Three islands. More than 1,100 square miles of pure Hawai‘i coolness. And five reasons you need to go.
First, we’ll answer the burning question you might have: “I know about the island of Maui, but what the heck is Maui Nui?” Think of Maui Nui as everything you already love about Maui – exquisite beaches, diverse outdoor adventures and unbound nature – times three. Maui Nui, Hawaiian for “great/large Maui”, encompasses Maui and neighbouring islands Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. (Kaho‘olawe is part of the Maui Nui ‘ohana, as well, but uninhabited.) Eons ago, each was part of one very large island called Maui Nui, but are now geographically and uniquely individual in their charms. Maui, you already know – laid back, leisurely and full of new adventures and discoveries on every visit. Moloka‘i is rustic, rugged and reminiscent of a simpler, not-all-that-far-in-the-past Hawai‘i. And Lāna‘i? Imagine a combination of understated natural wonder, relaxed modern luxury and small-town neighborly comforts and prepare to have your expectations met. On your next Maui visit, go full Maui Nui. Here are five reasons why.
Scenic road tripping with sublime end-of-road rewards
Maui, Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i
Maui Nui is big on short-distance road trips that nonetheless pack in major scenic surprises and brilliant conclusions. On Maui, the Hāna Highway’s serpentine 35 miles run alongside waterfalls, rain-forested gorges, sea-level and elevated views of the island’s rugged northeast coast, and, finally, picturesque seaside Hāna town. Road tripping east Moloka‘i’s Kamehameha V Highway past ocean vistas and early Hawaiian fishponds ends at verdant, historic Hālawa Valley. And on Lāna‘i, Kānepu‘u and Awalua Highways are more like Jeep trails, traversing the island’s pastoral midsection and concluding with a bumpy downslope run to luxuriously lengthy Polihua Beach.
Ocean-to-rainforest-to-summit volcano exploring at Haleakalā National Park
There’s more to visiting this massive 33,265-acre Maui park than catching the sunrise from its namesake volcano’s 10,023-foot summit. Yes, the mega-popular activity is actually remarkable, but the park’s true uniqueness for explorers is the rare opportunity of experiencing the changing diversity in landscapes, climate and flora of a Hawai‘i volcano from sea level to summit. Trails descending into the maw of Haleakalā volcano’s erosional summit valley reveal the surprisingly manifold natural wonder of its subalpine landscape the further one hikes. Downslope, trails in the park’s oceanside Kīpahulu area offer the rush of rainforests, coastline, valleys and waterfalls.
The most luxuriously lengthy beaches in Hawai‘i
Maui, Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i
Maui Nui presents beachcomber nirvana at several sandy stretches big on length and (mostly) short on crowds. Lāna‘i’s above-mentioned Polihua Beach offers two miles of expansive, feet-swallowing gold sand with few other souls in sight, while Kaiolohia Beach’s eight miles include views of an offshore shipwreck, a trail to a petroglyph field and vistas of neighboring Moloka‘i. Mākena Beach (aka Big Beach) on Maui offers 1.5 miles of expansive sand, plus super swimming and snorkeling should you tire of beachcombing. On Moloka‘i, lengthy (three miles) and wide (100 yards) Pāpōhaku Beach is always crowd-free, with fine, soft sands for long walks.
Some of Hawai‘i’s best small towns for exploring, noshing and buying stuff in
Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i
Visiting as many of Hawai‘i’s myriad small towns as possible is one of the best ways to discover the diversity of people, scenic coolness, food, cultures and daily life the Islands are famous for. Maui Nui is home to a handful of these great burgs, including Pā‘ia (Maui’s surf town), Makawao (Maui’s cowboy and ranch town), Lāna‘i City (Lāna‘i’s only town), Hāna (Maui’s remote, verdant seaside hamlet), Kaunakakai (Moloka‘i’s rustic, everything-you-need main street), Wailuku (local eats, coffee, retail, artisans, street fests and vibe – all Maui), Lahaina (an old-Maui-meets-new-Maui oceanfront visitor fave) and Pukalani (gateway to Maui’s cool, ag-rich Kula District).