Lay of the Land
The oldest resorts on Maui are located on the northwest coast near Lahaina, the first settled area on the island. Adjacent Kaanapali, Napili and Kapulua came next, and generally these are the family-friendly areas. Wailea, in the southwest, is home to the most glamorous resorts (the Four Seasons Maui and the Fairmont Kea Lani) and retains an air of exclusivity, while neighboring Kihei is where budget travelers can find inexpensive condos, mini malls and fast food. The North shore is the surfer-hippie paradise (Paia and Haiku), and of course, it's worth driving to beautiful and authentic Hana to find the flavor of vintage Maui.
WHEN TO GO
Maui, like all of the islands of Hawaii, has year-round air and ocean temperatures in the mid-70s to 80s (though higher elevations like the summit of Haleakala can be as cool as 45 degrees). Even more than the other islands, Maui should be avoided during the Christmas holiday and around New Year's—prices soar, rental cars are impossible to secure, and traffic becomes unbearable. You'll even have to have to wait in line to patronize normally accessible restaurants and bars. Mid-September to mid-November is a great time to travel and beat the crowds; the best windows for deals are after January 10 and before spring break (excluding President's Day weekend), and right after spring break through mid-May.
HOW TO GET THERE
Direct flights are available to Maui's main Kahului airport from at least ten mainland cities. You can probably find a better deal on a direct flight to Honolulu, but then you'd have to take a 30-minute flight to Maui which can turn into three extra hours of travel time. Though at least with the arrival of Go! Airlines, all the major interisland carriers have slashed ticket prices by up to 50 percent. Another good if pricey option is to hop from one island to another by helicopter. It's the ideal way to check out the stunning scenery (several companies have counters at the airport—including well-known Blue Hawaiian and Sunshine). There is also a smaller airport in Kapalua that is primarily used for private charters.
Though sophisticated in some ways, Maui has no public transport—everyone drives. All the usual rental car outfits are at the airport, but be warned: Maui has the most expensive rates in the state (a good reason to use frequent-flier miles for the rental car). Luckily, there are some budget options if you don't mind driving a junker (try Kihei Rent-a-Car, 808-879-7257, www.kiheirentacar.com). A GPS device isn't necessary (this is a small island), but a detailed map and guidebook that gives specific landmarks and mile markers is a good idea. The most confusing part of Maui is the main town of Kahului. But once on the right highway, it's pretty straightforward driving.
Maui Visitors Bureau
1727 Wili Pa Loop
Tel: 808 244 3530
Fax: 808 244 1337
Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
2270 Kalakaua Avenue
Tel: 800 464 2924