Often referred to as the “Valley Isle” due to the large strip of low land that separates the island’s northwestern and southwestern volcanic peaks, Maui’s natural beauty and exotic landscape has been attracting visitors for more than a century. The island is like a giant canvas painted with lush greenery, golden beaches, and sparklingly azure waters, where its colorful characters and vibrant culture add to the picturesque quality of life Maui offers year-round.
Although Maui’s location in the heart of the Hawaiian Islands allows visitors the chance to take in views of the other islands from certain vantage points—including Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe, and the Island of Hawai‘i—there’s no need to look elsewhere while on this impressive island. Maui is home to the highest concentration and variety of exotic Hawaiian landscapes, including white, black, and red sand beaches, jungles, craggy outcroppings, tropical rainforests, hidden waterfalls, soaring mountains, lavascapes, and more.
Maui is divided up into North, South, East, West, Central, and Upcountry, where each plays a vital role in adding a little of its own spice to the island’s overall flavor. Artists flock to Upcountry laid-back flair while surfers take over the shores of North Maui as soon as the big waves roll in, but in terms of relaxation and ease of life, none of the other neighborhoods can compare with the beauty and simplicity of life in West Maui.
Once the place of respite for Hawaiian royals who flocked to the stunning shores to recharge and relax, Maui’s northwest coast has remained a place for seeking refuge over the years, offering some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, hotels, and golf courses.
Getting to West Maui is part of the journey, where the Hono‘api‘ilani Highway paves the way as the only road connecting the region to the rest of the island. The scenic drive passes along the scenic shoreline, where the West Maui Mountains loom in the distance as an incentive to press on past the unnerving cliff side roadway. West Maui is home to a number of charming villages and bustling towns, including Lahaina, Maui’s historic whaling town.
Maui’s natural beauty and exotic landscape has been attracting visitors for more than a century.
Lahaina is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the role it played in Hawai‘i’s whaling history. During the 1800s, the port was Hawai‘i’s busiest, and as many as 1,500 sailors disembarked from the more than 400 ships that entered into the port. Preservation and innovation have made this town what it is today, where the historic district leads seamlessly into a row of upscale shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Rest beneath the interwoven limbs of Maui’s oldest living banyan tree, visit the historic U.S. Seaman’s Hospital, or set sail from Lahaina Harbor for a humpback whale watching tour before heading to Mala Ocean Tavern for a sunset dinner on the beach.
For world-renown golfing and upscale shopping in the area, head to Ka‘anapali Beach. The beach stretches from Canoe Beach to Black Rock, where you can often see cliff jumpers launching themselves gracefully into the water below as the sun sets and children head back after a day of splashing around in the calm waters just off the wide, sandy beaches. A long concrete walkway leads the way to the town’s shops and restaurants, like Whalers Village, a beachside mall with shops that range from everyday brands to local designers, and even a fantastic whaling museum.
Although it’s not technically located in West Maui, the nearby town of Kihei makes a great destination for rounding out a trip out west. Kihei is located in Southwest Maui, but its laid-back shores were also favored by Hawaiian royalty for their ample sunshine and little-to-no winds. The six-mile stretch of beach that line this town is great for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, and the nightlife is just as laid-back, where many of the restaurants offer the option to BYOB
The Inn Crowd
Castle Resorts & Hotels has long been the leader in offering chic accommodations and authentic experiences, and their three properties on Maui are no exception. It’s all about location at the PAKI MAUI OCEANFRONT RESORT IN KA‘ANAPALI, where winter wale watching is a breeze from this prime piece of beachfront real estate boasting panoramic views from each luxury studio. Staying at the Kamaole Sands in Kihei puts guests on a 15-acre retreat with manicured gardens and beautiful waterfalls. THE POLYNESIAN SHORES RESORT IN LAHAINA is in the heart of the action, where guests can walk to the farmer’s market to stock their fully equipped kitchens to truly live like a local while on the island.