Things You Didn’t Know (But Should) About the Best Stuff to Do on Maui

Twin Falls Maui

If you’ve been to Maui without hearing about the Road to Hana, you might have been on the wrong island. A full day adventure that covers it all, including beaches, tropical plants, waterfalls, rainforest, and the essence of island life at its finest, the Road to Hana is a winding road of truly unmistakeable beauty. One of the first and most popular stops along the drive, Twin Falls is the first of many accessible waterfalls you’ll find along the way, attracting more than a quarter of a million visitors each year.

twin falls Maui

hiking pathsAccessed only by crossing through a family-owned, bio-diverse farm since 1997, Wailele Farm is committed to honoring the traditional uses of the Ho’olawa Valley by keeping access to the farm and its multiple waterfalls free and open to the public. By practicing the belief that caring and nurturing for the land will provide what we need to sustain life, both now and in the future, Wailele Farm continues to grow useable plants, including those for medicinal purposes, cooking, candles, Polynesian staple food and even tattoos, along with over 350 varieties of tropical plants.

One of the first things signaling your arrival at Twin Falls is the famous fruit stand, where a pre-waterfall smoothie, coconut candy and banana bread are the name of the game. All fruit from the stand is grown directly on the farm, which receives anywhere from 80 to 100 inches of rain per year from streams running directly through the 39-acre farm. Wailele grows a variety of fruit favorites, like bananas, coconut, lilikoi, mangos and sugarcane, with plans for coffee, cacao (chocolate) and green tea in the works. Don’t miss this aloha-filled stop on your next trip to Maui, and bring a picnic and hiking shoes to make it a full day adventure. Donations are accepted through their website if you’d like to help keep the land accessible and free for everyone. Thanks for all your hard work, Wailele!

wailele farm stand

 

Molokini Crater

To Maui visitors, Molokini Crater often means crystal-clear water, excellent snorkeling, scuba diving and and possibly a cocktail-fueled ride down a slide into a day of fun in the sun. However, not many are aware of Molokini’s odd past, which includes volcanic eruptions, native Hawaiian fishing and, perhaps most recently recalled, bomb practice by the U.S. military during World War II.

Molokini Crater

molokiniAfter its formation by volcanic eruption approximately 230,000 years ago, Molokini Crater was used primarily for fishing by native Hawaiians from 500 AD until the 1940s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, however, the U.S. military designated neighbor island Kahoolawe and Molokini Crater as bomb target practice areas due to the similarity in shape (long and slender) to submarines and battleships. Unfortunately, this practice destroyed much of the fragile coral on the reef and attracted a large number of black coral divers, who looted the area in order to make and sell coral jewelry.

In 1975, the detonation of a previously unexploded bomb, which worsened the already damaged coral, led to a public demand for Molokini Crater to be declared a Marine Life Conservation District, successfully accomplished two years later in 1977. While another live bomb was detonated underwater in 1984, resulting in even more coral destruction, no more live munitions have been found since.

Today, the crater is a designated State Seabird Sanctuary and visitor destination of more than 400,000 people each year. We highly recommend a visit to Molokini Crater for its remarkable visibility and beauty. With the abundance of vibrant life, it’s hard to believe it had such an dark past.  Ask your tour guide to point out impact craters, shrapnel and bullets, which are still visible today.

molokini maui

 

Piiholo Ziplines – History of the Baldwin Family

Originally created by workers who needed to quickly transport supplies and people across impassable areas, it wasn’t until the last couple of decades that ziplining became a major tourist attraction. Maui is no exception to this trend, and ziplining here offers stunning panoramic views (and a thrill) like no other you’ll experience on your trip to Hawaii.

Piiholo Zipline

baldwin family MauiPeter Baldwin, a 5th generation Maui native and owner/founder of Piiholo Ranch, has created a unique ziplining experience, along with the help of his three sons, in upcountry Maui along the slopes of the famous Haleakala volcano. After successfully building a cattle business and horseback riding venture, son Jeff Baldwin brought up the idea of creating a zipline tour on the family’s Makawao ranch, which features beautiful rolling meadows, deep gulches and sweeping views of mountains and ocean. After two and a half years of working with the best designers and builders in the zipline industry, Piiholo Zipline opened in 2008 and hasn’t lost traction (literally and figuratively) since.

