A Guide to Maui / Kahului

Aloha! Welcome to Mauimaui, the tropical paradise known as the “Valley Isle.” Millions of visitors flock to the surf and sand that rises from the blue Pacific. Explore its dramatic volcanic past and island heritage–and experience its modern amenities.

By the numbers

Population: 154,834

Elevation: 0 feet – 10,023 feet / 0 meters – 3055 meters

Time Zone: GMT -10; Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)

Weather

Average Annual Rainfall: 19.8 inches

Average January Temperature: 72°F / 22°C

Average July Temperature: 80°F / 27°C

Did you know?

Considered the most scenically beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui attracts tourists in search of an Eden-like experience away from the hustle and bustle of the more urbanized cities of Honolulu and Waikiki.

Maui is home to the largest dormant volcano in the world, Haleakala, which means “house of the sun.”

District Guide

This Hawaiian island that rests in the midst of the Central Pacific, is known to be one of Hawaii’s most scenic islands. Shape-shifting landscapes and diverse sceneries coalesce to form a picture of staggering beauty that most travellers carry with them forever.

Maui Beach

West Maui
The jolly, busy town of Lahaina resembles Main Street Disneyland in many ways. Front Street, the main drag area, is wall-to-wall art galleries, shops and restaurants. Dozens of pleasure cruisers and fishing boats set sail from the harbour daily, carrying vacationers to nearby coves and reefs. Lahaina is also the hot spot for shopping and nightlife.

About 10 minutes driving distance from Lahaina is the resort community of Ka’anapali, famed for its golf courses, beaches and fantasy hotels. The golf courses are easy to spot; as you drive down the Honoapi’ilani Highway, the rolling greens stretch for acres along the landbound side. The coast side is bordered by the famous Ka’anapali Beach. The water is warm and clear, and landmark Black Rock dominates the skyline above, while it serves as a popular snorkelling spot below the water.

Further down the coastal highway one will find the charming seaside towns of Kahana, Kapalua and Napili. The golf courses of Kapalua are also widely renowned.

The central part of West Maui is taken up by unspoiled nature, like the dramatic and lush gorges of the Iao Valley State Park and the West Maui Forest Reserve.

South Maui
Approximately 30 minutes from West Maui is the other main tourist area, known as South Maui even though it’s actually further west than south. The uppermost segment of South Maui is Kihei, site of many mid-priced hotels, condos, restaurants and swimming beaches. This is a very popular spot with families; it’s affordable, safe, and offers all kinds of diversions and services. Locals also frequent the South Kihei strip, particularly the Kamaole Beach Parks and the Azeka shopping center.

South of Kihei is Wailea, one of the most breathtaking communities in the world. The air is perfumed with island blossoms, the beaches (all of them public-access) are white sand, and the buildings are architectural wonders. The road travels along through a few miles of dry underbrush and weeds that give some indication of what South Kihei looked like before it was developed. About five minutes down the road are the three turn-offs to Makena State Park, thought by many to be the world’s best swimming beach.

Upcountry
The tiny towns in Upcountry Maui are the opposite of Wailea and Lahaina in every way. Laid-back, local, simple and friendly, they are populated by an odd mix of islanders, white locals, eccentric recluses and passionate nature lovers. Farms and ranches thrive on most of the land, while the “towns” are usually comprised of a few streets with a handful of stores and a couple of restaurants. Makawao and Pukalani are the two largest upcountry towns. Nestled in the mountains is the town of Kula, with its lavender farm and botanical gardens. Most Haleakala downhill bike rides begin or end in Kula, as do many roadtrips to Hana. Olinda and Haiku are ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ towns, perfect if one prefers birdsong to human conversation.

(One thing to keep in mind when visiting Upcountry is that as the elevation rises, the temperature drops—so bring a sweater.)

