Taking the Plunge
Don mask, fins, and snorkel to explore the magical underwater world, where kaleidoscopic clouds of tropical fish flutter by exotic corals; a sea turtle might even come over to check you out. Molokini is everyone's favorite snorkeling destination, but the shores of Maui are lined with magical spots as well. Can't swim? No problem: Hop on a submarine with Atlantis Adventures (tel. 800/548-6262) for a plunge beneath the waves without getting wet.
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
World-championship contests are held at Hookipa, on the north shore, one of the greatest windsurfing spots on the planet. Sit on a grassy bluff or stretch out on the sandy beach, and watch the world's top-ranked windsurfers twirling and dancing on the wind and waves like colorful butterflies.
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, such as 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.
Taking a Day Trip to Lanai
From Lahaina, join Trilogy (tel. 888/MAUI-800 [628-4800]) for a snorkel cruise to Lanai, or take the Expeditions Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry over and rent a four-wheel-drive jeep on your own. It's a two-for-one island experience: Board in Lahaina Harbor and admire Maui from offshore; then get off at Lanai and go snorkeling in the clear waters, tour the tiny former plantation island, and catch the last ferry home.
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