Maui Activities & Attractions
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Below are some of our favorite natural and commercial attractions on Maui.
'Ulalena: Hula, Myth & Modern Dance
The highly polished 'Ulalena, staged in the Maui Myth and Magic Theatre, 878 Front St. (tel. 877/688-4800 or 808/661-9913), is a riveting production that weaves Hawaiian mythology with drama, dance, and state-of-the-art multimedia capabilities in a brand-new, multimillion-dollar theater.
A local and international cast performs Polynesian dance, original music, acrobatics, and chant to create an experience that often leaves the audience speechless. It's interactive, with dancers coming down the aisles, drummers and musicians in surprising corners, and mind-boggling stage and lighting effects that draw the audience in. Some special moments: the goddess dancing on the moon, the white sail signaling the arrival of the first Europeans, the wrath of the volcano goddess, Pele (the stage effects depicting lava are brilliant), and the despairing labors of the field-worker immigrants. The effects of the modern choreography and traditional hula, a fusion of genres, are surprisingly evocative and emotional. The story unfolds seamlessly, and at the end you'll be shocked to realize that not a single word of dialogue has been spoken.
Scuba Diving: You're in love with snorkeling and the chance to view the underwater world, but it's just not enough -- you want to get closer and see even more. Take an introductory scuba dive; after a brief lesson on how to use the diving equipment, you'll plunge into the deep to swim with the tropical fish and go eyeball to eyeball with other marine critters.
Skimming over the Ocean in a Kayak: Glide silently over the water, hearing only the sound of your paddle dipping beneath the surface. This is the way the early Hawaiians traveled along the coastline. You'll be eye level and up close and personal with the ocean and the coastline, exploring areas you can't get to any other way. Venture out on your own or go with an experienced guide -- either way, you won't be sorry.
Exploring a Lava Tube: Most people come to Maui to get outdoors and soak up some Hawaiian sunshine, but don't miss the opportunity to see firsthand how volcanic islands were formed. With Maui Cave Adventures (tel. 808/248-7308), you can hike into the subterranean passages of a huge, extinct lava tube with 40-foot ceilings -- an offbeat adventure and a geology lesson you won't soon forget.
Seeing the Stars from Inside a Volcanic Crater: Driving up to see the sunrise is a trip you'll never forget, but to really experience Haleakala, plan to hike in and spend the night. To get a feel for why the ancient Hawaiians considered this one of the most sacred places on the island, you simply have to wander into the heart of the dormant volcano, where you'll find some 27 miles of hiking trails.
Hiking to a Waterfall: There are waterfalls, and there are waterfalls; the magnificent 400-foot Waimoku Falls, in Oheo Gulch outside of Hana, are worth the long drive and the uphill hike you have to take to get there. The falls are surrounded by lush green ferns and wild orchids, and you can even stop to take a dip in the pool at the top of Makahiku Falls on the way.
Flying over the Remote West Maui Mountains: Your helicopter streaks low over razor-thin cliffs, then flutters past sparkling waterfalls and down into the canyons and valleys of the inaccessible West Maui Mountains. There's so much beauty to absorb that it all goes by in a rush. You'll never want to stop flying over this spectacular, surreal landscape -- and it's the only way to see the dazzling beauty of the prehistoric area of Maui.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.
Below are some of our favorite Maui activities.
Hunting for Whales on Land: No need to shell out megabucks to go out to sea in search of humpback whales -- you can watch these majestic mammals breach and spy hop from shore. I recommend scenic McGregor Point, at mile marker 9 along Honoapiilani Highway, just outside Maalaea in South Maui. The humpbacks arrive as early as November, but the majority travel through Maui's waters from mid-December to mid-April.
Watching the Windsurfers: Sit on a grassy bluff or stretch out on the sandy beach at Hookipa, on the north shore, and watch the world's top-ranked windsurfers twirling and dancing on the wind and waves like colorful butterflies. World-championship contests are held at Hookipa, one of the greatest windsurfing spots on the planet.
Experiencing Maui's History: Wander the historic streets of the old whaling town of Lahaina, where the 1800s are alive and well thanks to the efforts of the Lahaina Restoration Society. Drive the scenic Kahekili Highway, where the preserved village of Kahakuloa looks much as it did a century ago. Stand in awe at Piilanihale, Hawaii's largest heiau (temple), located just outside Hana.
Greeting the Rising Sun from Haleakala's Summit: Bundle up in warm clothing, fill a thermos full of hot java, and drive up to the summit to watch the sky turn from inky black to muted charcoal as a small sliver of orange forms on the horizon. Standing at 10,000 feet, breathing in the rarefied air, and watching the first rays of light streak across the sky is a mystical experience of the first magnitude.
Exploring a Different Hawaii -- Upcountry Maui: On the slopes of Haleakala, cowboys, farmers, ranchers, and other country people make their homes in serene, neighborly communities like Makawao, Kula, and Ulupalakua -- worlds away from the bustling beach resorts. Acres of onions, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and flowers cover the hillsides. Maui's only winery is located here, offering the perfect place for a picnic.
Driving Through a Tropical Rainforest: The Hana Highway is not just a "drive" but an adventure: Stop along the way to plunge into icy mountain ponds filled by cascading waterfalls; gaze upon vistas of waves pummeling soaring ocean cliffs; inhale the sweet aroma of blooming ginger; and take a walk back in time, catching a glimpse of what Hawaii looked like before concrete condos and fast-food joints washed ashore.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.