Maui's Best Sightseeing

Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools)

Rating: In a nutshell: The Pools of ‘Ohe’o are the most popular attraction in East Maui. Beautiful waterfalls and pools in an absolutely stunning setting. Easy access and full NPS facilities. Minuses: It gets very crowded as the day goes on. Access to pools is closed off frequently in wet weather. Sound-bite: “Is that guy really going to jump from …

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Haleakala Crater

Rating: In a nutshell: Haleakala Crater is the most popular attraction in Upcountry Maui. Stunning sunrises, panoramic out-of-this-world landscapes, birds-eye views of the Maui central valley, and flora and fauna that exist nowhere else in the world. Minuses: The air is thin, and hiking here is not for the less fit. Sound-bite: “Oh my Lord, it is cold up here!” …

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Big Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: Big Beach is a beautiful, long, wide, undeveloped sandy beach. Impressive, with huge views and a large shore-break. Big Beach is a must-see. Minuses: A wicked shore-break exists here when the surf is up that can be dangerous for the inexperienced. Sound-bite: [monster crashing wave] Video credit: filmed by my buddy Everett Peacock DETAILS: One of …

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Wai’anapanapa State Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Spectacular views of rugged shoreline, sea arches, black sand beach, and more. Minuses: Swimming is often marginal. Sound-bite: “Sir, you should probably stand back from that blowhole.” (…wait for it…) DETAILS: Simply stated, Wai’anapanapa State Park is among the very best of the Road to Hana sites. It offers outstanding nearly 360-degree sweeping panoramic views. On …

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Lahaina Town

Rating: In a nutshell: An oddly eclectic mix of history, restaurants, T-shirt shops, fine art galleries and gold-by-the-foot, Lahaina is the quintessential “old-time-sea-town-turned-tourism” with a uniquely Maui twist. Minuses: It’s crowded! Sound-bite: “Come talk to me about “fractional ownership!” DETAILS: The second most visited spot in Maui, Lahaina is compact and crowded. It is also the only full-featured, walkable “down-town” …

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‘Iao Valley State Park

Rating: In a nutshell: ‘Iao Valley is a treasure that is easily accessed by anyone. While most people don’t spend an extended period of time here, it is a must-see. Minuses: Official trails are minimal. Not a whole lot to do for most visitors after you’ve seen the main attraction. Sound-bite: “One of wettest places on earth.”   PARK WILL …

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Molokini Crater

Rating: In a nutshell: Molokini is a world-class snorkel and diving destination with exceptional water clarity and marine diversity. Minuses: It is usually very crowded. Sound-bite: “Hey, I wonder what is on the other side?” DETAILS: Molokini Crater is a highly popular snorkel and diving destination. Home to hundreds of species of fish and coral (some found nowhere else but …

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West Maui’s North Shore

Rating: In a nutshell: Rugged shoreline, scenic vistas, and cliff-edge driving you’ll never forget. Minuses: If you’re not a confident driver parts of this drive could be your worst nightmare. Sound-bite: “what do you mean back up!?!“ Most visitors will travel in and out of West Maui along its West and South shores through Maalaea. This is definitely the commuter …

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Valley Isle Excursions

Rating: In a nutshell: Valley Isle Excursions’ knowledge, cultural understanding and genuine spirit of Aloha are second to none. Minuses: Those who love to drive don’t get to! Sound-bite: “The guide quality makes or breaks a guided tour to Hana” First, I don’t care how long you are here, the Road to Hana is not to be missed. Now many …

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The Back Side of Haleakala

Rating: In a nutshell: If you like the road less traveled, continuing on past Hana around Haleakala is an adventure worth taking. In about the same amount of time as it would take you to go back the way you came, you can see a side of Maui many miss. Minuses: The road becomes rough for portions and rental car …

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Kahanu Garden & Pi’ilanihale Heiau

Rating: In a nutshell: National Tropical Botanical Garden and the largest heiau in Hawai’i Minuses: Hard to squeeze in to a single Road to Hana day. Sound-bite: “Wow, I didn’t realize how massive the heiau was!” The Kahanu Garden is part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and showcases many native and Polynesian introduced (“canoe”) plants. Kahanu Garden is also …

