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After a few days of just relaxing on the beach, the itch to explore the rest of Maui sets in: What's on top of Haleakala, looming in the distance? Is the road to Hana really the tropical jungle everyone raves about? What does the inside of a 19th-century whaling boat look like?

There is far more to the Valley Isle than just sun, sand, and surf. Get out and see for yourself the otherworldly interior of a 10,000-foot volcanic crater, watch endangered sea turtles make their way to nesting sites in a wildlife sanctuary, wander back in time to the days when whalers and missionaries fought for the soul of Lahaina, and feel the energy of a thundering waterfall cascade into a serene mountain pool.

Guided Island Adventures

The adventures below aren't cheap. However, each one offers such a wonderful opportunity to see Maui from a unique perspective that, depending on your interests, you might make one of them the highlight of your trip. It'll be worth every penny.

Flying High: Helicopter Rides -- Only a helicopter can bring you face to face with remote sites like Maui's little-known Wall of Tears, near the summit of Puu Kukui in the West Maui Mountains. You'll glide through canyons etched with 1,000-foot waterfalls and over dense rainforests; you'll climb to 10,000 feet, high enough to glimpse the summit of Haleakala, and fly by the dramatic vistas at Molokai.

The first chopper pilots in Hawaii were good ol' boys on their way back from Vietnam -- hard-flying, hard-drinking cowboys who cared more about the ride than the scenery. But not anymore. Today's pilots, like the ones at Blue Hawaiian , are an interesting hybrid: part Hawaiian historian, part DJ, part tour guide, and part amusement-ride operator. As you soar through the clouds, you'll learn about the island's flora, fauna, history, and culture.

Among the many helicopter-tour operators on Maui, the best is Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, at Kahului Airport (tel. 800/745-BLUE [2583] or 808/871-8844; www.bluehawaiian.com), which not only takes you on the ride of your life but also entertains, educates, and leaves you with an experience you'll never forget. Blue Hawaiian is also the only helicopter company in the state to have the latest high-tech, environmentally friendly (and quiet) Eco-Star helicopters, specially designed for air-tour operators. Flight times range from 30 to 90 minutes and cost $206 to $360 (if you book on their website, rates start at $139).

Going Under: Submarine Rides -- Plunging 100 feet below the surface of the sea in a state-of-the-art, high-tech submarine is a great way to experience Maui's magnificent underwater world, especially if you're not a swimmer. Atlantis Adventures, 658 Front St., Lahaina (tel. 800/548-6262 or 808/667-2224; www.atlantisadventures.com), offers five trips per day out of Lahaina Harbor between 9am and 2pm; prices are $99 for adults and $45 for children ages 11 and under (children must be at least 3 ft. tall). Book online and save 10%. The whole trip takes almost 2 hours; you'll spend about 45 minutes underwater. Warning: This is not a good choice if you're claustrophobic.

Ecotours -- Venture into the lush East Maui Mountains with an experienced guide on one of the numerous hikes offered by Eco Adventures with Hike Maui (tel. 866/324-6284 or 808/879-5270; www.ecomaui.com). You'll hike by streams and waterfalls, through native trees and plants, and on to breathtaking vistas. The tour includes a stop for a picnic lunch, a swim in secluded pools, and memorable photo ops. The 6-hour excursion costs $120 per person, including hotel pick up, a fanny pack with bottled water, and ra

Maui Farms: stop & smell the lavender

Idyllic farms abound in upcountry Maui. Many open their doors to visitors and have terrific Maui-made products for purchase.

Alii Kula Lavender--Stop and smell the lavender when you visit these gorgeous grounds, set high up on the leeward slope of Haleakala, scented by multiple varieties of lavender, tropical flowers, and fruit trees. On the 30-minute walking tour (daily at 9:30, 10:30am, and 11:30am, and 1 and 2:30pm; $12 per person, $10 with advance reservation), you can sniff lavender cuttings and leave with a fragrant bouquet. The store is chock-full of great culinary products (lavender seasonings, honey, jelly, and teas) and bath and body goodies (the salve is a lifesaver). General admission is $3; lunches and treasure hunts for the kids can be arranged with 24-hour notice. 1100 Waipoli Rd., Kula (www.aliikulalavender.com; tel. 808/878-3004).

Maui Country Farm Tours--This tour operator visits the above farms and many more. Marilyn Jansen Lopes and her husband, Rick, are sweet, knowledgeable guides offering a gorgeous overview of agriculture on the Valley Isle and regaling guests with plenty of anecdotes and extra treats along the way. They share their love of Maui along with the historic background of the island’s sugar mills, coffee plantations, family farms, and vineyards. Tours in eight-seat, air-conditioned buses start at $125 (http://mauicountryfarmtours.com; tel. 808/283-9131).

Maui Ocean Vodka--Never heard of a vodka farm? Neither had I until Maui Ocean Vodka opened for business just below Surfing Goat Dairy on Omaopio Road. Sustainably harvested organic sugarcane is blended with deep ocean mineral water to make fine-quality liquor. See how it’s done at this solar-powered distillery halfway up the leeward slope of Haleakala. (The views alone are worth the price of admission.) Fun and informative tours are $10 a person (12 years and up). Lunch can be added for $25 with 24-hour advance notice. Those 21 and over get to sample various spirits (and vodka-filled truffles!) and take home a souvenir shot glass. 4051 Omaopio Rd., Kula (www.oceanvodka.com; tel. 808/877-0009; daily 9:30am–5pm).

Surfing Goat Dairy--When heading upcountry, take a detour on wild Omaopio Road to meet the frisky kids at this sweet, off-the-beaten-path destination for those who love goats and/or cheese. When you spot the surfboard nailed to the tree, you’ll know you’re close. Daily farm tours are $7 for kids and $10 adults. Book in advance if you want to help with evening chores: milking mama goats (Mon–Sat 3:15pm; $15 adults, $10 children). Cheese aficionados will appreciate the Grand Dairy Tours: 2 hours of cheesemaking and sampling the farm’s award-winning chèvre, quarks, and truffles. 3651 Omaopio Rd., Kula (www.surfinggoatdairy.com; tel. 808/878-2870; Mon–Sat 9am–5pm, Sun 9am–2pm).


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.