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Maui, Molokai, and Lanai
The Magic Isles

An introduction to the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai,and Lanai.

If there is one reason for Maui's enduring popularity it is it's diversity -- the island's uncanny ability to dazzle and soothe almost at the same time.

The second largest island in the Hawaiian chain, Maui is 48 miles long and 26 miles across. But into that space is packed long, sandy beaches, tropical rainforests, rolling green pasture lands, dryland forests, and spectacular rocky cliffs.

Although Maui's average temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees, in one day you can huddle at the top of Haleakala Crater watching a sunrise in 40 degree weather, sit on the sand at Kihei enjoying the tradewinds at noon, and watch the sun set in the west in the cooler evenings.

The close proximity to Maui of the neighboring islands of Lana`i and Moloka`i, both a part of Maui County, gives the feeling of being sheltered by a large, relatively calm lake. There is a coziness about seeing another island off in the distance. One you can almost reach out and touch.

On any given day, you can hop on a ferry, small plane or catamaran and spend time snorkeling off one of Lana`i's beaches, or trekking the east end of Moloka`i with Hawaiian guides who are natives of the island.You can do this without ever having to go through the annoying process of packing and unpacking, or airports and check-in counters.

Maui's beaches are legend. Pristine and sheltered, especially on the leeward coasts, they have been lauded on top 10 lists for years. The beach fronting the Kapalua Bay Hotel is among the best. But you can't dismiss the stretch of white sand at Kaanapali, or the beaches of Kihei and the continuous coves at Wailea and Makena.

Even Hana's Hamoa Beach has received accolades for having the perfect wave during certain months of the year. If it's not the beaches, it's the water and wind conditions on the north shore that bring surfers and windsurfers to Maui.

When the wind picks up, you can see clusters of brilliantly colored sails dotting the shoreline. Maui's particular ocean conditions have made it a worldwide mecca for windsurfing.

Maui is about discovery. The naturalist can hike Maui's forested trails and view native plant species, watch rare birds in its wetlands, and follow the highways of ancient chiefs. County and state parks are open for camping and make overnight accommodations a bargain.

If you love the glitter and good life, Maui has that too. Maui's hotel and restaurant chefs are among the best in the country. In a few short years, new young chefs have redefined island cuisine through festivals at the top resorts. Kapalua has its Kapalua Wine and Food Symposium, Wailea, its Food & Wine Masters, Kihei, its Taste of South Maui and Kaanapali hosts the annual Maui Onion Festival at summer's end.

Maui's resident population represents an ethnic mix of Caucasians, Japanese, Filipinos, Hawaiians and Chinese. It's a racial cauldron created by the sugar and pineapple industries, that exits today in harmony and adds interest to any visit.

This melting pot has created a unique cultural mix that extends to activities open to everyone. Each summer the Japanese population holds colorful lantern-lit Bon Dances each weekend to honor ancestors. During Aloha Week in the fall, and to celebrate the first king to unite the islands, Kamehameha, the Hawaiian community gathers its resources for parades and exhibits. There are Filipino barrio fiestas, and church feasts in the primarily Portuguese communities on the Upcountry slopes.

Your Maui visit can be just about anything you want it to be. If what you need is an escape by snorkeling in warm, clear waters, or perhaps just surf, sand and golf. Maui has some of the best. If a vacation without learning is no vacation at all, there are specialized programs available for everyone from the history buff to the outdoorsman.

There are the luxury resorts that line Maui's south and west shores; resorts that take a back seat to no other destination. There are condominiums that offer moderately-priced vacations to families and the budget-minded. Want a more intimate stay? Try a bed and breakfast on the slopes of Haleakala volcano, or in the lush, tropical Hana district.

Diversity is what the islands of Maui, Moloka`i and Lana`i are all about. It's that very diversity that creates the magic.

Article Courtesy of the Maui Visitors Bureau

See also:
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