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Title: Maui  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hawaii, List of museums in Hawaii, Maui County, Hawaii, Oahu, Hawaii (island)
Collection: Islands of Hawaii, Maui County, Hawaii, Maui Nui
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia



The island of Maui is one of the islands of Hawaii, a state of the United States of America. It is the second largest of the eight major islands.


  • Cities 1
  • Other destinations 2
  • Talk 3
  • Get in 4
  • Get around 5
    • Public transportation 5.1
    • Major highways 5.2
    • Lahaina Kaanapali Railroad 5.3
  • See 6
  • Do 7
    • Biking 7.1
    • Hiking 7.2
    • Canoeing and kayaking 7.3
    • Golf 7.4
    • Luaus 7.5
    • Mountain biking 7.6
    • Scuba diving 7.7
    • Snorkeling 7.8
    • Surfing 7.9
    • Visit a lavender farm 7.10
    • Visit Hana 7.11
    • Visit Lanai or Molokai 7.12
    • Whale watching 7.13
  • Buy 8
  • Eat 9
  • Drink 10
  • Sleep 11
  • Go next 12


The Kihei Coast
  • Hana — the town at the end of the Highway to Hana. An isolated community on Maui's eastern tip surrounded by dense rain forests.
  • Haiku — an old plantation town, located on the north slope of east Maui.
  • Kahului — the commercial and transportation center, with Maui's two largest malls, the main airport and a deep-water port.
  • Kaanapali — a small town located on Maui's Western shore, close to Lahaina.
  • Kapalua — in the northwest corner of Maui, showcasing championship golf courses, ten miles of pristine shoreline and luxury accommodations.
  • Kihei features condos and beaches on the southwest coast, but cheaper and less luxurious than Kaanapali.
  • Lahaina — an old whaling port and now the main tourist center.
  • Napili — a beach town on northwest shore near Kapalua which offers calm waters protected by an offshore reef.
  • Paia — a small town with interesting shopping and world renowned beaches for windsurfing and surfing.
  • Wailea and Makena are master-planned resort areas located just south of Kihei.
  • Wailuku — the seat of the county government, home to several historic buildings listed on both state and gateway to the Iao Needle.

Other destinations


See Talk in the Hawaii section.

Get in

Map of Maui

Kahului Airport (IATA: OGG) is the main airport for the island of Maui, and the second largest commercial airport in the state. It is a secondary hub for Hawaiian Airlines, which provides interisland service to Kahului from the other major airports in the state. Several major U.S. airlines also provide non-stop service to Maui from the West Coast and beyond. Kahului airport can be reached non-stop from Anchorage, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Edmonton, Hana, Hilo, Honolulu, Hoolehua, Kamuela, Kapalua, Lanai City, Lihue, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver.

To get to Lahaina and Kaanapali, where most major hotels are located, exit the airport and follow route 380 to its junction with route 30, and turn left on route 30 toward Lahaina. For Kihei and Wailea, follow the above instructions and turn left on route 31 about a mile (1.6 km) from the route 380 junction.

When departing from Kahului Airport for the U.S. Mainland, all baggage must be inspected by Hawaii State Department of Agriculture inspectors at the airport. Be advised that fresh fruits (with the exception of pineapples and treated papayas) are prohibited from leaving the islands to prevent the spread of fruit flies. Remember that this inspection occurs before you get to your gate, so you won't be able to enjoy your last fruit while waiting for your departing flight.

There are smaller general aviation airports Kapalua (IATA: JHM) and Hana (IATA: HNM).

Get around

While Maui has a basic public transportation system, many places are not accessible by bus, and most visitors rent a car. Fortunately, renting a car in Hawaii is relatively inexpensive. The resort areas around Kihei, Wailea and Lahaina also have a trolley that connects the towns with nearby shopping and attractions.

Public transportation

There are several public bus routes that operate seven days a week including all holidays. More information can be found at the Maui County's bus service webpage. Not that buses do not allow suitcases, so plan ahead while riding.

Major highways

  • Honoapiilani Highway (Route 30) is the road to Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kapalua; it runs between West Maui and Wailuku around majestic cliffs and along white sand beaches.
  • Hana Highway (Routes 36 and 360), the "road to Hana," traces Maui's north coast from Kahului to the village of Hana on the eastern shore. Winding along steep, forested mountainsides, in many places the road narrows to only a single lane. Although the road to Hana is only 56 miles (90 km) long, it turns and winds so continuously that the whole journey can take up to three hours one-way, especially if there is traffic. However, if you leave early in the morning, the trip can take as little as 90 minutes.
  • Haleakala Highway (Routes 37, 377, and 378) is the road that leads to Pukalani and Makawao in upcountry Maui and takes you to the summit of Haleakala.

Be aware that most locals refer to the roads not by number but by name, and will likely not understand if you ask for a road by number. For example you would never hear someone refer to Piilani highway as "route 31" or "highway 31."

