For many, Maui inhabits the sweet spot. Hawaii's second-largest island is a tangle of lovely contradictions, with a Gucci heel on one foot and a puka-shell anklet on the other. Culturally, it’s a mix of farmers, paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys), aspiring chefs, artists, New Age healers, and big-wave riders. The landscape runs the gamut from sun-kissed golden beaches and fragrant rainforests to the frigid, windswept summit of Haleakala. Sure, more traffic lights sprout up around the island every year and spurts of development have turned cherished landmarks into mere memories. But even as Maui transforms, its allure remains.
Anyone who has been to Maui has heard or seen the Hawaiian expression Maui no ka 'oi: “Maui is indeed the best.” Many who’ve been to the Valley Isle agree, returning year after year or even relocating to Maui, enthralled by its staggeringly beautiful scenery and brilliant sunsets, its balmy weather, the annual display of humpback whales frolicking in its waters, and the yearround genuine aloha of its diverse people, inspired by Native Hawaiian traditions of hospitality and cooperation.
Here are some of the natural and cultural treasures to experience on Maui, along with highlights of its alwaysexpanding options for adventure, dining, and family fun. Since Maui County includes Lanai and Molokai (as well as uninhabited Kahoolawe), I’ve included top picks from those islands, too.