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Ho’okipa Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Ho’okipa Beach is a world-renowned windsurfing destination with often dramatic and impressive surf for sightseers as well. Minuses: Marginal for swimming. Sound-bite: “Epic day brah!” Surf Sports Ho’okipa is Mecca to the windsurfing world (and no slouch for board surfing, either.) There are professional windsurfing competitions held here, and on just about any day with wind …

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Pa’ia Town

Rating: In a nutshell: An unassuming hub of the North Shore community, Paia Town has great restaurants, interesting shops, and the best natural food store on the island. Minuses: Parking can be difficult if you don’t know where to look (pssst..we have a map with parking below the article :)) Sound-bite: “Woah, did that sign really say “Don’t feed the …

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Ke’anae Peninsula

Rating: In a nutshell: An old Hawaiian village sits on a dramatic finger of lava. Minuses: No beaches or swimming. Sound-bite: “Is it the third Sunday?” The Ke’anae Peninsula is a dramatic half-mile long massive finger of newer lava sticking out from the cliff line of the Hana Highway. Well before coming to the turnout, you will have ogled at …

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Ke’anae Arboretum

Rating: In a nutshell: A six acre arboretum and botanical garden with many unique specimens. Minuses: They can’t get the taro to grow. Sound-bite: “Let me get a photo of you hugging the tree!” If you appreciate exotic flora, this small, free-of-charge state-owned arboretum is a must stop on the Road to Hana. I’m a tree and plant lover, and …

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Keokea through Ulupalakua

Rating: In a nutshell: A hearty breakfast or lunch, then off for scenic vistas, and wine tasting. Minuses: The road in Ulupalakua is unforgiving if you become over-enthusiastic during the wine tasting! Sound-bite: “They should call this ‘Paniolo soul food’, brah!” This is a good side-trip to take after a Haleakala Crater sunrise trip, or during a planned Upcountry exploration …

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Waikamoi Nature Trail

Rating: In a nutshell: Waikamoi Nature Trail is an easy short-stop on the Road to Hana. Good for non-hikers. A nice quick-stop that many will appreciate. Minuses: Not among the long list of “spectacular” on this road. No waterfall. Sound-bite: “Worthwhile place to spend 20 minutes.” DETAILS: Okay, you know the quiet little shy kid in the family that no …

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Makawao Town

Rating: In a nutshell: Makawao is a soulful little eclectic town, with as much diversity in shops as in people. Oh, and the best bakery in the state (and probably beyond.) Minuses: Parking is tough, except at the non-central municipal lot. Sound-bite: “Crossroads of Upcountry Maui.” DETAILS: Makawao is an old, Upcountry, Paniolo town. A Paniolo is a Hawaiian Cowboy. …

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Wailua Valley State Wayside

Rating: In a nutshell: A quick leg stretch with views both mauka and makai. Minuses: Blink and you miss it. Sound-bite: “Where is the view?” This is a small cut in the cliff that has three parking stalls (one is for physically disabled) and a set of steps to a lookout that is hidden from view if you don’t get …

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Wailua

Rating: In a nutshell: A sleepy taro-farming town with an historic church and impressive view of the enormous Lower Waikani Falls. Minuses: Nothing else here. Sound-bite: “Wow, I’d like to see that every day out of my kitchen window!” Wailua is a small village offering little for visitors than a diversion off the highway to take a few peeks at …

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‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve

Rating: In a nutshell: Virtually all of ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve is closed until at least 2016 Minuses: It’s closed! Sound-bite: “But the blue guidebook said to come!” DETAILS: A small portion of the ‘Ahihi Bay area is the only portion of this reserve that remains open to the public. In times past this area was loaded with prime snorkeling …

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Helicopter Tours

Many people don’t realize that the majority of Maui is remote and unreachable by land. Stunning views of these untouched areas can only be seen by helicopter; an experience you’ll never forget. Even if you’re on a tight Maui budget you really don’t want to skip this experience if you can help it. There are two main types of helicopters …

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