The Valley Isle
The island of Maui, is known as "the Valley Isle" due to the large valleys carved into the two mountains and the isthmus that is between them.
The island of Maui is the second largest landmass in the Hawaiian Islands (approx. 48 miles long, and 26 miles wide, totaling 728 square miles). It is also part of a larger unit known as Maui Nui. This includes four islands: Maui, Lana'i, Moloka'i, and Kaho'olawe (unpopulated).
The population of the island of Maui is approx. 144,500, and the population of Maui County (including all 4 islands) is around 155,000 - a mere 9% of the total population of the state of Hawaii.
The variations in atmosphere are dramatic with diverse combinations of geology, topography and climate from sea level to the 10,023ft summit of Haleakala Crater, ("the house of the sun" in Hawaiian). Whether you want to experience a walk through the rainforest, a sandy beach with whales passing you by, or even an evening with a fireplace and some hot cocoa, Maui offers it all.
Divided into Central Valley, North Shore, Upcountry, Hana, South Side, and the West Side:
Kahului and Wailuku comprise the Central Valley of Maui. Some say this is the heart of the island with its convenient location to many of the practical amenities residing here. Two of the largest master-planned communities are located in Central Maui, which are Kehalani (located on the gentle slopes of the west Maui Mountains in Wailuku) and Maui Lani (a family-oriented golf course community.) With ongoing development, these communities offer opportunities to purchase a new home.
Wailuku is the gateway into the lush passages of Iao Valley, home to one of Maui’s most recognizable landmarks - the 1,200-ft Iao Needle. It is also home to the county and state government offices, and the main hospital. Kahului hosts everything from car dealerships to home improvement stores to a multitude of grocers (and the county’s largest mall.) Not only is it a great place for consumer needs; it is also the location of the University of Hawaii - Maui campus, the main port and the airport.
The North Shore of Maui embodies a more classic "island town" flavor. Spreckelsville, Paia and Kuau are the primary spots along the northern coast.
Paia offers a variety of local restaurants, shops and galleries; it is also a surfer's dream and a place where many artists find inspiration - visitors must put Paia on their to-do list if they want to experience the old surf-town vibe. One of the world’s best known beaches on Maui, Ho’okipa Beach Park, is one of the top spots for ocean sports and recreation. The Aloha Classic and Red Bull surfing competitions have come to Ho’okipa, and the Maui Sports Foundation sponsors a number of events each year.
For some of the most panoramic and spectacular views of the island, many people find themselves along the flanks of Haleakala, in an area known as "Upcountry". Upcountry includes the towns of Makawao, Haiku, Pukalani and Kula (among others.) This country-style living offers additional opportunities for those interested in open spaces and a more secluded setting. Cooler temperatures and spacious rural landscapes are a couple of the features that attract people to this area of the island. You can live among some of Maui’s largest cattle ranges (like Ulupalakua Ranch), botanical gardens such as Ali’i Lavender Farm, and local agricultural farmers. Upcountry offers an abundance of opportunity for outdoor exploration and recreation on horseback, bicycles or your own two feet.
The main living area on the East side of the island is in a remote town called Hana with a sparser population. The road to Hana has been rated as one of the most scenic roads in the country - as you drive, you enter a lush and tropical paradise, passing under rainbows and alongside waterfalls. The east entrance to Haleakala National Park is also found over here, with trails that take you through bamboo forest and to waterfalls that tower hundreds of feet above you. Hamoa Beach, which has been consistently ranked in the Top 10 Beaches in the Country, is also located on the East side. Hana is the finish line for an annual relay event which encompasses an impressive 52-mile journey, along 617 curves and over 56 bridges, through breathtaking scenery.
The south side is also known as The Gold Coast because it is one of the sunniest parts of the island. Although it doesn’t offer all the amenities of the Central Valley, it is very much part of the heart of Maui. Lined with picturesque beaches, waterfront properties, parks, and people riding their bikes and jogging along the roads, this area carries a lot of charm. The south side includes South Kihei, North Kihei and the Wailea/Makena areas. The options for housing are immensely diverse with ranges from small plantation cottages to multi-million dollar oceanfront homes. The southern coastal area is lined with condominiums all the way from Maalaea Harbor down to Makena, offering vacation rentals, residential living, and resort luxury at its finest. Although Wailea's beaches are second to none, with oceanfront condos ranging in price from $2-10 million, affordable options can still be found in the south shores of Kihei. This is also the location of some of the top whale-watching opportunities in the country. The Maui Whale Festival takes place here, allowing residents and visitors alike to share in the excitement, wonder and educational opportunities to celebrate these cherished marine mammals.
With relatively calm water year round, a larger downtown with more abundant nightlife, and long sandy white beaches, the west side is an area of Maui that is comprised of plenty of locals as well as several larger resorts. In 1790, King Kamehameha took control of Maui and made Lahaina the new capital of the Unified Hawaiian Kingdom for nearly five decades (during which time, it also transformed into a thriving whaling village.) Although no longer the capital, Lahaina is still a hub of the west side, with a main drag full of galleries, gift shops, activity booths and restaurants. Today, Lahaina offers plantation-style living along with more contemporary condominium housing by the sea. Other living areas reach from the resorts of Kaanapali to Kapalua, which is graced with world class golfing, luxury gated communities, and accommodations with postcard views. Kapalua is also host to the annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf event. Along the coastline of the west side, there are many incredible opportunities for discovering marine life in areas such as Honolua Bay (also a great surf spot).