Your Destination Guide to Maui

Destination Guide Maui - Your Destination Guide to Maui, HI

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Maui's Most Photogenic Spots

Maui's Most Photogenic Spots
Maui's Most Photogenic Spots

© Michael Wifall

Half the fun of visiting Maui is bringing home amazing photographs to share with all your jealous friends and family. Sunsets, waterfalls, and waves abound, and Maui's landscapes will make you look like a professional if you know where to go.

Like anywhere in the world, photographs always look best when taken in the early morning or evening, when light filters through the atmosphere at an angle that makes it look soft and glowing. Simple point-and-shoot cameras will work at the majority of the suggested locations, but a telephoto lens will definitely help you if you hope to capture the surf action.

To help you in your quest for the ultimate Maui photo, the following locations are broken down by subject. Many other gorgeous places can be found on the island, so keep your eyes open as you head out on your photographic adventures.


Maui Sunsets

© Montse PB

Maui has spectacular sunsets. The sky often looks most colorful after the sun has slipped below the horizon line. Plan on hanging out for an extra thirty minutes or so to make sure you capture the best of the beautiful sky.

Keawakapu Beach – Watch the sun set over the island of Lana'i from Keawakapu Beach in South Kihei. Waves rolling and splashing over lava rocks pick up the pink and orange hues as the sky lights up, and there are often whales close to shore in the winter months. Parking for the north entrance of the beach is on the corner of South Kihei Road and Kilohana Road. The beach right-of-way is across South Kihei Road.

Summit of Haleakala – Telescopes make great foreground as the sky turns pink and the sun dips below the horizon from a vantage point 10,023 feet above sea level. Even if it's cloudy at the beach, take a risk and head up the mountain. More often than not the summit is above the clouds, and you'll have excellent views. Park in the lot at the top of the mountain and stand on the edge of the ridge overlooking the telescopes to the west. For great silhouette shots, wait until the light is nearly gone. Have your companions stand on the ridge while you shoot from the parking area.

Warning: The wind often picks up as the sun goes down and temperatures are very cold. Bring plenty of warm clothing.

Lahaina Harbor – Sailboats always make for great subjects, and sailboats at sunset are even better. The harbor is behind Banyan Tree Park on Canal Street just off Front Street. Walk out on the break wall to capture boats moored outside the harbor. The island of Lana'i seems very close from this side of the island, and can add a lot of depth to your photo. Excellent picture-taking opportunities also exist if you walk down Front Street (toward Ka'anapali) including a shipwreck just off shore.



© H. Michael Miley

Maui is home to some of the best surfers in the world, and luckily, there are a few breaks close enough to shore to capture some great action shots. If you have a telephoto lens, bring it along. Your friends will wonder at your photographic prowess.

Ho'okipa – Best known for big north swells, Ho'okipa is one of Maui's premiere short-boarding locales. Observers can stand on the point and look down at the action from above. On a good day the water is glassy between sets, and reef, turtles, and fish are easily spotted. The best surfing happens early in the morning before the trade winds kick up and blow out the surf, so plan on arriving before nine. Parking is on the makai (ocean) side of Hana Highway (Highway 36) between mile markers eight and nine. If you come from Kahalui, the point sits about a half of a mile past Mamma's Fish House.

Honolua Bay – Another great short-boarding wave, Honolua Bay is near Kapalua on the Honoapi'ilani Highway (Highway 30). Northwest swells roll in from thousands of miles away to break on the rocky point just outside the bay and create a fast, fun ride for experienced surfers. A high vantage point and the island of Moloka'i in the background make this a great place to hang out and take pictures. Parking is near mile marker thirty-three on the makai side of the road. Please respect local drivers and pull over to let them by.

Breakwall – Walk out on the break wall at Lahaina Harbor and you'll be treated to a show. When the waves roll in from the southwest, this break is spectacular. Good surfers sit far outside, waiting for big waves. Beginners sit near the wall waiting for the smaller, more manageable waves. A second break on the north side of the harbor also offers up some close shots of the action. The harbor is located behind Banyan Tree Park on Canal Street just off Front Street. Park in the free three hour lot at the corner of Front Street and Prison Street just before the Banyan Tree Park.


