Branch out while you're in Maui. Do something you wouldn't normally do -- after all, you're on vacation. Some of the following adventures are a bit pricey, but these splurges are worth every penny.
- Scuba Diving: You're in love with snorkeling and the chance to view the underwater world, but it's just not enough -- you want to get closer and see even more. Take an introductory scuba dive: After a brief lesson on how to use the diving equipment, you'll plunge into the deep to swim with the tropical fish and go eyeball to eyeball with other marine critters.
- Snorkel in a Submerged Crater: You’ll have to take a boat or high-speed raft to get there, but the crescent wall of Molokini, half a mile wide and extending some 300 feet below the ocean, provides shelter for a shallow reef with a phenomenal array of colorful fish. Get there early and in comfort with Kai Kanani or Trilogy.
- Witness the Whales: From December to April, humpback whales cruise Hawaiian waters. You can see these gentle giants from almost any shore; simply scan the horizon for a spout. Hear them, too, by ducking your head below the surface and listening for their otherworldly music. The shallower channels between South Maui and Kahoolawe and between West Maui and Lanai offer the best bets for seeing the massive marine mammals up close. Try Trilogy for a first-class catamaran ride, or, if you’re adventurous, climb into an outrigger canoe with Hawaiian Paddle Sports.
- Skimming over the Ocean in a Kayak: Glide silently over the water, hearing only the sound of your paddle dipping beneath the surface. This is the way the early Hawaiians traveled along the coastline. You'll be eye level and up close and personal with the ocean and the coastline, exploring areas you can't get to any other way. Venture out on your own or go with an experienced guide -- either way, you won't be sorry.
- Seeing the Stars from Inside a Volcanic Crater: Driving up to see the sunrise is a trip you'll never forget, but to really experience Haleakala, plan to hike in and spend the night. To get a feel for why the ancient Hawaiians considered this one of the most sacred places on the island, you simply have to wander into the heart of the dormant volcano, where you'll find some 27 miles of hiking trails, two camping sites, and three cabins.
- Hiking to a Waterfall: There are waterfalls and then there are waterfalls: The magnificent 400-foot Waimoku Falls, in Oheo Gulch outside of Hana, are worth the long drive and the uphill hike you have to take to get there. The falls are surrounded by lush green ferns and wild orchids, and you can even stop to take a dip in the pool at the top of Makahiku Falls on the way.
- Flying over the Remote West Maui Mountains: Your helicopter streaks low over razor-thin cliffs, then flutters past sparkling waterfalls and down into the canyons and valleys of the inaccessible West Maui Mountains. There's so much beauty to absorb that it all goes by in a rush. You'll never want to stop flying over this spectacular, surreal landscape -- and it's the only way to see the dazzling beauty of the prehistoric area of Maui.
- Visit a Volcanic Summit: All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by shield volcanoes, and all are now extinct— except on the southernmost islands of Maui and Hawaii. On Maui, Haleakala (“House of the Sun”) has been dormant for at least several centuries, but you can sense its impressive force by driving up to its 10,023-foot summit in Haleakala National Park and hiking into the vast crater.
- Four-Wheel It on Lanai (Lanai): Off-roading is a way of life on barely paved Lanai. Rugged trails lead to deserted beaches, abandoned villages, sacred sites, and valleys filled with wild game. Unsure about driving yourself? Rabaca’s Limousine Service and Island Tours will take you to remote areas in comfortable vehicles with friendly guides.
- Taking a Drive on the Wild Side: Mother Nature's wild side, that is -- on the Kahekili Highway on Maui's northeast coast. This back-to-nature experience will take you past ancient Hawaiian heiau (temples); along steep ravines; and by rolling pastures, tumbling waterfalls, exploding blowholes, crashing surf, and jagged lava coastlines. You'll wander through the tiny Hawaiian village of Kahakuloa and around the "head" of Maui to the Marine Life Conservation Area of Honolua-Mokuleia and on to the resort of Kapalua. You'll remember this adventure for years.
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.