Maui, Hawaii: Lushious Tropical Island

Green-cloaked cliffs and deep blue sea. Bright orange flower with bright green foliage.






Maui: Hawaiian Paradise in Eden…

Think green Jurassic park rainforests, tumbling waterfalls, bright splashes of flora and a dramatic coastline edged in deep blues and turquoises...

If you like the perfect mix of seclusion and civilization, rainforest and beach, action and relaxation, head to Hawaii’s Maui Island. There is literally something here for everyone and with such a stunning and extremely diverse natural setting there are always surprises around the corner.
Maui, like the other islands of Hawaii, is volcanic in origin. It is extremely fertile and as a result it hosts an abundance of tropical flora. Vast bamboo forests and mango trees are just some of the tropical delights you will come across in the wilds of the rainforest. The highest point on the island is the immense Haleakala dormant volcano which is over 3000 metres high. With sea level in such close proximity the sheer height and size of this fantastic mountain is emphasised dramatically. Haleakala can be seen from many different points on the island and on a clear day you can see the very top, the large space station appearing as a miniscule white dot glinting in the sun. The Haleakala crater is an impressive dusty expanse of high-altitude reddish-brown rocky terrain. A complete contrast to the tropics of below, it is stark, vast and other-worldly.  

The island is also made up of some older mountains to the West, known as the West Maui Mountains, and the foothills of the Haleakala crater. These are lush, green-cloaked mountains with waterfalls, streams and tropical trees and plants galore.
The picture-perfect beaches boast golden sand, crystal clear ocean and a soaring backdrop of mountain scenery. Around the island are a variety of un-developed and quiet beaches, and buzzing resort areas to choose from.   

Things to Do on Maui


Maui Ocean Center

For an excellent educational marine experience visit the Maui Ocean Center in Wailuku on the West of the island. This wonderful place harbours more tropical fish, coral and other marine life than you can imagine. Watch the sharks being fed, visit the turtles, and learn all about the various sea creatures in the local waters of Hawaii that you are likely to come across when snorkelling. For diving fanatics you can even dive into the shark tank! The Maui Ocean Center is dedicated to protecting the delicate coral reefs and rich marine life in the Hawaiian islands and educates visitors about protecting and appreciating Hawaii’s underwater world. The ocean centre is an excellent option on a rainy day and is open every day of the year.

Haleakala National Park

The Haleakala National Park is an enormous expanse of rainforest, waterfalls, pools and mountains, and of course the dusty dry volcanic cinder cone crater at the Haleakala mountain summit. A drive up to the Haleakala crater is essential for those lovers of natural wonders. The crater affords mind-blowing views of the island and ocean more than 3000 metres below on a clear day, and views like no other across the crater landscape at the summit. There are various companies offering cycling trips up and down (and just down) the mountain. For quicker ways up the mountain consider hiring a car. Hiking options in the national park range from days camping in the wilderness to various leisurely strolls in the diverse natural surroundings. The hike to the seven sacred pools, located in the rainforest part of the park, is a shorter more leisurely option offering simply divine views of the seven tiered pools and gentle waterfalls flowing constantly into them.

Road to Hana

An extremely scenic driving trip well worth doing is the famous ‘Road to Hana’ (well, famous on Maui at least), which can be done in a hire car or with one of the many tour companies. It comprises an enormous array of bendy roads wrapping around the coastal mountains, bridges over thundering and graceful waterfalls, a volcanic black beach, and optional Botanical Gardens. The trip ends at Hana, a small Hawaiian town on the coast which offers nothing much but a taste of rural Hawaiian life. This trip truly is about the journey. Along the way it is commonplace to stop and pull over to take in the beauty of the surroundings. You will see many tourists, cameras at the ready, enjoying the views. However there are an abundance of places to stop, some more hidden from view of the road than others so keep your eyes peeled for hidden gems.

Iao Valley

The Iao Valley nestles among the crinkled green West Maui Mountains. It is a state park with lots of hiking amongst lush rainforest fed by gushing streams and waterfalls. The steep mountains surround the Iao Needle – a distinctly pointed and much-photographed huge chunk of rock rising from the surrounding vegetation and Iao stream. The park also features a reconstruction of Hawaiian huts and rural life, with Taro plants growing in the park. 

Water sports

There are ample opportunities to take part in various water sport activities, not to mention endless waves and great beaches to choose from. There are many organised Kayaking tours, surfing lessons and other activities. Start at tourist centres or your hotel for information on what is available nearby, but most tours and activities are reasonably priced and run by experienced guides. Kayaking along the coast is excellent and depending where you do this, you could be very likely to see and swim with turtles or even dolphins. For the best kayaking, take part in a tour which combines snorkelling and kayaking.

Shops at Wailea

On a rainy day head to the shops at Wailea for a spot of mid-range / high-end shopping. There are some wonderful shops featuring exquisite local art, pottery and other creations. It is well worth a look even if your pocket is slightly on the empty side.

Beaches on Maui

Big Beach (Or Makena Beach)

Excellent waves and crystal clear water. This beach has a rural, natural feel, despite being close to Wailea amenities and opposite the exquisite Makena golf resort. Big Beach spans a long and wide area (hence the name). Trees beyond the sand provide shade and there is plenty of room for lots of people, despite the popularity of this beach at weekends. A smaller beach can be found on the other side of the lava rock, which is called little beach. It is unofficially a nudist beach.

Napili Bay Beach

Very family-friendly and clean, surrounded by resort amenities. The water is not particularly deep and is ideal for children as it is more protected, being in a bay.

Ulua Beach

This beach is excellent for snorkelling. Head down early for the best experience and likelihood of seeing turtles. It is possible to swim near to the turtles and they are generally peaceful creatures, just avoid touching them as they can become distressed if you are too close, and may bite (although unlikely).

Text and Images Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2012
All Rights Reserved


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