Maui Travel Guide
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Its nickname is "The Valley Isle," which describes its geography as a large valley between two dormant volcanoes — Haleakala in the east and Mauna Kahalawai in the west. Haleakala's name means "House of the Sun," and it's the largest dormant volcano in the world at 10,023 feet high, 4,000 feet deep, and 21 miles across its crater. Mauna Kahalawai, an eroded volcano, is referred to as the West Maui Mountains.
Maui is known for its beaches, with over 120 miles of shoreline and 80 beaches — more than any other island in Hawaii. Maui's beaches vary from gentle surf to crashing waves, with fine white sand and even rare black and red sand beaches near Hana.
Kahului Airport is located in Central Maui on the northern edge of the land between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains. Five regions define the island. West Maui is home to the resort areas of Kaanapali, Kapalua, and the town of Lahaina. The resort communities of Kihei, Wailea, and Makena are located in South Maui.
The road to Hana and Haleakala State Park are in East Maui. Upcountry is located on the higher elevations around Haleakala, where farms, dairies, and ranches take advantage of the volcanic soil and wetter weather. In Central Maui, Iao Valley State Park offers hiking trails, forests, and running streams.
Hawaii follows Hawaii Standard Time (GMT-10 hours), which is five hours behind Eastern Standard Time and two hours behind Pacific Standard Time. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time, so add one extra hour to the time difference during this period (March through November).
Best Time to Go
The summer season, mainly April through November, sees higher temperatures and less precipitation. June, July, and August are popular with vacationers when schools are generally out, and the weather is warm and dry.
Winter, from December through March, is cooler, but still warm and sunny although there's a bit more rain. The weather varies across different areas of the island, and the western and southern shores are generally drier. Lahaina and Kaanapali in West Maui get around 10 inches of rain annually, compared to higher elevations that can see more than 300 inches of rain each year.
Winter is a popular time for visitors to get away from cold weather at home and enjoy Maui's mild winter. Whale watching season from December through May, peaking from January through March, is also a great attraction during winter.
Things to Know
Haleakala is a dormant volcano, but it's not extinct. It last erupted between 1480 and 1600, according to the USGS, and is expected to erupt again in the future. At more than 10,000 feet in elevation, its summit sometimes receives snow in winter.
Honokohau Falls plunges 1,119 feet, dropping in two tiers. The tallest waterfall on Maui and one of the highest in the world, Honokohau Falls is located in an inaccessible valley in the West Maui Mountains. A helicopter tour is the best way to see it.
Formerly a whaling port and center of the whaling industry in the early- to mid-19th century, Lahaina was the original capital of Hawaii until 1850.
Maui is the name of the island as well as the name of a county. Maui County includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe.
Charles Lindbergh, aviator and explorer, is buried on Maui in a grave at the Palapala Ho'omau Church along the road to Hana.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires a declaration form for each person arriving in Hawaii in connection with rules regarding uninspected plants and animals. When departing, your luggage will be screened for uninspected fruits and plants, but you may take inspected fresh flowers and fruits home.
The main airport on Maui is Kahului Airport (OGG), and there are smaller commuter airports in Kapalua and Hana. Molokai and Lanai are served by their own airports.
Every year, as many as 10,000 humpback whales travel more than 3,500 miles from Alaskan waters to Hawaii for their winter migration. Maui is one of the best places to see them as they feed, give birth, and nurture their young. Many can be seen from the shore, and whale watching boat cruises are also available.
The official languages of Hawaii are English and Hawaiian, although Hawaiian is not commonly spoken. Major resort areas often have customer service representatives who speak Japanese.
How to Get Around
You can get around Maui by shuttle, tour bus, taxi, or public transportation. But to really experience all that Maui offers, you should consider reserving a rental car in advance from the Kahului or Kapalua Airport.
Upcountry, East Maui, and Kahului
Upcountry and East Maui
Things to Do
Areas to Know
The resort area of Kapalua is located in the northwest section of the island featuring luxury hotels, marine sanctuaries, and two world-class golf courses. In the southwest section of the west coast, the town of Lahaina offers shops, hotels, and its history as a whaling center and early settlement. The Kaanapali resort area features three miles of prime beachfront and a range of hotels and restaurants.
This area includes Haleakala National Park as well as rustic towns, ranches, agricultural sections, and an artists' community. In contrast to the developed coastal areas, Upcountry remains rural, with different weather and vegetation based on its higher elevations.
This area is the driest part of the island, sheltered by Haleakala, and the resort communities of Kihei, Wailea, and Makena feature upscale hotels, condominium developments, and popular tourist destinations. Miles of beaches, views of other islands, and Kihei's Kalama Beach Park are attractions in the area.
This rural, undeveloped area is home to the Hana Highway and the towns of Pa'ia and Hana. Lush scenery, waterfalls, pools, and beautiful coastline attract visitors.
Maui's main airport, Kahului Airport, is located in this area. Central Maui also includes state government offices, residential developments, and agricultural areas. Sugar and pineapples are grown in the area.
Maui weather varies significantly around the island, with rainforest, desert, and mountainous climates. The higher elevations are humid and rainy, while other areas receive little or no rainfall.
Lahaina, Kihei, Wailea, and Haleakala have desert microclimates. Haiku, Hana, Makawao, and West Maui Mountains are rainforest microclimates. Mountainous microclimate areas include parts of Haleakala, Kula, and Ulupalukua.
Hurricane season in Maui is from June through November, but hurricanes are rare, occurring only about once every 10 years.
Lahaina/West Maui Temperature Average Lows and Highs in Fahrenheit
January 64 - 82
February 64 - 82
March 65 - 83
April 66 - 84
May 67 - 85
June 69 - 86
July 70 - 87
August 71 - 88
September 71 - 88
October 70 - 87
November 68 - 85
December 66 - 83
Average Annual Precipitation: 13.54 inches, with heaviest rainfall in December and January.
Hana/East Maui Temperature Average Lows and Highs in Fahrenheit
January 65 - 78
February 64 - 78
March 65 - 78
April 67 - 78
May 68 - 80
June 70 - 82
July 71 - 82
August 72 - 83
September 70 - 83
October 70 - 82
November 69 - 80
December 67 - 79
Average Annual Precipitation: 79.23 inches, spread fairly evenly throughout the year with March seeing the heaviest rainfall.
Apps to Download
Lahaina Historic Trail: Walking tour of historic Lahaina. (Android)
Gypsy Guide: Guide for driving tours, commentary, local tips. $9.99. (iOs and Android)
Haleakala Maui Gypsy Guide: Driving tour with audio narration. $4.99
Lahaina (Maui) Offline: Detailed map and search. (iOs and Android)