While composing this post on Maui, I discovered that it is literally impossible to encapsulate all my experiences on this amazing island into a short blog post of bullet points. After all, Maui is home to five geographically unique regions, 80 beaches and 120 spectacular shoreline miles! With that in mind, I’ve chosen to categorize my thoughts and experiences on Maui into the five regions which comprise the island:
Central Maui: Government Center, Battleground, Towering Needle?
If you’re arriving in Maui via airplane, chances are you’ll be landing at Kahului Airport in Central Maui. The Maui Arts & Culture Center, located in Kahului, is a performing arts complex offering education, exhibits, cultural programs and theatrical events. (http://www.mauiarts.org) The town of Wailuku is Maui’s County Seat and home to a number of local boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants such as the Ma’alaea General Store & Cafe, famous for serving up a mighty wicked fish taco! (http://maalaeageneralstore.com). Wailuku lies at the base of the West Maui Mountains and is gateway to the Iao Valley, originally a sacred burial ground for Hawaiian chiefs. It is also the site of the battle of Kepaniwai, where in 1790, the forces of King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army. Iao Valley State Park encompasses 4,000 acres of lush valley floor rising to stately peaks including the iconic Iao Needle, a 1,200-foot tall green-mantled rock peak. With its lush rainforest, waterfalls, pools and towering rock formations, a hike in Iao Valley State Park results in a remarkable feast for the senses. Interactive exhibits are also provided at the adjacent Hawaii Nature Center.
Eastern Maui and the Road to Hana
Upon landing at Maui’s Kahului Airport centrally located between West and Upcountry Maui, travelers can branch out in any direction to discover the breathtaking natural beauty and geography of this fantastic island. The eastern Maui coastline’s “Road to Hana” (HI-360) boasts 620 curves and 59 bridges! Yes, it can be “dicey” to traverse and it’s probably going to be a full day trip, but this journey is replete with spectacular rainforests, waterfalls and breathtaking views of rugged Hawaiian coastline. Upon arrival in the peaceful town of Hana, one can snorkel off Waianapanapa State Park’s black sand beach, shop at the 100+ year-old family owned Hasegawa General Store, discover native flora at the Hana Maui Botanical Gardens (http://www.hanamaui.com) or study the region’s history at the Hana Cultural Center & Museum (http://www.hanaculturalcenter.org). If you’d like to stay here, check out Travaasa Hana. One of Maui’s most impressive resorts, it was voted Condé Nast Traveler’s 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards “#1 Resort in Hawaii”. (http://travaasa.com/hana)