Molokini Crater is a partially submerged volcanic crater located off the South shore of Maui. It lies between the islands of Kaho'olawe and Maui and rises 160 feet out of the water at its peak. The crescent shaped island is famous for crystal clear visibility and large amounts of sealife. Because of the regular snorkeling and scuba visitors, the fish in the crater are less shy than at other locations around the island making for a spectacular Maui Snorkeling experience.
Though its probably more popular as far as numbers of visitors for its snorkeling, Scuba Diving Molokini Crater is far more interesting. The backside of Molokini is famous for scuba diving. It's been rated one of the best wall dives in the world, featuring abundant sealife above and below the dive destination point. You're likely to see white-tipped reef sharks as well as many different types of coral and hundreds of fish species. This dive requires experience and a guide due to the currents and depths, of which the backside reaches to depths of 350 feet. There are many boat companies that will take you to Molokini Crater for a fee from Maalaea, Wailea, Kihei, and Lahaina. Have fun and be safe!
-- (May 2, 2008) on Molokini
Haleakala National Park sits above the clouds of Maui's highest peak. From the summit, you can see deep into the dormant volcanic crater, most of Maui's landscape, our shimmering coasts, and even our neighboring islands of Molokai, Lanai, and the Big Island. The Park extends from the summit, down the mountain, and to the coast of Kipahula.
Hiking on Haleakala is diverse with many hikes and different areas of wilderness to trek. Hikers are known for camping in Maui in order to experience more of the outdoors. The park offers crater cabins that you can hike down to. These spots must be reserved well ahead of time due to their popularity.
Another popular Haleakala activity is downhill Biking. Many different bike companies have been formed to fill the demand for this 20-35 mile adventure. Depending on which company, and what package you get, you can travel from the entrance of the park all the way down to the beach town of Paia. Many visitors come to Maui solely to Bike the Volcano because of it's being one of the longest downhill biking trips in the world. From around 10,000 feet, you can watch the sunrise over the crater, then coast down the mountain for a few hours through fields of lavender and lush green forests.
The Park extends to Kipahula which encompasses the campgrounds at the Oheo Gulch. For images and information on this area, see Eve's Road to Hana webpage.
-- (April 11, 2008) on Haleakala
The Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea Harbor is one of the best Aquariums in the Pacific. Here you'll find multiple varieties of Hawaiian marine life. The Maui Ocean Center has outdoor exhibits where you can actually touch the sealife. Located on the water, the Maui Ocean Center has spectacular views, and during whale season, you can watch a whale breach while holding a living starfish! Inside you'll find different exhibits with informative descriptions surrounding them, making for a fun and interesting activity. Some of the highlights are the shark tank and the jellyfish tank. The jellyfish tank is a cylinder from the floor to the roof filled with florescent, fluctuating jellies. It's really an amazing thing to watch. The Shark Tank is also spectacular. It holds over 20 maui sharks including a tiger shark. They ominously swim around groups of large fish, stingrays, and coral heads. The shark tank has a large viewing room as well as a viewing tunnel where the ocean life will swim all around those walking through it. The center also offers shark diving for those adventurous enough to scuba with the sharks.
The Maui Ocean Center is one of the few activities on Maui that you can do when the weather isn't favorable. If it's raining, you can still enjoy undisturbed ocean activity. It's definitely something fun to do with friends, family, and especially kids.
-- (April 8, 2008) on Maui Ocean Center
Here are a couple places on Maui that you need to check out next time you visit.
Kanaio Coast (Southeast Maui)
Accessible only by boat, the vast area of the South East portion of Maui Coast is rugged and untouched by civilization. The land is barren and dry compared to the other side of Haleakala. The Snorkeling and Scuba diving in this area are superb with numerous sea caves to explore. Most all Maui Scuba Diving and snorkeling tour boats visit this area before the wind picks up.
South Maui (Kihei, Wailea, Makena)
South Maui generally gets the best weather on the island with consistent sunny days. One of the gems on the south side includes La Perouse Bay. Here you can see the last eruption of Haleakala, which flowed for the last time in 1790. The entire area is covered in black and red lava rock. This rugged area resembles landscape found on another planet! La Perouse bay is beautiful and is inhabited by spinner dolphins. During large South swells, this bay can host some of the fiercest left-hand waves in the world, breaking on dry reef. North of La Perouse is the Ahihi Kina'u Marine Preserve, one of the more pristine snorkeling areas on the island. It remains preserved with the help of conservation efforts by Maui residents. Ahihi Bay usually has some volunteers present with interesting and helpful information.
Iao Valley (Central Maui)
The Iao Stream has carved this lush valley from the West Maui Mountains. Its high cliffs are covered in vegetation. One of the most popular features in this area is the Iao Needle, a lava pinnacle reaching 1,200 feet from the base. This area is beautiful and very wet. It's actually recognized as the second wettest area in all of the Hawaiian Islands. It's worth spending a little time learning about the fascinating history of this area before visiting.
-- (March 19, 2008) on Maui
Lahaina is known as the "Meeting Place" being the area that ancient Hawaiian royalty would congregate and have large parties. Some of the luaus held in Lahaina served 10's of thousands of visitors from neighboring islands. Lahaina has a rich Hawaiian history as well as a more recent whaling history. Today, Lahaina is home to bustling tourism on it's famed Front Street. This fun, old street lines the ocean and has many different shops and restaurants with great views. The Tree you referred to is the Banyan Tree. It was planted in 1873. It was brought to Maui from India and planted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Christian missionary work in Lahaina Town. Whether the work done by the missionaries had a positive impact on the islanders is a much disputed topic (Read James A. Michener's Hawaii.) The Banyan Tree covers an entire block with a large colony of birds living in it. The tree drops vines from it's upper branches that slowly grow to the ground and plant themselves, eventually growing into their own trunks. Banyan Tree Park is really a sight to see!
One major event that it looks like you missed is Halloween in Lahaina. Out of all the islands, and much of the nation, Lahaina throws the biggest and wildest Halloween party. Front Street is shut down to vehicles, and a Mardi Gras atmosphere reigns. It seems that everyone gets into the spirit with elaborate costumes. Some Maui residents spend all year working on there costumes.
Thank you for sharing the pictures of Lahaina and Ka'anapali. Next time, you'll need to spend a little time at Kapalua too. Great golf and gorgeous beaches. It doesn't look as though there were any waves when you visited. Next time you come, check out Honolua Bay when it's big and see if you can catch a glimpse of some really big swell being ridden. You have to be there in the winter for a big North or Northwest swell. At the Bay, you can sit on a cliff right over the surfers as they take off. It's incredible.
Mahalo for sharing!
-- (February 19, 2008) on Kaanapali/Lahaina
Excellent photos of the Road to Hana. It looks as though you've experienced quite a bit of it.
I've lived on Maui for a long time, and can attest to its beauty and unique tropical landscape. The magnificient black sand beach you refer to is Wai'anapanapa State Park, a place filled with Hawaiian legend and lore. The ocean lava tubes here are truly impressive. I completely agree that the trip is 3/4 the fun. The Road to Hana acts as the perfect compliment for the saying, "Life is about the journey, not the destination."
Thank you for sharing your photos. Have you been back since? Looks as though you're globe-trotting on a regular basis. Keep it up!
-- (February 12, 2008) on Road to Hana