Haleakala/Hana
While Haleakala and Hana are two of Maui’s major tourist attractions, almost no tourists stay in either of the areas. Hana has a couple of hotels, but it’s impossible to lodge at Haleakala National Park; most of it is volcanic crater or scientific research zone. These regions are undeveloped and somewhat dangerous. It’s fine to drive the main roads or to explore back roads with a guide, but venturing off alone into the Hana rainforest or the Haleakala crater is very inadvisable.

Still, no trip to Maui is complete without a Hana or Haleakala experience. The twisty road to Hana is as famous as the epic waterfalls along the way. The sunrise over Haleakala is truly inspirational.

While the adorable seaside town of Paia is not in Hana—or anywhere near—it is probably the town that is most often passed through on the way to the rainforest. This town is a destination in itself. It is arguably the world’s top windsurfing location. It’s also home to some fabulous art galleries, clothing boutiques and restaurants. Anyone who wonders what ever happened to the ’60s should visit Pa’ia—it seems to be stuck in them.

Central Maui
While some travel writers rave about the untouched-by-tourists appeal of Hana, the truth is that Hana’s main industry is tourism. Central Maui is the place that offers authentic local colour. Compared with the rest of the island, it’s decidedly un-lovely. Even semi-touristy Kahului is choked with asphalt and chain link, while Wailuku is, at first glance, a cluster of plain buildings that seem to be under a constant black rain cloud. However, Kahului is the closest thing to a city that Maui has, and Wailuku is the county seat. Across the Mokulele Highway is Ma’alaea, an up-and-coming town known for its picturesque harbour, near-constant winds and aquarium.

North Shore
The North Shore of Maui offers a refreshing change from the ordinary vacation. Between exotic recreational opportunities, a peaceful and natural setting, and a diversified cultural environment, this is not your typical vacation spot. The North Shore (encompassing Paia, Kuau, Sprecklesville, Haiku and Huelo) has both pros and cons compared to the more popular west and south areas. On the positive side you will enjoy a relatively unspoiled tropical setting and be close to rainforest hiking trails, waterfalls, world class windsurfing, and uncrowded beaches. While there are plenty of shops and restaurants, there is a welcome absence of commercialization and high-rise development. Accommodations will be small-scale, privately-owned B&B or vacation rentals, where you can become acquainted with your hosts and have more access to an authentic experience of island culture. You will be conveniently situated for a day trip to the remote jungle village of Hana, or a visit to the crater of the dormant volcano.

Perhaps the main appeal of Maui is the way it manages to have a little bit of everything. It is simultaneously an undeveloped jungle and a bustling town. By offering the perfect combination of secluded natural beauty and sophisticated commercial appeal, this little island manages to touch a special place in everyone’s heart.

Dining and drinking

Dining in Maui is overwhelming. Culinary styles hail from around the world, and some styles are unique to Maui alone. In one week—and in one town—a visitor can feast on Thai and French cuisine, fresh game and fresh fish, sandwiches, burritos and, of course, a few scoops of ridiculously decadent ice cream.

Organic Fruit Stand - Owner eating and enjoying selection of organic fruit together with friends

Ka’anapali
Amidst the five-star hotels and designer boutiques of this famous resort, one can find any number of fabulous restaurants. Most of them fall a bit short of world-class gastronomically, choosing to offer ambiance and affordable prices in lieu of top-tier culinary masterpieces. Old favorites such as Leilani’s on the Beach feature live music, drink specials and amazing views. The lovely Hula Grill can’t be beat for ambiance—and the fresh seafood wins local awards, if not international ones.

Kahana, Kapalua & Napili
Further along the coast the emphasis shifts from pleasing hungry crowds to pleasing educated palates. The area’s gourmet restaurants include the Maui Brewing Company and the Fish & Game Rotisserie. Make a trip to one of the finest restaurants in the state of Hawai’i, the Plantation House located in isolated Kapalua.

