More Than Just The Beach: Things You Need To Know When Traveling To Maui


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As far as tropical getaways go, you can’t beat a vacation to Hawaii. And, when it comes to choosing an island, if you're after beaches, unspoiled nature, and a place to escape the crowds, you can't beat the island of Maui.

Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian chain, and many believe it is home to some of the best beaches in the world. It has the advantage of being highly accessible, with great infrastructure, though with most people flocking to the Big Island, it's not overly crowded.

What's more, you can take a direct flight from mainland USA (California, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Texas, and Arizona) to Maui (OGG airport in Kahului) without first landing in Oahu.

From sugary white beaches to Technicolor coral reefs, and a diverse range of hiking trails and volcanoes, Maui is an incredible choice of destination. But, before you travel, there are a couple of things you should know.

Maui is More Than Just the Beach

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The first picture that comes to mind when you think of Maui are it's beaches. And there's definitely no shortage of incredible coastline. But, Maui has a lot more to offer than what you might see on a postcard.

For instance, you can take the Road to Hana; an epic road trip thought to be one of the most scenic drives in the world. This winding road hugs steep cliff faces, and there are many scenic overlooks, flowing waterfalls, and cute shops and restaurants along the route.

Of course, the beaches are a highlight, and if you've traveled for some beach time, Maui’s southwestern shores are home to many extraordinary beaches. Makena Beach, also known as “Big Beach,” is one of the island’s best.

This is one of the largest beaches in Maui, with golden sands extending nearly two thirds of a mile long and 100 yards wide. You can swim or snorkel in these pristine waters, picnic in the shade, or simply sunbathe on the seemingly endless expanse of sand.

Pro Tip: “Little beach”, next to Big Beach, is a secluded stretch of sand surrounded by gnarled trees where visitors go nude.

More Than Your Average Hotel Stay

Maui has accommodation options for every budget, whether you're splurging on a luxury condominium or getting sand in the sheets at a hostel.

Prices at the top end resorts can be quite high, so many people consider the cheaper and more adventurous option of camping (or there are National Forest Cabins for something unique too). Maui has a huge range of campsites all across the island, and a diverse range of ecology, so while your balcony resort room may overlook the ocean, why not pitch your tent beside a black-sand beach, inside a volcano or in a redwood forest?!

Waianapanapa State Park is a remote, wild, and low-cliffed volcanic coastline which offers some of the most incredible camping in Maui. Wake up to waves crashing on the jet-black beach, or, if you really can't bring yourself to go without electricity, the State Park has fully furnished cabins. 

Maui Can Get Both Hot and Cold

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Maui is known for its favorable weather, and most of the year it's very sunny and warm. However, it does get chilly during winter and it's very important to make sure you pack warm clothes.

Interestingly, Maui has 10 of the 14 climate zones, so weather patterns on the island change quite dramatically depending on where you are, and if you're driving from one end to the other, you might find yourself traveling through a range of different microclimates.

Within a few miles, the weather on Maui can change very quickly. You might be enjoying a beautiful tropical climate in one place, while it ends up being very wet in another.

Most accommodations on Maui are located in the south, in very dry and sunny areas (places like Kihei, Wailea, and Makena are very dry areas). It starts to get wet as you travel upcountry, and head further east of Paia. But, the rain does mean beautiful lush scenery.

Street Food is Delicious

Maui is known for its great food, however the cost depends on where you're buying it.

Road-side vendors are cheaper, and still produce fabulous flavors, while the fine restaurants can dent your pockets.

Whales Are Around From December to May

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Many people travel to Maui assuming they can see whales at any time of the year, though whale watching season only runs for 6 months, and you won't see them outside of this period.

The waters surrounding Maui are the stage for a massive migration of North Pacific humpback whales; thousands of them travel to Hawaii from December through until May, heading into the shallow waters to breed.

Plenty of whale watching cruises are available, and you can join boats that head out and get right up close (within 100 yards) the whales and their young. While you can’t swim with whales here, they’re very active in the water, and you’ll see them breaching, and surfacing quite a lot.

These massive creatures range between 40 to 50 feet long, so you can often see them from the shore too. Head to the McGregor Point lookout west of Maalaea and the beaches of Kaanapali, Kihei and Wailea, and keep your eyes open!

To See the Whole Island, Rent a Car

Contrary to misconception, Maui is a big island. It's the second-largest in the Hawaiian Islands, so if you're hoping to see the whole island, you'll definitely need a car.

For instance, it would take you about 45 minutes to drive from Kahului to Lahaina, and if you're paying for day tours every day, you'll end up spending an arm and a leg. Sadly, you can't rely on public transport to get you around the island.

If you are booking a vehicle, we highly recommend taking out travel insurance, especially if you're driving the Road to Hana. It’s a road which is wide enough for one and a half cars, with cars (and semi trucks and petrol tankers!!) coming from both ways!

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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