Making Memories on the Magical Valley Isle: Must-Dos on Your First Trip to Maui

By Napua Heen
HM 6093 Liana G. Lahaina Sunset

Lahaina Sunset. Photo: Liana G., Hawaii.com member.

If you’re visiting Maui for the first time, here are the top three must do’s on Maui, the magical Valley Isle. We highly recommend renting a car, as there is limited public transportation and Maui’s most popular attractions, like the Road to Hana and Haleakalā, are best seen by car.

Looking to rent a car? Special rental discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

The Heavenly Road to Hana, Maui

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Hana, Maui. Photo: Beverly M., Hawaii.com member.

The Road to Hana is one of Maui’s signature adventures. In the case of this adventure, it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination. Be sure to stop along the way and savor the sights.

We recommend that you plan on making this a sunrise to sunset trip. There’s so much to see and explore in Hana, including black and red sand beaches. You will want a full day to take it all in.

Highlights along the way include waterfalls, scenic lookouts, curvy roads and historic bridges.

Lahaina

HM 8042 David W. Lahaina Art District

Lahaina Art District with the Island of Lanai in the background. Photo: David W., Hawaii.com member.

Speaking of historic, Lahaina, Maui is the setting of many important events through history and a must-do for first-timers to the island.

One of the most known facts is that Lahaina was once a licentious whaling port. But did you know that Lahaina was also the capital city of the Kingdom of Hawaii for 25 years in the early 1800’s? Christian Hawaiian royals moved the seat of power to Lahaina to bring order and transformation to this wild place. You can take a self-guided walking tour of Lahaina’s historic sites and experience Lahaina’s personality for yourself.

Every last Thursday of the month, except in November and December, there is a free Hawaiian music concert on the lawn in front of Baldwin Home Museum at the corner of Dickenson & Front Streets in the evening from 6 to 7:30 pm. If you go, bring a chair or beach towel, as seating is limited, and prepare to be serenaded by top local Hawaiian musicians.

Other Lahaina highlights include shopping the artsy Front Street boutiques, dining on fresh seafood and other tasty morsels from the island’s bounty and mingling with the locals and visitors from around the world.

Haleakala: House of the Sun

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Haleakala. Photo: Malcolm N., Hawaii.com member.

Haleakalā is a towering mountain. Once a volcano that is now dormant, Haleakalā means “house of the sun.” This National Park is so named because of its spectacular sunrises. Many people make the early trek up to the 10,000-foot summit to witness the sun rising from beneath a bed of clouds.

Another option? Go for sunset.

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Haleakala. Photo: Si K., Hawaii.com member.

You can head up after lunch. Take a hike. Explore the otherworldly parkscape. The visitor centers close at about 3 pm but restrooms stay open.

Stay to watch the sun sinking from far above the cloud line and then wait for the stars to appear in the heavens above, like tiny diamonds sparkling in an infinite sea of dark velvet sky.

On the way down the mountain, stop in the town of Makawaoa. Take in the cowboy culture while you enjoy a juicy grass-fed steak and the fresh produce of upcountry Maui.

First Time Must Do’s on Maui, Many More to Come

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Along the Road to Hana, Maui. Photo: Nina, Hawaii.com member.

There is much to discover on the magical Valley Isle. Consistently making the A-list for world’s best islands, Maui’s golden shores beckon with promises of tropical indulgence. May this be the first of many more trips to come!

Tips

• There are three airports on Maui. Most people will fly into the Kahului Airport (OGG), however there is also Kapalua Airport (JHM) in the resort town of Kapalua and Hana Airport (HNM) in beautifully remote town of Hana.

• Maui weather varies from day to day and can be drastically different depending on what side of the island you’re on. Keep your schedule flexible to adjust accordingly.

• Maui’s main highways make a figure eight across the island.  While the Road to Hana is most popular, exploring West Maui’s north shore is another scenic alternative. Maui’s upcountry farm tours are also popular.

• For the luxury experience on Maui, visit south Maui’s Wailea.

• For the laid back experience on Maui, visit Paʻia on Maui’s north shore.

Don’t forget – special rental car discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

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