Lahaina
Lahaina Town is Maui’s undisputed dining and drinking hot spot. All the best places are within a mile of each other, meaning if one place isn’t working, it’s easy to walk to another. Upscale restaurants range from first-class French, served at Gerards Restaurant, to the cutting-edge Pacific Rim creations found at David Paul’s Lahaina Grill. The Feast At Lele, presented on the beach, wins awards for the best cuisine and entertainment in Maui. For exotic Asian cuisine, try Bamboo Cafe. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse serves a great steak every time, while Longhi’s Restaurant lobster is simply to die for.

While not advertised as much, inexpensive options abound. At least once, it is absolutely crucial to try an authentic local-style plate lunch at Aloha Mixed Plate. Lahaina Coolers, a block down from Front Street, is popular with locals because of its food and its atmosphere. Each one of these places features live music most nights, and turns from a daytime restaurant to an after-hours bar.

Kihei
Dining options in Kihei range from five-star to five-dollar. People who are trying to eat cheap on Maui won’t find a better place than Kihei. Tasty and inexpensive meals can be enjoyed at Kihei Caffe, Maui Tacos and Maui Fish’n Chips. Da Kitchen Express is famous for its Hawaiian plate, and regional dishes can be savoured at Nalu’s South Shore Grill, along with foot-tapping live music. Calling all fish lovers is the snug and popular
Coconut’s Fish Cafe, where Hawaiian fish finds its way into delicious tacos and pasta plates. The Kinaole Grill Food Truck is also offers great seafood deals at fabulous prices. Cuatro, a more refined dining space in the Kihei Town Shopping Center, is a laidback BYOB restaurant that serves Latin-Asian fusion fare.

Wailea
The South Side equivalent of Ka’anapali boasts a wealth of fine dining options—and very little else. All of the hotels have at least two gourmet restaurants; some have more. Standouts include Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at the Grand Wailea, Nick’s Fishmarket Maui in the Kea Lani, and for contemporary Hawaiian treats, Ka’Ana Kitchen.

Kahului
It’s not always easy to figure out where to eat in Kahului. The town is spread out, and except for the two major malls, restaurants aren’t in any one location. Probably the best known restaurant in Kahului is Marco’s Grill & Deli, followed by Koho—the quintessential family restaurant.

Wailuku
Surprisingly, though Wailuku is as local of a town as Kahului, it has a number of excellent restaurants, mostly ethnic. If you can find your way to Saigon Cafe, you won’t be disappointed. Saeng’s Thai Cuisine is delicious and inexpensive, not to mention central.

Ma’alaea
The restaurants of Ma’alaea are developing a reputation among savvy tourists and affluent locals. From island-inspired dishes at the Seascape Maalaea Restaurant at Maui Ocean Center, to the Beach Bums BBQ & Grill for laidback barbecues, Ma’alaea has a some choice regional restaurants. Cafe Del Vino, an intimate restaurant nearby specializes in Italian dishes, and offers a good break from Hawaiian monotony. After a hearty repast, enjoy decadent desserts at The Hula Cookies & Ice Cream shop next door.

Pa’ia
Health food nuts should make Pa’ia their first, last and only stop for dining. Whether you’re enjoying enormous breakfasts at Charley’s or perhaps packing a picnic lunch at the Hana Picnic Lunch Company—you’re sure to get something delicious, fresh and healthful.

Just outside of Pa’ia one will find a true Maui legend, and a must-visit for any self-respecting gourmand. This is Mama’s Fish House. The cuisine, ambiance and service are legendary, and deservedly so.

Makawao, Kula & Pukalani
There are only a few destination restaurants in rural Upcountry Maui. En route to Haleakala you’ll find the Hali’imaile General Store and the Kula Lodge Restaurant. In Makawao Town, there’s only one place to go for night time entertainment: the famous Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli. If it’s more of a peaceful occasion, make reservations at the Makawao Steak House. And anyone who makes the two-hour journey to Hana and wants a fine meal should definitely try the Hana Ranch Restaurant.

Dining in Maui is only as much of a science as you make it. If you’re just looking for a good time, a quick bite, or a pretty meal, trust your own judgment.

