Maui has been dubbed one of the best islands in Hawaii for years – lush, mountainous forests, waterfalls, pristine bays, and turquoise waters make this destination one that even the most seasoned of travelers yearn to visit. On the west coast lie some of the island’s most treasured towns: Lahaina and Ka’anapali. From Lahaina’s quaint, historic town to Ka’anapali’s stunning bay, discover why the west side has become such an alluring destination.
Set on the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is an outdoor recreational epicenter with everything from water sports to snorkeling – and the towns of Lahaina and Ka’anapali are no different. Book one of the many boat tours, and see the island from a different perspective; catch a bit of whale watching; sail along the coastline; take a stab at deep-sea diving and snorkeling; or opt for a romantic dinner cruise. Thrill-seekers can take solace in knowing that there are many activities to keep busy, with the likes of zip lining, parasailing, ATV tours, horseback riding, and jet skiing. First-timers, be sure to spend a day at Ka’anapali Beach and Black Rock – claimed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – with snorkeling, sunbathing, and swimming with the turtles. For the golf-inclined, don’t miss the picturesque courses at Ka’anapali Kai and Royal Ka’anapali.
Lahaina, a former royal capital with roots dating back to the early 1800s, is a popular tourist destination set with historic buildings and a restaurant, bar, and shop-lined Front Street. Head to Banyan Tree Square to see a tree that was planted in 1873, experience a bit of Hawaiian military history at the 1832-built Lahaina Fort, or check out the Baldwin House from 1833, the former home of ruling Maui chief, Kahekili – it now operates as a museum filled with Hawaiian artifacts. For a more in-depth peek at Hawaiian history, opt for the submarine tour of the ‘Carthaginian II,’ a 19th-century whaler ship-turned-museum that sank a half mile from Lahaina’s shore in 2005.
If you’re an avid adventurist, or simply enjoy the outdoors, Maui is crawling with natural wonders. For local adventures, go for the Pali Trail, a ten-mile hike in Lahaina with views of the valley and coastline, or Waihee Ridge, a short hike along the ridges of Ka’anapali with views of lush, tropical forests 1,500 feet above town. For those willing to make a short drive, head to the Pools of Ohea, known as the Seven Sacred Pools, located up a windy road in eastern Maui’s Haleakala; dotted with waterfalls, streams, and tiered pools, this trek makes for a breathtaking adventure. In central Maui, find Iao Valley, one of the Island’s most iconic natural wonders with views of the valley, and in southeastern Maui, discover the Haleakala volcano and 33,000-acre national park with views at 10,000 feet high.
Whether you’re a first-timer, or returning Maui tourist, the usual trip to the Islands is not complete without heading to a Hawaiian luau; with plenty to choose from, the Old Lahaina Luau and the Feast at Lele are the two most popular of the bunch. Expect hula accompanied by traditional Hawaiian music, traditional luau cuisine like kalua pig (pork cooked in the ground) and lomi salmon, and a peek into the past of ancient Hawaii.