Ok, I have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve been to Maui, but during that visit I did explore as much of the island as possible and therefore will be able to tell you something about it.
One of Maui’s nicknames is the „Valley Isle“ and it actually consists of two parts that are linked by braod flat valley. It’s smaller northwestern part is the place where you will find the most hotels along the westcoast. Between Lahaina and Kapalua you will also find the best known beaches. Since the waters between the islands of Moloka’i, Lana’i and Maui are calmer than elsewhere on the islands, you can easily go for a swim here.
Lahaina and Kaanapali, die most famous beach towns
Lahaina and even more Kaanapali is a chain of resorts in the range between 3 and 4 stars and those two towns cater to the masses. Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful hotels among them, but if you are looking for that South Pacific Romance, you will have to go to other places. Kihei, another resort area in the southwestern part of the island, caters more to families and has a lot of condo complexes. The luxury hotels are situated on the northwestern tip in Kapalua and in the southwest in Wailea. As everywhere on the Hawaiian Islands you will find a good number of golf courses on Maui.
The bigger southwestern part of the island is dominated by the little over 10.000 feet high Haleakala. It’s name means House of the rising sun. I’ll explain why later.
It is not recommended to make a full circle island tour. So I will divide my tour in two parts. Let’s start the exploration in Lahaina, former capital of the islands. in the 19th century this was the most important town in Hawaii. The first white settlers, missionaries from New England, landed here. Their goal was to bring Christianity to the pagan Polynesians. And they brought illnesses as the flue, that killed quite a lot of the natives. Back in those days Lahaina had a very bad reputation for being a hotbed of sins. The port was mainly used by whalers, that came here to replenish their supplies of fresh fruit and other food and after months aboard the seamen had other needs as well. The missionaries were shocked when they arrived. Especially by the half naked natives.
Lahaina, small town with a history
Fron Street is still the main street of the town and is home to a lot of galleries, shops and restaurant, these days. On the makai (oceanside) of the street you can choose from a broad variety of places to zip a sundowner or eat dinner on a terrace. Here at the Baldwin Home Museum, located in one of the oldest buildings of Lahaina, starts a walking tour following the historic sights and sites of Lahaina. This house was built by Dwight Baldwin and he was one of those first missionaries.
We continue through a small street to Lahaina Public Library. Until the 1950’s the lawn in front of this building was a taro field. At the next stop you will find the Hauola Stone. Hawaiian priests said that this stone has healing powers. Maybe you want to try it yourself. We continue to the oldest lighthouse of the islands. The Pioneer Inn is the oldest hotel on Maui and has hosted such famous people as Frank Sinatra. The Banyan Tree (picture above) covers with its branches an area of a bit over 43.000 square feet. The banyan tree is traditionally the meeting place in a Hawaiian village. The one in Lahaina has been planted in 1873. Across the street sits the courthouse, where in 1898 the American flag has been raised for the first time in Hawaii.
As soon as you return to Front Street, take a right turn and you will soon reach Episcopal Church, which was built in 1909 and has been moved from the other side of the street since. When you reach Maluuluolele Park take a turn into Shaw Street and from there in Waine’e Street. Here you will find Hawaii’s oldest church built of stone. In the neighboring cemetery you can visit Queen Keopuolani’s grave. She was the first queen that has converted to Christianity. And in Luakini Street you will come across the oldest Buddhist temple in Hawaii.
You continue to Prison Street. as you can tell by the name, this is the site of an old prison. The Hawaiian name for this house is Hale Paahao, which means house with the iron bars. From Waine’e Street take a left into Hale Street. Here you will find Hale Aloha (House of Love) that has been built in 1858 to remember the almost 6,000 people that died of smallpox. This is the end of our historical Lahaina tour.
North of Lahaina is Kaanapali. This is is a true resort town with mainly hotels. This is also the only place on Maui where you will find buildings that are higher than the palm trees. And you will find the longest stretch of beach on Maui. In ancient times this region was exclusively reserved for royalty. One of the places to be named here is the Whalers Village a open air mall with a wahlers museum and of course Hawaiian entertainment. And to all of you that want to visit a Luau, I would recommend the Royal Lahaina , which isone of the best on the islands. Kaanapali is the perfect spot, if you want to spend some days on the beach. But wouldn’t it be a shame to take such long flight to get to the islands, just to lay on the beach? That’s why I will continue with my island tour.
All of you that want to combine a nice beach with some calm and romance, I would propose Napili Bay. On this small bay there are only two resorts. At the Napili Kai Beach Resort you can dine at the Sea House Restaurantright on the beach. Here you will get great food with breathtaking views of Lana’i. AMAZING.
Kapalua is home to very exclusive resorts and offers a nice and calm beach: DT Fleming Beach Park. On this beach you will also find an old school house. Imagine sitting there and listening to your teacher. That was torture. I couldn’t have done it for more than 10 minutes.
Right behind Kapalua the street will become a one lane road and you should only continue when you are more on the adventurous side. Those who dare will be rewarded with great views of Moloka’i. The street leads snakelike through an endless number of curves along the cliffs. To the right they will rise over your head, while they steeply fall to the sea to your left. If you come across oncoming traffic one of you will have to drive backwards to find a spot where you can pass. Here the route becomes the destination. At the northern most tip of the island you will come across Nakalele Blowhole. Once you have passed this point the road will remain a one lane road, but if you continue on the east coast, it will lead you through rolling hills and you will discover an unspoiled Maui. The final stop of this part of our island excursion is Kahului, the administration capital of the island.
Kahului is where you will find the airport. But apart from that the town with its 26,000 inhabitants doesn’t have much to offer. Close to the airport you will find a few shopping centers with super markets. Which is good to know, if you ave rented a condo and plan on preparing your own meals.
This is the end of part one of my island excursion. I sure do hope, that you enjoyed it.
And as always, I am looking forward to read your comments. Questions about Hawaii? Don’t hesitate.
Mahalo for your