Lahaina Kaanapali Railroad

Also called the Sugar Cane Train, the Lahaina Kaanapali Railroad is both an attraction and a means to travel (slowly) between the Kaanapali resort area and Lahaina Town. The official Lahaina Kaanapali Railroad web site offers more information as well as discounted tickets.


Haleakala National Park offers alpine wilderness and stunning views of Maui and beyond (from the summit you can see five of the eight main islands, more than are visible from anywhere else in Hawaii). Two entrances, one from Highway 36 and one from Highway 37, go to separate parts of the park.

Wainapanapa State Park has black sand beach, sea arch, sea caves, a small blowhole to see. In Hana at end of Wai‘anapanapa Road off Hana Highway (Highway 360), 52.8 miles (85 km) (3 hour drive) east of Kahului Airport.

Iao Valley State Monumentis very green. You can climb up 0.6 miles (1 km) on paved trail to a view of the ocean, Iao Needle, etc. or climb down to a garden, stream, etc. From Kahului go west on ‘Iao Valley Road (Highway 32) through Wailuku to the end of the road.



Summit region of Haleakalā
  • Mount Haleakala Sunrise Bike Tour: Plan this for one of your first mornings in Hawaii. The bus will pick you up at your hotel around 3 AM and drive you up the mountain where you will watch a spectacular sunrise and take a guided bike tour down. This is a MUST DO. For more experienced bikers, there are also companies that you can rent a bike from and do an unguided tour. Stop at the food trucks along the way for breakfast!


There are many trails on Maui including a couple of trails in Iao Valley State Monument and several in Haleakala National Park. The upper part of Haleakala National Park bears no resemblance to the lower. The crater at the summit, some 19 square miles, draws millions of visitors each year. Hike within it on miles of trails past cinder cones and lava caves or you can stroll from roadside turnouts to sky-high overlooks. The drive to the top is the steepest in the world and along Haleakala's slopes are eight biological zones, designated as an International Biosphere Reserve.

Two good sources for hikers are the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program, Na Ala Hele Trail and Access System and Maui Trailblazer guidebook.

Canoeing and kayaking

In Hawaii a canoe is an ocean-going outrigger. They also have double hull canoes that are a bit like catamarans. There are canoe clubs that will sometimes take out visitors for a reasonable donation.

  • Kihei Canoe Club.
  • Maui Canoe Club.

Many businesses would be happy to introduce you to kayaking.

  • Kelii's Kayak Tours.
  • Maui Eco Tours.
  • Maui Kayaks.
  • South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters.
  • Tri Paddle Maui.


Choose from 14 courses (several of which are ranked at or near the top of the “world’s best” lists) designed by noted course architects and golfing luminaries such as Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw.

  • Makena North5415 Makena Alanui, Makena . open from sunrise to sunset daily. Natural beauty, challenging course design and great putting greens - Golf Digest lists Makena consistently at the top of its resort rankings in Hawaii.
  • Wailea Gold100 Wailea Golf Club Drive . The most demanding of the three courses - 128 white sand bunkers protect the lush fairways and fast greens. Hailed as one of the world’s best designed courses by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler in the magazine’s first golf resorts poll.
  • Wailea Emerald100 Wailea Golf Club Drive . Numerous vistas of the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Haleakala. Lots of short fun holes and reachable par 5's.
  • Kapalua Bay300 Kapalua Drive, Kapalua, toll-free: . Uninterrupted views of the Pacific and gentle rolling fairways. Par 72.
  • The Dunes at Maui Lani1333 Maui Lani Parkway, Kahului . Clever hole designs and rugged terrain. Golf Digest named the Dunes at Maui Lani one of the four "Best-Kept Secret" golf courses in America when it opened in late 1989.


There are many luaus in Maui, which feature Polynesian singing and dancing. Most feature buffet dinners. Here are some of the best known.

  • Feast at Lele.
  • Grand Luau at Honua'ula.
  • Hyatt Luau.
  • Old Lahiana Luau.
  • Sunset Luau.

Mountain biking

There are mountain bike trails in Makawao State Forest.

Scuba diving

Molokini Crater

A number of shore diving sites are accessible from Maui's west and south-facing shores. Visit WWII wreck sites of the Helldiver Dive Bomber or the Tank and Landing Craft. Other wrecks include St. Anthony's Wreck off Mokapu Beach in Wailea and the Carthaginian Sailing Ship along the West Maui coast. Several operators offer day trips to the south shore of Lanai.

  • Molokini Crater. a crescent shaped islet located about 3 miles off Maui's southwestern coast. Access is by boat only, and charter boats operate out of Lahaina, Ma`alaea Harbor and Kihei. The diversity of fishes and other marine life within the MLCD (Marine Life Conservation District) is among the most impressive in the state.
  • In2Scuba Diving Maui Dive Co. in Lahaina, (808) 264-8198.
  • Mike Severns Diving in Kihei, (808) 879-6596.
  • Ed Robinson's Diving Adventures in Kihei, (808) 879-3584.
  • Lahaina Divers in Lahaina, (808) 667-7496.
  • Extended Horizons in Lahaina, (808) 667-0611.
  • Pride of Maui in Maalaea, (808) 242-0955.


