Being the 2nd largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui truly sets itself apart from the other islands. Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island's name in the legend of Hawaiiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands.
According to that legend, Hawaiiloa named the island of Maui after his son, who in turn was named for the demigod Maui. The island of Maui is also known as "Valley Isle". This beautiful island is home to multiple attractions and below are the top 10 which I believe set it apart from other islands.
1. Ocean Project
The Ocean Project is marine education for kids and families (and kids at heart) who want to learn about the marine environment. It is based on the principle that “knowledge is power”. Its backbone is three part education, field research and interpretation.
2. Haleakala National Park: Waimoku Falls Trail
A truly fantastic hike! The Pipiwai trail hike is located in the spectacular Haleakala State Park at the Oheo Gulch. It is a 4 mile round trip hike up a valley to a 400 ft waterfall with many great sites along the way. It is well marked and has boardwalks and steps to make this moderate trail easier. You will be going up about 700-800 ft. in elevation to get to Waimoku Falls at the end of this beautiful valley.
3. Haleakala National Park: Haleakala Crater
Early Hawaiians applied the name Haleakala ("House of the Sun") to the general mountain. This volcano helped develop 75% of the island's total land, the other 25% were formed by the West Maui Mountains. The drive up to view the sunrise from the summit of the Haleakala Crater is long and has to be completed early in the morning.
It can be very cold at the summit (approximately 10,000' above sea level) compared to the rest of the island, so dress appropriately. If you make it before the sunrise, be sure to have your camera ready – the sunrise is stunning but short.
4. Hana Highway
The Hana Highway is a 68-mile (109 km) long stretch of Hawaii State Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului with the town of Hana in east Maui. Although Hana is only about 52 miles (84 km) from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive when no stops are made as the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hana, virtually all of it through lush, tropical rainforest.
5. Pools of Oheo
More widely known as the "Seven Sacred Pools", this series of lovely waterfalls and tranquil pools flow through the Oheo Gulch and into the ocean nearby. The Pipiwai Streams feed these falls and numerous pools starting 2 miles inland.
6. Kaanapali Beach
With three miles of white sand and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder why Kaanapali Beach was once named America’s Best Beach. Kaanapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort and has become a model for resorts around the globe.
One of Kaanapali Beach’s most famous attractions is the daily cliff diving ceremony off of the beach’s northernmost cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. Held every evening at sunset, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off of Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili. This memorable ceremony is just one more reason why Kaanapali Beach ranks as one of Maui’s signature beaches.
7. Napili Beach
Napili bay with its crescent shaped beach, blue azure waters, and powdery soft sand is one of Maui's most charming beaches. Home to exquisite swimming, snorkeling, and tanning this beach has a lot to offer. When visiting Napili beach don't forget to check out the Maui Brewing Company!
8. Waianapanapa State Park
At the end of the Hana Highway lies the marvelous Waianapanapa State Park. This remote, wild, low-cliffed volcanic coastline offers solitude and respite from urban life. Lodging, camping, picnicking, shore ﬁshing and hardy family hiking along an ancient Hawaiian coastal trail which leads to Hana are just a few of the highlights.
This is also an excellent opportunity to view a seabird colony and anchialine pools. Other features include native hala forest, legendary cave, heiau (religious temple), natural stone arch, sea stacks, blow holes and small black sand beach.
9. Lahaina Banyan Tree Park
Located right in the heart of Front Street in Lahaina is this mind-blowing banyan tree. Imported from the beautiful country of India, it was planted in April 1873 and measured just 8 feet (2.5 m) in height back then. Today, it is over 60 feet (18 m) high and looks like a mini forest with several tree trunks.
The interesting thing about banyan trees is that they only grow sideways. Their roots grow down from the tree trunk until they reach the ground to form a new trunk. The banyan tree in Lahaina now has 12 major trunks, in addition to its huge base structure. The tree covers an area of 200 feet (61 m) and shades two-thirds of an acre. Even though it looks like there are at least a dozen trees in this park, it’s actually just a single tree. The Lahaina banyan tree is one of the largest in the world.
10. Iao Valley State Park
This lush, stream-cut valley in west Maui is home to ancient volcano that helped form 25% of Maui's landmass. The most notable structure in the park is without a doubt the rather phallic Iao Needle. It is said to be the result of millennia of water pressure eroding volcanic rock, and it pokes out from the side of the valley, standing over 2000 ft. tall.
The Iao Valley was once the site of important battles, and also serves as a sacred space because royalty was buried there. For this reason, people are not allowed to hike through the Valley. Visitors must follow the established paved paths which are lined with info boards providing you with the history and the significance of the site.