Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, in the United States. It has a population of just over 100,000 and is 727 square miles (1883 km?) in size. Maui is part of Maui County, Hawaii. The larger (or better known) towns include Kahului, Wailuku, Lahaina, Hana, and Wailea. Main industries are agriculture and tourism.
Maui was named for the demi-god Maui. In Hawaiian legend, he raised all the islands from the sea. Maui is also known as the "Valley Isle" for the large fertile isthmus (narrow land connection) between two volcanoes.
Maui is a volcanic doublet: an island formed from two volcanic mountains that are joined together. The older volcano, Mauna Kahalawai, is much older and has been very worn down. In common talk it is called the West Maui Mountain. The larger volcano, Haleakala, rises above 10,000 feet (3,050 m). The last eruption of Haleakala happened over 200 years ago, and this lava flow can be seen between Ahihi Bay and La Perouse Bay on the southeast shore.
Other places on Maui popular with visitors include:
• Iao Valley.
• Haleakala crater
• Road to Hana
|Humpbacks Whales of Maui
In Ka'anapali, you will find Whaler's Village Fine Shops & Restaurants. This is home to a museum that retells the history of Lahaina's whaling era from 1825 through 1860. Inside contains a large collection of harpoons, tools, artifacts, sailor's journals, sea chests, and ship's logs as well as a scale model of a whaling ship and a large display of antique and modern scrimshaw art. Recently renovated, a theater features continually playing whale and ocean-themed movies. Movies include following whales as they migrate from Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands including amazing footage from birthing to adulthood. Admission is free of charge.
Located in Kihei, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary maintains an education center that has displays and research material on humpbacks. Established in 1997, the sanctuary was created to protect the endangered whales. It extends over 1,400 square miles of coastal waters alongside the main Hawaiian Islands. The education center is located at 726 S. Kihei Rd next to Kalepolepo County Park and is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Parking and Admission is free of charge. Another excellent source of information about humpbacks is located at the Whale Discovery Center at the Maui Ocean Center.
Ecotourism, a genre not fully developed nor defined, is growing in interest from a quest for "something" beyond the obvious. A great number of Maui adventurers are seeking ways to "step off the beaten path" and engage in the many activities the natural environment of the island have to offer.
Guided hiking tours are the common choice, but there are endless ways to get that "something" you are looking for. Do you like to kayak, or even hike AND kayak? Would you rather take a whale watching trip with knowledgeable guides? Or would you like to spend a day ocean rafting off the Hana coast? There are many possibilities out there. One company takes adventurers into the rain forest and with the help of a harness and zip-line, you can take a flight over the trees. Another combines meditation and yoga with nature hikes. "Volunteering on Vacation" is a new program that gives visitors the opportunity to lend a hand in either group or individual environmental projects. (For more information, call 249-8811 or 1-800-942-5311)
HRising 10,023 feet above Maui's coastal areas, Haleakala, a massive shield volcano, is a very popular and easily accessible tourist destination. Many visitors like to make the trek up the mountain in the early morning to watch the sun come up. This ritual has become so popular, the crowds reach up to 1,000 per day, causing regulations to be imposed to limit early morning commercial traffic.
The volcano, located in the Haleakala National Park, has not erupted for more than 200 years. It is a place of legends and an interesting biological diversity that attracted more than 1.6 million visitors last year.
Early Hawaiians called Haleakala the "House of the Sun. The sunrise is not overrated, just overcrowded. The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and extends over 30,000 acres from Kipahulu Valley to Haleakala's summit. This offers an alternative to the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd sunrise watch. A good idea is to plan a day trip and stay and watch the sunset when it is less crowded.
The sunrise is not the only attraction here. The park also has outstanding volcanic features. The landscape is often referred to as a crater, where an eroded valley carves into the mountain and signs of volcanic activity are clearly evident. Pu'u' o Maui is one of the tallest lava flows that partially fill the basin.
Its cinder cone reaches 500 feet from the basin floor.
Other activities like horseback riding, hiking, and guided nature tours are also available in the park. There are many vantage points above the clouds to watch the sky by day and the stars by night. To avoid getting caught in nasty weather, call the National Weather Service (877-5111) for Maui's weather forecast. Temperatures can get pretty cold up there ranging from 32 to 65 degrees F, and can on occasion, dip below zero. There are no food or gas facilities located in the park and there is a $10 entrance fee that is good for seven days. It takes about two hours on paved roads to reach the park from the island's coastal areas.
Endangered Sea Turtles
Green Sea Turtles are a common sight off the coast of Hawaii, and if you are lucky you can catch a rare look of the nearly extinct Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Both species are considered endangered, but the Hawaiian Hawksbill population is dwindling at an estimated less than 30 nesting turtles. The hawksbill is known for its sharp, beak-like mouth and can reach a weight of 270 pounds, but nowhere near the massive Green Sea Turtle, which can reach 400 pounds. The fashion industry drove the hawksbill to near extinction, going after the beautiful exterior shell it is known for.
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are believed to live up to 80 years and most don't reach sexual maturity until they are about 25 years old, but sometimes twice that long. Like salmon, turtles return to where they were hatched to lay their eggs. Every two or three years, they migrate hundreds of miles to nest. The females will lay two to tree clutches of 100 to 110 eggs. They will then return back to their usual feeding area in the protected waters of the inshore reef.
Be sure to only look and don't touch. Both the hawksbill and the green sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, making it against the law to harass or even touch the turtles. If you manage to see one either on the beach or in the water, be sure to give them at least 10 to 15 feet of space.
Highway 36 is not your typical highway. With more than 600 turns and 50 or so one-lane bridges, Hana Highway weaves in and out between mountain streams and searing cliffs with amazing views along the way. Anyone who has experienced this highway, depending on their temperament, either clasp their hands in ecstasy or roll thier eyes and shudder. This is no place for someone in a hurry to get somewhere.
It begins just past the Kahului airport and covers 52 miles of north-facing coastline between Pa'ia and Hana. If you resist the urge to stop alongside the breathtaking views or to take a dip in one of the roadside streams, the drive takes a minimum of two hours. There are places along the road that offer state maintained "waysides" with magnificent views that give you the chance to stretch those road-weary legs, have a picnic, and use the restroom.
Here are a few things to remember before you embark on this trip: There are no gas stations or restaurants between Pa'ia and Hana so it is a good idea to fill your tank and stomach before setting out. Be sure to get started early; around bridges, which require that one lane always yield to oncoming drivers, can easily become backed up in the later part of the day. Also, it is not the greatest idea to be drive this road after dark.
If you would rather take an easier route back, you can return to south Maui on the road flanks the southwest Haleakala. It may be rough in a few spots, but it is quiet and the views are amazing.
In the old days when sugar ruled, at harvest time, steam locomotives carried sugar cane from fields to the mill to be processed. The Lahaina Ka'anapali Railroad offers an instant journey into the past. It has been a long time since the trains moved full bins of stalks down these tracks, but the trains still chug down the narrow-gauge track between Ka'anapali and Lahania several times a day.
During the 30 minute ride in the reconstructed 1890 steam locomotive, a conductor will entertain you Hawaiian-style and point out sites of interest. The fun begins on Thursday evenings as they are set aside for sunset rides and barbecue dinner shows as you arrive under the stars at the Ka'anapali Station.
The first train of the day departs at 10:15 a.m. from Ka'anapali and the last train leaves Lahaina at 4 p.m. (except on Christmas Day). Round trip day trains may be boarded in Lahaina or Ka'anapali. Both the train and the depot can be booked for private parties. Lahaina Ka'anapali Railroad, 667-6851