This can be one of the most affordable activities on Maui. Some favorite spots include:

  • The cove south of Black Rock near the Sheraton Resort at Kaanapali Beach.
  • "Turtle Town" near the south end of Makena Road in Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve, which is south of Kihei and Wailea. Great variety of coral and fish and occasionally large turtles. Keep driving until you reach a small rustic parking lot on the right that has two outhouses on its left side and a temporary building on its right side. Follow the trail from the ocean side of the parking lot along the water to the left until you get to a small cove with a lava shore and a tiny black sand beach.
  • South of Kamaole Beach Park III in Kihei.
  • Ulua Beach in Wailea-Makena south of Kihei.

Use caution to decide when and where to snorkel. Educate yourself about riptides and avoid choppy seas, which could bash you against coral or rocks.


There are several spots on Maui that are recommended for surfing.

Visit a lavender farm

Visit the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm In the Upcountry region of Maui, nestled on the slopes of Haleakala (House of the Sun). Daily tours and treasure hunts (for a nominal fee) are offered which allow the visitor to learn about both culinary and cosmetic lavenders, grown with interspersed protea plants, a native plant of South Africa, which thrives along with the lavender, in this drought prone region. The Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm espouses the doctrine of sustainable Aloha, and will share more on this with during your visit.

Visit Hana

Take the road trip on Hwy 36 (Hana Hwy) stopping on the road to see waterfalls, lush greenery and beaches. Some of these are not visible from the road, but most are a relatively short hike off the road. A private arboretum and botanical garden (with an entrance fee) called "Garden of Eden" around the 10-mile marker has peacocks, bamboo gardens and view of Puohokamoa Falls. The round-trip will be difficult to complete in one day, so stay over in Hana to break it into two days. Wainapanapa State Park, 2 miles (3 km) east of Hana, has cabins to offer. There are other private nicer places to stay, also in and around Hana.

The Road to Hana is something that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Keep in mind that some of the locals from Hana make the long commute to work in Kahului each day. If you see a local vehicle approaching from behind, pull over and let them pass. By the same token, locals' familiarity with the route can lead them to cut across corners (even blind corners) swerving back into their lane at the last minute, so take corners slowly and watch for oncoming traffic that may have encroached upon your lane. Also, don't trespass! If you respect the land and the people, you'll find open arms and acceptance.

Note that it is possible to drive all the way around the island by continuing past Hana instead of going back the way you came. Most rental car companies strongly discourage this and state that the rental car contract is voided if you drive there. The road itself is one and two lane and paved virtually the entire way, although in some places the asphalt can be patched and rough, requiring road speeds of 10 mph or less to avoid damaging a normal car's suspension. Off-road vehicles and jeeps will find it fairly easy going. The area is very beautiful, with soaring cliffs and views over the sea and glimpses of the nearby Big Island on the horizon, but it is dry, desolate and remote, with little traffic, no services, and unreliable cell phone service.

Visit Lanai or Molokai

The island of Lanai is west of Maui. It can be easily reached by ferry from Lahaina.

The island of Molokai is northwest of Maui. It can be easily reached by ferry from Lahaina.

Whale watching

  • Whale watching with Pacific Whale FoundationFrom Lahaina and Maalaea Harbors . Thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaii's warm ocean waters each winter. The majority of the whales are found off the coast of Maui. You can see whales from late November through mid-May, but the peak of the season is in February and March. The Pacific Whale Foundation offers 16 whalewatch cruises each day during the winter season, each one staffed by a team of certified marine naturalists. You are guaranteed to see whales or you go again free. All the profits go towards Pacific Whale Foundation's ocean research, education and conservation programs. From $19.95 for a 2-hr cruise, kids under 6 free.


As one would expect from a tourist mecca like Maui, there are several areas to find good shopping. Also as one would expect, the prices can be quite inflated. ABC Stores can be found all over Maui and the other Hawaian Islands and offer souvenirs and beach junk (such as sunscreen and straw mats) at potentially lower prices than tourist traps. In Lahaina, a good place to "walk the shops", find Old Lahaina Book Emporium. Kaanapali has Whaler's Village Shops and Restaurants, home to lots of stores and restaurants, including plenty of high-end merchandise such as Coach and Tiffany. Paia is a small artist and aging hippie colony with a reasonable and varied mix of shops and galleries worth your time, as well as restaurants. It is located just before Mama's Fishhouse Restaurant. A nice open air mall can be found in the Wailea luxury area. On the way you can stop by Kihea at one of two flea market type shopping areas.


Check the Eat section on the pages for the various towns listed under Cities above

Fresh produce is widely available at farmer's markets and road side stands. Banana bread, coconut candy, smoothies and seasonal fruit are all highlights of a drive around Maui.