Entertainment

Maui doesn’t have Oahu’s population, but it seems to have almost as many activity choices. Whether hiking, biking, snorkelling or windsurfing is your passion, there are a dozen places to go and dozens of companies to act as guide.

Fit couple surfing at sunset - Surfers friends having fun inside ocean - Extreme sport and vacation concept - Focus on man head - Original sun color tones

Beaches
The first thing to do on Maui is to hit the beach. Ka’anapali Beach on West Maui is one of the top sunning spots, while Makena State Park Big Beach is probably the most popular swimming and bodyboarding beach. There are dozens of other beach parks, and since all of Hawaii’s beaches are public-access, you’re free to plop down in any spot that appeals to you.

Cruises, Snorkelling & Diving
Whether it is an early morning whale watch complete with breakfast, a full-day cruise to neighbouring Lanai or a sunset cocktail cruise, Maui’s boats are built for pleasure. For something a bit different, climb aboard one of the Atlantis Submarines vessels.

The best time to snorkel or dive in the waters off Maui is the early morning. Tradewinds begin to pick up in the late morning, and usually by noon the water is a bit murky. Around 8am dozens of tourists emerge from vans and buses onto Ulua/ Mokapu Beach, South Maui’s favorite snorkelling spot. For equipment or excursion booking, Snorkel Bob’s and Boss Frog’s Dive & Surf Shop-Napili are two standby companies.

Scuba companies are also numerous. Mike Severns Diving will work with any level diver, even the most nervous beginners. Makena Coast Dive Charters offers a variety of underwater excursions to offshore wrecks, reefs and caverns.

Golf
As a world-class golf destination, the Valley Isle boasts over a dozen courses, spread across the island and ranging from inexpensive municipal courses to internationally famous resorts. The three Wailea Golf Clubs cater to South Maui visitors, while on the West side lie the famed Kapalua Golf Club and Ka’anapali Golf Course.

Shopping
While it doesn’t have as much shopping as Honolulu, which seems to have a Louis Vuitton on every block, Maui certainly has its fair share of shopping areas. The largest is Kahului’s Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. On the west side there are about a half-dozen smaller shopping centres, including the Lahaina Cannery Mall, Wharf Cinema Center and Whalers Village. Major shopping strips are located along South Kihei Road in South Maui. Popular shopping centres on the South Side are The Shops at Wailea and the cute Ma’alaea Harbor Village.

Galleries
Maui boasts a large number of art galleries for such a small island. Most of them are located in two blocks on Lahaina’s Front Street. Don’t forget to make a trip to the famous Wyland Galleries. Among the countless other Maui galleries are Maui Hands, and hidden in the jungles of Hana, the Hana Coast Gallery, critically acclaimed as the top cultural art gallery in the state.

Performing Arts, Music & Theatre
One of the most popular shows in Maui never fails to wow the crowds and win the hearts of critics and locals. Called ‘Ulalena, it is performed nightly in the grandiose Maui Theater in Lahaina. The show uses dance, music, theatre and a multi-million dollar lighting system to tell the story of Maui’s creation.

When major acts come to Maui (which actually happens more often than one might think), there is really only one place for them to perform: the Maui Art & Cultural Center. The outdoor amphitheater has a maximum capacity of 5,000—most of the seating being on the lawn. It has hosted acts such as Santana and Ziggy Marley.

Smaller acts can perform practically anywhere in Maui. Every major hotel has thousands of square feet of conference space, and the three major malls (Whaler’s Village, Lahaina Cannery and Queen Ka’ahumanu Center) all have main stages which regularly host all kinds of entertainers. Charley’s in the small town of Paia is owned by country music legend Willie Nelson, and hosts live music almost every night.

Luau
Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the music on the radio or maybe it’s just the infectious Aloha spirit. Whatever the cause, it’s a fact that anyone who visits Maui feels compelled to get to a luau. West Maui offers several spectacular luaus. The Old Lahaina Luau and the Te Au Moana Luau are two of the favorites, but everyone agrees that the Feast At Lele in Lahaina is one of the best.

