stay for under $200/night. Most everything else is expensive too. What I will miss about Maui is the amazing food and the beautiful jungle and waterfalls (road to hana). It will always be special for being the site of my honeymoon and one of the first places I went that got me addicted to travelling. After we attended the wedding in 2007, we went to Kauai for the first time and that is a place I would definitely go back to. There is no comparison between Maui and Kauai. 

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