Check the Drink section on the pages for the various towns listed under Cities above. Also consider the bars at the hotels and resorts, which may have happy hour specials.


Before choosing an accommodation consider where you would like to spend your time. Also consider whether a hotel, resort, condominium or bed-and-breakfast best match your style and budget. Then check the Sleep section for the many towns on the island under Cities above.

Go next

Getting from Maui to the other Hawaiian Islands usually involves a short plane flight. If you want to go to Honolulu you will find frequent non-stop service. Most other destinations offer a couple of non-stop flights a day or a stop in, you got it, Honolulu.

Ferries run 5 times a day between Lahaina and the island of Lanai. Each way takes approximately 45 minutes, and costs $25 per person per direction. During high winds the boat ride can be particularly rough, so bring something for seasickness if you don't do well on boats. Cruise ships are also an interesting option.

When leaving Maui for the U.S. Mainland, all baggage must be inspected by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at the airport. Be advised that fresh fruits (with the exception of pineapples and treated papayas) are prohibited from leaving the islands to prevent the spread of fruit flies. Consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more details. Bags are inspected by X-ray. At Kahului Airport, be prepared to submit to three checkpoints on the way to your Mainland flight: having your checked bags X-rayed for agricultural items in the ticket lobby, the TSA security checkpoint, and inspection of your carry-on baggage for agricultural items on the way to your gate.


Nickname: The Valley Isle
Landsat satellite image of Maui. The small island to the southwest is Kahoʻolawe.
Area 727.2 sq mi (1,883 km2)
Area rank 2nd largest Hawaiian Island
Highest elevation 10,023 ft (3,055 m)[1]
Highest point Haleakalā
United States
Flower Lokelani
Color ʻĀkala (pink)
Population 144,444 (as of 2010)
Density 162 /sq mi (62.5 /km2)
Maui as seen from the International Space Station[2]

The island of Maui (; Hawaiian: )[3] is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles (1,883 km2) and is the 17th largest island in the United States.[4] Maui is part of the State of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County's four islands, bigger than Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and unpopulated Kahoʻolawe. In 2010, Maui had a population of 144,444, third-highest of the Hawaiian Islands, behind that of Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island. Kahului is the largest census-designated place (CDP) on the island with a population of 26,337 as of 2010 and is the commercial and financial hub of the island.[5] Wailuku is the seat of Maui County and is the third-largest CDP as of 2010. Other significant places include Kīhei (including Wailea and Makena in the Kihei Town CDP, which is the second-most-populated CDP in Maui); Lahaina (including ʻanapali and Kapalua in the Lahaina Town CDP); Makawao; ʻia; Kula; Haʻikū; and Hāna.


  • Name 1
  • Geology and topography 2
    • Climate 2.1
    • Natural history 2.2
  • History 3
  • Modern development 4
  • Economy 5
    • Agriculture 5.1
    • Information Technology 5.2
  • Sports 6
    • Snorkeling 6.1
    • Windsurfing 6.2
    • Surfing 6.3
    • Kiteboarding and kitesurfing 6.4
  • Tourism 7
  • Transportation 8
  • Health care 9
  • International relations 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island's name in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. According to that legend, Hawaiʻiloa named the island of Maui after his son, who in turn was named for the demigod Māui. The earlier name of Maui was ʻIhikapalaumaewa.[6] The Island of Maui is also called the "Valley Isle" for the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes and the numerous large valleys carved into both mountains.

Geology and topography

Maui's diverse landscapes are the result of a unique combination of geology, topography, and climate. Each volcanic cone in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands is built of dark, iron-rich/quartz-poor rocks, which poured out of thousands of vents as highly fluid lava, over a period of millions of years. Several of the volcanoes were close enough to each other that lava flows on their flanks overlapped one another, merging into a single island. Maui is such a "volcanic doublet," formed from two shield volcanoes that overlapped one another to form an isthmus between them.[7]

Looking into the Haleakalā crater
A beach in Maui, Hawaii

The older, western volcano has been eroded considerably and is cut by numerous drainages, forming the peaks of the West Maui Mountains (in Hawaiian, Mauna Kahalawai). Puʻu Kukui is the highest of the peaks at 5,788 feet (1,764 m). The larger, younger volcano to the east, Haleakalā, rises to more than 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, and measures 5 miles (8.0 km) from seafloor to summit, making it one of the world's tallest mountains.

The eastern flanks of both volcanoes are cut by deeply incised valleys and steep-sided ravines that run downslope to the rocky, windswept shoreline. The valley-like Isthmus of Maui that separates the two volcanic masses was formed by sandy erosional deposits.

Maui's last eruption (originating in Haleakalā's Southwest Rift Zone) occurred around 1790; two of the resulting lava flows are located (1) at Cape Kīnaʻu between ʻĀhihi Bay and La Perouse Bay on the southwest shore of East Maui, and (2) at Makaluapuna Point[8] on Honokahua Bay on the northwest shore of West Maui. Although considered to be dormant by volcanologists, Haleakalā[9] is certainly capable of further eruptions.

