Popular Maui, nicknamed the “Valley Isle,” doesn’t just offer great beaches and wonderful resorts. Adventures abound. Here are our picks for most memorable Maui moments—biking, hiking, horseback riding, ziplining, snorkeling and surfing.
In Hawaiian Haleakala means “house of the sun.” Aptly named, the dormant volcano looms at 10,000-feet. To catch the sunrise at the mountain’s peak, a dramatic sight, start your drive up to the summit hours before daylight and dress warmly as the higher elevations can be cold.
How to come down? We liked biking. And yes, it proved to be work despite the fact that we had gravity on our side. On the 38-mile bike trip down the road snakes from the 10,000-foot high moonscape of brown and red craters. After lunch we faced pedaling through 29 hairpin turns while maintaining our position in lane. We past mid-mountain fields and farms—we even saw a new-born calf—before ending our ride at sea level in Paia.
The shave ice we slurped at the end tasted sweet with success. We recommend this exhilarating ride for those age 12 and older who can follow directions. Companies include Bike it Maui and Haleakala Bike Company.
For an easier—but not less exciting—ride on Haleakala, try ziplining. After crossing a swinging bridge, you reach the Haleakala Skyline site. There you glide on a series of cables strung between platforms, careening near the tops of eucalyptus trees.
Mid-mountain Haleakala around the town of Makawao is paniolo—Hawaiian cowboy—country. Saddle up for a scenic horseback ride at Piiholo Ranch and enjoy the sweeping vistas of grassy slopes that reach to the blue Pacific. Choose from one, two or three hour rides.
Haleakala also lures hikers. Hike Maui leads a four mile hike along the crater rim that takes you 1000-feet into the crater. Walk past lava flows and look for cinder cones and see indigenous plants that thrive at these heights. The seven hour experience takes stamina.
Although not part of Haleakala, Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic crater that’s become a marine preserve. We snorkeled amid hundreds of rainbow colored fish –as well as many other people. That’s part of why it’s best to come early—as then the site may be less crowded-- plus the sea is generally calmer in the morning.
The epitome of Hawaiian cool is to surf. The Goofy Foot Surf School guaranteed that at the end of a two-hour lesson we’d be riding the waves or pocketing a refund. Uncoordinated, we didn’t even try, but my children easily learned to balance and ride small waves. If you’re too shy to try with a group, you can book private lessons.
Although we’ve found most luaus to be overpriced buffet lines of mediocre food packaged with moderately talents singers and dancers, Old Lahaina Luau proved worth the cost. The company delivered a mix of traditional and contemporary food and dancing in a pleasing outdoor waterside setting.
Where to stay? Our favorite places to stay on Maui include the Four Seasons Resort Wailea for its tasteful and casually elegant ambience and good food and the Grand Wailea Resort for its exceptional, 50,000-square foot Spa Grande.