The newest addition to the zipline family is the canopy course, which opened in 2011 and offers a zip through the treetops in Maui’s forest canopy. Perhaps the most unique feature of Piiholo, however, is the longest side-by-side zipline in the state, which allows visitors to race each other for over half a mile. If you’re looking to spice up your next trip to paradise, consider racing your friends down the side of a volcano while flying through the air. ‘Cause how often does that option come up?

Call 1-800-374-7050 to book your zipline adventure and get the best rates.  For horseback tours, call (808) 357-1755.

zipling Maui

 

Iao Valley – Bloody Battles

Iao Valley is a well known visitor attraction located within Iao Valley State Park in North Maui, featuring the iconic Iao Needle, a 1,200 foot natural rock pinnacle that seems to call to nature-lovers from all over the world. While many people visit the park to enjoy the scenic beauty of the West Maui mountains, hiking trails and take a swim in the fresh water stream, not many know about its place in shaping the future of Hawaii.

iao valley

iao streamIn a quest to unite the Hawaiian islands, King Kamehameha I landed on Maui’s North shore in 1790 while Maui’s chief, Kahekili, was on O’ahu. Knowing that he needed to defeat the Maui army in order to unite the islands, King Kamehameha I pursued Kahekili’s son, Kalanikupule, into Iao Valley, which served as the site of the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai. While Maui’s ali’i (royalty) and army were forced to flee into Iao Valley, using Iao Needle as a lookout point and hoping to wait out their enemy, Kamehameha was already a step ahead, envisioning this exact reaction and making it part of his invasion strategy. Trapping the forces within the valley and defeating the Maui army in a ferocious battle of spears, cannons and muskets, 37 warriors, soldiers and chiefs under Kamehameha reached the head of Iao after the battle.

While definitely a drastic approach to what would turn out to be a relatively peaceful reign, King Kamehameha’s actions helped shape the course of Hawaiian history, and he is still widely recognized as one of Hawaii’s greatest leaders and warriors today.

Most visitors to Iao Valley refer to it as stepping into the moving Jurassic Park, but you’ll know the truth about the the brave Maui warriors that died in this sacred place.

iao valley maui

 

Hana Bay & Road to Hana

A popular spot for local family gatherings, Hana Bay is a black sand beach known for great swimming and outrigger canoe races on Maui’s easternmost point. Home to the Ka’uiki lighthouse, Hana Bay remains a favorite visitor and local spot for picnicking and snorkeling in the calm water.

hana bay

kauiki hillKa’uiki Hill, located on the right side of Hana Bay, has its own tale of Hawaiian history and legend. It is here where Queen Ka’ahumanu, Hawaii’s most powerful queen and favorite wife of King Kamehameha I, was born in 1768 in a cave at the base of the hill.

Long before this, however, legend has it that Maui, the mischievous Demi-god, had a daughter named Noenoe Ua Kea O Hana, meaning “the misty, light rain of Hana”. Noenoe had a strong love for the ocean and met a young man named Ka’uiki, who was an adopted son of the menehunes and seen as a gift from Kanaloa, the sea god. They fell instantly in love, but both knew they could never be together because Ka’uiki would one day have to return to the sea. Noenoe pleaded with her father, Maui, to use his magical powers to keep them together forever, so he reluctantly turned Ka’uiki into a high hill overlooking Hana Bay and Noenoe into the misty rain. To this day, the Noenoe Ua Kea O Hana can be seen coming off the ocean to gently surround and embrace Ka’uiki Hill.

When you say the words “Road to Hana”, one of two reactions typically follows: 1) It’s the scariest drive in the world and will undoubtedly make you carsick and make you wish you had enjoyed a simple and relaxing day on the beach, or 2) It is the most magical rainforest adventure you’ll ever go on, filled with breathtaking views of waterfalls, beaches, caves and rainbows that’ll make you want to book your one way plane ticket immediately.

