Don't miss activities on Maui

Published9/27/2008 9:02 PM

Q: Friends of mine in their early 50s are taking a weeklong trip to Maui. What do you recommend for "don't miss" activities on the island?

A: Maui might well be the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands, although I'm sure there are those who would say otherwise. The single biggest attraction on Maui is Haleakala, the world's largest dormant volcano. Get up well before dawn for a guided tour up to the 10,023-foot summit to view what is billed as "the most beautiful sunrise in the world." Wear a jacket, because temperatures can be in the 30s at that altitude.


The crater, 22 miles in circumference, holds cinder and ash cones as tall as the Empire State Building but dwarfed by the vastness of their surroundings. If you feel ambitious, there are hiking trails within the crater, or you can bicycle 38 miles down the slope of Haleakala. Along the way, look for the silverswords, a unique plant that is native to Maui and can be found only above the 6,000-foot level on the dormant volcano.

A helicopter ride over the island is worth the cost, because you'll see waterfalls, lush forests and mountain goats standing on precarious perches that make you wonder how in the world they got there. Or how they'll get down. If you rent a car, you can travel to the 42 miles of beaches, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Honolua Bay, Mokuleia Bay or Black Rock at Kaanapali. How about surfing? The Hawaiian Islands are renowned for their crashing surf. .

Having said all this, I recommend you hop in your rental car and just explore. Stop in Lahaina, an ancient fishing village famous for its bygone whaling days. Pick up a self-guided tour map at the Old Courthouse Museum. Put the Whalers' Village Museum on your list and you'll find, in addition to the whaling story, antique scrimshaw, an art form practiced by the whalers etching designs and scenes on the teeth and bones of the whales.

The road to Hana, at the remote southeastern edge of Maui, is an adventure in itself, winding 52 miles through hairpin turns and 54 single-lane bridges through forested mountains. Once there, enjoy the Pools of Ohe'o, waterfalls that spill into tiered pools leading to the sea.

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Another interesting spot is the Palapala Ho'omau Church where you'll find the grave of Charles Lindbergh. Follow the highway eight miles south to a small road just past mile marker 41, which leads to the church.

On your arrival in Hawaii or as you return home, assuming you go through Honolulu, be sure to detour long enough to visit the Arizona Memorial, dedicated to one of the battleships that was sunk when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The ship lies beneath the surface, turrets visible from the observation platform, and entombs the bodies of most of the sailors who were on board.

You can get a free Maui Travel Planner to help you decide how you want to spend your time by going to or by calling (800) 525-6284.

Send your questions at least sixweeks prior to travel to MadelynMerwin in care of
Travel,Daily Herald, P.O.Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006, or e-mail

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