Trying to choose between the resorts, fine dining and world-class shopping on Oahu and the quiet, small-town feel of Kauai? If so, Maui is the perfect compromise. The Valley Isle offers an eclectic mix of luxury resorts and tourist attractions interspersed with plenty of undeveloped, beautiful countryside and quiet, sleepy little towns. Why choose Maui? Because you can spend one day exploring the shoping activities in Lahaina and the next driving through the rainforest and occassionally stopping at a waterfall on the road to Hana.
Maui itself is made up of two volcanic areas. To the west of the island, lies the now extinct Mauna Kahalawai, also referred to as the West Maui Mountains, while to the east the landscape is dominated by Haleakala. The literal meaning is "House of the Sun" appropriate for this 10,023-foot (3,055 m) dormant volcano. And between the two lies the valley that gives the island it’s nickname.
Kauai may have more beaches along its coastline than Maui, but the Valley Isle has more accessible beaches, especially along the drier, sunny west coast. Kaanapali Beach is a perfect metaphor for Maui--a beautiful stretch of beach close to luxury resorts and shopping centers. Best of all, over half of Maui is only five miles away from the nearest shoreline.
The Demigod Maui
Maui is named for the demigod Maui, a warrior and trickster who fished the Hawaiian islands out of the ocean using his magic fishhook Manaiakalani. Maui is the hero of many stories in Hawaiian culture, including the tale of how he forced the sun to move slower across the sky.
Before Maui intervened, Ka Lā, the sun, would race across the sky. The sun moved so fast Maui’s mother, the goddess Hina, did not have time to dry her tapa cloth. Angered at the sun for its inconsiderate ways, Maui made rope snares from coconut husks and climbed to the top of Haleakala. There he set his snares, trapped the sun and forced Ka Lā to agree to move slower. Hawaii has enjoyed longer hours of daylight ever since.
Every year between November and March, thousands of humpback whales migrate from their Alaskan feeding grounds to the ‘Au’au channel, the shallow, sheltered area of water between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. There they breed and give birth. Thousands of visitors come to Maui to watch the whales every year, taking boat cruises from Lahaina, which was once the seat of whaling in Hawaii. Even if you don't take a cruise, whales can often be seen breaching and slapping the water with their tails right from shore.
Why choose Maui? It’s the perfect mix of developed resorts and old Hawaii charm, where whales play beneath the imposing silhouette of Haleakala.