Maui is a popular port for cruise passengers. The island is known for its beautiful white sand beaches, expansive coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, stunning vistas, soft adventure opportunities and much more. If you’re planning to travel to Maui, here are just a few of the many popular things to do on your visit.
1. Marvel at Marine Life. It’s no wonder that the Maui Ocean Center was named Hawaii’s top attraction by Zagat Survey’s U.S. Family Travel Guide. Sprawling over three acres in Ma’alaea Harbor Village, the Maui Ocean Center is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. The complex features over 60 exhibits as well as three restaurants and one of the island’s best gift shops. Some of my favorite exhibits include Turtle Lagoon inhabited by Hawaii’s green sea turtles, Hammerhead Harbor, the Sea Jelly Gallery, and The Open Ocean – a 750,000-gallon salt water aquarium filled with sharks, fish and rays. Walking through the 54-foot-long clear tunnel and getting a 240-degree close-up view of sharks and massive fish is particularly cool.
2. Sail Away on a Catamaran. Catamaran cruises are a relaxing way for cruisers to spend the day and get a close-up view of Maui’s reef system and amazing marine life. Ship tours and operators such as the Pacific Whale Foundation take vacationers out to various great snorkeling spots including Molokini, Lana’i, Turtle Arches, and other spots. Here, you'll have the opportunity to snorkel alongside sea turtles and tropical fish or simply laze on the deck soaking up the sun. From late November through mid May, the Pacific Whale Foundation (Maui’s top choice for whale watching) takes guests out on popular whale watching cruises to observe and learn about the thousands of humpback whales that come to the area to mate and give birth to their young.
3. Get Airborne. Seeing Maui from the air is a special treat. For a birds-eye view of Maui’s beauty, take a helicopter excursion with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters or Sunshine Helicopters. Those craving a super adrenaline rush can soar above Haleakala's slopes with Dexter Binder’s Proflyght Paragliding. Maui also has a number of zipline tours for those who would prefer to stay a bit closer to the ground. Piiholo Ranch features 4- and 5-line side-by-side dual ziplines as well as a tower with seven climbing challenges. Skyline Eco-Adventures offers a zipline tour on the way to Haleakala’s crater featuring five ziplines and an “Indiana Jones” type swinging bridge. Families with kids as young as five years of age can get their thrills at the Maui Zipline Company. Marketed as “Hawaii’s most extreme zipline,” Flyin Hawaiian Zipline’s attraction consists of 8 ziplines stretching from 250 to 3,600 feet – the longest in Hawaii.
4. Explore Maui's Upcountry. Maui is well known for its lovely beaches, but the island’s upcountry region is also a fantastic destination for food lovers. Several ship shore excursions head up this way and it’s also a nice trip for those renting a car during their visit. Sample award-winning goat cheese spreads and scrumptious gourmet goat cheese truffles at Kula’s Surfing Goat Dairy. Stroll through the grounds of the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm, try a lavender scone, and breathe in the rejuvenating scent of lavender. Have a gourmet lunch at O’o Farm in Waipoli and learn more about how the farm’s coffee and other sustainable “Farm to Table” crops are grown. If wine tasting is more your thing, head to Tedeschi Vineyards – Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch. This commercial winery produces sparkling, pineapple, grape, and raspberry dessert wines for sale. Daily tours are offered and complimentary wine tasting (proof of age required) is available for visitors ages 21 and older.
5. Go Deep Under the Sea. Want to see Maui’s underwater beauty, learn about marine life, and go down to depths of over 100 feet below sea level - all without getting wet? A deep sea adventure with Atlantis Submarines is just the tour for you. Atlantis Submarines offers daily excursions aboard its 65-foot, 48-passenger air-conditioned submarine. Large viewing portals allow every passenger to comfortably view tropical fish, coral reefs and a wide variety of marine life – including even humpback whales during the winter months. One of the tour’s highlights is seeing the Carthaginian, a whaling ship replica that Atlantis sunk in 95 feet of water to create an artificial reef. Throughout the tour, the Atlantis Submarines' crew keeps things fun and informative. This excursion is an excellent experience for families and anyone interested in the fascinating underwater world surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.
If You Go:
* If you're planning to rent a car while your ship is visiting Maui, make your reservation in advance. Rental cars are readily available on Maui, but they can be in high demand. Companies such as Budget Rent-a-Car have offices at Maui’s Kahului Airport and in Wailea.
* For more information on planning your visit to Maui, go to The Magic Isle’s website at www.visitmaui.com.