Maui is the second-largest island of the Hawaiian Island chain and is nicknamed “The Valley Isle.”
Okay, honestly, although I learned about this in my 5th grade Hawaiiana class, I have never called Maui “the Valley Isle” nor have I heard other locals use that “nickname” either, except, maybe in tourist-related situations. However, after some research, I learned that apparently, it has to do with Maui’s geography, specifically because its landscape contains a large valley between two dormant volcanoes — Haleakala in the east and Mauna Kahalawai in the west.
Fun Fact: Haleakala means “House of the Sun” and, at 10,023 feet high, 4,000 feet deep, and 21 miles across its crater, it’s the largest dormant volcano in the world! (This fact I did hear a lot about while growing up in Hawaii. We locals are proud of our little state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! 💗)
The West Maui Mountains, or Mauna Kahalawai, are made from an older dormant volcano.
Growing up on Oahu, whenever we visited Maui, everything about the island always seemed sunnier with brighter skies and bluer oceans. While I’m not sure if this is actually true or not, Maui is definitely a gorgeous island, known for its beautiful beaches and sunny skies. With over 120 miles of shoreline and 80 beaches, Maui has more beaches and coastline than any other island in Hawaii. In addition, from calm waters to crashing waves, and pristine white sand beaches to the rarer black or red sand shores, Maui has a wide appeal to a variety of travelers.
The main airport is Kahului Airport, located in Central Maui. Maui actually has three airports on the island, but the other two airports – Kapalua Airport and Hana Airport – do not have direct flights to the US mainland. I like to visualize the location of Kahului Airport as in the neck between the head and the bust of the island, but that might just be me. For geographic and weather purposes, Maui is typically divided into five regions: Central Maui, Upcountry Maui, East Maui, South Maui, and West Maui.
Central Maui: Besides the main airport in Kahului, Central Maui also houses government offices, residential areas, and a variety of retail and commercial developments. Sugar and pineapple are also grown in Central Maui.
Upcountry Maui: Many of the farms, dairies, and ranches in Maui are located in Upcounty Maui due to the wetter climates and rich volcanic soil of that area. Entrance access to Haleakala National State Park and the road to Hana also lead through the upcountry region.
East Maui: Home to rural, lush scenery, waterfalls, pools, and ocean views, this is where you will find Hana Highway and the quaint towns of Pai’a and Hana as well as Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach and Waianapanapa State Park Black Sand Beach.
South Maui: A beautiful area on the southern side of Haleakala, South Maui houses large resorts in Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. Oneuli Beach, one of Maui’s black sand beaches, is also located on the south side of the island.
West Maui: Once the royal capital of Hawaii and an important whaling port, the historic town of Lahaina is now a beautiful location for fine dining, shopping, and hotels. West Maui is also known of the resort areas of Kapalua and Ka’anapali with luxury resorts and hotels, two world-class golf courses, and more.
There are basically two main seasons throughout most of the Hawaiian Islands: a warm, drier “summer” season which usually lasts from April to November, and a “winter” season from December to March which has slightly cooler temperatures and wetter weather. There is no “monsoon” season like in many tropical climates even though it tends to rain a little more in the winter, however, there is a Hurricane Season which is between June through November, with August and September being the most active months.
A bit more on hurricane season: Please note that although some years it may seem like possible hurricanes keep coming too close to the Hawaiian Islands, we actually have not been hit with a hurricane very often. In fact, since the 1950s, only five hurricanes have caused serious damage to the Hawaiian Islands: Hurricane Nina in 1957, Hurricane Dot in 1959, Hurricane Iwa in 1982, Hurricane Estelle in 1986, and Hurricane Iniki in 1992. It should also be mentioned that sometimes before the hurricanes reach the Hawaiian Islands they downgrade to tropical storms or depressions but these storms may still cause a lot of rain or flooding.
Typically, however, due to variations in geography and topography, Maui’s climates can be divided into regional microclimates: Central Maui is usually warm, sunny, and dry throughout the year, Upcountry Maui typically has cooler weather, ranging from 40F (4C) to 80F (27C). This was noticeable even when we drove from Central Maui to Kula in Upcountry Maui one summer afternoon while on Maui for a family vacation. (Wow, it felt really nice to get out of the 90-degree weather in Kahului to the low 70s temperatures in Kula!) East Maui tends to have more rainfall, evident from the beautiful forests, tree canopies, and waterfalls that grace the area, while West Maui is typically drier and gets only around 10 inches of rain annually.
Other Things About Maui:
Haleakala: It’s important to note that due to Haleakala’s high elevation, it can get cold. If you are planning to visit – especially to watch the sunrise or sunset – make sure you have cold-weather clothing on hand. Haleakala summit temperatures range from below freezing to 65F (18C) and it has been known to snow in the winter.
