Maui is a volcanic island in the Hawaiian archipelago. There are thirty miles of stunning beaches, lava rock formations, and dense tropical forest. The volcano takes up almost three-quarters of the island and this has provided a wide variety of landscapes and vegetation. When combined with the ocean, this all adds up to deliver a gem of a road trip adventure.
The island is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and at the same time the second youngest. It was formed 1.3 million years ago by volcanic activity which makes it virtually a baby in geological terms. Everything on the island is dominated by the formidable presence of the Haleakala Volcano.
In addition to all the wide variety of adventure options that nature has provided, there are many other delights to sample. There are laid back bohemian villages, native themed restaurants, and old historical towns that date back to early missionary days and the once important whaling industry.
All along your journey, you will be met with traditional Hawaiian hospitality and the customs and traditions that they are still proud of. The coastline is dotted with campsites so you shouldn’t have any problem overnighting on the journey.
Dragonfruit is not something that we get to eat every day, unless you happen to live in Hawaii. This 25 acre Maui Dragon Fruit Farm is an organic farm that offers 16 varieties of dragon fruit and they offer a tour during which you can sample the fruit and learn about the numerous health benefits that it offers. You will also be taught a little of the farming history of the island and how this farm has developed over time.
In addition to being the biggest organic dragon fruit farm in the US, they also grow sugar cane, pineapple, bananas, and papaya, all of which can be sampled when in season.
If you are feeling a little bit daring after all of that sugar, you might care for a ride on their 450-foot long zip line. For the more sedate, there are breathtaking views of three different islands in the Pacific and the West Maui Mountains.
Lahaina town is just thirty-five minutes from the Maui airport. That is a theme you will see repeatedly on this road trip. Because the island is relatively small, many of your journeys will be quite short hops.
Lahaina is a harbor and also the docking point for the inter-island ferry as well as a place to take a whale watching tour or a sunset cruise. The town itself has a thousand years of rich history behind it. There are two easy walking trails that will take you to most of the prominent homes, buildings, and museums.
Along the way, you will pass a taro patch where you will be given explanations as to how this valuable native plant is used and come to better understand why it plays such an important part in Hawaiian cuisine. The Hauola Stone is also on this walk and was once used by ancient Kahuna priests as part of a traditional healing and birthing ceremony.
Once the sun sets behind the horizon, you will start to hear the beating of drums and the blast of conch shells being blown. This is an invitation to summon guests to an evening of traditional Hawaiian cuisine, dancing, and entertainment.
Every hotel offers this gastronomic adventure and you might like to head for the Royal Lahaina Resort where you will also see how Polynesian culture has made its mark on Maui. This is the oldest running Polynesian Luau on the island and is called the Myths of Maui. In addition to food and dance, they have cleverly woven in the legends that once permeated the south Pacific.
The food is to die for. There will be pig roasted in an underground oven, fresh salmon, locally grown salads, and a wide medley of tropical cocktails.
The Kahekili Beach Park is a campsite that is ideally placed to reach the luau, and as it is only nine minutes' walk from the resort, you could park the van and enjoy the evening on foot.
Kaanapali Beach is just a few minutes from the beach park where you spent the night. It is a snorkeler’s paradise. You will easily be able to lose the morning sunbathing on the white sand and diving amongst the colorful array of tropical fish and turtles. Every evening there is a performer who lights the torches along the cliffs and then plunges into the water far below.
When the urge for a bite grabs you, you can take a gentle cruise to the Gazebo Restaurant situated at Napili Shores which is just over six miles away. The best time to arrive is just after midday as people will have been queuing since eight in the morning to eat breakfast or buy takeaways here. By noon things have calmed somewhat and you should be able to grab a table overlooking the bay.
Specialties include the all-day fried rice breakfast, macadamia pancakes and mountains of fresh fruit. Half portions are normally more than enough for most people.
From Napili to Acid Wall Zone Trail is a drive of just over twenty minutes. This 1.9-mile hike winds along a path at the base of a cliff. The cliff face has been pocked marked and scarred by thousands of years of sea spray and wind pounding into it.
The trail passes through areas rich in wild flora and it is a good place to spot some of the indigenous birds that inhabit the island. As you get closer to the sea you will cross rugged larva fields until you find yourself at Nakalele Point which is on the eastern edge of the island.
The main thing that attracts people to this remote point is the Nakaele Blowhole, which can spout water many feet into the air. The waves are sucked into a cave beneath your feet and you will be able to feel the amazing power of the compressed water as it rushes toward the blowhole. There it explodes into the air with amazing force and has been known to shoot water 100 foot up when the waves are at their most fierce.
From the Acid Wall Cliffs, the drive to Maui West Forest Reserve is just a few minutes. Once there you will enter the lush forest, dotted with waterfalls and traced with hiking trails. Lao Valley is a must-see with its famous needle, rock formations, and hidden pools. This valley was once reserved for Hawaiian royalty and for anyone else to even enter was a capital offense. The summit of the ancient Pu'u Kukui volcanic mountain soars to an impressive 5788 feet. Its name translates to candle nut hill.