Maui is part of a much larger unit, Maui Nui, that includes the islands of Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Molokaʻi, and the now submerged Penguin Bank. During periods of reduced sea level, including as recently as 20,000 years ago, they are joined together as a single island due to the shallowness of the channels between them.


Rainbow over the West Maui Mountains after rainfall in ʻanapali

The climate of the Hawaiian Islands is characterized by a two-season year, mild and uniform temperatures everywhere (except at high elevations), marked geographic differences in rainfall, high relative humidity, extensive cloud formations (except on the driest coasts and at high elevations), and dominant trade-wind flow (especially at elevations below a few thousand feet). Maui itself has a wide range of climatic conditions and weather patterns that are influenced by several different factors in the physical environment:

  • Half of Maui is situated within 5 miles (8.0 km) of the island's coastline. This, and the extreme insularity of the Hawaiian Islands account for the strong marine influence on Maui's climate.
  • Gross weather patterns are typically determined by elevation and orientation towards the Trade winds (prevailing air flow comes from the northeast).
  • Maui's rugged, irregular topography produces marked variations in conditions. Air swept inland on the Trade winds is shunted one way or another by the mountains, valleys, and vast open slopes. This complex three-dimensional flow of air results in striking variations in wind speed, cloud formation, and rainfall.

Maui displays a unique and diverse set of climatic conditions, each of which is specific to a loosely defined sub-region of the island. These sub-regions are defined by major physiographic features (such as mountains and valleys) and by location on the windward or leeward side of the island. These sub-regions (and their characteristic climates) are:

  • Windward Lowlands – Below 2,000 feet (610 m) on north- to northeast-sides of an island. Roughly perpendicular to direction of prevailing trade winds. Moderately rainy; frequent trade wind-induced showers. Skies are often cloudy to partly cloudy. Air temperatures are more uniform (and mild) than those of other regions.
  • Leeward Lowlands – Daytime temperatures are a little higher and nighttime temperatures are lower than in windward locations. Dry weather is prevalent, with the exception of sporadic showers that drift over the mountains to windward and during short-duration storms.
  • Interior Lowlands – Intermediate conditions, often sharing characteristics of other lowland sub-regions. Occasionally experience intense local afternoon showers from well-developed clouds that formed due to local daytime heating.
  • Leeward Side High-Altitude Mountain Slopes with High Rainfall – Extensive cloud cover and rainfall all year long. Mild temperatures are prevalent, but humidity is higher than any other sub-region.
  • Leeward Side-Lower Mountain Slopes – Rainfall is higher than on the adjacent leeward lowlands, but much less than at similar altitudes on the windward side; however, maximum rainfall usually occurs leeward of the crests of lower mountains. Temperatures are higher than on the rainy slopes of the windward sides of mountains; cloud cover is almost as extensive.
  • High Mountains – Above about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) on Haleakalā, rainfall decreases rapidly with elevation. Relative humidity may be ten percent or less. The lowest temperatures in the state are experienced in this region: air temperatures below freezing are common.
Black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park

Showers are very common; while some of these are very heavy, the vast majority are light and brief — a sudden sprinkle of rain and it's over. Even the heaviest rain showers are seldom accompanied by thunder and lightning. Throughout the lowlands, in summer an overwhelming dominance of trade winds produces a drier season. At one extreme, the annual rainfall averages 17 inches (430 mm) to 20 inches (510 mm) or less in leeward coastal areas, such as the shoreline from Maalaea Bay to Kaupo, and near the summit of Haleakalā. At the other extreme, the annual average rainfall exceeds 300 inches (7,600 mm) along the lower windward slopes of Haleakalā, particularly along the Hāna Highway. If the islands of the State of Hawaii did not exist, the average annual rainfall on the same patch of water would be about 25 inches (640 mm). Instead, the actual average is about 70 inches (1,800 mm). Thus, the islands extract from the air that passes over them about 45 inches (1,100 mm) of rainfall that otherwise would not fall. The mountainous topography of Maui and the other islands is responsible for this added water bonus.

Kahikinui coastline near Kaupo
Daily variations in rainfall

In the lowlands, throughout the year, rainfall is most likely to occur during the night or morning hours, and is least likely to occur mid-afternoon. The most pronounced daily variations in rainfall occur during the summer because most summer rainfall consists of trade winds showers that most often occur at night. Winter rainfall in the lowlands is the result of storm activity, which is as likely to occur in the daytime as at night. Rainfall variability is far greater during the winter, when occasional storms contribute appreciably to rainfall totals. With such wide swings in rainfall, it is inevitable that there are occasional droughts, sometimes causing economic losses. The real drought years are the ones where the winter rains fail, with too few significant rainstorms. Droughts hit hardest in the normally dry areas that depend on winter storms for their rainfall and receive little rain from the trade wind showers. The winter of 2011-2012 has had extreme drought on the leeward sides of Moloka'i, Maui, and Island of Hawaii.