Had enough yet? If not, don’t worry; there’s more where that came from. Just when you think you’ve seen all of Maui, you realize that—no pun intended—you haven’t even got your feet wet.

Recommended Tours

Maui is an island of such stunning natural beauty that the journey from one town to the next is a scenic tour within itself. Blue water, white sand and miles of sugarcane fields dominate the south end of the island, while the majestic West Maui Mountains are the Lahaina-side landmark.

Triple waterfalls

The Road to Hana
No stay in Maui is complete without a visit to Heavenly Hana. You’ll want to be up with the sun in order to get the most out of this day trip. Coming from the South or West side of Maui (Kihei or Lahaina), the total drive time to Hana Town is about three hours. The Hana Highway begins in Kahului, where first-timers would be well advised to pick up a Hana Cassette Guide. The highway then runs through the charming old plantation town of Pa’ia. Take a little time to cruise around downtown before you get back on the road.

Once you’ve got a suitable lunch packed and plenty of gas in the tank, hop back on the highway and head into the jungle. Most of the drive runs along the coastline, with towering cliffs, tropical foliage and a multitude of waterfalls creating a breathtaking feast for the senses.

You can make any number of stops before reaching Hana. Ten miles (16 kilometers) past Hana Town is one of Maui’s must-sees: Oheo Gulch (also known as the “Seven Sacred Pools”). Once in Kipahulu (location of the Pools), you have the option to continue driving around the southern side of the island. This road is equally as rugged as Hana Highway (if not more so) and conditions are not always safe for driving. While the back road route is lovely, you’ll need to use your discretion regarding its safety at the time of your trip.

Haleakala: House of the Sun
Maui isn’t the kind of place where you want to sleep late, but if you decide to see a Haleakala sunrise, get ready to set your alarm clock unusually early—even by Maui standards. The driving time from Kahului to the Crater’s summit is about two hours, which means you’ll need to get on the road by about 3a.

The road to Haleakala National Park travels from sea level to 10,023 feet—in just 38 miles (61.1 kilometers)! The Visitor’s Center is located at 9,745 feet (2970.2 meters); a campground and picnic area is at 7,030 feet (2142.7 meters). Even when the coastlands are hot and humid, the Crater tends to be very cold and windy. Bring warm clothes.

Biking down Haleakala can be an invigorating way to spend a few hours. Bicycle tour companies provide all gear and can facilitate guided or self-guided tours.

Snorkeling Molokini
Molokini is a tiny, crescent-shaped island located just off of the southern tip of Maui. Waters surrounding the island are sheltered by a sunken crater rim, which makes for calm snorkeling conditions. Dolphins, sea turtles and a staggering variety of tropical fish make their homes here. Tours generally last five or six hours, with breakfast, lunch, drinks and all equipment included in the excursion cost. Most Molokini tours depart in the morning from either Ma’alaea Harbor or Lahaina Harbor. Contact Snorkel Bob’s, Seafire Molokini Cruises or any other reputable excursion company for information.

South-Side Beaches
The best way to spend a day in South Maui is to drive the coastline and stop at a few of the innumerable white-sand beaches. While many of these beaches are adjacent to hotels, all beaches in Hawaii are open to the public. As long as you don’t use hotel chairs or water toys, you’re free to relax on the perfectly maintained beaches—and afterward, to purchase a cocktail from a hotel bar.

Beginning at the busier end of South Kihei Road, you’ll find the popular Kamaole Beach Parks. These three centrally located parks offer great barbecue facilities and are popular amongst locals. Further along the road is Keawakapu Beach, a small but lovely swimming beach. Just a bit further down (right where Kihei becomes Wailea) is Ulua/ Mokapu Beach. It is one of the South Side’s most popular snorkelling beaches. Follow Wailea Alanui all the way down and, at the tail end of a rather desolate stretch of road, you’ll find the jewel of Maui: Makena State Park. Home of Big Beach and Little Beach, this is one of the island’s best surfing and body-boarding spots.

