After watching the sun rise over Haleakala, hike down the Sliding Sands trail and have a picnic in the crater. The scenery there truly is other-worldly. It is so quiet, sunny and still. You will feel like the only people on Earth. Try whispering something while the other person is far away, as you are down in the crater (they will hear you - it's quite remarkable). Just remember, this is 10,000 foot altitude. Pack lots of water and food.
Enjoy fine seafood - try something you can’t get at home. The most perfect place to splurge is Mama's Fish House. The restaurant is located on the Hana Highway past Pa'ia in Kuau. Walk around for a bit and take in the gorgeous scenery - the impossibly blue ocean and beautiful flowering trees. After that, walk down a set of stairs to the most wonderful little cove. The restaurant is as picturesque as can be, and you'll find great service. Now, the food. Try the Ahi Sashimi or ceviche served in a half coconut. They make home-made wheat bread and serve small samples of delicious soup of the day from the chef. Also, try the Sashimi Salad and the Wild Fish Curry with various sides. Wonderful food and drinks. Definitely do not miss this one . If you haven’t done a Luau (and even if you have!) - attend one and make it the Old Lahaina Luau. Check out the
Old Lahaina Luau, great drinks - try their Lava Flow. This luau has many options for interaction with the dancers, local native arts and crafts. Options for professional photos to be taken of you in three different settings, and a seating arrangement that cricles a stage so that every seat is a good seat. The hula program shows the migration of the Hawaiian people and shows the difference between Tahitian and Hawaiian hula.
For first timers - and maybe even many timers - drive the road to Hana. The Hana Highway snakes through some of the most lush scenery on Maui, and is famous for its winding trajectory, dozens of one-lane bridges, and myriad waterfalls. It is the Scenic Byway for the state in the National program to designate special roads.
Leave early to avoid crowds and afternoon showers. Remember, this is the windward side of the island. You'll want to have rain overnight to make the waterfalls running to enjoy. If you aim to leave Kahului by 8 am, you should be fine. You can either turn around in Hana and retrace your drive back to Kahului . You can drive around Halekala on it's southern flank but this is prohibited by most of the major rental car companies. It's your choice whether to break your contract or not. As mentioned above, stop at Mama's Fish House in Paia on the way back for wonderful meal (fish caught fresh daily) with extraordinary ocean views. However, if you're muddy from hiking around waterfalls, you might want to save Mama's for another night.
Mile Marker 2- you'll see lots of cars parked on the side of the street. You will see lots of people entering and exiting a gate. Follow the stone markers to the
Twin Falls. Follow the path to the left when the path forks. You will have to do short creek walk that is about thigh deep depending on your height- but it is worth the wet walk. Be prepared to get wet- as you can take a dip into the cool waters of the lagoon. Once you swim to the falls- the water becomes shallow so that you can stand. Don't forget to bring your camera and towel!
Stop at the National Tropical Botanical Garden - Kahanu Garden branch in Hana. Watch for 'Ula'ino Road on the left when entering the Hana area. About 1/2 mile after
Mile marker 31. Open only 10a-2p. Entry fees. Learn about plants as well as culture. Largest intact heiau (temple) in all the islands is within the park boundaries. Website for more info: http://ntbg.org/gardens/kahanu.php
The park features a large parking area and restrooms. Follow the road to the end where there will be a small parking lot. But don't forget to stop at the flower and fruit stands along the road. Be sure to have many dollar bills ready to sample the fruits that the local residents have picked and have displayed. There will be a box where you can put the money. Once you park follow the signs to the beach access area. You will walk through an old cemetery and if you're lucky will see some spray come through a blowhole located out on the lava rock. The Black Sand Beach here is amazing for photos. Just be aware that the black sand hurts your feet so bring your flip flops and that it is a bit dangerous for swimming.
You can stop for
lunch at the Hana Hotel for some fancy sandwiches (the kalua pork is very good) or drive just past the hotel on your way to Oheo Gulch - look out for a family house on your left that will have a huge BBQ going. You can get some great BBQ and an affordable lunch plate.
Once you are on your way to Oheo Gulch past Hana- there may be some people who have set up stalls on the side of the road. If you notice one that sells shave ice in a white tent on the right side of the road- take the time to stop here. You will have to park on the left side of the road so watch out for on coming cars. The lady who runs this stall has some great local knowledge and will tell you all about the stars who have homes in the Hana area. Her shave ice isn't bad either and is a nice treat on your way to Haleakala National Park.
Once you have reached Haleakala National Park - find your way to the Pipiwai Trail or the pools at Oheo Gulch. The pools near the bottom, closest to the ocean are the most populated. Hike up to the upper pools if you want to go for dip without the crowds.
Snorkeling: Maui offers many places for snorkeling either with a guided tour or on your own.
Molokini is a shoal and bird sanctuary off the coast of Maui that offers excellent snorkeling. This is one snorkel spot that you can't reach on your own. There are quite a few companies that offer a great snorkel package with Molokini and Turtle Town. Afternoon trips are generally cheaper than the morning excursions due to the wind coming up in the late morning hours which causes poor visibility and serious chop in the water when heading back to harbor. If you are looking for a snorkeling trip that is not as
crazy crowded as Molokini during the day, try one of the smaller boats. They go to some smaller less crowded dive spots around Maui. Also, if you are prone to sunburn, the afternoon sun is more intense. Wear a t-shirt and lots of sunscreen - more than you think you need. Make sure to apply your sunscreen at least an half and hour before getting into the water. Molokini has the best snorkeling where
I have seen reef sharks, small octupus, and a large variety of colorful fish. The visibility is super and you are taken into another world there. Most of the time the water is like glass but
I have been after a hurricane passed and the water was very choppy. Check out the weather reports once you get to Maui to see which day would be best to go. If you are not a strong swimmer- ask your boat tour for a noodle, flotation belt, or a boogie board to help you float. You will be happy you decided to go!
is a location off the Maui shore in Makena. Tour companies offer affordable packages to get to Turtle Town. Once you swim and find the rock reef- you will see lots of marine life. Follow the reef and you will hopefully run into a turtle or two! Or, if you are a good swimmer go to Maluaka Beach in front of the Makena Beach Resort, watch where the tour boats go and you will be treated to turtles without going on a boat.
Please, do not touch or interact with the turtles.
They are wild creatures and deserve respect and their own space in their natural world. Turtles are frequently spotted by diners at Mala restaurant.
Treat Yourself to one of the best beaches in the world: If you happen to get to
Wailea , check out
Ulua Beach and Makapu Beach. There is fantastic snorkeling right off the beach. Ulua Beach offers a huge variety of fish. See eels, octopus, and turtles here. From Makapu Beach follow the reef to the left. On the Ulua side- follow the rocks and reef to the right. Swim out towards the ocean and you will soon find yourself swimming with turtles. You can get great photos even with your regular underwater disposable cameras here.
Kapalua Bay has one of the best beaches in all of America for swimming and great snorkeling too!! It is north of Lahaina. Beware, it is sometimes quite windy and stormy in Kapalua area. It is not adviseable to snorkel in murky water or after large rainfalls that create the fresh water mixing with the ocean water.