Legends say the demigod Maui pulled the Hawaiian Islands from the sea and lassoed the sun atop Haleakala, the island’s highest peak. The island of Maui was named after this mythological being, perhaps because the shape of the island is said to resemble his head and body.
King Piilani was the first ruler to unite all of Maui under a single family of alii (royalty) in the early 15th century. In 1790, King Kamehameha I defeated Kahekili, Maui’s last king, after a fierce battle in the iconic Iao Valley. Kamehameha took control of Maui and made Lahaina the new capital of the unified Hawaiian Kingdom. For nearly five decades, Lahaina served as the center of government for Hawaii. Simultaneously, the town experienced a surge in its whaling industry. At the height of the whaling era (1840-1865) as many as 500 ships anchored in Lahaina’s port.
Maui’s first sugar mill began operations in 1828. As the sugar industry in the islands grew, an influx of plantation workers from China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal and Europe arrived in Hawaii. These immigrants became the foundation of the multi-ethnic culture of Hawaii today. You can experience these influences at places like the Lahaina Jodo Mission and in the fusion of flavors found in Hawaii Regional Cuisine.
The Lahaina Historic Trail and other notable attractions allow you to explore Maui’s rich past today, adding a fascinating new dimension to your visit.
Home to much of the island’s population, this area offers plenty of interesting attractions and off-the-beaten-path treasures to uncover. The top attraction in Central Maui is peaceful Iao Valley State Park, with fog-shrouded forests, lush valleys and burbling streams. Take an easy hike on a paved trail to view one of Maui’s most iconic landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. At the gateway to Iao Valley State Park, you can browse local shops, restaurants and historic sites in the charming town of Wailuku. The neighboring town of Kahului is a bustling shopping district with Maui’s largest mall, and if you want to stock up for an epic trip, everything you need can be found here.
When your mind imagines Maui, it probably looks a lot like the island’s epic east side: cascading waterfall pools hidden in lush rainforests, roadside pineapple stands, hairpin turns around plunging sea cliffs. It’s all here, along the legendary Road to Hana—one big reason why East Maui is a must-see on any traveler’s list.
You’ll find the sunniest, driest area of Maui on the peaceful southwestern coast. Blessed with miles of sandy beaches and clear views of the islands of Lanai, Molokini and Kahoolawe, South Maui is a place for lazy days and romantic nights. Explore the immersive underwater aquarium at the Maui Ocean Center in the whale-friendly Maalaea Bay. Golf at world-class courses in Wailea. Shop and dine in some of Maui’s finest restaurants and resorts. Discover Maui’s warm hospitality on its spectacular southern coast.
The sunny northwest coast of Maui was once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and the capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Today, West Maui is home to spectacular resorts, shopping, restaurants, a wealth of activities and some of the most amazing sunsets in the world. Traveling north from Maalaea and the Maui Ocean Center, your first stop is the historic whaling town of Lahaina. Rustic buildings recall its days as Hawaii’s busiest port, while bustling shops on Front Street and winter whale watching make it a favorite port of call for cruise ship passengers. A few minutes more on the Highway and you’ll find yourself drawn into the vibrant Whalers village. Whether you’re staying in the area or just passing through, a stroll on the Kaanapali Beachwalk is always in order. Families play on the beach, shoppers buzz in and out, and diners sit back and simply soak in the view. Further up is Kapalua, known for championship golf and private getaways. Here, the tone is a bit quieter, with understated elegance.
Golden beaches give way to rolling hills and misty mountains as you ascend into Upcountry Maui, which is located on the higher elevations surrounding Haleakala — the island’s highest peak. Since early times, Hawaiians have farmed the volcanic soil of Upcountry fields, growing taro and sweet potato. Today, you can take farm tours, visit a goat dairy or even sip Maui-made wines and spirits in the rustic outposts of Kula and Makawao.