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West Maui

Tour of Maui

Hana Coast

Haleakala Crater

Upcountry

West Maui

South Maui

Central Valley

From the bustling shops of Lahaina to the beautifully manicured golf courses of Kapalua, West Maui has something to offer everyone. Many of the major resort hotels are located at Kaanapali. Even if you are staying on the south side of the island at Kihei or Wailea, chances are you will find yourself driving to the west side several times on your vacation ... there is just so much to do here!

 
As you leave the central valley at Maalaea Harbor, you begin the drive to West Maui along the Pali Highway ... a stretch of winding, but wide rode that hugs the cliffs looking out over the ocean, with sweeping views of Kahoolawe and Lanai. Just past the tunnel is a snorkel area known as Coral Gardens. Afternoon snorkel trips usually don't go to Molokini ... they usually come here. 
Mile marker 14 is often an excellent place to snorkel. The beach isn't very wide, and the sand is brown ... but the reef stretches out for almost 1/4 mile offshore. The further out you swim, the clearer the water gets and the more beautiful the fish and coral become. Be careful pulling off the road if you stop here ... traffic is heavy and car accidents are too frequent here.
Halfway to Lahaina from Maalaea Harbor, you will pass the tiny village known as Oluwalu. If you blink, you will miss it. There is a general store there, and a well-know french restaurant known as Chez Paul. About a mile off the highway on a dirt road that leads back through the old sugar cane fields is a rock outcropping with a great display of ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs. 
Lahaina Town is an old whaling port ... now home to art galleries, shops, fine restaurants, and entertainment. Lahaina Harbor has daily departures for snorkeling trips to Lanai, parasailing and whale watching in season, dinner cruises, and ferries to the islands of Lanai and Molokai. Parking can be tough in this town. Your best bet is to use the free public parking lot on the corner of Prison and Front Street. Parking here is limited to three hours during the daytime, but they don't check parking there in the evening. Just a word of caution: if this parking lot is full, DO NOT park in a bus parking stall or you WILL get a ticket and it WILL be added to your rental car bill.  
Kaanapali is famous for it's wide white sand beach and its upscale hotels. This photo shows the Sheraton which sits on Black Rock ... separating the main Kaanapali Beach from the more quiet (but perhaps more beautiful) North Beach area. Whaler's Village is an upscale shopping center located here (Gucci Gucci Goo). Snorkeling around Black Rock is usually pretty good all year round ... turtles and rays can even be seen here occasionally. 
Kapalua is a golfing mecca ... the Plantation Course is the most challenging and most well-known, hosting the Mercedes Championship each January. The Ritz Carlton and Kapalua Bay Hotel are here. If you stay this far north, expect a little more wind and rain than further down in Kaanapali and Lahaina. Check out Fleming Beach Park ... a favorite among locals.  
Just past Fleming Beach Park, the road narrows and begins to twist and turn. Just before mile marker 35 you will likely encounter a collection of cars parked along the side of the road. Several trails lead down through the forest and out to the rocky beach at Honolua Bay. In the summertime this bay offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling on Maui. In the wintertime the wave action makes the water murky, but the big attraction then is surfing. For a good look at the bay, continue past it and stop at the overlook on the far side of the bay. If conditions are calm and you plan to snorkel, you can see the coral heads just under the surface of the water. 
If the surf is up, continue to the top of the hill and turn left onto a side road that leads toward the mouth of the bay. Overlooks at the top of the cliff give you a great bird's-eye view of the waves breaking at Honolua, which offers long, and wild rides to experienced surfers.  
Continuing on the road past Honolua, you leave civilization behind. Beautiful ocean-swept vistas and red rocky cliffs await. At mile marker 38 you will see a navigational light at the edge of a cliff. A paved parking lot is here. Keep on going another 1/4 mile to a dirt parking lot with large rocks along the edge. Park here and walk toward the ocean. You can see the Nakalele Blowhole in the distance, or you can hike down a trail for a close-up view.  When the swells are up, each wave fills a cavern and forces water out a hole in the top with tremendous pressure.  
Now the road gets really interesting. Your rental car company doesn't want you to keep going ... the road gets so narrow that there are sections where encountering an approaching vehicle means that someone has to back up ... sometimes for 100 yards! Tucked away on this remote side of the island is the tiny village of Kahakuloa. The most notable geographic landmark on the north shore of Maui is Kahakuloa Head ... Maui's version of the rock of Gibraltar.
If you do the entire drive from Kapalua to Kahului on this northern route, expect the trip to take you around 2 hours. One thing you won't see much of along the way is waterfalls. This is surprising since the summit of the West Maui Mountains is the second-wettest spot on the face of the earth. The waterfalls in the deeply carved valleys of the West Maui Mountains are spectacular, but they are remote. You can't see them from the road ... you have to take a helicopter flight to get a good look. You are going to spend thousands of dollars coming here on vacation ... do yourself a favor and spend another $100 or so and see some of the most beautiful sites on the face of the earth! Check out our helicopter tour page.  

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