If you want to outfit yourself for a day at these beaches, there are several different places to go. The best known snorkel outfitters are Boss Frog’s Dive & Surf Shop and Snorkel Bob’s, while Maui Diving offers low-cost scuba equipment rental. Rent surf equipment at Second Wind Sail & Surf.

The West-Side Tour
Lahaina offers a full complement of daytime and nighttime activities. Even if you aren’t staying on the West Side, you’ll want to take a day and see the sights.

Every visit to Lahaina tends to start on Front Street. There’s plenty of shopping, as well as a variety of historic highlights. Visit the Old Lahaina Courthouse, the Banyan Tree Park and the former prison. For West Side shopping, stop by Lahaina Cannery Mall or Wharf Cinema Center. It’s wise to get your walking tour done in the early hours of the morning, leaving your afternoon free. This side of the island gets oppressively hot by mid-day, at which point you should head down to Ka’anapali Beach for swimming and sunbathing. If you’re still in town by dinnertime, head back to Front Street for dinner. After dark, there are a few decent places to go. The jazz-and-cocktail crowd frequents Lahaina Pizza Company or long time favorite Longhi’s Restaurant.

Adventure Tours
Maui Zipline Company (+1 808 633 2464 / http://www.mauizipline.com/)

Guided Tours
Tom Barefoot’s Tours (https://www.tombarefoot.com/things-to-do-in-hawaii/island/maui/2)
Roberts Hawaii (https://www.robertshawaii.com/)

History

Approximately five million years ago, an undersea eruption created two volcanic mountains, Mauna Kahalawai and Haleakala. Mauna Kahalawai, now an extinct volcano, became the rugged West Maui Mountains. Majestic 10,023-foot Haleakala, meaning “house of the sun”, last erupted in 1790 and is now considered a dormant volcano. Centuries of lava flows and erosion created an isthmus between the two mountains. This vale composed of rich volcanic soil gave Maui the nickname “Valley Isle”.

Maui Tiki at sunset

According to ancient legend, the Hawaiian islands were created by Maui, the “god of a thousand tricks”, who pulled the islands from the ocean with his magic fishhook. This mythical demigod also lassoed the sun god La from atop Haleakala, releasing it only after it promised to move slowly through the sky, thus providing abundant daylight and warmth for the islands.

Maui County, now four islands, was originally one land mass called Maui-Nui. During the polar ice age, the glaciers thawed and the oceans swelled to separate the mountain peaks into the islands of Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe.

According to legend, Hawai’i-loa and eight navigating seafarers from the Marquesa Islands, 2000 miles to the south, discovered the Hawai’ian islands in the eighth century A.D. The first inhabitants developed a simple agrarian culture.

Around the 12th Century A.D., the Tahitians arrived in Maui. Their chiefs became the ali’i, the Hawaiian ruling class. The Tahitians established the kapu system, the rigid social order that became the foundation of ancient Hawaiian culture. Additionally, they introduced their religion with its many goddesses.

For several centuries, warfare raged among competing ali’i on Maui and between chieftains from the neighbouring islands of O’ahu and Hawai’i. In 1550 A.D. the Ali’i Pi’ilani unified all the Maui districts, and after he died his two sons battled for control of the island. With the help of warriors from Hawai’i, Kiha-a-pi’ilani prevailed to become the supreme ruler of Maui.

During the late 1700s, Kamehameha I, ruler of the big island Hawai’i, invaded the adjacent islands to establish the Hawaiian Kingdom. One of his armies, led by Kalani’opu’u, attacked Maui in 1776. He was soundly defeated by the warriors of King Kahekili, who surprised the invaders by hiding behind the sand dunes at Ma’alaea Bay. However, in 1790, Kamehameha I invaded Maui once again, this time with a fleet of war canoes so large it is alleged to have filled the bay from Hana to Kahului. Kamehameha finally conquered Maui in the brutal battle of Wailuku. This historic battle is now known as Kauwaupali (“clawed off the cliff”) and Kepaniwai (“the damming of the waters”). In 1802 Kamehameha I built the “brick palace” in Lahaina, where he lived for a year.

