5 Reasons to Visit Maui Over Honolulu

Sailing Maui
Sailing Maui | © Hawaii Savvy / Flickr
Kalena McElroy

Due to the abundance of international flights into Honolulu, the metropolis is typically on visitors’ itineraries. It’s worth it to skip Oʻahu altogether and make the extra trip over to Hawaii’s second-largest island, Maui, to beat the crowds and experience the island’s natural beauty. Here are five reasons a trip to the Valley Isle will surpass a visit to Hawaii’s more popular capital city.

Walk across a dormant volcano

1. Haleakalā National Park

Natural Feature, Park

Elk284-4989 Hawaii, Maui, Haleakala National Park, crater floor trail with model released hiker
© John Elk III / Alamy Stock Photo
Haleakalā National Park offers visitors a look at a rare and sacred environment, home to many endangered species that have evolved to live in this stark volcanic habitat. The dormant volcano’s unique landscape is scattered with geological features such as cinder cones, lava flows, and colorful ash, so at times, you feel like you’re walking on the moon. Often mentioned in ancient Hawaiian mele (songs and chants) and legends, Haleakalā is also famous for its spectacular sunrises, native Hawaiian silverswords, and jaw-dropping backcountry hiking trails.

Suntan alone on a red sand beach

2. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

Natural Feature

Red Sand Beach Maui | © dianaconnolly101/Flickr
© dianaconnolly101 / Flickr

Unlike Oʻahu, Maui’s impressive geological activity gifted the island with white, black, green, and even red sand beaches. A short hike across the sea cliffs brings visitors to one of Maui’s hidden gems—the red sand beach of Kaihalulu. Located along the road to Hana, the beach’s iconic burgundy color is created by the erosion of a nearby cinder cone. Due to the rugged coastline and currents in the area, swimming at the beach should only be attempted during a calm, low tide.

Rappel down a rushing waterfall

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Zip-lining is a very popular activity in Hawaii, but Maui may actually have the only canyoneering company in the state. Tours with Rappel Maui take adventurers into the tropical rainforest used in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park films. Outdoor enthusiasts learn the basics of the sport before stepping off the waterfall’s edge and dropping into a large pool.

Beat the crowds

The island of Oʻahu is always bustling—not to mention it has some of the worst traffic in the U.S. But, a trip to Maui sets all that aside and offers a relaxed island feel. Even though there are many crowded attractions on Maui, such as Haleakalā at sunrise or the Maui Ocean Center, it’s also possible for visitors to walk on a secluded beach by themselves, or be the only person on a hiking trail—something nearly impossible on Oʻahu.

Snorkel or scuba dive at a volcanic atoll

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Though Oʻahu has its share of off-shore islands, nothing is more impactful than taking a boat to the pristine waters off Molokini Atoll. The eroded cinder cone is a scuba diver’s paradise—the virgin reefs and protected bay attract all sorts of marine life and is an unforgettable excursion.

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