Top Three Things to do on Maui

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Sunset along Kihei Beach

Maui, Hawaii, Overland Journal, National Geographic, AFAR, Traveler, Sunset, camping, travel, Overland ExpoThis time of year gets me thinking about visiting Hawaii, specifically Maui, since the weather in Wyoming is getting cold and the allure of warm water and a relaxed vibe is a much-needed break from the chaos of summer and fall. A few years ago we had the opportunity to visit Maui in October, and there are so many things I would love to do again. Here’s my Maui Must-Do List, in addition to just chilling on the beach!

Especially when traveling with a group of friends or family, I would recommend booking one of the many Maui beach condos available to rent online. Choosing the area of your home base is important since your daily activities will often include driving to a destination outside of the town. I felt that our condo in Kihei was located in an area where we could easily travel around the island, access nearby snorkeling, and effortlessly drive to a wide variety of great restaurants. Picking a beach condo near Lahaina as your home base would also be a great option.

One item I would absolutely recommend you buy before visiting Maui is a guidebook. There are a number of Maui-specific guidebooks on the market, but on the suggestion of a friend, I ordered Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty. The book not only covers the typical places of interest, but also includes description and reviews of all of the beaches around Maui, restaurant options, snorkeling locations, and some back road adventures.

Molokini Crater

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My favorite adventure of our trip was hands down, a snorkeling trip at the Molokini Crater—a partially submerged volcanic crater that has abundant sea life. Having never previously snorkeled in the ocean we were apprehensive, but the skilled crew with Four Winds II put us at ease during our sail catamaran ride out to Molokini Crater from Maalaea and gave us plenty of guidance, great equipment, and lots of time to explore the incredible sea life. Upon entering the water our senses were inundated by the vibrant colors of coral, crystal clear blue water, and a gentle rocking of the waves. The sea life was mesmerizing—we saw fish every of shape and color imaginable darting for foot and cover among the colorful coral. Also present were eels, sea turtles, octopus, and many types of urchin. For as large as the sea turtles were, some the size of the hood of a small car, they would effortlessly and unworriedly swim beside us searching for food. When our snorkel time was up, we thought the entertainment was over, but on our wind-driven catamaran ride back to Maalaea we were guided by a pod of dolphins. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

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Snorkeling at Molokini Crater

Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is an iconic drive, and going into in you must know that Hana is not the destination—the drive itself is what should be savored. Switch back after switchback takes you along the north and east coast of Maui and around every turn is an awe-inspiring view of craggy cliffs hanging into the Pacific Ocean or a waterfall nestled in the rainforest. Along the 52 mile drive, which you should dedicate at least an entire day to driving, you will get to navigate nearly 50 one-way bridges along the way.

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Ho'okipa Beach Park

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Some websites may tell you that a four-wheel-drive truck or jeep is necessary to travel this road, but we were able to easily get everywhere we desired in our rental car. In Maui Revealed Andrew Doughty has organized the many sights along the Road to Hana from the start of the road (west end) and are noted, based on mile markers, up until you get to the end of the road in Hana. It was fun to plan which waterfalls we would hike to, which botanical garden should garner our attention, and which swimming holes deserved a dip. Being the type of people who like to make our own adventure, we picked lesser visited spots and had them all to our own. I’m not going to tell you the exact spots we visited so you feel free to venture out and explore areas suited to your taste of adventure. While on the drive make sure to stop by some of the small, independent roadside vendors. We particularly enjoyed snacking on coconut candy, banana bread, and a variety of dried fruits that grow in the area. Another great resource for places to visit along the Road to Hana is Go Visit Hawaii’s page dedicated to this topic.

Haleakalā National Park

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Maui, Hawaii, Overland Journal, National Geographic, AFAR, Traveler, Sunset, camping, travel, Overland ExpoTake your jacket to this last spot because you will need it! Atop the shield volcano that forms much of the island of Maui sits Haleakalā National Park. Rising 10,023 feet into the sky, the stark and wind-swept terrain looks much like a Martian landscape. We thought that our experience living in Wyoming would mean that the summit of Haleakalā wouldn’t be nearly as inhospitable as people claimed, but the 45-degree weather, humid air, and swift wind were extreme, even for us. Many people make the nearly hour-long drive to the summit before sunrise to experience the sun rising over the crater wall; if you choose to do this via private vehicle be certain to make reservations for parking on the website linked above. Visitors also enjoy traversing more than 35 miles of trails. Finding wildlife is always one of our favorite activities, but we thought that the elevation near the summit would have rendered the area inhospitable to animals—we were wrong. Haleakalā National Park is home to Nënë (Hawaiian Geese), which are a threatened species with nearly 250 in the national park. More information on the endangered Nënë can be found here.

There are so many great places to check out while visiting Maui—if you start with the above three items you certainly won’t be disappointed. Make your own adventure and be sure to get off the beaten path!



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Author
Travel, DeLorme, Garmin, ToyotaKrista Johnston is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Living Overland. Krista is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and hiking with her husband (Beau) and their two dogs.



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