MAUI GEOGRAPHY

The entire Hawaiian archipelago consists of 132 islands, reefs, and shoals, stretching across 1,523 miles of the North Pacific Ocean.

 

Only the islands on the southeast end of the archipelago are inhabited and constitute what is commonly known as the Hawaiian Islands. 

The remainder of the archipelago is part of Papahānaumokuākea, one of the largest protected marine areas in the world.

map of Hawaii

NORTH SHORE

 Rainy, lush, green, rugged mountains in the backdrop, taro fields (makes great photo ops!)

Tip: make sure to pack a light rain jacket when you visit the north shore.

Highlights: 

  • Ha'ena State Park & Ke'e Beach

  • Kilauea Lighthouse

  • Hanalei Town & Pier

  • Princeville- Golfer's paradise (If you're not into golfing, take a golf cart tour at the Makai Course to learn about the flora and fauna!)

  • LINK TO NORTH SHORE BEACHES

  • LINK TO NORTH SHORE DINING

EAST SHORE

 "Coconut Coast," groves of coconut palms, waterfalls, long stretches of easily accessible beaches, more populared with residents of Kauai. The airport, helipads, and cruise ship port are all located in Lihue.

Highlights: 

SOUTH SHORE

Drier and sunnier, wide open beaches, cute towns, upscale shopping and beautiful oceanside dining options.

Highlights: 

  • Tree Tunnel

  • Old Koloa Town

  • Kakui'ula Shopping Center

  • Spouting Horn

  • Poipu Beach Park

  • Allerton & McBride Gardens- home to the giant Moreton Fig tree (huge trees from Jurassic Park). The gardens are ONLY toured with a guide. Not the most interesting flora, but a good experience to learn about the history of the land.

  • LINK TO THE SOUTH SHORE BEACHES

  • LINK TO THE SOUTH SHORE DINING

WEST SHORE

Much drier and hotter, mainly locals, no resorts

Highlights:

  • Waimea Canyon

  • Koke'e State Park- dozens of miles of trails and incredible overlooks

  • Hanapepe Town- this artist town offers interesting local galleries, boutiques, and more. A great place to shop for souvenirs. (Check out the Friday night art nights!)

MAUI'S NEIGHBORS

When you're on the west and south shores of Maui, there are several islands you'll see in the distance. Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and Molokini. Collectively these islands make up what is known as "Maui Nui." 

Image by Farid Askerov