Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

The Travel Agent’s Ultimate Guide to Maui

The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is a fabulous destination with a booming a tourism industry. Travelers visit Maui for great entertainment, gorgeous hiking trails and of course, 5-star beaches.

Maui Basics

  • Getting there – Travelers can choose between the Kahului Airport and the Kapalua Airport when flying into Maui, with tourists more commonly flying into Kahului. Nautical-loving travelers can also visit the island via cruise ship where they will dock at one of the many ports.
  • Location –Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands and is located northwest of Hawaii Island. It has a population of just over 117,000.
  • Climate – Maui is blessed with pleasant temperatures year-round with averages ranging between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Currency – Since Hawaii is part of the United States, their currency is the U.S. dollar.
  • Language – Fun fact: Hawaii is the only American state with two official languages: Hawaiian and English. In addition to speaking in two native tongues, many Hawaiians also use a form of slang called Pidgin.

Lodging

The most popular spots for lodging in Maui are the cities of Lahaina and Kahului/Wailuku. Here, visitors will find no shortage of classy resorts, rental units and hostels.

Food

There are tons of wonderful food options in Maui so it’s really up to travelers which food they’re in the mood for. Hawaiian shave ice from Ululani’s is a popular and refreshing choice. Looking for a food truck vibe? The South Maui Fish Company is a flavorful option for fresh tacos, poke and seafood platters.  For nice presentation and tasty eats, locals love the Kula Bistro popular for its local, Italian and American cuisine. Another VAX approved restaurant is Monkeypod Kitchen, a spot famous for their local farm-to-table cuisine. Insider tip: reservations for Monkeypod are needed well in advance; we promise it’s worth it!

Fun

  • Adventure – Put on your walking shoes because awesome hiking trails is the name of the Maui game. Whether you prefer dense vegetation or rushing waterfalls, Maui’s got the outdoor experience for you! Popular hiking spots include: Iao Valley State Park ,where visitors can climb to the 1,200-foot Iao Need or hike the 4,000-acre valley; Pools of Oheo, a series of seven beautiful pools fed by waterfalls; and Haleakala National Park, or the ‘House of the Sun,’ an active but non-erupting volcano. In addition to adventures on land, travelers can also hit the open sea with a snorkeling or whale watching excursion. Looking for some time away from the beach? Travelers won’t want to miss a visit to the Maui Ocean Center where they can have the unique opportunity to experience a lavender farm.
  • Entertainment – Unique nightlife options are abundant on the island of Maui. From live music to luau madness, there’s something for everyone. A top pick for music is the Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concert Series at the Napili Kai Beach Resort. The show features local slack key legend, George Kahumoku, Jr., and is a true cultural gem. There’s no shortage of bars and clubs in the city; one favorite is The Dirty Monkey which was recently voted the “best new bar on Maui.” It’s also worth noting that every “Aloha Friday,” the Maui County Office of Economic Development hosts a free party in different locations on the island. The party celebrates culture, art, community and music and is always paired with delicious, locally made food.
  • Shopping – From Lahaina to Hana, special treasures are waiting to be found on Maui. A mix of luxury shops like Kate Spade and Oakley sit aside local shops with Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops at Whaler Village shopping center. For the ultimate in upscale shopping, travelers will want to visit the Shops of Wailea and the shopping malls in Central Maui.

History and Culture

  • Upcountry– Paniolos, also known as Hawaiian cowboys, spent their time in the small Upcountry town of Makawao, where you’ll find famous cream puffs at T. Komoda Store, in addition to other boutiques and galleries. While in Upcountry, make a stop at MauiWine for a tour and tasting – we recommend the pineapple wine.
  • Iao Valley State Monument – One of Maui’s most famous landmarks, this is where the Battle of Kenpaniwai took place in 1790 and King Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army.
  • Haleakala National Park – Covering 30,004 acres, Haleakala National Park houses the largest concentration of endangered species of any national park.

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