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Things to do and see to make your Maui visit unforgettable.
Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) is a non-profit organization promoting the health and welfare of the Pacific ocean and the marine life living in it. PWF offers a variety of tours on Maui, all of which are fun and educational. If you are on Maui during whale season, I highly recommend the whale watching cruises, and for those who don't suffer seasickness, the small raft cruises are the way to go.
Have you always wanted to try surfing or stand-up paddleboarding? The instructors at Goofy Foot Surf School will get you standing on a surf board in one lesson (guaranteed!) and have you paddling like a pro in no time. I've taken both surfing and SUP lessons, and while I was far better at SUP, the instructors for both were fantastic. I've continued to rent SUP boards from Goofy Foot, and they are always professional and their prices reasonable. Based in Lahaina, you learn SUP and surfing in the calm Lahaina harbor.
Looking for a great beach on West Maui to enjoy swimming without the fear of big waves? On most days, Ka'anapali Beach is an excellent place to enjoy the water and sun, with only gentle waves and mild winds. If you snorkel, nearby Black Rock, at the north end of the beach, is a great place to learn. Or if you're already experienced, swim out and around the point of Black Rock for a more intense experience. Be aware, though, on windy or high surf days, the tip of Black Rock has a "washing machine" effect that can be tough for inexperienced swimmers.
Head farther north past Black Rock, and the beach just off the Westin Ocean Villas has a very large and diverse reef where you can snorkel for hours and see everything from turtles to manta rays, and plenty of different types of coral.
Gorgeous Wailea! One of the prettiest beaches on Maui, it offers swimming, boogie boarding, and snorkeling. Swimmers and boogie boarders should stick more to the center of the beach to avoid the rocks and reefs. Snorkelers, just look over toward the rocky points and head that way...the reefs are quite nice and fairly shallow. Nearby hotels and shops add to the fun.
When the water is clear, this is a great place for snorkelers. Wind can create some choppy conditions, but generally waves are small and the area is good for most levels of swimmers. You'll see plenty of fish, although the variety of coral is a bit lacking compared to other areas.
A dormant volcano, Haleakala is a must-see for any amateur geologist or volcanologist. A beautiful drive up the verdant mountain is followed by an other-worldly dry and moonlike landscape that seems like it came from a science fiction movie set. It's cold, so bring a jacket. The sunrises are legendary, but you need to get there early and bring a coat.
This crazy lava formation came about when lava flowed down the active volcano and out to the ocean, where wind and waves formed these upright rock structures that indeed look like dragon's teeth. You have to park at the Ritz Carlton and follow a path along a golf course - if you accidentally stray onto a golf cart path, they will let you know to GET OFF. Just warning you. But the hike is worth it to see these one-of-a-kind formations.
This blowhole, a natural hole in the rock shelf over the ocean through which water is forced at great speed and with great pressure, is one of the best and most easily accessed on Maui. On windy or high surf days, this blowhole really gets to pumping, sending water at least 50 feet into the air, similar to a geyser. You can hike down to the blowhole, but the rocks are slippery, and you definitel do not want to get too close to the blowhole. Just the drive alone is worth it, with plenty of beautiful scenery to lure photographers into spending more time than they expected along the route.
The views, scenery, and waterfalls are amazing - as are the road conditions. Narrow, with one-lane sections and bridges, and often no guard rails, driving the Road to Hana is not for the faint-hearted, especially the return trip when you are along the edge of some very precipitous cliffs. However, if you have the time and the nerves, the drive is unlike any other on the mainland U.S. Be cautious, and be courteous. Pull over for faster drivers, and don't hog the road. Be sure to stop at the roadside stands for coconut candy and banana bread. Once in Hana, check out the beaches - sheer perfection! No wonder Oprah has a house here. It's a stunningly beautiful place you won't forget.
A snorkeler's paradise in the spring through fall, Honolua Bay is also called the "fish bowl" for obvious reasons. Some of the clearest water in a protected bay, with a huge variety of fish and often turtles, this is the place to come if you love to snorkel. Winter can bring high surf conditions and you don't want to attempt snorkeling then.