Maui County and Island of Maui
Maui County compromises of four islands: Maui (known as the Garden Isle), Molokaʻi (the Friendly Island), Lānaʻi (the Pineapple Island), and Kahoʻolawe (the Target Island which is unpopulated). Maui is the 17th largest island in the USA with about 727 square miles and a top elevation of 10,023 feet (Haleakalā). It is also the most populated with about 155,000 inhabitants.
If you are looking at vacationing or renting on the island of Maui, think of the island as being made of five areas:
Kihei, Maalaea, Makena, Wailea
The entire island is beautiful without a doubt. Saying this, South Maui is the sunniest and driest area of Maui and a favorite among visitors. Miles of clean white sandy beaches and calm waters, South Maui is the "touristy" side of the island. It has all of the amenities you would want from world class golf courses, lots of activities, fine dining, and fun shopping. Kihei is on the South West shore of Maui where you can find lots of hotels, condominiums, and rentals. From Kihei, you can see small islands like the unique Molokini which is shaped like a crescent moon and a must-visit if you love snorkeling.
Makena Beach State Park, often referred as the Big Beach, is truly incredible. Located South of Wailea, it is perfect for lounging, snorkeling, swimming, or doing nothing at all! Wailea itself is a luxury area of the island with wonderful high hotels with world-known beaches like Polo Beach, Wailea, and Ulua Beach.
Sunsets on that side of the island are incredible. You will find people (visitors and residents alike) sitting on the beach waiting for the sun to go down each night. At that moment, everyone is just quiet trying to absorb the view and be in the moment. If the conditions are right, you might be blessed with a green flash which an optical phenomenon happening when the sun is almost fully below the horizon. For a brief moment, you migth see unsual and bright green colors.
Some of the fun things to do in South Maui
Relax / Sunbath / Do nothing (yes, that's important too!) / Snorkel / Scuba Dive / Paddle Board / Sail / Parasail / Play Beach Sports / Eat Out / Shop / Have a Spa Day
Hana, Keanae, Kipahulu, Haleakala
The East side of Maui is the full tropical side of the island with out-of-this world flora. It is famous for its winding road: The Road to Hana (more on Hana here). It connects the communities of Kahului and Hana and there are about 52 miles between the two towns. This does not seem too bad but take into consideration that there are about 620 curves on the road and 59 bridges! It can be still be a fun and wonderful drive especially because there are many areas where you can stop and visit (waterfalls, swimming holes, and more). But you need to prepare for the drive; have food, water, change of clothes, bathing suits, etc. Count on between 2 and 4 hours of driving; more if you plan to stop. You will be able to stop and tour many waterfalls the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe'o, the Kipahula Visitor Center, and much more. For a cool audio tour of the Road of Hana, check out this app.
The day trip is worth it! Magnificent rain forest combined with breathtaking ocean and shoreline views make for one of the most beautiful drive in the world.
Technically situated in the Southeastern part of the island is the breathtaking Haleakala National Park. More on Haleakala here.
Places to visit in East Maui
Road to Hana / Garden of Eden Arboretum / Painted Eucalyptus Trees / Kaumahina State Wayside / Wailua Valley State Wayside / Pua'a Ka'a State Wayside / Many waterfalls like the Makapipi Falls or Wailua Falls / Hana Maui Botanical Gardens / Hana Lava Tube / Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach / Hamoa Beach / Pools of 'Ohe'o (known as the Seven Sacred Pools) / Kipahulu Visitor Center / Walk the Pīpīwai Trail
Haiku, Kula, Makawao, Paia, Pukalani
One of everyone's favorite little towns on Maui is Pa’ia (more about Paia here). It is an awesome place to learn about the Maui and Hawaiian culture and history. Windsurfers and paddle borders love it because of its great shoreline perfect for water sports. Shoppers love it because of its many unique little shops. It also has very cute restaurants with delicious food serving fresh local fish and delicacy. In addition, there are several wonderful art galleries with very welcoming staff. Pa’ia is a fun and friendly town so make sure to take time to visit it.
The beaches on the North Shore are as breathtaking as anywhere else on Maui. Except them to be less busy with less amenities and more waves. You can still snorkel in many of them like Mama's Beach (Kuau Cove) which is great for kids.
Places to visit in North Maui
Paia Town / Baldwin Beach Park / Ho'okipa Beach / Sacred Garden of Maliko / La'a Kea Farm / Haiku Market / Pauwela Cannery / Aloha Botanicals Maui / Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center
Kaanapali, Kahana, Kapalua, Lahaina, Napili
The West coast of Maui is another popular area with beautiful resorts, shopping, restaurants, bars, golf courses, and many fun activities. It has one road access but once you arrive, you will understand why people love that part of the island. Due to its orientation, sunsets are gorgeous. Beaches like Kaanapali Beachwalk are perfect for a family fun day at the beach, sporting activities, and more.
Fun things to do in West Maui
Experience a Luau / Zip Lining / Whale Watching / Sailing / Snorkeling / Scuba Diving / Kayaking / Helicopter Tours / Maui Tropical Plantation / Hiking / Have a Spa Day
Kahului, Waiehu, Waihee, Waikapu, Wailuku
Central Maui is less visited but just as lovely to experience as any other parts of Maui. It still has a lot of history and you may visit sacred spots such as the Lao Valley. The town of Kahului is artsy and fun, a perfect place to spend the shopping its quint stores, eat delicious food, have a well deserve cocktails. If you need a break from the beach (perhaps you have a bit of a sun burn!), Central Maui is a perfect place to visit.
Recently, Central Maui was designated as one of the few Blue Zones Projects. For more on what this means, visit our Maui Blue Zone page.
Fun things to do in Central Maui
Visit Wailuku / ʻĪao Valley State Park and ʻĪao Needle (Currently closed due to recent floading. Check here for updates)/ Hiking / Golfing / Eating Out / Shopping