The British explorer Captain James Cook landed in Kahului Bay on November 26, 1778, an event that began the influx of Western influence. French explorer Captain Jean-Francois La Pérouse, the first Westerner to settle on Maui, established a village in 1786. Probably the most significant influence was that of the Christian missionaries, who founded the first mission under Reverend Richards in Lahaina in 1823. However, whaling had begun to boom in Lahaina, and it swiftly introduced some of the more unsavoury Western elements to the port town. A riot broke out in 1825 when a law was passed prohibiting the sale of alcohol, but it did not squelch the Christian presence. Meanwhile, the missionaries established their instrumental role in educating the local population. Since the Hawaiians had no written language, the missionaries developed a written language based on a twelve-letter alphabet. In 1835, the governor of Maui ordered all children over four to attend school. Missionaries taught reading, writing and Bible studies in Hawaiian, and by 1850, Hawaii had the world’s highest literacy rate!

Unfortunately, the Westerners also brought diseases that over the next century would obliterate the native Hawaiian population. Viruses such as measles that were endemic in Westerners had a devastating effect on the previously unexposed Hawaiians. Soon the ratio of Hawaiians to immigrants began to drastically decrease.

As Western traders and seafarers flocked to Maui, commercial growth expanded. Lahaina became a major port during the whaling era, and by the 1840s, hundreds of ships anchored there. Merchants, prostitutes, saloons, and gambling establishments prospered, although tensions between the whalers and missionaries created social unrest. The discovery of oil in 1850 signified the decline of whaling.

George Wilfong, an entrepreneurial whaler, established Maui’s first sugar plantation in Hana. During 1853-1854, a smallpox epidemic killed many native Hawaiians, resulting in a depleted work force. Immigrants from China, Japan, the Philippines, and even Europe flocked to Maui to work in the sugar cane fields. American businessmen began to invest in pineapple and sugar plantations, and in 1875 negotiated a reciprocity treaty with the governor of Maui to protect their investments.

The expansion of foreign power and influence ultimately led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. In 1894, American pineapple tycoon Dole became the governor of the Republic of Hawaii, which was annexed to the United States in 1898 and made a U.S. territory in 1890. During the early 1900s, Japanese immigration swelled; Maui’s population was 40 percent Japanese by 1925.

The opening of the Best Western Pioneer Inn in 1901 signalled the beginning of tourism in Lahaina. Visitors Mark Twain and Robert Lewis Stevenson praised Maui, and Lahaina became a vacation hot spot for the rich and famous. After World War II, sugar production declined and tourism experienced phenomenal growth. Maui’s first resort hotel, the Travaasa Hana (formerly the Hotel Hana Maui), was opened in 1946. After Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959, investment capitol poured in for development of vacation resorts. Ka’anapali, dubbed the world’s first “master planned resort,” and site of such mega-resorts as the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. In the 1970s, sunny South Maui, with its great snorkelling beaches and constant sunshine, was discovered. Over the next few years, several plush resorts and championship golf courses were developed in Wailea. Maui continues to grow as more and more people discover the allure of the island.

Getting there and getting around

Getting There

Inter-island Carriers include:
Island Air (+1 808 484 2222; http://www.visitmaui.com/aloha.html)
Paragon Airlines (+1 866 946 4744; http://www.paragon-air.com/)
Pacific Wings (+1 888 575 4546; https://www.radixx.cc/pacificwings/booking/restst.asp)
Hawaiian Airlines (+1 800 882 8811; http://www.hawaiianair.com/)

From the Airport

Taxi
Maui Airport Taxi (+1 808 877 2002 / http://www.mauiairporttaxi-shuttle.com/)
Shuttle: Call at least 48 hours in advance for service.
Speedi Shuttle (+1 800 977 2605) provides 24 hour service and has ADA accessible vehicles available.
Kapalua Executive Transportation Services (+1 808 669 2300) provides service from 6a-10p daily.

