Every Question You Have About Maui Answered

By Nathalie Alonso

Marvelous Maui: Key information for good times on Hawaii's Valley Isle

Every Question You Have About Maui Answered

When it comes to choosing an island for your Hawaiian getaway, you can't go wrong with Maui. The Valley Isle combines everything Hawaii is famous for – beaches, rainforests and volcanoes – alongside a rich local culture. Whether you're inclined to hike, drive or swim, you'll find opportunities for outdoor activities to be plentiful on Maui. Yet, with so many magnificent stretches of shore, you might be tempted to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Q: What is there to do in Maui?

A: There are some 30 miles of beaches to enjoy on Maui, with sands ranging in color from white to golden to black. Hiking opportunities are also plentiful on Maui and include the rewarding trails at Iao Valley and Kokee state parks. No trip to Maui is complete without a drive along the famously scenic road known as the Hana Highway, which meanders for 52 miles along the island's eastern coast. Make time to visit Upcountry Maui, where you can learn about local agriculture and cowboy heritage.

  • Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui is home to one of the most distinctive geological features on Maui, a 1,200-foot-tall rock formation known as the Iao Needle. Exhibits at the Hawaii Nature Center within the park offer an introduction to the area.

Q: When is whale season in Maui?

A: Winter in Maui is heralded by the arrival of humpback whales, which migrate to the waters around the island to give birth and raise their offspring. The first kohola arrive in November and some linger until May, though the peak window to spot these breathtaking creatures is from mid-December to mid-April. To see them, book a whale-watching tour at Lahaina Harbor or stake out a place at one of several prime whale-watching spots on the Maui coast, such as McGregor Point and the beaches at Kihei and Wailea in south Maui, as well as Kaanapali Beach in west Maui.

Q: Where is the best snorkeling in Maui?

A: Maui offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. One of the best places to see the island's underwater life is Molokini, a crescent-shaped islet off the coast of Maui, where remarkably clear waters make it easy to spot more than 200 species of fish. Kapalua Bay's calm waters make it the snorkeling spot of choice for visitors with small children. The shallow waters at Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach also offer wonderful snorkeling.

Q: Are there volcanoes in Maui?

A: Maui is home to a volcano called Haleakala, which means "house of the sun." Also known as East Maui volcano, it rises 10,023 feet above sea level at its highest point and can be seen from virtually any spot on the island. Haleakala is considered a dormant volcano, meaning it hasn't erupted in a very long time, but could again in the future.

  • Haleakala National Park, a popular hiking and camping destination on Maui, encompasses 30,000 acres of volcanic landscapes, waterfalls, tropical forest and other breathtaking natural features. The Haleakala Visitor's Center is such a coveted spot for watching Maui's spectacular sunrises that reservations are required for every vehicle.

Q: What airport do you fly into for Maui?

A: It's possible to fly directly to Maui through the island's main airport, Kahului, which is served by a number of airlines. Kahului Airport receives flights from the other Hawaiian islands, as well as from the U.S. mainland and other countries.

Q: How can you get from Honolulu to Maui?

A: Getting from Honolulu – the capital of Hawaii, located on the island of Oahu – to Maui requires getting on a plane. Several airlines offer commercial flights between Honolulu International Airport and Kahului Airport. The flight takes less than an hour.

Q: What is the weather in Maui?

A: The climate on Maui varies depending upon where on the island you go. In the summer, the average daytime temperature at the beach is around 85 degrees F; it drops to 72 degrees F in the winter months. As a general rule, the higher you go on the island, the cooler it gets. At the Haleakala Visitors Center, temperatures drop into the 40s or lower. The western and southern, or leeward, sides of the island are generally dryer and warmer, while the eastern and northern, or windward, sides get more rain.

Q: What do you pack for Maui?

A: It's likely that you'll be spending quite a bit of time at the beach while visiting Maui, so swimwear is a must. Upcountry Maui is typically cooler than the coast, so if you're planning to explore that part of the island, be sure to pack a sweater and clothes you can layer. You'll need even warmer clothes if you have your sights set on the summit of Haleakala.

About the Author

Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.