This is the area for vacationers. In this strip is where the magical white sandy beaches can be found, and where the condos, vacation homes, best bed and breakfasts, and five star resorts are located. Two great places to stay are the Maui Prince Hotel (Makena) and the Aston Wailea hotel. There are many other places to find good accommodations.
The southwest of Maui is also known for being one of the best places for snorkeling or diving. Molokini is a small volcanic crescent that is not far from shore and perfect for divers or for snorkelers to explore. A day trip of sailing can be booked to Molokini and take advantage of the great location for diving.
If not into water adventures, inland offers the top golf courses in the area and you can also visit Haleakala, a huge volcano. You can drive up or go in a tour. The changes in climate and vegetation will make themselves apparent, as they can be dramatic changes. You can also go horseback riding through the beautiful countryside or mountain biking downhill. This area has much to offer the visitor.
From Kihei to Wailea
Kihei translates to "shoulder cloak." Kihei has a ten thousand feet mountain at its back, and it is the region of Maui with the best weather. This area is very dry and sunny as the mountain Haleakala catches the clouds formations. Here you will find moderate priced hotels and inexpensive condos. There are also affordable bed and breakfasts, as well as vacation rentals and vacation homes. Two great places to check out are the Budget Maui Oceanfront or the Maui Coast Hotel. Many people from California have homes here or visit frequently. There is a younger crowd here and the mood is relaxed. The housing cost is moderate and beneficial to the younger crowd. Here, there is plenty to do - tennis, sailing, snorkeling, diving, and great shopping. There are very good restaurants in this area as well. You can see Lanai, Molokini, and Kahoolawe very clear from the Kihei beaches.
Wailea is just a few miles to the south. Wailea translates to Joyful Waters. In the nineteen century, two sugar barons built the first hotel resorts and the golf courses, their names where Alexander and Baldwin. They knew the beauty of the area and its attraction. Here you can find quality resorts, which are used as standard measure for other resorts. Some of the best are the Aston Wailea, the Palms at Wailea, and the Maui Prince at Makena. The landscaping of this area is excellent and well manicured. There is much to see at the resorts. For a cozier atmosphere, the best bed and breakfasts in the area are the Oceanside Retreat and the Whale Watch House, both famous.
If driving upcountry towards Haleakala volcano, you will be pleasantly surprised. This ten thousand feet volcano is impressive and the area grows and produces wine. You can visit the only winery in Hawaii that is commercial here, which is surrounded by many eucalyptus groves. Two popular wines are Maui's Blanc de Noir and the Maui Blush. There are also many ranches were you can go horseback riding.
The western slope passing through the Ulupalakua countryside and Kula will reveal chrysanthemum and protea farms. Local farmers also grow vegetables as a source of income. The weather is much cooler here due to the altitude, which allows for growing plants that will not survive in hotter weather.
Upcountry has been the inspiration of many artists who came with brush and easel, in the early days. A colorful population blends locals and hippies. The Visuals Arts Center, also known as Hui No'eau, is where you can learn about local artists, take art classes, and meet many artists, as well as learn about some history.
Makawao translates to beginning forest, and this is where true country life is found. It is situated to the southeast of Kahului. The road to follow is the highway 37 going towards Haleakala. Portuguese ranchers, immigrants who raise cattle, founded the small village. On the Fourth of July, rodeo events happened, which made the town an attraction. You will see horses and cattle grazing around. Main Street will offer some Mexican and American steakhouses, but the best noodle soup, called saimin, can be found at Kitada.
Going a few miles upcountry, the village of Olinda is found. The name Olinda came from the Spanish O linda vista, which translates to oh, what a beautiful view. Legend has it that a Spanish visitor yelled in awe from a viewpoint and the name Olinda stuck. Passing thru, you will notice different weather or climate zones, and then you will reach the Haleakala Park entrance.
One of the best things to do when visiting Haleakala summit is to watch the sunrise, but you will have to get up at three in the morning. You can take a tour or go biking. Haleakala translates to the house of the sun. Legend has it that the demigod Maui, saw the sun coming up from the crater, and he had to climb to the summit; once there, Maui roped each sunray and tied it to a tree. He made a deal with the sun, to make her free. The sun would have to slow down across the islands so Maui's mother had more time to do her chores of cooking and drying his clothes.
There are daylight tours. In addition, many mountain bikers go downhill the mountain enjoying the scenery.
Once you pass the National Park entrance, the vegetation starts changing and you will encounter dark lava stones and rough terrain. There is a fee to enter the park. The visitor center can be found after you enter the park and there is much information about the area. The road leading to the summit is winding and a long way to the top. There is parking at the summit, and a glass shelter a few yards from the parking spots. The weather here is cold and visitors should bring sweaters and blankets.
The inside of the crater can be best appreciated after the sun comes out, when it is visible. It reminds the visitor of the lunar landscape. This is the largest crater worldwide measuring about three thousand feet in-depth, twenty miles around, seven and a half miles across, and two and a half mile wide. To put into perspective, you will be able to fit Manhattan inside it. The last eruption of this volcano was in the year 1790.
This mountain measures approximately nineteen thousand feet below water surface and over ten thousand feet above water surface.
The species living here are protected. The flora and fauna here is considered real survivors, as the area is a barren environment. Here you can find the Silversword, an impressive flower that has blossoms that are over three feet high. You can explore this crater by horse. This park is excellent for walking and hiking. There are cabins to stay and you must book the stay. Two of the cabins can be found at the crater floor. This park should be on your must see list when visiting Maui.
The area of southwest Maui is known for the sunny beaches, which are also the longest. From white sandy beaches to black sand beaches, Maui has it all. These beaches are very clean, as residents take pride on them. Maui has about eighty beaches. A good number of these are great for swimming as they have calm clear waters, safe year round. Red flags mark boundaries and tricky areas, and the visitor should respect the lifeguard on duty.
All the beaches found in Maui are public; access is anytime you want, although the parking is limited in many areas. Sometimes, it may be hard to find a certain beach.
The Wailea Beach is located behind the Four Seasons Resort and the Grand Wailea. This is a very beautiful and popular beach, mostly frequented by tourists staying at the resort since it cannot be accessed from the road.
Outside Wailea going to the north, you will encounter Ulua Beach and Mokapu Beach. These beaches are well equipped with facilities. The area is great for going swimming, as the water is calm. In the morning, there is hardly anyone there. The lava rock makes for great snorkeling.
The Makena Beach-Oneloa Beach
Oneloa translates to long sand, and it depicts this beach very well. It is three quarters of a mile long and wide. It is found right after the Maui Prince Hotel, following the Makena Ala Nui road - a dirt road. This beach is great for picnics. No alcohol is allowed. Unless you are an expert swimmer, swimming her may be dangerous due to the high shore break. From this beach, you can see Kahoolawe and Molokini.
Puuola Beach is also known as Little Beach. You will have to climb a small hill, a rocky cinder cone to get to it. There is nude bathing there, however, it is illegal.
Keneoio Bay/La Perouse Bay is a secluded beach that is situated to the end of the Makena Alanui Road. It was named after La Perouse, a French explorer who discovered this bay around the year 1796. To access it you will need a four by four vehicle or will have to hike three and a half miles through sharp lava stones, therefore having good hiking shoes is necessary.
The history of the beach is interesting. In 1790, the lava flow buried a village, which ruins can still be seen. It is not suitable for swimming due to rough waters and strong currents.