Maui is the most magical place filled with adventures in zip lining or paddle boarding, whale watching trips in winter months, or just relaxing along the ocean. Maui has so many wonderful beaches that some consider it a postcard island. Snorkeling or body surfing opportunities abound with challenging surfing in north Kihei or on the east shore. Watch out for dangerous rogue waves though! One of the best snorkeling trips by boat is to Molokini crater with a follow up spot at Turtle Towers. Snorkeling along the shore is popular with tropical fish being more abundant near rocky areas.
There are two popular areas to stay on Maui. The first is Lahaina and West Maui. Lahaina, the old whaling town, offers several streets of shops, galleries, the boat pier, and restaurants. It's a nice stroll along Front Street to the block wide Banyan Tree with its craft show on Saturdays, and sampling an ice cream cone as you walk along. Souvenirs can be purchased at Hilo Hatties, or the ABC markets, and countless small shops. Kihei is only 20 minutes form the airport, below the volcano, and near the boat ramp. It has seven of the best beaches on Maui and has less rain in the winter. Wailea is upscale, sort of like Pebble Beach or Santa Barbara in California, with many luxury hotels. Accommodations range from $120 to $300 for most condos in West Maui and Kihei and homes start at $600. Wailea condos are in the $400 range and fancy hotels start at $500 per night.
Can you travel to Maui and get away from hordes of vacationers? Yes, you can! I know out of the way places so you can still visit Maui and have peace. Don't forget the Maui Ocean Center where viewing the tropical fish exhibits is like snorkeling without getting wet! You can walk through or sit in an acrylic tunnel with fish and even manta rays swimming all around.
One of the most fascinating adventures is a trip up to Haleakala Crater, a dormant volcano that Manhattan could fit inside. It is a 90 minute ride around switchbacks up to the top, sometimes through mist and clouds. But at the 10,000 feet you can stand on the edge of a dormant volcano and stare across to the opposite side of the rim. Looking down to 6,000 feet you can see small paths leading down to a few rugged cabins. Smaller cinder cones are visible with a spectrum of colors from rust to brown to green. On a clear day Mauna Kea is visible on the Big Island 100 miles away!
For the active vacationers there are zip lining adventures in West Maui or upcountry on the slopes leading to Haleakala. Paddle boarding is popular along the west coast with many companies offering one hour lessons. Don't forget sunscreen and hydrate 8 oz. every hour you are outside in Hawaii.
Places to stay in the Lahaina--Kaanapali--Napili area:
Puamana, The Whaler, Kaanapali Alii, Kaanapali Royal, Mahana, Kaanapali Shores, Papakea, Mahina Surf, Kahana Beach, Napili Bay, Napili Kai, Kapalua.
Places to stay in the Kihei--Wailea area:
Sugar Beach, Maui Sunset, Maui Banyan, Maui Kamaole, Kihei Surfside, Grand Champions, Wailea Ekolu, Makena Surf, and some "deals" at luxury hotels.
IMPORTANT HINTS: What's important to remember? It's your sunscreen, number 15. Hawaii is close to the Equator and you can burn in 40 minutes. The second thing to remember in Hawaii is to keep drinking fluids. If you are outdoors, drink one glass of water or juice every hour!
Wonder about packing? Pack cotton shorts or cotton dresses, clothing that breathe. Most of the day you'll be in a swimsuit, so you don't need much.