There is plenty to see and do on the Valley Isle besides spending time on the beach. To get yourself oriented, first look at a map of the island. You will notice two distinct circular landmasses. These are volcanic in origin. The smaller landmass, on the western part of the island, consists of 5,788-ft Pu'u Kukui and the West Maui Mountains. The interior of these mountains is one of the earth's wettest spots. Annual rainfall of 400 inches has sliced the land into impassable gorges and razor-sharp ridges. Oddly enough, the area's leeward shore is sunny and warm year-round.
The large landmass on the eastern portion of Maui was created by Haleakala, the cloud-wreathed volcanic peak at its center. One of the best-known mountains in the world, Haleakala is popular with hikers and sightseers. This larger region of the island is called East Maui. Its dry, leeward South Shore is flanked with resorts, condominiums, beaches, and the busy town of Kihei. Its windward shore, largely one great rain forest, is traversed by the Road to Hana.
Maui has 120 miles of coastline, not all of which is accessible. Less than one-quarter of its land mass is inhabited. The best way to see the whole island is by car, but there are opportunities for good walking tours. In the Islands, the directions mauka (toward the mountains) and makai (toward the ocean) are often used.
When to go to Maui? Hawai'i's long days of sunshine and fairly mild year-round temperatures make it an all-seasons destination. In resort areas near sea level, the average afternoon temperature during the coldest winter months of December and January is 75°F; during the hottest months of August and September the temperature often reaches 92°F. Cold weather (30°F) can occur in Hawai'i in winter, but only near the summit of the Big Island's Mauna Ke'a crater, where skiing is possible.
Winter is the season when most travelers prefer to head for the islands. From mid-December through mid-April, visitors from the mainland and other areas covered with snow find Hawai'i's sun-splashed beaches and balmy trade winds particularly appealing. Not surprisingly, this high season also means that fewer travel bargains are available; room rates average 10%-15% higher during this season than the rest of the year.
The only weather change most areas experience during the December-February span is rainfall, though the sun is rarely hidden behind the clouds for a solid 24-hour period. Visitors should remember that regardless of the season, the northern shores of each island usually receive more rain than those on the south. Kaua'i and the Big Island's northern sections get more annual rainfall than the rest of Hawai'i.
What is worth knowing about Maui beaches? - All of Hawai'i's beaches are free and open to the public -- even those that grace the front yards of fancy hotels -- so you can make yourself at home on any one of them. Blue beach-access signs indicate rights-of-way through condominium and resort properties.Although they don't appear often, be sure to pay attention to any signs or warning flags on the beaches. Warnings of high surf or rough currents should be taken seriously. Before you seek shade under a coconut palm, be aware that the trade winds are strong enough to knock fruit off the trees and onto your head. Important tip - Drinking alcoholic beverages on beaches in Hawai'i is prohibited.