Welcome to Maui, “the Valley Isle.” One of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, Maui is famed for her beautiful golden beaches, lush mountain valleys, plunging waterfalls, 10,023 foot Mt. Haleakala and other majestic volcanoes.
Other visitors to this magical isle insist that Maui is most awesome for her many challenging golf courses, historic villages, windsurfing and incredible diving hot spots. No wonder Maui has been voted “Best Island” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler for nineteen years.
What else to do in Maui? Arise early to take in a spectacular sunrise above the clouds on towering Mt. Haleakal. Take a cruise along the coast. The winding road to Hana seems to surprise ’round every bend. Blue ocean vistas and sparkling waterfalls are the definition of paradise. Roadside vendors warmly greet visitors with delightful hand-made crafts and fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Lahina’s small town charm is perfect for any mood: eat a cheeseburger in paradise or enjoy an elegant dinner at sunset along Bay Street. Whale watching is a favorite activity early in the year, whether you view the mammoth breaches from the shore or from a tour boat, an experience that will leave a permanent imprint on your brain. The ferries leave frequently from Lahaina if you feel adventurous (as you should), then jump aboard to go explore the neighboring islands of Lana’i and Molokai.
Maui literally has something for everyone, whether in the mood for relaxation or action, come soak in the warm immersion of aloha spirit here in magical Maui, the Valley Isle!
The island of Maui; Hawaiian: is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles (1,883 km2) and is the 17th largest island in the United States. Maui is part of the State of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County’s four islands, bigger than Molokai, Lanai, and unpopulated Kahoolawe. In 2010, Maui had a population of 144,444, third-highest of the Hawaiian Islands, behind that of Oahu and Hawaii Island. Kahului is the largest census-designated place (CDP) on the island with a population of 26,337 as of 2010 and is the commercial and financial hub of the island.Wailuku is the seat of Maui County and is the third-largest CDP as of 2010. Other significant places include Kihei (including Wailea and Makena in the Kihei Town CDP, which is the second-most-populated CDP in Maui); Lahaina (including Kaanapali and Kapalua in the Lahaina Town CDP); Makawao; Pa’ia; Kula; Ha’iku; and Hana.
Maui was first settled by Polynesians, probably from the Marquesas Islands sometime before 450 AD, again around 450 AD and finally by settlers from Tahiti starting around 700. The Tahitians brought many of the essential elements of Hawaiian culture, language, religion and customs.
The island’s oldest temples, or haeiaus date back to 1200 and are at Pihana and Halekiâi. Pihana was considered a luakini where kapu breakers or war captives were offered as human sacrifices. Fortunately for visitors, this practice has long since been discontinued.
Maui was ruled by three chiefdoms up until the 15th century, centered at Wailuku, Han, and Lele (Lahaina). Eventually, rule of the entire island consolidated around 1550 when King Piâilani married the daughter of the Aliâi Nui of Hana. Maui was ruled by a single joint royal family or aliâi then for almost 250 years, a time of prosperity followed. The aliâi built a highway around the entire island along its coast; remnants of which still exist. They also built the island’s and Hawaii’s largest temple enclosure. Today it is called Pi’ilanihale, built on an older temple site from about 1294.
Kamehameha the Great, ruler of the Big Island, conquered the other Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. He shrewdly developed alliances with the major Pacific colonial powers, and thus preserving Hawaii’s independence during his reign.
Captain James Cook was the first European explorer to site Maui on November 26, 1778. Unable to find a suitable landing place, Cook never actually set foot on the island. French admiral Jean-Fransois de Galaup, comte de La Prouse was the first European to visit Maui and landed near present day La Perouse Bay on May 29, 1786.
Maui’s first sugar mill began production in 1828. The growing sugar industry drew great numbers of plantation workers from Japan, China, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Korea, and Portugal. These immigrants helped create the rich tapestry that is the people of Hawaii today.
The Lahaina Historic Trail is one of many intriguing ways to learn more and experience the Island’s historical treasures.