20 Reasons Maui Is the Best Hawaiian Island
Magical Maui offers a lifetime’s worth of unique experiences, unparalleled scenery, and moments that make it the must-visit Hawaiian island.
Watch the sunrise above clouds
Reaching 10,000 feet into the stratosphere, the dormant Haleakala Volcano is the center of the national park that bears its name and is the ultimate place to watch the sun rise up through a halo of clouds (Haleakala means “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian). Pack a jacket—it’s cold up here! Here are the 11 things you need to know before booking a Hawaiian vacation.
Snorkel in a volcanic cone
Can’t get enough of volcanoes? Maui is the home of one of just three volcanic atolls in the world, Molokini Crater. A snorkel trip to this watery wonderland will reveal a rainbow of coral and bountiful schools of tropical fish all within the crystal clear crater’s waters.
Relax on jaw-dropping beaches
It’s not all volcanoes on Maui; some of the best beaches in the world are located here, too. In fact, Wailea Beach on the south coast is one of the top beaches in the United States. Conde Nast Traveler’s number one choice in their 20 Best Beaches in the World last year was Maui’s black volcanic sand Honokalani Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park, a must-stop option on the Road to Hana.
Enjoy three amazing islands
Here’s another highlight that makes Maui unique: It’s actually comprised of three islands, not one. Romantic Lanai and uncrowded Molokai are also part of Maui, which is officially known as Maui Nui. From Maui island, you can sail to Lanai on a scenic 45-minute Expeditions ferry or hop a 25-minute view-filled flight to Molokai. Find out why Lanai might just be the most romantic spot in the United States.
Stay on the world’s largest private island
Although part of Maui Nui, Lanai is also the largest private island in the world since it’s 98 percent owned by Oracle’s Larry Ellison. However, unlike other private islands, you’re free to visit at any time. Spend the night at the spectacular Four Seasons Lanai to truly feel like you’ve escaped to a plush private island getaway. On and off the islands, these popular Hawaiian secrets hold the secret to Zen.
See ancient petroglyphs
As you explore the secluded island, you’ll find evidence of thousands of years of visitors, including Ki’i pohaku (petroglyphs). These will take a little hiking to reach, but the effort is well worth it: The images depict a wide range of forms, including those which were only known to Hawaiians prior to western contact. You can see the petroglyphs near Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach), along the Polihua Trail, and at Kaunolu.
Gaze over the edge of the world’s tallest sea cliffs
Rugged Molokai is known for its great horseback riding, lack of crowds, and amazing topography, including the towering sea cliffs in remote Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the north side of the island. If beaches are more your speed, check out the 25 best beaches in America to hit this summer.
Drive the iconic road to Hana
One of the top Maui attractions is the 50 miles of twisting, turning, one-lane highway known as the Road to Hana. You’ll navigate through dense forest, trickling streams, and gorgeous waterfalls that make the drive one of the most stunning in the world. Leave yourself plenty of time to hike along nature trails, take in the panoramic views, stop at tropical snack stands (especially Coconut Glen’s ice cream), and take a dip in natural pools. Want to spend the night? Travaasa Hana is a romantic option for an overnight stay if you want to spend the night instead of doing the six-hour return trip drive in one day.
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National Geographic recommends Maui as the best place to catch a glimpse of the 10,000 humpback whales that migrate from Alaska every year to the warm Pacific waters to mate, give birth, and nurse their young. You can often catch a glimpse of the massive whales right from the shore during peak whale season, December through April. But to get a close-up look, plus in-depth knowledge, head out to sea on a viewing expedition with the experts at the Pacific Whale Foundation.