Limousine: Carey Limousines of Hawaii (+1 888 563 2888; http://www.hawaiilimo.com/) provides deluxe limousine and airport transportation services in Maui.

Car Rental:
Alamo (+1 800 327 9633; http://www.alamo.com/)
Avis (+1 808 871 7575; http://www.avis.com)
Budget (+1 877 283 2468; http://www.budget.com)
Hertz (+1 800 654 3131; http://www.hertz.com)
National (+1 800 227 7368; http://www.nationalcar.com)
Enterprise (+1 800 736 8222; http://www.enterprise.com)
Dollar (+1 800 342 7398; http://www.dollar.com/)
Thrifty (+1 877 283 0898; http://www.thrifty.com/)

Getting Around

Bus/Shuttle/Limousine/Jeep Service
Akina Aloha Tours, Inc. (+1 808 879 2828; http://www.akinatours.com) provides transportation services including sedans, limousines, vans, minibuses, Van Hool Motorcoaches, Executive Van Hool Limousine Coaches, Unique Tours and Support Services for the island of Maui.

Maui Tours & Transportation (+1 877 874 5561; http://www.mttours.com/)
Polynesian Adventure Tours (+1 800 622 3011; http://www.polyad.com/maui.htm)
Roberts Hawaii (+1 800 831 5541; http://www.robertshawaii.com/)
Travel Plaza Transportation (+1 808 534 3300; http://www.tpthawaii.com/)
Star Maui Limousine (+1 877 875 6900; http://www.limohawaii.com)
Maui Jeep Tours (+1 888 667 4006; http://www.mauijeeptours.com/)

Public transit
Maui Public Transit System (+1 808 270 7511; http://www.co.maui.hi.us/bus/ ) consists of 3 public routes operated by Roberts Hawaii and 2 public routes operated by Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc, each subsidized by the County of Maui. The public transit system provides service in and between Central, South and West Maui Monday to Saturday. No services are offered on Sunday.

Roberts Hawaii (+1 800 831 5541; http://www.robertshawaii.com/) provides 3 routes: Route A (Ma’alaea-Kihei-Wailea); Route B (Kahului-Ma’alaea-Lahaina); and Route C (Kahului-Kihei-Wailea).

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. Public Shuttle (+1 808 877 7651; http://www.meoinc.org/) provides 2 routes on a donation basis: Route 1 & 2: (Wailuku-Kahului).

Holo Ka’a Public Transportation (+1 808 879 2828; http://www.akinatours.com/maui_shuttle.htm)

Cruise Ship/Ferry
Expeditions (+1 800 695 2624; http://www.go-lanai.com/) offers inter-island ferry service from Lahaina Harbor, Maui to Manele Harbor, Lanai.

Moloka’i Princess Interisland Ferry (+1 866 307 6524; http://www.molokaiferry.com/) offers inter-island ferry service between Maui and Molokai.

Hawaii Superferry (+1 877 443 3779; http://www.hawaiisuperferry.com) offers inter-island ferry service between Honolulu and Maui.

Bicycle
Island Biker Maui (+1 808 877 7744; http://www.islandbikermaui.com)
Mountain Riders Bike Tours (+1 800 706 7700; http://www.mountainriders.com)
Maui Downhill Bicycle Safaris (+1 800 535 BIKE; http://www.mauidownhill.com)Aloha Bike Tours (+1 808 870 7409; http://www.mauibike.com)

If travelling overseas, take the safety precaution of registering your trip at https://travelregistration.state.gov and for helpful, practical advice about traveling technicalities and safety standards check out http://travel.state.gov/