Whatever your opinion is of the Road to Hana, here are the facts:

  • Number of Curves: 617
  • Number of Bridges: 56
  • Length: 68 miles
  • Experiences Like It: 0

Road to Hana

 

Paia Town

Paia Town, known affectionately as the hippie town of Maui, is a beloved home base for all kinds, including advanced surfers, country music legend Willie Nelson and even the occasional world-renowned visual artist. It seems this tiny town, which consists of only one main street, is where a large portion of Maui’s economy and cultural melting pot got its start.

Paia Town

paia mauiIn 1880, Alexander and Baldwin Company built the first Sugar Mill on the island, supporting the needs of the immigrant sugar workers, an eclectic mix of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, and Native Hawaiians, who lived and worked together in peace. In its hay day of the 1930s and 40s, Paia was home to more than 10,000 people, schools, churches, movie theaters, stores, a train depot and a hospital. After people began moving to Kahului and Wailuku to purchase property, the population decreased quite a bit, but that wasn’t the end of the road for Paia Town.

After the 1960s brought in an array of hippies due to Paia’s natural beauty, rural setting and laid back vibe, in 1978, a group of young men discovered Ho’okipa Beach Park as the perfect place for windsurfing, eventually leading to it’s reputation as the “Windsurf Capital of the World”.

Some of our favorite spots to eat are Flatbread Pizza, Cafe Des Amis, Mambo Cafe and Dazoo. If you’re looking for an inexpensive spot with great food, check out Tortillas.   If you want to sit down and are willing to drop some dough on an unforgettable meal, Mama’s Fish House is a 2 minute drive.  Whether you come here in search of great local seafood, off-the-wall, eclectic shopping, art galleries, wind or kite surfing, or in hopes of seeing Steven Tyler shopping for groceries, just remember, “Don’t Feed the Hippies”.

Paia

 

Fishing

For those willing to put a little work into their dinner, fishing in Maui can be a very memorable and rewarding experience. Whether you enjoy sport fishing, traditional net fishing, shore or even spearfishing, there are several options on Maui that will challenge even the most seasoned fisherman.

fishing Maui

roi fishOriginally introduced as additional food sources in the 1950s by the State of Hawaii, several species of fish, including the Roi (Peacock Grouper), To’au (Blacktail Snapper) and Ta’ape (Blueline Snapper), have damaged entire reef systems around the state. The Roi, for example, consumes around 150 reef fish per year, including endemic species only found in Hawaii, as well as causing Ciguatera poisoning when consumed.

Because fishing of these invasive species was not done frequently enough after their introduction, the fish were able to produce rapidly, further damaging the reef. On your next trip to Maui, feel free to try your hand at helping control the invasive species population. Just don’t eat the Roi!

 

Grand Wailea 

A favorite destination for celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the Grand Wailea Resort in South Maui is nothing less than first class, all the way down to the parking lot. Whether you’re visiting Maui on your honeymoon or taking a trip with the kids, the Grand Wailea pulls out all the stops when it comes to resort amenities.

Grand Wailea

grand poolGuests can choose from two on-site pools, including the Hibiscus and Wailea Canyon Activity Pool. The Hibiscus Pool, named for the hibiscus flower adorned on the pool floor, features two jacuzzis, 4,850 square feet and is reserved for guests 18 and older. The Wailea Canyon Pool, a kid and adult favorite, features an impressive nine connected pools on six levels, including four jungle pools, four intertwining slides, whitewater rapids slide, Tarzan pool with rope swing, sand beach, six waterfalls, caves, three Jacuzzis, an infant pool, the world’s first water elevator, the Lava slide, and a swim-up bar. You can also experience the Fishpipe, the world’s first rotating barrel ride, which looks like a water-slide in a balloon. If you can’t find the pool experience of your dreams at this resort, it probably doesn’t exist.

Residents of Ho’olei Properties, luxury town homes that sit directly across the street, also enjoy access to many of the resort amenities, including charging privileges at all six resort restaurants as well as access to pools, Spa Grande, the fitness center and Wailea Golf and Tennis Club.

