What makes Maui, Hawaii so special
A surprisingly magical experience in Hawaii is watching jets and cruise ships arrive and depart! It really brings home the reality that you are sitting on a dot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and that you’re about as far from significant land masses as you can possibly be and still be on earth. It’s this type of existential experience that can help bring issues we face at home into perspective and let us see the big picture of our life. I personally find that being anywhere where I’m completely surrounded by nature does this for me, but the island component adds another dimension.
Nowhere but Everywhere Baby!
Even though, in one sense, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, in reality you are not far away from the creature comforts of home. Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island have Walmart, Costco, Safeway, and either Wholefoods and/or something very similar. They even grow their own coffee beans too so you can get a good brew too! If you find yourself short of luggage space when you are packing, there is no need to panic because you can stock up on sunscreen, insect repellent and other beach supplies once you get there. When it comes to choosing where to stay you can experience paradise without roughing it in the slightest if you wish. For example, on Maui’s sunny west coast you can choose between beautifully appointed Maui vacation homes and high quality resort hotels.
Learning about Hawaiian/Polynesian culture
Hawaii might have great weather and beaches, but there are many places around the world that you can go to lie on the beach or sit poolside at a resort. You come to The Hawaiian Islands for a X factor but what is it? What’s really special about Hawaii is the mix of Polynesian and American cultures. So, make sure you put some time aside during your stay to check out some of the museums devoted to the culture and history of Maui, such as the Whalers Village Museum, Bailey House Museum, Lahaina Courthouse Museum, and/or the Hale Pa‘i Printing Museum. The pacific islands have been recently and prominently represented in modern culture by the Disney movie Moana. This has provided a very basic introduction to Polynesian culture and mythology to millions of children throughout the world. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll no doubt enjoy hearing some more about the mythology from the movie. Many of the popular tourist destinations on Maui have fascinating mythological stories attached to them. For example Maui’s dominant volcanic mountain was named Haleakala (meaning “House of the Sun”) because, according to Polynesian folklore, the demigod and island’s namesake Maui lassoed the sun god “La” to slowed his transit across the sky and therefore lengthen the days. Learning some basic Hawaiian words can be fun too, such as “Ka ai” for food, “Ka Hale” for home and importantly “Mahalo” for Thank You.
The US military and Asian immigration are both important parts of the history of Hawaii and worth learning about, as is understanding the history of how Hawaii became a state of the US, and the relationships between the different Hawaiian islands.
There is something to do for everyone
Most tourists come to Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands to soak up the sun and relax on the beach. If you are a more active type though, there are plenty of fun and adventurous things you can do. In the Winter (Dec-Mar) Maui is one of the world’s top lacations for surfing. The best places to watch or take part are at Honolua Bay in the northwest and Ho’okipa Beach in the northeast. Just east of Ho’okipa is Peahi (AKA “Jaws) where the largest surf waves in the world are. The swells are so big that surfers have to be towed out by jetskis! If you are into wind-surfing or kiteboarding then you may know that Ho’okipa Beach Park attracts enthusiasts from all parts of the globe because of it’s ideal conditions.
Maui is awesome for snorkeling and scuba diving with the best areas on the west and north-west of the island. You can’t go wrong for snorkeling at Honlua Bay (in the Summer), Black Rock just north of Ka’anapali Beach, around Wailea or off the Makena coast at Molokini Crater.
I’m not into golfing but if you are then you’ll be spoilt with the choice of golf links on Maui. There’s the Plantation Course at Kapapalua for starters – it’s on the PGA Pro Tour so who wouldn’t want to have a crack at playing that. Then there’s the Wailea Golf Clubs’ Gold Course with gorgeous ocean views and other scenic golf courses including both the highly rated Ka’anapali Kai and the Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course.
I enjoy day hikes and the Heleakala National Park offers walks in a unique environment, rather like a moonscape. If you prefer more lush flora then the Kapalua Village Trails, the 7 Sacred Pools (Pools of Ohe’o) and The Pipiwai Trail are gorgeous.
The Road to Hana
I can’t write about the magical allure of Maui without mentioning one of the best car drives in the world. It’s just 64 miles long but it’s packed with highlights along the way. These include a number of pretty waterfalls including the Twin Falls, the Lower Puohokamoa Falls and the Upper Waikani a Falls. It is recommended to stop at the Kaumahina State Wayside which is a good spot for a picnic lunch and has lovely coastal views. Just north of Hana is the Wai’anapanapa State Park with it’s famous black beach, rock stacks, caves and inland rock pools that are a mixture of salt and fresh water.
Because the Road to Hana is so popular (and therefore busy) and quite winding it is recommended that you drive very carefully. Those prone to car sickness would also be advised to take some anti-nausea medication.
Image by Unsplash.