The Island of Maui

Maui was created by two volcanoes whose lava flows came together in a plain between them, West Maui’s mountains and valleys are inaccessible and 10,025-ft Haleakala dominates East Maui. At the foot of these mountains, along the entire southwest coast, a series of wonderful, sandy beaches stretch from Makena and Wailea on the east to even more secluded Windmill Beach (Pohakupule Beach) on the west. It is possible to drive around the West Maui Mountains, from Napili to Wailuku and around Haleakala, from Paia though Hana to Ulupalakua.

Beneath West Maui’s mountains are two of the island’s major coastal resorts, Kaanapali and Kapalua. The gateway to these resorts is the colorful historic harbor town of Lahaina, retaining some of its old charm while bursting with shopping centers and retail stores. The third major coastal resort, Wailea, at the southern end of the East Coast, is the rapidly expanding gateway to the secluded beaches and roads of Makena and La Perouse Bay.

Above sunny Kihei and Wailea coastal beaches is Maui’s upcountry. This covers the central plain with the commercial and port city of Kahului and Wailuku, Maui’s charming capital, and the lush northern coast which includes the town of Paia. This verdant belt encircles the middle slopes around about half of Haleakala and includes a winery, ranches, protea farms, several delightful towns centered on Makawao, and the road up to Haleakala Crater. The awesome crater in Haleakala National Park is seven miles long, two miles wide, and 22 miles around.

From Paia to “heavenly” Hana along the northeast coast, the most scenic drive in Hawaii twists and winds 51 miles through more than 600 curves. This road continues to Oh’eo Gulch and around to Uhupalakua Ranch.

Maui is said to be getting too crowded and overbuilt. Actually, only a few small parts of the island geared to tourists are experiencing major new hotel and tourist-oriented development; on the west coast, the semi-restored whaling town of Lahaina and Kapalua; and especially the Wailea Resort on the southern coast of the east side of the island.

With about 90,000 residents, Maui houses about twice Kauai’s relatively small population and is about 50 percent larger than the Garden Isle. Maui is 123 square miles larger than Oahu and supports about 810,000 fewer residents.