Whale-watching: During the early to mid-19th century, Lahaina was a whaling port and focal point for the whaling industry. Nowadays, thousands of tourists and locals come to Maui to whale-watch from the coasts and by charter boats. Humpback whales migrate to the Hawaiian Islands annually between November through April to breed and give birth to their calves; as many as 10,000 whales travel from Alaska to Hawaii to make the over 3500-mile winter migration. Although there are always whale sightings as early as October and as late as May, often my friends (who’d take a Maui vacation just to charter a whale-watching boat) swore that January and February were the best months to go whale watching. Good luck!
Maui County: Maui is not only the name of the island but the name of the county as well and includes the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kaho’olawe. Molokai and Lanai have separate airports and access to Koho’olawe is restricted.
Transportation: The Maui Public Transit System consists of 14 bus routes and provides service within and between various towns in Central, Upcountry, South, and West Maui, including Haiku and Kula. As of 2022, the one-way general fare is $2.00, the Reduced Fare is $1.00, and children under 5 years old travel for free when accompanied by a paying guardian.
If you plan to travel around Maui during your trip, it is highly recommended to get your own rental car.
Lahaina and West Maui Average Temperature Ranges in Fahrenheit
The average annual precipitation is 13.54 inches, with the heaviest rainfall in December and January.
Hana and East Maui Average Temperature Ranges in Fahrenheit
The average annual precipitation is 79.23 inches and is usually evenly spread across the year, although March often sees the heaviest rainfall
Basic things about the Hawaiian Islands:
The Basics: Hawaii is the 50th state in the United States. We use the US dollar, we are American citizens, and English is the most commonly spoken language in the Hawaiian Islands. We follow Hawaii Standard Time (GMT -10 hours); Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Hawaii has a very ethnically diverse population with 22.9% White, 37.2% Asian, 10% Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander, 1.6% Black, and 25.3% who classify as multi-racial.
Fun Fact: Hawaii is the only state with two official languages: English and Hawaiian. While the Hawaiian language is not as commonly spoken as English, be ready to see a large number of local street names, towns, restaurants, historic sites, and more with Hawaiian names.
Travel: When visiting Hawaii from another state or country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires a declaration form from each person arriving to Hawaii to comply with rules regarding uninspected plants and animals. There are also restrictions for carry-on luggage for certain fruits and vegetables, plants, and flowers between islands. Please check before boarding.
Please note: The primary reason for this is to protect the local ecosystems which are not always built to protect themselves from invasive pests, plants, and animals. At a minimum, the invasive pests are annoying and costly to remove, and in more severe cases, they can harm or destroy plants and animals native to the Hawaiian Islands. To date, hundreds of plant and animal species have gone extinct with hundreds more on Endangered Species lists.
REGION: WEST MAUI
Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali – 2365 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-2525
Located steps away from beautiful beaches, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali recently completed a $120 million upgrade throughout the entire property. The highlight of the 3-year renovation was the opening of Hōkūpaʻa at The Westin Maui, offering an elevated luxury experience, the Hōkūpaʻa tower, and featuring upgraded guest rooms with better ocean views, access to The Lanai – a private bar and lounge, access to special programs, and an array of exclusive amenities.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel – 2525 Ka’anapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 661-0011
Set along a three-mile stretch of sandy beach, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is officially recognized as “Hawai’I’s Most Hawaiian Hotel.” Offering daily classes in hula, ukulele, and more, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers a wide range of amenities including recently renovated guest rooms and suites, beach and water sports activities, world-class golfing, and shopping within walking distance.
Montage Kapalua Bay – 1 Bay Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 662-6600
The Montage offers primarily residential-style one, two, and three-bedroom suites with separate living and dining rooms, a full gourmet kitchen, and laundry facilities. In addition to the luxury suites, enjoy live music every night, fine dining, spas, pools, access to golf and a variety of ocean activities, and more.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua – 1 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Kapalua, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 669-6200
A five-star Maui resort set on 54 acres along the beautiful Maui shoreline, this hotel offers 466 redesigned rooms, suites, and Club Level spaces. The resort offers a spa, six dining venues, two 18-hole championship golf courses, and a host of onsite and nearby recreational activities including tennis courts, swimming basketball court, sailing kayaking, stand-up paddling, and outrigger canoeing. There are also opportunities to go whale watching, snorkeling, hiking, and more.
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa – 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 661-1234
This recently renovated resort hotel sits on 40 acres on Ka’anapali Beach. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa offers 779 rooms and 31 suites, a luau program nightly, eight dining and/or beverage locations, six pools with waterfalls, and an oceanfront full-service spa and salon, nearby access to Ka’anapali Golf Courses, special events, and more.
Royal Lahaina Resort – 2780 Kekaa Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 661-3611
This resort offers a unique mixture of beach cottages, hotel rooms, and suites to accommodate its guests. Resort amenities include 3 swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa, a bar, and easy access to the beach. It is also nearby a golf course. A luau is also hosted at this location.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali – 2605 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 956761, Ph: (808) 661-0031
This hotel, known for their nightly cliff-diving (lele kawa) program, offers 508 recently, renovated rooms and suites, with the majority featuring ocean views. Set on 23 oceanfront acres on Ka’anapali Beach, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa offers a 142-yard oceanfront lagoon-style pool, spa, resort activities, and a variety of dining and drink options.
