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Maui for Active Travelers
Maui is an
interesting place. The
island of Oahu is a big city on an island; Kauai extremely quite. Maui has nightlife and seclusion, activities and relaxation,
population and tropical paradise. Sounds
biased? Of course it is…
after six year of vacationing to Maui we bought a place that we could
call our own tropical escape.
If you are
going on vacation for a change of pace and want to actively experience
Maui, then here are some ideas to consider.
I do not sell vacation activities, so this is not a sales pitch.
A few links will be provided to help you find more information on
specific listed activities. A much more extensive list of web-links can be obtained via
the web search engines.
If you read my article “Maui with Kids” you
will recognize this as a repeat item.
Maui provides excellent opportunities for snorkeling both from
shore, and on paid tours.
The most popular of the snorkeling trips
(locations) is the Molokini Crater Ocean Preserve tour.
Molokini is a half-moon volcanic caldera that provides
spectacular sea life. There
are several catamarans that offer tours with full snorkel gear, scuba,
snuba, and lunch or breakfast. Search
the web for “snorkel Maui” for a variety of options.
Here is one site to get you started: http://adventuremaui.com/molokini_snorkel.htm.
typically take our own snorkel gear (or buy as necessary) and hit some
of the locations around Maui’s coast.
If you wish to venture out on your own, here are a couple of the
popular places you can drive to for snorkeling for free.
Maui – Honolua Bay (see http://www.sportfishhawaii.com/honolua.htm)
Southwestern Maui – Kanahena (Past Makena beach toward the end of the
Hana is a full day away, but if you are up for
truly paradise hiking, that is the destination.
There are a number of trails in and around Hana that take you
along scenic coastal areas, or through tropical jungle to waterfalls.
On the extreme side there is even a multi-day trail from the top
of Haleakala to Hana via the base of the volcano.
Getting to Hana is an adventure in itself as the 50
miles from the airport takes you through over 600 turns and multiple one
lane bridges (see this link for more info: http://www.sunsetmaui.com/articles/Maui-hana-coast.htm
). If you wish to seriously
hike the area you may consider staying 1-2 nights in Hana.
There are a few sea-kayak companies that operate
tours on Maui. Some of the
major hotels will also provide kayaks for padding around close to shore.
We regularly travel south past Wailea for
snorkeling and see the van for the kayaking tours parked along the road. Depending on wave conditions the tours often venture out from
just south of Makena beach and follow the coastline to the more remote
areas along the lava flows (http://www.golf-maui.com/Activities/Kayaking.htm
Looking for a change of pace? There are a number of beaches along Kihei that are regular
spots for vacationer surf lessons.
Generally the waves are one or two feet so there is enough to
ride with the larger boards without getting in over your head.
One of the nice things about surfing is you can get
a board and lesson, and actually ride a surfboard within your first time
out. Other water sports as
listed below are less forgiving and may takes days, or weeks, before
your learning really starts to pay off.
Again, the search engines will return pages of
results; here are a couple of the sites: http://www.mauisurf.com/
Cycling the Volcano
Good news – it’s all downhill from here!
Downhill cycling is one of the popular tourist activities on
Maui. The cycling tours
take you to the top of Maui’s 10,000 foot Haleakala volcano, and you
ride from there to the ocean 38 miles away.
There are a few trips to choose from depending on
how much sleep you are willing to sacrifice, some trips start as early
as 2-3AM! The
early trips put you at the top of the volcano for sunrise.
During your trip you will tour the national park at
the top, stop for breakfast along the mountain descent, ride through
Paia, and out to the ocean.
Scuba and Snuba
As with snorkeling, Molokini is the first choice
for Maui underwater tours. Many
of the tours will offer snorkeling, scuba, or snuba (breathing tube to
the surface). If you are
not scuba certified you can make arrangements for diving with an
There are also dive options from shore as well.
In many locations they walk in straight from the hotel beaches
and swim out.
is not your ordinary ‘trail ride’. This is an adventure! A rare and
unique opportunity to experience firsthand, the unspoiled beauty of
Maui, Hawaii!” – Adventures on Horseback
There are a number of
companies that offer horseback riding in Maui.
Most of the ranch land is upcountry (on the Haleakala hillside),
but tours are offered in different locations.
The company listed
offers trail rides along the coast and in to waterfalls where you can
stop for a swim.
Piiholo ranch located
outside of Makawao offers rides in ranch lands at an elevation of about
2000 feet. This is a
working ranch, so if interested you can make arrangements to join the
real cattle drives. (http://www.piiholo.com/)
Haleakala on horseback (http://www.haleakalaonhorseback.com/)
offers trail rides into the volcano including narration on island
history, plants, and geology.
Body Surfing & Boogie Boarding
Maui’s bodysurfing and boogie boarding is a great
way to enjoy the outdoors. While
many of the beaches are excellent for these sports, not all are so
If I had to choose the best beach for body
surfing/boogie boarding, I would recommend the public beach by the Grand
Wailea. The waves can range
from small to significant, and generally break offshore and flow onto
the beach. On the other end
of the spectrum is the Makena beach which has large waves that break
straight into the sand providing a particularly hazardous situation.
For families with kids the waves at the beaches
between Kihei and Maalea are general smaller as there is an outer reef
that protects the beach. There
are also a number of beaches between Maalea and Lahaina that offer light
break for surfing or boogie boarding.
Windsurfing & kite-boarding
OK, so this may not apply to too many readers, but
as an avid windsurfer this had to make my list.
If you have not windsurfed or kite-boarded before, Maui offers
lessons and gear. The
instructors are excellent. Conditions
can range from mild ideal learning conditions to challenging depending
on swell and wind.
Both of these sports are challenging so do not
expect much sailing in a couple days of vacation play.
If you have been interested in learning to sail Maui may provide
a nice introduction to the sports.
Is fishing really a sport…?
Had to debate the merits of including this in an activities
article; it does require interaction and classifies as adventure so I
thought I’d keep it in.
Like all other tourist activities there are a
number of companies supporting deep-sea fishing off of Maui.
Rather than list these out I’ll just provide the following link
to a site with some useful information.
This site (http://www.fishmaui.com)
answers many questions including types of fish, seasonal catch, and
provides a list of charter services available.
Maui offers some incredible golf courses including
those in and around Kaanapali, and toward the other side of the island
at Wailea (Makena courses). I
came across about 15-20 different courses listed on the web for Maui.
Maui golf rates range from about $50 at Sandalwood
to just under $200 for the high end course in Wailea.
Many of the courses offer reduced rates after about 2PM.
The following link provides a fairly comprehensive lists of the
available courses (http://www.alternative-hawaii.com/activity/msrgolf.htm
After years of traveling I have found the trips I
remember most are those with activities that make the vacation unique.
Whether you choose the ride down the volcano, horseback riding or
surfing lessons, be sure to get out and enjoy Maui’s tropical
article is provided by Mr. Marc Elpel and SunsetMaui.com.
Mr Elpel has been an avid activity based traveler for years with
extensive travel in the Hawaiian Islands.
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