Life Journey, Travel, Uncategorized

Best of Maui: Highlights of the Valley Isle

It has been cold and rainy here in Slippery Rock, making me miss the warm sunshine of Maui even more! It has been crazy trying to get back into the swing of everything as a grad student. That whole “island time” idea, yeah it’s definitely a thing!

I truly did start the year on the greatest adventure. Maui has so many wonderful gifts to share with the world. If you are looking to book your next vacation, I highly recommend the Hawaiian Islands!

I could go on and on about the extraordinary tributes of Maui, but here are just a few of my all time favorites!


Haleakala, meaning “house of the sun”, is home to some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the world. Standing over 10,000 feet above sea-level the remains of the once active volcano surround the crater floor.

Summit of Mount Haleakala
Above the clouds on the Rainbow Bridge Trail.

One would think traveling to Hawaii meant shorts, t-shirts and slippers but here on top of Haleakala, you’ll be sure to want your winter parka at the summit. The day I traveled the park the weather reached nearly freezing temps. Though, despite the wind and cold the views are spectacular. They are surely worth every goose-bump!

Bundled at the summit of Haleakala. Cinder cones line the floor of the crater in the background.

There are a variety of travels one can hike throughout the crater. Anything from simple day hikes to serious backpacking, as the crater is roughly 7 miles across, 3 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep covered with cinder cones.

I recommend the Rainbow Bridge Trail, Halemau’u Trail. It was probably one of the most incredible hikes I have ever done. The views are breath-taking. Being able to walk literally through a rainbow and be standing looking down at the clouds below you is awe-inspiring.

Rainbow Bridge, Haleakala National Park

If you are able to check out a sunrise at the summit, DO IT! Haleakala is by far a must see when visiting the island of Maui.

West Maui Mountains

Across the island from Haleakala you’ll see the West Maui Mountains. These mountains are sculpted with hundreds of valleys, home to hidden waterfalls. Giving Maui it’s surname as the ‘Valley Isle’. One of the mountains’ most famous valleys, Iao Valley.

Iao Needle

Towering emerald peaks rim Iao Valley. Within the valley you’ll find the iconic Iao Needle. I must say this was a slight disappointment, as beautiful of a sight as it is, I think it is given a little more recognition than it truly deserves. Despite this, it is still a must see tourist item.

North of the valley, you’ll find what I believe a hidden gem, the Waihe’e Ridge Trail. The views on this trail are stunning. 4 miles round trip it makes for the perfect little day hike. As you hike along the ridge of the mountains you look out over the pacific at the northern tip of the island. I hiked this trail at sunrise and I was able to experience some of the most incredible views. This was by far one of my favorite hiking spots on the island.

Stairs along the Waihe’e Ridge Trail looking out onto the Pacific Ocean.
Waihe’e Ridge, Wailuku, HI
Valleys along the Waihe’e Ridge Trail.

Delicious Fresh Produce

One of the amazing benefits of living on a tropical island is all the delicious fresh produce. You can find anything from ginormous butter avocados to sweet star fruits. I highly recommend experiencing some of the locally grown fruits as well as ones native to the island.

Some produce I tried while on the island were butter avocados, star fruits, apple bananas, Lilikoi (passion fruit) & calamondin (looks like a clementine, but actually a lime).


You can NOT leave the island of Maui without experiencing an authentic Hawaiian Luau. You can find them just about anywhere on the island, but the culture dances and history of the Island of Maui is quite interesting.

Ohana, family, at the Luau
Removal of the bore from the fire pit.
Fire Dancer in the Luau

My family and I attended the Grand Luau at Honua’ula in the Grand Wailea. This was an unforgettable evening. The food was exquisite and full of flavor. The entertainment was authentic, displaying the culture of Hawaii. Hula dancers and fire dancers dominated the stage for a remarkable performance.

Every Season all in One Island

This was probably one of my favorite characteristics about the island of Maui. Maui is home to 6 different climate zones. From the periglacial climate on the summit of Haleakala to the hot semi-desert of Ka’anapali. Name another place where you can encounter such a variety of climates all in one place.

Being able to experience all sorts of climate zones all on one island amazed me. Mother nature is truly extraordinary.

Blow Hole & Heart-Shaped Rock

West Maui is home to many hidden treasures, though they may not be so ‘hidden’ any more.

As you travel north past the town of Lahiana and Ka’anapali and traverse through winding, narrow roads you’ll find yourself among what I consider one of the most beautiful areas of the Island.

It is here you’ll find the famous Nakalele Blow Hole and the heart-shaped rock. As you navigate your way down the jagged rocks, meeting the ocean edge you”ll be amidst these two gems of Maui. Seeing the force behind the ocean as it creates this natural blow-hole as the water glistens through is beautiful.

Nakalele Blow Hole, Wailuku, HI
Heart-Shaped Rock, Wailuku, HI

If you go just a little further north of here you’ll come across a section of olivine pools. They’re a little risky to traverse down to, but the beautiful turquoise pools radiate upward.

Just further around the bend there’s another trail, Ohai Loop Trail. This is another hike I recommend doing at sunrise, especially with the views over the north end of the island. This trails follows the coastline, rimming cliff edges. There are stunning views of cliffs out into the pacific as the waves of the roaring pacific cut right through.

Sunrise along the Ohai Trail
Cliffs along the Ohai Trail

These are just a few of my favorite highlights of the Island of Maui! If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Maui, you must travel the island in it’s entirety. Each part of the island has something incredible to offer and you wouldn’t want to miss a single one!


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