Each Hawaiian island delivers its own version of aloha fun, but if one can be singled out as having it all, it’s Maui. The town of Kahului, home to both the cruise port and the international airport, is the gateway for a day or two of adventure, best experienced in a rental car that can take you from the golden-sand beaches of Kaanapali or Wailea to the volcanic slopes of Haleakala.
What We Love
Upcountry and Haleakala: Head inland to Upcountry and as the elevation rises, watch palm trees give way to lavender farms and finally to pine trees as switchback roads take you above the clouds to the lunarlike landscape of Haleakala. Wear sneakers to hike the caldera’s trails — and dress warmly since this volcano tops out at a brisk 10,023 feet.
The Road to Hana: For a different kind of scenic adventure, drive the narrow twists and turns (600 in total along with 54 one-lane bridges) of this 42-mile road to the quiet hamlet of Hana. Here, you’ll find a dramatic black lava coastline, myriad waterfalls, and the photogenic Seven Sacred Pools.
Best Known For
Sunset Luaus: Maui’s historic whaling town, Lahaina, is home to two of the most atmospheric: Old Lahaina Luau and the Feast at Lele, where you can sway your hips along to drums and slack key guitars and dine on slow-cooked pork, ahi poke, taro, and sweet potatoes, washed down with a mai tai, of course.
Whale and Dolphin Watching: Massive humpback whales spend December to May in the waters off Maui (their spouts can be seen from shore), and balletic spinner dolphins put on acrobatic shows. Some tours also swing by Molokini Crater to snorkel.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers: In addition to whales, dolphins, and schools of tropical fish, Maui boasts several hundred bird species and every shade of orchid imaginable.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Things Are Farther Than They Seem: Always allow for extra time, especially if venturing to Hana or Haleakala, since road conditions make for slow travel.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.