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10 Must-See Sites in Maui

Journey to the tropical paradise of Maui, and explore the volcanic ruins, lush wilderness and gorgeous beaches of Hawaii’s most sought-after destination.

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1. Makena

Hawaiian villages once lined most of the southern coast of Maui, but the lava flow from Haleakala coupled with the arrival of Westerners reduced the area’s population. For many years, this was the island’s “end of the road” and its biggest attraction was Big Beach, the long expanse of white sand at Oneloa. However, the area has seen upscale residential development has become increasingly popular with divers and kayakers.

(Photo courtesy of Rosa Say/Flickr)

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2. The Road to Hana

A highway in name only, the famous road from Kahului to Hana winds along the coastline for 56 miles, offering panoramic ocean views and passing by waterfalls, pools, lush gardens and parks. The mostly two-lane road traverses 54 bridges and 617 curves (yes, someone really did count them!). Hana itself has retained a pristine beauty and many old Hawaiian ways.

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3. Iao Valley and Kepaniwai Park Gardens

Tales of long ago warfare linger in the mists that crown the velvety green crags rising above Iao Valley. In this now-tranquil spot, Maui warriors fell while defending the island from the invading Kamehameha I. Kepaniwai – literally, “the water dam” – refers to the damming of the ‘Iao Stream by the bodies of the vanquished. In ancient times, access to the valley was restricted to ali’I (royalty); today, it is a state park and one of Maui’s most visited sites.

(Photo courtesy of Intiaz Rahim/Flickr)

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4. Front Street, Lahaina

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the main thoroughfare of Lahaina is a showcase of restored and preserved sites. In the early 1800s, when this seaside village was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, missionaries from New England arrived, determined to save the souls of native islanders and to discipline rowdy sailors. There’s no proof that souls were saved but the buildings of the era have been.

(Photo courtesy of Mountain Girl Heidi/Flickr)

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5. Wailuku and Kahului

Wailuku, Maui’s Country seat, and Kahului, the island’s business and retail center, are nestled between Pu’u Kukui (West Maui Mountains) and Haleakala. For centuries this area has been the center of power and population on Maui, and today it offers a vast array of culture, history, nature, entertaining, dining, shopping and recreation. As the gateway to Maui, Kahului is also home to the island’s largest airport and primary harbour.

(Photo courtesy of Chogenbo/Flickr)

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6. Bailey House Museum

This former girls’ school was established in 1832 on the site of the royal compound of Kahekili, the last ruling chief of Maui. Christian missionary teachers Edward and Caroline Bailey came here to teach their language, customs and religion to young Hawaiian women. The building is now a museum with exhibits showcasing both traditional Hawaiian and missionary life.

(Photo courtesy of Smart Destinations/Flickr)

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7. Ulupalakua Ranch

Stretching across Haleakala’s southern flank, the ‘Ulupalakua Ranch contains a winery and also a memorial park to the Honolulu-educated Chinese revolutionary Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Whaling Captain James Makee acquired the land in 1856 and build a cottage for King Kalakaua, the “Merrie Monarch.” The current owner bought the property in 1963 and has used it for farming cattle.

(Photo courtesy of kaiscapes/Flickr)

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8. Haleakala National Park

This stunning park encompasses rain forests, desert and subtropical beaches, but the lunar-like landscape of Haleakala’s crater is the main attraction. This is the world’s most voluminous dormant volcano, its crater large enough to hold the entire island of Manhattan. The park’s entrance is at the 7,000-ft level, and lies at the end of a road that winds up from sea level in 37 miles of scenic switchbacks. There are hiking trails, campgrounds and three cabins in the park.


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9. Kipahulu and Kaupo

Long before the first Europeans arrived on Maui, the Kipahulu district was prized by the Hawaiian ali’I (royalty) for its fertile land and bountiful sea. Thousands of people lived in the villages of Hana, Kipahulu, and Kaupo, sustaining themselves through farming and fishing. Beyond Hana, the road continues through Kipahulu, Kaupo, and finally winds its way up to ‘Ulupalakua, offering spectacular scenery and the serenity that comes with an almost non-existent human population.

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10. Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Surrounded by the Pacific, Kalaupapa is a flat, isolated peninsula at the base of sheer sea cliffs rising almost 2,000 ft. The infamy of this beautiful patch of land stems from its role as a colony for Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients in the late 19th and 20th century. Kalaupapa was established as a national park in 1980 and is dedicated to educating visitors with regard to a disease that has been shrouded in fear for centuries.

(Photo courtesy of steena/Flickr)

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