Maui: An Island Girl’s Top Ten Hotspots
Ten places that will make you fall in love with Maui!
By Terah Summers, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Balmy beaches, deep green valleys, cascading waterfalls, and passion fruit colored sunsets. There are not many places, in my humble opinion, that rival Maui’s beauty. Of course I’m biased since I grew up on Maui, but if you find yourself on the island I think you’ll agree with me. Many tourists come to Maui without ever leaving their poolside lounge chair at a resort. But for those that venture outside of Marriott or Grand Wailea, you’ll discover the real Maui. I love my island and I hope you will too! All I ask is that you respect the nature, culture, and way of life here. So without further adeu here are my top ten hotspots on Maui!
Legend has it that the Hawaiian demigod Maui lassoed the sun upon the slopes Haleakala. Driving to the summit of the dormant volcano is as magical as the legend. You’ll be standing 10,023 feet above sea level and overlooking a sea of clouds. Be adventurous and hike into the crater or drive to the summit for a jaw-dropping view at sunrise or sunset. On a clear night the stars are stunningly bright. Because of the elevation it can get cold in the early morning and daybreak so bring a jacket or blanket.
2) Honolua Bay
This gorgeous little bay in west Maui boasts some of the best right hand waves for surfing. When there’s a swell, marvel at the talent of the surfers ripping on the waves. Honolua is also a great place to go snorkelling. I’ll never forget the day I came to Honolua and swam with a pod of wild dophins. It was a day I’ll never forget, especially since it also happened to be my last day on Maui before moving to Oahu for college. Now dolphins are a rare encounter but spotting a sea turtle (honu in Hawaiian) is very common. Also, remember that coral reefs are delicate ecosystems so don’t step on the reef with fins and be quiet so you don’t disturb the wildlife.
3) Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is an enchanting drive that passes through untouched waterfalls, taro farms, and secluded beaches. It’s about 52 miles long and you’ll cross 54 bridges on the way there. There are magical places to discover around every corner, so make as many stops as you wish! Nothing feels more refreshing than dipping into the clear pool of a waterfall. Once you finish the drive, look around the small town of Hana and check out the many waterfalls and black sand beaches. Make sure to designate an entire day for exploring and enjoying Hana’s exotic beauty.
4) Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
Lovers of gardens and all things romantic will fall in love with the lavender farm. Breathe in deeply, exhale, and rejuvenate in this tranquil garden. The garden idyllic location makes it a Maui gem. Its grounds spill down the slopes of Kula and you can see all the way down to the ocean. Roam the grounds and have a picnic where the spell bounding view of Maui spreads out before you.
5) Cliff House
If jumping off rocks into crystal clear water is your thing, you’ll have to put cliff house on your Maui bucket list. Located in Kapalua, this is a great spot for friends to hang out and practice back flips into the water. However, remember that the ocean is a unpredictable force so always be careful and make sure there are no rip tides before entering the water.
6) Waihee Ridge Trail
This hike takes you along the ridge of the West Maui Mountain range. It’s not a flat trail so bring good shoes for traction. This is one of my favorite hikes on Maui because it gets your heart pounding and has beautiful panoramic views of the island. At the end of the trail there’s a picnic table so you can linger on top of the mountains.
7) Iao Valley
Iao Valley is tucked away in the West Maui Mountains. In addition to its natural beauty, Iao Valley is a place rich with history. This is where the major battle between Maui’s chief and King Kamehameha occurred. It is said the water of Iao Stream turned red with the blood of the fallen. After this legendary battle, Hawai’i was united under one reigning chief. You can walk up the many steps that lead to the view of Iao Needle or find a spot along the stream to swim with friends.
8) Try Tasaka’s Guri Guri
Guri Guri is an island favorite you can’t miss! It’s more of a sherbet than ice cream. The recipe is a secret and it’s only found on Maui. The small family run business is located at Maui Mall and has been around since my grandpa was a kid! There are two yummy flavors, strawberry and pineapple. And it only costs a buck or two depending on the size. I’m in heaven everytime I get a Guri Guri back at home!
9) Surf at West Maui
Nothing feels more exhilarating than catching a wave all the way to shore. Whenever I go surfing, I feel as though all my troubles wash away. And an added benefit is the kick-ass workout you get when paddling! If your arms don’t feel like noodles the day after, you didn’t surf long enough! While driving to Lahaina you’ll see an abundance of surf breaks. Some of my favorites are Puamana, Ukumehame, and Guardrails.
10) Try the Local “Grinds”
If you are not from Hawai’i, you’re probably scratching your head. We have a lot of local slang here in the islands. So “grinds” bascially means really really ono (delicious) food. Try loco moco (aka heart attack heaven) which is rice, a hamburger patty, and an egg all smothered in gravy. It’s super good I promise! Be brave and try local favorites that may look questionable to visitors. You can’t leave Maui without at least trying spam musubi. And I think poi is delicious when mixed with lomi lomi salmon to offset the bitterness. Some resonable local food can be found at Takamiya Market, Aloha Mix Plate, and Sam Sato’s.