Maui remains, as Hawai'i's second-largest island, amazingly pristine - offering both the native wilderness of Hana and the upscale resorts of Wailea, Kaanapali and Kapalua, the deep history of Lahaina and the modern conveniences of Kahului, the family farms of Upcountry and the billion-dollar industries of the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei.
Maui has been called the heart chakra of the Hawaiian Islands, a place that opens the heart and calms the mind. The island hosts a rainbow of races, religions and cultures - a warm and gracious people. Residents are still cognizant of Hawaii's old-style ways and they still take the time to talk story, watch the sunset, and extend easy hospitality. With temperatures averaging a balmy 75 to 85 degrees, cooled by soft trade winds, visitors find all the little worries just slipping away.
For an unprecedented 20th time, Maui captured "Best U.S. Island" in the 25th annual Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards Poll. The publication also deemed Maui "Best Island in the World" as the Hawaiian Island bested every single island and city named to the poll.
And this elite status isn't hard to understand. Maui is home to stunning native flora and fauna; hidden tropical waterfalls; rolling pastureland; steep, rocky cliffs; and some of Hawaii's most stunning sunsets, framing the islands of "Maui Nui" ("Big Maui" or Maui County): Maui, Molokini, Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai. With red, black and white sand, Maui's beaches have consistently been chosen by "Dr. Beach" Stephen Leatherman as ranking among the best beaches in the U.S. Kapalua, Kaanapali and Wailea beaches have also been named among his top 40 choices as the "healthiest" beaches in the country, based on water quality, amenities, safety and environmental factors.
Glitter and the good life thrive on Maui, too. Enlightened farmers, fertile soil, and brilliant, world-renowned chefs give Maui a cachet that has circled the globe. From Makawao and Kula to Central, South and West Maui, from rubber-slipper casual to elegantly chic, restaurants of all types draw an international and local clientele. The top resorts offer food and wine festivals that are signature events every year: Kapalua Wine & Food Festival; Kaanapali Fresh; Taste of Lahaina; Taste of Wailea; the Maui Onion Festival in Kaanapali.
For families, Maui offers myriad adventures that turn into family stories told again and again in the years to come. There's something about Maui that really works for bringing a family closer together. It begins with sunrise in a warm, crystal-clear sky. The climate and natural beauty suggest that it's time to slow down. There's no hurry to "get somewhere" - unless, perhaps, out onto the beach for an early morning swim or stroll.
Where to stay? Your call! How about spacious condominiums for the family with all the amenities of home? While luxury resorts line Maui's south and west shores, moderately priced accommodations abound in neighboring resort areas, and in Central and Upcountry Maui.
Information provided by: Hawaii Tourism Authority