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Exploring: Scenic Tours > Maui
"Hele mai" -- come with us on a scenic tour of the island of Maui, Hawaii. You'll be surprised at the varied terrain, plant life, fauna, geology, and climate variations.
Each region also has a unique social history, which is revealed in its towns, businesses, recreational activities, churches, and schools.
Maui is referred to as the Valley Isle because a low isthmus separates the West Maui Mountains and massive Mount Haleakala that slopes down to the ocean. Maui County also includes the islands of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Quick tours of Molokai and Lanai can be selected from the main page. Kahoolawe is uninhabited, and was used as a bombing target by the U.S. Navy for decades.
Hawaiians lobbied for years to have this sacrilege ended, and finally the island was deeded back to the state. Clean-up of ordnance and restoration of water and usable land is proceeding slowly.
Here is a quick rundown of tours available for each region.
West Maui is a nearly circular peninsula dominated by the West Maui Mountains and connected to the main land mass by an isthmus on the southeast side. Once heavily planted in pineapple and sugar cane, the sunbathed leeward coast is now dominated by resorts, particularly Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua. The town of Lahaina still celebrates its long, lively role as a whaling port, and it bustles with tourists, restaurants, boat tours, and maritime exhibits. The islands of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe can be seen offshore.
The South resort area includes Kihei, Wailea and Makena, boasting many vacation accommodations, activities, and championship golf courses. The Maui Ocean Center near Maalaea Harbor is the state's most modern marine science facility. Charter fishing boats and whale watching excursions dock at this harbor. In Kihei, the Maui Research and Technology Park includes a supercomputer facility and other high tech businesses.
Central Maui includes Kahului, Wailuku, and adjacent residential areas. Wailuku is the seat of county government. Maui County includes the islands of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. An airport, commercial harbor, community college, shopping centers, and historic buildings and attractions contribute to these bustling communities.
Upcountry Maui first attracted ranchers and farmers who preferred the solitary rural life along the slopes of Mt. Haleakala. Now there are upscale restaurants and art galleries in Kula, Makawao and Haiku. These towns are renown for their specialty produce, arts festivals and the Makawao Rodeo. A vineyard makes wines from grapes that thrive in the cool climate; Kula onions are sweet and crisp. The main road to Haleakala's summit (10,023 ft. elevation) winds through upland forests, to Science City and its observatories. Winter snows are an irresistible novelty, just a few hours away from the sunny coast.
The winding, narrow road to Hana and the remote valleys and coves beyond is famous (or infamous). Called the Hana Highway, this 2-lane road follows the ins and outs of the northeast coast carved by streams and rivers and windward rains. Hana has a small, exclusive hotel, a ranch and residents who cherish this remote community on the eastern tip of Maui.
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