Maui’s Micro-Climates

The blend of the warm tropical sunshine, varying humidity, ocean breezes and trade winds, and varying elevations support a variety of micro-climate areas. Although the Island of Maui is small, it can feel quite different in each district resulting in a unique selection of micro-climates that are typical to each of its distinctive locations: Central Maui; leeward South Maui and West Maui; windward North Shore and East Maui; and Upcountry Maui.

Although Maui’s daytime temperatures average between 75 and 90 degrees year round, evening temperatures are about 15 degrees cooler in the more humid windward areas, about 18 degrees cooler in the dryer leeward areas, and cooler yet in higher elevations.

Central Maui consists primarily of Kahului and Wailuku. Kahului is literally the center of the island, and tends to keep steady high temperatures throughout the year. The micro-climate in Kahului can be at times muggy, but it usually feels dry as a desert and is often very breezy. The Wailuku area is set closer to the West Maui Mountain range. Here, you will find more rainfall throughout the year, and higher humidity levels.

Leeward side includes South Maui (Kihei, Wailea and Makena) and West Maui (Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua). These areas are typically drier, with higher daytime temperature (up to 92 degrees), and the least amount of rainfall. (An exception is the high-altitude, unpopulated West Maui summit, which boasts up to 400 inches of rainfall per year on its north and east side.)

Windward side includes the North Shore (Paia and Haiku) and East Maui (Keanae, Hana and Kipahulu). Located in the prevailing, northeast trade winds, these areas have heavier rainfall levels, which increase considerably at higher elevations.

Upcountry Maui (Makawao, Pukalani, and Kula) at the 1,700 to 4,500 foot levels, provides mild heat (70s and low 80s) during the day and cool evenings. The higher the elevation, the cooler the evenings. During Maui’s winter, Upper Kula can be as cold as 40 degrees in the early morning hours, and the Haleakala summit can dip below freezing.

An exception to the normal pattern is the occasional winter “Kona storms” which bring rainfall to the South and West areas accompanied by high southwesterly winds (opposite of the prevailing trade wind direction).

Natural history

Maui is a leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to Humpback whales wintering in the sheltered ʻAuʻau Channel between the islands of Maui county. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles (5,600 km) from Alaskan waters each autumn and spend the winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui, with most leaving by the end of April. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults, or groups of a mother, her calf, and a few suitors. Humpbacks are an endangered species protected by U.S. federal and Hawaiʻi state law. There are estimated to be about 10,000 humpbacks in the North Pacific.[10] Although Maui's Humpback face many dangers, due to pollution, high speed commercial vessels, and military sonar testing, their numbers have increased rapidly in recent years, estimated at 7% growth per year.[11]

Maui is home to a large rainforest on the northeastern flanks of Haleakalā, which serves as the drainage basin for the rest of the island. The extremely difficult terrain has prevented exploitation of much of the forest.

Agricultural and coastal industrial land use has had an adverse effect on much of Maui's coastal regions. Many of Maui's extraordinary coral reefs have been damaged by pollution, runoff, and tourism, although finding sea turtles, dolphins, and Hawai'i's celebrated tropical fish, is still common. Leeward Maui used to boast a vibrant dry 'cloud forest' as well but this was destroyed by human activities over the last three hundred years.[12]


The "needle" of ʻĪao Valley

Polynesians, from Tahiti and the Marquesas, were the original people to populate Maui. The Tahitians introduced the kapu system, a strict social order that affected all aspects of life and became the core of Hawaiian culture. Modern Hawaiian history began in the mid-18th century. King Kamehameha I, king of Hawaii's "Big Island," invaded Maui in 1790 and fought the inconclusive Battle of Kepaniwai, but returned to Hawaii to battle a rival, finally subduing Maui a few years later.

On November 26, 1778, explorer Captain James Cook became the first European to see Maui. Cook never set foot on the island because he was unable to find a suitable landing. The first European to visit Maui was the French admiral Jean-François de La Pérouse, who landed on the shores of what is now known as La Perouse Bay on May 29, 1786. More Europeans followed: traders, whalers, loggers (e.g., of sandalwood) and missionaries. The latter began to arrive from New England in 1823, settling in Lahaina, which at that time was the capital. They clothed the natives, banned them from dancing hula, and greatly altered the culture. The missionaries taught reading and writing, created the 12-letter Hawaiian alphabet, started a printing press in Lahaina, and began writing the islands' history, which until then was transmitted orally.[13] Ironically, the missionaries both altered and preserved the native culture. The religious work altered the culture while the literacy efforts preserved native history and language. Missionaries started the first school in Lahaina, which still exists today: Lahainaluna Mission School, which opened in 1831.

Japanese laborers on Maui harvesting sugar cane in 1885.

At the height of the whaling era (1843–1860), Lahaina was a major whaling center with anchorage in Lāhainā Roads; in one season over 400 ships visited Lahaina with 100 berthed at one time. Ships tended to stay for weeks rather than days, which explains the drinking and prostitution in the town at that time, against which the missionaries vainly battled. Whaling declined steeply at the end of the 19th century as petroleum replaced whale oil.

