North America

Maui: A Gem Amongst the Pacific

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One of the most common questions I get asked from friends and family is what to do on Maui, and I must admit that I LOVE talking about it. I had the opportunity to spend the summer of 2014 doing a work exchange in Hawaii through a company called helpx and had the time of my life. For two months I worked 30 hour weeks whipping up smoothies and chopping open coconuts at a fruit stand, while the rest of my time was dedicated to exploring the majestically beautiful island. I’m heading back in a couple months for an 8-day trip with my lovely boyfriend, and I cannot wait to be reunited with my favorite island! Here are some places to make sure you check out next time you find yourself on Maui:

Road to Hana

I may be a bit biased on this one because my fruit stand (and therefore, accommodations) were directly on the road to Hana, but I still think it’s a must-do when visiting Maui. The road to Hana is a long, curvy, mostly one-lane drive scattered with some of the most vibrant and unique foliage I’ve ever seen. Hana is on the “wet” side of the island, meaning it rains frequently and makes the waterfalls rush and the plants thrive. A few stops I recommend making are at Twin Falls, Coconut Glens, Waiʻanapanapa State Park, and Oheo Gulch (among many others you will simply just stumble upon). While the journey from Paia to Hana is a mere 45 miles, you should plan to dedicate a whole day to this drive in order to allocate enough time for all the hikes, swims, and photo ops.

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Haleakala National Park

Haleakala is a dormant volcano that makes up approximately 75% of Maui’s landmass. The tallest peak is at 10,023 feet, making this a prime spot to watch thesunrise. There are many tour companies that offer sunrise trips (I even heard one company drives guests to the top and then they bike down—if you’re feeling adventurous), but if you rent a car then you are good to go on your own schedule. I’d recommend getting there early to watch the entire transformation of the sky; it’s really spectacular and one of those life-is-amazingly-crazy moments.IMG_8246

Snorkeling

I can’t even put into words how amazing the beaches are in Maui. The water is perfectly warm, the sand soft, and the snorkeling unbeatable. There were numerous times that I would be out for a surf and would look down to see a turtle swimming next to me. By the time I rushed the get my GoPro out, the turtle would be gone and another would be taking its place. Some of the best snorkeling is on the west side of the island, at beaches such as Honolua or Kapalua. Pack some snacks, bring your gear, and spend the day exploring the depths of the Pacific.

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Iao Valley

Iao Valley is a 10-mile long state park home to the 1,200 foot Iao Needle, an iconic rock outcropping full of mild hiking trails and spectacular views. When I visited the park a couple years back, I recall being met with rain and clouds, which created an eery fog engulfing the depths of the valley. That being said, I highly recommend visiting Iao with an open mind regardless of the weather forecast, and you’re bound to enjoy the tropical flora that Maui has to offer.

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Surfing at Launiupoko

Launiupoko is located about 10 minutes south of the bustling town of Lahaina, and is a great spot for beginners to try their hand at surfing. The waves are long and slow, as opposed to some of the other spots on the island where the waves can be a bit more unforgiving. This is a great beach to spend an afternoon hitting the waves and then lounging in the grass with a picnic full of fresh fruit and coconut water.

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Banyan Tree Park

This is less of “something-to-do” but rather “something-to-see.” Located in Lahaina is one of the largest banyan trees in the country, rising more than 60 feet and rooting into 16 major trunks. For those who aren’t familiar, a banyan tree’s roots sprout from the branches into aerial roots towards the ground where they form new trunks, resulting in the growth of many trunks around the original one. I had not known about or seen a banyan tree until this one in Lahaina, and it’s truly something special. Grab lunch in town and catch some shade under one of the many branches of this spectacular tree.

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Activities in Maui are endless, and I truly believe that there is something for everyone on this island. From a long weekend to a few months, squeeze Maui onto your destination list and I promise you won’t be upset. Once you get there and you’re off hiking one of the many trails, catching rays at the beach, or sipping on a pina colada, make sure to pause for a moment and say mahalo to the island for all its beauty.

 

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