• Taking the Plunge: Don mask, fins, and snorkel to explore the magical underwater world, where kaleidoscopic clouds of tropical fish flutter by exotic corals; a sea turtle might even come over to check you out. Molokini is everyone's favorite snorkeling destination, but the shores of Maui are lined with magical spots as well. Can't swim? No problem: Hop on a submarine with Atlantis Adventures (tel. 800/548-6262) for a plunge beneath the waves without getting wet.
  • Eat Local: People in Hawaii love food. Want to get a local talking? Ask for her favorite place to get poke or saimin or shave ice, not to mention malasadas or mochi. Maui County’s islands offer excellent fine-dining opportunities (see "The best Restaurants"), but they also have plenty of respectable hole-in-the-wall joints and beloved institutions that have hung around for decades.
  • Paddle an Outrigger Canoe: The first humans to inhabit these islands arrived via outrigger sailing canoes, and the modern six-person canoe remains a potent metaphor for the collaboration. Learn the Hawaiian lore of the wa'a (“vah-ah") and spot a swimming turtle or two while paddling; it's often a complimentary resort experience. See a list of providers beginning.
  • Hunting for Whales on Land: No need to shell out megabucks to go out to sea in search of humpback whales -- you can watch these majestic mammals breach and spy-hop from shore. I recommend scenic McGregor Point, at mile marker 9 along Honoapiilani Highway, just outside Maalaea in south Maui. The humpbacks arrive as early as November, but the majority travel through Maui's waters from mid-December to mid-April.
  • Watching the Windsurfers: World-championship contests are held at Hookipa, on the north shore, one of the greatest windsurfing spots on the planet. Sit on a grassy bluff or stretch out on the sandy beach, and watch the world's top-ranked windsurfers twirling and dancing on the wind and waves like colorful butterflies.
  • Experiencing Maui's History: Wander the historic streets of the old whaling town of Lahaina, where the 1800s are alive and well thanks to the efforts of the Lahaina Restoration Society. Drive the scenic Kahekili Highway, where the preserved village of Kahakuloa looks much as it did a century ago. Stand in awe at Piilanihale, Hawaii's largest heiau (temple), located just outside Hana.
  • Greeting the Rising Sun from Haleakala's Summit: Bundle up in warm clothing, fill a thermos full of hot java, and drive up to the summit to watch the sky turn from inky black to muted charcoal as a small sliver of orange forms on the horizon. Standing at 10,000 feet, breathing in the rarefied air, and watching the first rays of light streak across the sky is a mystical experience of the first magnitude.
  • Exploring a Different Hawaii -- Upcountry Maui: On the slopes of Haleakala, cowboys, farmers, ranchers, and other country people make their homes in serene, neighborly communities, such as Makawao, Kula, and Ulupalakua -- worlds away from the bustling beach resorts. Acres of onions, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and flowers cover the hillsides. Maui's only winery is located here, offering the perfect place for a picnic.
  • Experience Hula: Called “the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people” by King David Kalakaua, hula has a deep cultural significance beyond “The Hukilau” and other perky hapa haole songs most mainland visitors associate with it. On Maui, local halau (hula troupes) perform free shows at several shopping centers and the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, which also hosts an annual children’s competition, Na Keiki O Hula, in November. The Old Lahaina Luau is the real deal, showcasing Hawaiian dance and storytelling nightly on a gracious beachfront stage. On Molokai, reverent dancers celebrate the birth of hula during the 3-day Ka Hula Piko festival held in late spring. 
  • Listen to Slack Key Guitar: Just as much as the ukulele, the style of guitar tuning and picking introduced by paniolo (cowboy) is a signature sound of Hawaii. Although many restaurants and hotel bars offer free performances, Maui’s long-running Masters of Slack Key Guitar weekly concert series in Napili attracts virtuosos who share their melodic music and stories behind their songs with genial host George Kahumoku, Jr. 
  • Trek to Kalaupapa (Molokai): The only access to this hauntingly beautiful and remote place is by foot, mule, or nine-seater plane. Hikers can descend the 26 switchbacks on the sea cliff’s narrow 3-mile trail to Kalaupapa National Park, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. After you’ve reached the peninsula, you’ll board a tour bus —your transport back to a time when islanders with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) were exiled to Molokai and Father Damien and other selfless souls sacrificed their lives to their care.
  • Driving Through a Tropical Rainforest: The Hana Highway is not just a drive but an adventure: Stop along the way to plunge into icy mountain ponds filled by cascading waterfalls; gaze upon vistas of waves pummeling soaring ocean cliffs; inhale the sweet aroma of blooming ginger; and take a walk back in time, catching a glimpse of what Hawaii looked like before concrete condos and fast-food joints washed ashore.
  • Taking a Day Trip to Lanai: From Lahaina, join Trilogy (tel. 888/MAUI-800 [628-4800]) for a snorkel cruise to Lanai, or take the Expeditions Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry over and rent a four-wheel-drive jeep on your own. It's a two-for-one island experience: Board in Lahaina Harbor and admire Maui from offshore; then get off at Lanai and go snorkeling in the clear waters, tour the tiny former plantation island, and catch the last ferry home.

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.