7 must dos upon visiting Maui…

Surfer tackles big wave south of La Perouse Bay on Maui's southwest shore.

These are the seven must dos upon visiting Maui…

Mark Twain called Hawaii “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean”. Maui, second most visited of the islands (trailing only Oahu), is one of the most beautiful and the one we know best from 16 visits there in the last 17 years. Our recent visit and chats with locals allowed us to reevaluate our list of the top seven things to do in Maui. Here they are:

The Elvis "Burn'N Love" show is a hit in Lahaina.

Take in a sunrise at the top of Mt. Haleakala. need to depart your hotel around 2:30 AM to make the 5 o’clock-ish majestic sunrise at the top of the 10,023’ volcano. Take either a jacket or a blanket, since it’s about 25° chillier at the lofty summit than at sea level. And on the way down, reward yourself with a stop at the old Kula Lodge at 3200 feet on the volcano’s flank for marvelous breakfasts such as cinnamon swirl French toast (with coconut syrup); stunning views come with the breakfast! The National Park now requires pre-registration and a nominal fee of $1.50 to make the early morning drive to the top – so go to reserveamerica.com and book your day trip well in advance.

The huge banyan tree is the center of old Lahaina.

Explore Lahaina Town. It’s the historic former whaling capital and territorial capital (before it moved to Oahu). The city is loaded with history and features one of the world’s largest banyan trees anchoring a city block in front of the old courthouse (the old Baldwin House Museum is nearby). Home to some of the island’s best shops and finest restaurants, like Fleetwood’s, Hamburger in Paradise and Bubba Gump’s Shrimp all along the ocean on old Front Street – it’s a gourmet’s delight.

Go beaching! Maui is known for many of the worlds top beaches. Favorites, based on broad, sandy and swimmable, are on the west side of the island, like Wailea Beach (between the Grand Wailea and Fairmont luxury tourist hotels), Makena State Beach and Secret Cove (just south of 6900 Makena Rd.), where a 6 foot opening in the lava-rock wall takes you to a pocket beach with gorgeous scenery, including a picture-perfect vantage-point looking out towards Molokini Atoll).

Sun sets over the beach on Maui's stunning west-side beaches.

At Sugar Beach in North Kehei, the Kehei Canoe Club offers Tuesday and Thursday canoe trips in Hawaiian war canoes for a donation of $40. It’s an exciting and energetic option, paddling parallel to several miles of beautiful beach. The beaches in and north of Kaanapali are scenic, but narrower and rockier.

Take the road to Hana. This scenic, windy (115 tight turns) road delivers you to this ultimate, secluded town on Maui’s south eastern flank. Plan a full day to journey through thick rain forest, along gorgeous sections of the ocean and past numerous waterfalls. Early in the drive, just past popular Mama’s Fish House, stop at the Ka’a Point Beach, one of the best kitesurfing beaches in the world; world-class kite surfers zoom right up to the beach, presenting marvelous photo opportunities. Just past the secluded resort town of Hana find the grave of Charles Lindbergh at the Palapala Ho’Omau Congregational Church. Lindbergh retired to Hana and died there in 1974.

Wild goats on the King's Highway Trail through lava flows at La Perouse Bay are an extra bonus.

Hike a few of Maui’s beautiful trails: Some are historic, like sections of the old Kings Hwy. that circled the island hundreds of years ago, allowing ancient Hawaiian kings to traverse the island and collect taxes. A favorite, the Hoapili Trail, treks through the La Perouse Bay lava fields, presenting rocky ocean views around every turn and sightings of dozens of wild black goats which inhabit the area. Another is the Lahaina Pali Trail, which parallels the Pali Highway from Ma’alea Harbor headed north to Lahaina and offers stunning views of Molokini, Kaho’o'lawe and Lanai from high on the bluffs above the Pacific. The Haleakala volcano’s trail system also offers a host of options into the crater (though altitudes of 9-10,000 feet will cause some a challenge).

Take in a show. While we’ve done three different luaus, the high price precludes them as good values – though you probably owe yourself one (Drums of the Pacific Luau in Lahaina is rated tops by TripAdvisor). Lahaina does offer several spectacular shows, including the Elvis impersonator Burn’n Love show, Warren and Annabelle’s Magic (we’ve seen each twice) and the epic Ulalena, a stunning musical review full of acrobats, focused on the creation of the Hawaiian islands.

The South Maui Fish Company is one of many food trucks offering local delicacies.

Eat local: Marvelous dining options abound; our suggestions are to focus on local food, food trucks and happy hours. Skip the chains and find local restaurants that cook locally-caught fish and Maui-grown produce (Pacific-O a fine example). Food trucks also offer wonderful options, such as the South Maui Fish Company in Kehei or Jawz Fish Tacos on Makena Road opposite Makena State Beach (with scores of beautiful beaches, you have stunning waterfront dining backdrops). And, dine during happy hour for appetizers at half price and discounted drinks at a variety of places, such as Five Palms (Kehei), Fleetwoods (Lahaina) and the Hula Grill (Kaanapali).

For more information: Maui Visitor’s Bureau, visitmaui.com, (808) 244-3530; for Maui Revealed phone-app, hawaiirevealed.com.

Follow Tim’s blog at recordnet.com/travelblog or contact him at tviall@msn.com. Happy travels in your world!

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  • Blog Author

    Tim Viall

    Viall is a local travel writer who retired in 2012 after 10 years as executive director of Stockton, CA's, Emergency Food Bank and six years with the Downtown Stockton Alliance. Previously, a 21-year career in daily newspapers helped shape his ... Read Full
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