Kamehameha's descendants reigned until 1872. They were followed by rulers from another ancient family of chiefs, including Queen Liliuokalani who ruled in 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was founded. The island was annexed by the United States in 1898 and made a territory in 1900. Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.

In 1937, Vibora Luviminda trades union conducted the last labor strike of an ethnic nature in the Hawaiian Islands against four Maui sugarcane plantations, demanding higher wages and the dismissal of five foremen. Manuel Fagel and nine other strike leaders were arrested, and charged with kidnapping a worker. Fagel spent four months in jail while the strike continued. Eventually, Vibora Luviminda made its point and the workers won a 15% increase in wages after 85 days on strike, but there was no written contract signed.

Maui was centrally involved in the Pacific Theater of World War II as a staging center, training base, and for rest and relaxation. At the peak in 1943-44, more than 100,000 soldiers were there. The main base of the 4th Marine Division was in Haiku. Beaches (e.g., in Kīhei) were used to practice landings and train in marine demolition and sabotage.

Modern development

The island experienced rapid population growth through 2007, when Kīhei was one of the most rapidly growing towns in the United States (see chart, below). The island attracted many retirees and many others came to provide services to them and to the rapidly increasing number of tourists. Population growth produced its usual strains, including traffic congestion, housing affordability, and access to water.

Most recent years have brought droughts and the ʻĪao aquifer is being drawn from rates above 18 million U.S. gallons (68,000 m3) per day, possibly more than the aquifer can sustain. Recent estimates indicate that the total potential supply of potable water on Maui is around 476 million U.S. gallons (1,800,000 m3) per day, many times greater than any foreseeable demand.

Sugar cane cultivation once used over 80% of the island's water supply (The Water Development Plan of Maui, 1992 – Present?). One pound of refined sugar requires one ton of water to produce. Water for sugar cultivation comes mostly from the streams of East Maui, routed though a network of tunnels and ditches hand dug by Chinese labor in the 19th century. In 2006, the town of Paia successfully petitioned the County against mixing in treated water from wells known to be contaminated with both EDB and DBCP from former pineapple cultivation in the area (Environment Hawaii, 1996). Agricultural companies have been released from all future liability for these chemicals (County of Maui, 1999). In 2009, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and others successfully argued in court that sugar companies should reduce the amount of water they take from four streams.[14]

In 1974, Emil Tedeschi of the Napa Valley winegrower family of Calistoga, California, established the first and only Hawaiian commercial winery, the Tedeschi Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch.

In the 2000s, controversies over whether to continue rapid real-estate development, so-called "vacation rentals" in which homeowners rent their homes to visitors, and Hawaii Superferry preoccupied local residents. In 2003, Corey Ryder of the Earth Foundation presented regarding the unique situation on Maui in "Hazard mitigation, safety & security", before the Maui County Council.[15] In 2009, the county approved a 1,000 unit development in South Maui in the teeth of the financial crisis. Vacation rentals are now strictly limited, with greater enforcement than previously. Hawaii Superferry, which offered transport between Maui and Oahu, ceased operations in May 2009, ended by a court decision that required environmental studies from which Governor Linda Lingle had exempted the operator.[16]


Fleming Beach near Kapalua

The two major industries on Maui are agriculture and tourism. Government research groups and high technology companies have discovered that Maui has a business environment favorable for growth in those sectors as well. Agriculture value-added enterprises are growing rapidly.


Coffee, macadamia nuts, papaya, tropical flowers, sugar and fresh pineapple are just some of Hawaii's premium exports and are a prime example of its diversified agriculture. Maui Land & Pineapple Company[17] and Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company[18] (HC&S, a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin Company) dominate agricultural activity. HC&S produces sugarcane on about 37,000 acres (150 km2) of the Maui central valley, the largest sugarcane operation remaining in Hawaii.

A controversial feature of Maui sugarcane production has been the harvesting method of controlled cane field fires for nine months of the year. Burns reduce the crop to bare canes just before harvesting. The fires produce smoke that towers above the Maui central valley most early mornings, and ash (locally referred to as "Maui snow") that is carried downwind (often towards north Kīhei). In November 2009 Maui Land & Pineapple Company announced it was ceasing pineapple growing operations on Maui effective January 1, 2010.

In November 2014, the majority of voters on Maui passed a moratorium on genetically engineered crops.[19] followed one day later by Monsanto and other businesses filing a lawsuit to challenge.[20]

Information Technology

The Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC)[21] in Kihei is a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Center which is managed by the University of Hawaii. It provides more than 10,000,000 hours of computing time per year to the research, science, and military communities.

