Named after a Hawaiian demigod, the island of Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is frequently referred to as the “Valley Isle” because of the large isthmus located between the island’s extinct volcanoes. The island is home to many unique towns, each with its own charm and interesting things to see. If you are traveling to Maui, here are a few towns you will want to check out.
Located on the western coast, Lahaina is one of the largest cities in Maui and has a rich cultural history. The city served as the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early 1800s. During this time period, it was also a whaling village for thousands of sailors, including Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. Today, Lahaina has earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places and is a cultural hot spot with art galleries, unique shops and much more.
Things to See and Do in Lahaina:
- Whale Watching Tours: From November to May, visitors to Lahaina have the rare opportunity to view North Pacific Humpback Whales in their natural habitat. These tours typically last about 2 hours and are led by certified marine naturalists who help visitors better understand these majestic creatures. While on tour, you will have the chance to see humpback whales up close and listen to their songs using underwater hydrophones.
- Front Street: Front Street is the cultural center of Lahaina. Here you will find rare handmade art, one-of-a-kind boutiques and many local crafters. Dine on fresh local cuisine while enjoying views of the Pacific Ocean.
Situated on the slopes of Haleakala volcano in Upcountry Maui, Makawao is a little town with a big personality. This fertile land is best known for the Hawaiian cowboys who inhabit it, called paniolo. The paniolo have lived in this area since the late 19th century. Every year on Independence Day, the town hosts the Makawao Rodeo, featuring traditional rodeo competitions with a few distinctly Hawaiian twists.
Things to See and Do in Makawao:
- T. Komoda Store: No visit to Makawao is complete without a stop by T. Komoda Store. Since 1916, this tiny bakery has served up fresh baked goods. Although everything on the menu is fresh and delicious, the store is best known for its cream puffs. This little place does big business, so be sure to get in line early before they sell out for the day.
- Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center: Located on the Hui’s Kaluanui Estate, the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center offers free tours of the 1917 sugar mill and home. This non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving paniolo heritage and teaching art education. They offer a wide variety of art classes and events for locals and visitors to learn and enjoy.
Kihei is one of the hottest and driest places in Maui. Since it receives under 13 inches of rain each year, it is the perfect place to enjoy 6 miles of picturesque beaches made for swimming, walking and surfing.
Things to See and Do in Kihei:
- Surfing at Kalama Park: Known to locals as simply “the cove,” Kalama Park is the ideal surf spot for new surfers. The cove is spacious with shallow water and gentle waves, making it perfect for beginners who want to give surfing a try. Surfing lessons and rental equipment are readily available here.
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