Aston Kaanapali Shore – 3445 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-2211
Located just 5 miles from Lahaina, Aston Ka’anapali Shore offers roomy hotel rooms, studios, and one to two-bedroom suites – the studios and suites all include fully-equipped kitchens, and washers and dryers, and more. Accommodations include two pools, a sauna, tennis courts, a spa, and an on-site restaurant and bar.
Plantation Inn – 174 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-9225
The Plantation Inn is an 18-room adults-only bed and breakfast is located in the heart of Lahaina Town. With 14 guest rooms and 4 suites, each with unique plantation-style architecture, lush tropical gardens, and within walking distance to some of the best fine dining, historic sites, ocean activities, restaurants, shops, and much more, this is a great getaway option for adults.
REGION: SOUTH MAUI
Hotel Wailea (Adult Only Resort) – 555 Kaukahi Street, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 874-0500
Andaz Maui at Wailea – 3550 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 573-1234
Four Seasons Resort Maui – 3900 Wailea Alanui Drive, Maui, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 874-8000
Grand Wailea Maui, a Waldorf Astoria Resort – 3850 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 875-1234
Makena Surf – 4850 Makena Alanui, Kihei, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (866) 901-0982
Fairmont Kea Lani – 4100 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea-Makena, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 875-4100
REGION: UPCOUNTRY, EAST MAUI, KAHULUI
Hana-Maui Resort – 5031 Hana Highway, Hana, Hawaii 96713, Ph: (808) 400-1234
Heavenly Hana Paradise – 4575 Hana Highway, Hana, Hawaii 96713, Ph: (800) 332-4022
Courtyard by Marriott Kahului Airport – 532 Keolani Place, Kahului, Hawaii 96732, Ph: (808) 871-1800
REGION: WEST MAUI
Hula Grill, Kaanapali – 2435 Kaanapali Parkway at Whalers Village, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-6636
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman – 2435 Kaanapali Parkway at Whalers Village Bldg I-1, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 878-6763
Duke’s Beach House – 130 Kai Malina Parkway, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 662-2900
Banyan Tree – 1 Ritz Carlton Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 665-7089
Merriman’s Kapalua – 1 Bay Club Place, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 669-6400
Taverna Maui – 2000 Village Road, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-2426
Mala Tavern – 1307 Front Street, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-9394
Son’z Steakhouse – 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-4506
Fleetwood’s on Front Street – 744 Front Street, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 669-6425
Lahaina Grill – 127 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 667-5117
Kimo’s Maui – 845 Front Street A, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 661-4811
REGION: SOUTH MAUI
Tommy Bahama Restaurant – 3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 875-9983
Matteo’s Osteria – 161 Wailea Ike Place A107, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 891-8466
Nick’s Fishmarket Maui – 4100 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 879-7224
Ruth’s Chris Steak House – 3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 874-8880
Lineage – 3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 879-8800
REGION: UPCOUNTRY AND EAST MAUI
The Wooden Crate at Lumeria Maui – 1813 Baldwin Avenue, Makawao, Hawaii 96768, Ph: (808) 579-8877
Polli’s Mexican Restaurant – 1202 Makawao Avenue, Makawao, Hawaii 96768, Ph: (808) 572-7808
Kula Bistro – 4566 Lower Kula Road, Kula, Hawaii 96790, Ph: (808) 871-2960
Mama’s Fish House – 799 Poho Place, Paia, Hawaii 96779, Ph: (808) 579-8488
Hali’imaile General Store – 900 Haliimaile Road, Makawao, Hawaii 96768, Ph: (808) 572-2666
Thai Food by Pranee – 5050 Uakea Road, Hana, Hawaii 96713, Ph: (808) 264-9942
Things to Do
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is a must place to visit if you are in Maui. The spectacular view will continue on as you climb up the mountain. Give yourself enough time when you drive as the windy roads will take some time to get used to.
The Road to Hana
Another gem in Maui. There is “The” road to Hana and also there is the “reverse” road to Hana. Both of them offer a special experience. Give yourself more time than Haleakala – it might be a good idea to book a night in Hana. It’s possible to rush through the drive in one day, but you will be crunched for time and will not be able to enjoy all the scenery including many beautiful waterfall along the way.
Visit Lahaina Town
Maui Ocean Center – 192 Maalaea Road, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793, Ph: (808) 270-7000
Visit Upcountry Maui
Haleakala Bike Ride
Iao Valley State Park
Enjoy a Luau
Explore Maui’s Beaches
REGION: WEST MAUI
Outlets of Maui – 900 Front Street, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 661-8277
Whalers Village – 2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Ph: (808) 661-4567
REGION: OTHER LOCATIONS
The Shops at Wailea – 3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, Hawaii 96753, Ph: (808) 891-6770
Maui Mall – 70 East Kaahumanu Avenue, Kahului, Hawaii 96732, Ph: (808) 877-8952
Moana Glass by Ryan Staub – 140 Hobron Avenue, Suite M-1, Kahului, Hawaii, 96732 Ph: (808) 763-6338