Another promoter of high technology on the island is the Maui Research and Technology Center,[22] also located in Kihei. The MRTC[23] is a program of the High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC),[24] an agency of the State of Hawaii, whose focus is to facilitate the growth of Hawaii's commercial high technology sector.[25]

Maui is also an important center for advanced astronomical research. The Haleakala Observatory[26] was Hawaii's first astronomical research and development facility at the Maui Space Surveillance Site (MSSS) electro-optical facility. "At the 10,023 feet summit of the long dormant volcano Haleakala, operational satellite tracking facilities are co-located with a research and development facility providing superb data acquisition and communication support. The high elevation, dry climate, and freedom from light pollution offer virtually year-round observation of satellites, missiles, man-made orbital debris, and astronomical objects."[27]

The unemployment rate reached a low of 1.7% in December 2006, rising to 9% in March 2009[28] before falling back to 4.6% by the end of 2013.[29]



Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on Maui. There are over 30 beaches and bays to snorkel at around the island.


Maui is a well known destination for windsurfing. Kanaha Beach Park is a very well-known windsurfing spot and may have stand-up paddle boarders or surfers if there are waves and no wind. Windsurfing has evolved on Maui since the early 1980s when it was recognized as an ideal location to test equipment and publicize the sport.


One of the most popular sports in Hawaii. Ho'okipa Beach Park is one of Maui's most famous surfing and windsurfing spots. Other famous or frequently surfed areas include Slaughterhouse Beach, Honolua Bay, Pe'ahi (Jaws), and Fleming Beach. The north side of Maui absorbs the most swell during the winter season and the south and west in the summer time. Due to island blocking, summer south swells tend to be weak and rare.

Kiteboarding and kitesurfing

One of the newest sports on Maui is Kiteboarding/Surfing. Kanaha Beach Park is where beginner, intermediate and advanced Kiters gather. It is known as Kite Beach. Kiters share the water with Windsurfers who have dominated the area since the early 1980s. Since 2008 there has been an explosion in the number of Kiters mostly due to advances in equipment and safety.


The big tourist spots in Maui include the Hāna Highway, Haleakalā National Park, Iao Valley, and Lahaina.

The Hāna Highway runs along the east coast of Maui, curving around mountains and passing by black sand beaches and waterfalls. Haleakalā National Park is home to Haleakalā, a dormant volcano. Lahaina is one of the main attractions on the island with an entire street of shops and restaurants which leads to a wharf where many set out for a sunset cruise or whale watching journey. Snorkeling can be done at almost any beach along the Maui coast. Surfing and windsurfing are also popular on Maui.

The main tourist areas are West Maui (ʻanapali, Lahaina, Nāpili-Honokōwai, Kahana, Napili, Kapalua) and South Maui (Kīhei, Wailea-Mākena). The main port of call for cruise ships is located in Kahului. There are also smaller ports located at Lahaina Harbor (located in Lahaina) and Maʻalaea Harbor (located between Lahaina and Kihei).

Maui County welcomed 2,207,826 tourists in 2004 rising to 2,639,929 in 2007 with total tourist expenditures north of US$3.5 billion for the Island of Maui alone. While the island of Oʻahu is most popular with Japanese tourists, the Island of Maui appeals to visitors mostly from the U.S. mainland and Canada: in 2005, there were 2,003,492 domestic arrivals on the island, compared to 260,184 international arrivals.

While winning many travel industry awards as Best Island In The World[30] in recent years concerns have been raised by locals and environmentalists about the overdevelopment of Maui. A number of activist groups, including Save Makena[31] have gone as far as taking the government to court to protect the rights of local citizens.[32]

Throughout 2008 Maui suffered a major loss in tourism compounded by the spring bankruptcies of Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines. The pullout in May of the second of three Norwegian Cruise Line ships also hurt. Pacific Business News reported a $166 million loss in revenue for Maui tourism businesses.

Sunrise at Haleakalā
Sunrise at Haleakalā


Three airports provide scheduled air service to Maui:

The Maui Public Bus Transit System is a county-funded program that provides transportation around the island with fares costing $2 per boarding.[33]

Health care

There are two hospitals on the island of Maui. The first, Maui Memorial Medical Center, is the only acute care hospital in Maui County. It is centrally located in the town of Wailuku approximately 4 miles from Kahului Airport. The second, Kula Hospital, is a critical access hospital located on the southern half on the island in the rural town of Kula. Kula Hospital, along with Lanai Community Hospital (which is located in Maui County but on the neighboring island of Lanai), are affiliates of Maui Memorial Medical Center. All three hospitals are open 24/7 for emergency access. Although not technically a hospital or emergency room, Hana Health Clinic (or Hana Medical Center), located in the remote town of Hana on the southeastern side of the island, works in cooperation with American Medical Response and Maui Memorial Medical Center to stabilize and transport patients with emergent medical conditions. It too is open 24/7 for urgent care and emergency access.[34][35][36]

International relations

Maui is twinned with:

See also


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External links

  • Official site of Maui County
  • Maui at DMOZ
  • High resolution Moku/Ahupua'a map


Māui (with a long a), as opposed to Maui (with a short a) is the proper name of a mythical demigod on several of the Polynesian islands.


also see:

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