Hoolei Wailea

 

Maui Ocean Center

Known affectionately as Hawaii’s favorite aquarium, the Maui Ocean Center offers an inside look at life beneath the surface in and around Hawaii. Featuring only animals found in local waters, the Maui Ocean Center is committed to providing information that is crucial in preserving and respecting local marine life.

maui ocean center

scuba sharksWhile the aquarium attracts more than half a million visitors annually, not many of those are lucky enough to participate in the special opportunities and events offered throughout the year, including Shark Dive Maui, where certified scuba divers are invited to hop in a 750,000 gallon tank for a chance to swim with over 20 sharks, stingrays, and thousands of tropical reef fish.

Maui Ocean Center also offers scheduled public sleepovers for children ages 8 to 13, which include hands-on discovery lessons, educational games, ocean-themed crafts, an evening pizza party and continental breakfast. If that still hasn’t caught your fancy, trying visiting the aquarium during a Sea Talk, which feature presentations by renowned marine life and Hawaiian cultural experts. Check News & Calendar for upcoming events.

 

Kayaking

Hiking, biking, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, parasailing, snorkeling and scuba diving are just a few of the hundreds of available outdoor activities on Maui. But what about kayaking around Maui? Often less expensive than a boat tour, kayaking can be a great way to see Maui’s dramatic coast, whale watch (during season), and see amazing animals like the Hawaiian spinner dolphin and green sea turtle up close in their natural environment.

Kayaking Maui

HonuTurtle Town, located in Makena, is a great place to kayak and witness the beauty of green sea turtles, a threatened species since 1978 after being fished nearly to extinction in the 1960s. In ancient Hawaii, honu (turtles) were a valued food source, although the ali’i, or royalty, strictly controlled turtle hunting. In traditional Hawaiian culture, some families consider sea turtles to be ‘aumakua, or family guardians.

In all of Hawaii, it is illegal to harass, feed, hunt, capture or kill sea turtles. While it takes at least 20 to 50 years for a turtle to reach sexual maturity, healthy turtles can expect to live anywhere from 80 to 100 years or more. Currently, federal agencies like the National Marine Fisheries Administration and local advocate Maui Ocean Center are working hard to educate the public about the Hawaiian honu and what steps we can take to protect them.

 

Lahaina Town Shopping

While most people know that Lahaina is a great place for shopping, people watching, relaxing under the banyan tree, browsing art galleries and grabbing a meal with a view, it also has an important place in history and Hawaiian culture.

lahaina banyan

lahaina halloweenFrom 700 AD to the present, Front Street has gone through six major historical periods. After its first days as a simple village, Lahaina became the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and later on, home to Reverend Dwight Baldwin and missionaries. From the 1820s to 1860s, Lahaina endured a famous stretch as the whaling capital of the world, when whale oil was used widely for heating, lighting and industrial machinery while whale bone was used for corsets, skirt hoops, umbrellas and buggy whips. Lahaina also served as a plantation settlement and finally, a popular place for tourism, event celebrations and whale watching that continues today!

Every June, King Kamehameha Day is celebrated in Lahaina, a tradition since 1872, to honor the King responsible for uniting the Hawaiian islands. The event, along with Halloween Celebrations along Front Street, are the two largest draws to the former Hawaiian capital and ones you should definitely experience if you have the chance!

 

Bonus:
Do you know how Kihei came to be Kihei?

Legend has it that two clouds once battled along the upper slopes of Haleakala volcano. The battle continued until both sides decided to call a truce, and the resulting space of blue sky was called Alanui o Lani, or the “Highway to Heaven”.

Hokulani Golf Villas

Previously called Kama’ole, meaning “barren”, Kihei (or “Cape”) didn’t become a tourist destination until the mid 1970’s and 80’s, when condos, shopping centers and strip malls slowly made their way in. Today, Kihei is among one of the top Hawaiian destinations, famous for its laid-back attitude, gorgeous beaches and unforgettable South Maui sunsets.

Check out Kihei’s only golf course, The Maui Nui Golf Club, for a memorable day in the sun, and help us welcome the stunning new Hokulani Golf Villas the neighborhood!

Hokulani Maui

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