Maui Waterfalls

© Tess Heder

Many people think of waterfalls when they think of Hawai'i, and Maui is no exception. The best waterfalls on the island are only accessible via hiking, but there are a few along the roads that are worth a photograph or two. Expect heavy, roaring flows during the wet, winter months. Summer months are drier, but waterfalls are surprisingly beautiful as the water slowly trickles down mossy rocks.

Hana Highway – All the waterfalls easily accessible by car in Maui lay along the Hana Highway. When the road turns into Highway 360 it gets really windy and the weather considerably wetter. Keep your eyes peeled for waterfalls all along both sides of the road. Most of the more spectacular waterfalls have pull outs. Be aware of local drivers who know the roads well, drive faster than the average tourist, and don't appreciate having to wait for you to decide if you want to stop at a waterfall.

Waimoku Falls – You'll have to hike uphill for over two miles to reach this waterfall, but it is worth every step. Over 400 feet tall, Waimoku Falls is spectacular in all seasons. In the summer, water gently trickles down the cliff face, and you can get a jealousy-inducing shot of you standing under a waterfall. In the winter, the water roars down the cliff face into the stream below creating a truly amazing sight. If you have a wide angle lens, bring it. It's hard to capture the beauty of this spot with a standard lens. To reach the falls, hike the Pipiwai Trail from the Kipahulu side of Haleakala National Park.


Flora in Maui

© Josh Berglund

Situated south of the Tropic of Cancer, Maui is well-positioned to grow some serious jungle. The north side of the island is subject to ample rain, and many species of tropical plants make their home there. Hiking is always a good way to get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna, but the variety of life along the road can be very humbling.

Rainbow Eucalyptus – On the makai (ocean) side of Hana Highway (Highway 360) between mile markers seven and eight is a stand of rainbow eucalyptus trees that truly make you wonder at nature. The smooth bark looks painted with stripes of blue, green, red, and yellow, and the trees stand out in beautiful contrast to the grassy meadow-like area they reside in. Best in the early morning or evening light, these trees are so bright everyone will think you used a filter when you captured them.

Bamboo – The best bamboo forest lies about a mile and a half up the Pipiwai Trail (see Waimoku Falls above). Thick, old bamboo lines either side of the trail, clanking together in the wind with an almost eerie sound. Wooden boardwalks and well-placed stone steps trick you into thinking you're walking to a Buddhist monastery deep in the heart of Japan, creating a truly picturesque landscape. If you do not feel like making the trek to Hana, a younger bamboo forest lines the Hana Highway just before the rainbow eucalyptus and is worth a stop and a quick hike.

Maui Nui Botanical Garden – Located in Wailuku, the Maui Nui Botanical Garden is a non-profit organization dedicated to water conservation and the preservation of canoe plants - the plants brought to Hawai'i in canoes by the first Polynesian settlers. Well-labeled and well-staffed, the garden is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is a great place to learn about local flora and Hawaiian history. See their website at for more information. Admission is free.


Maui's Shorelines

© Navin75

Keawakapu Beach – Long stretches of light-colored sand blend with calm, blue, ocean and dark black lava rock to create one of the most tropical looking beaches on Maui. The most photogenic sections of the beach lie on its southern end. Follow South Kihei Road south into Wailea. About a quarter mile past Kilohana Road, South Kihei Road bends left, becoming Okolani Road. Do not follow the main road, instead bear right at the bend. Park at the Keawakapu right-of-way at the end of the road near Wailea Ekahi Village. Walk south down the beach (left if you are facing the water). You will see a bleached dead tree stretched across the beach. This tree is the start of the most tropical-looking sections, and is also a good subject in and of itself. Note: Some guidebooks call this section Mokapu Beach. In the winter the sand disappears from the point just south of the Ekahi Village entrance, effectively separating this section from the rest of Keawakapu.

Baldwin Beach – White sand, bright blue water, keawe (mesquite) trees, and fantastic views of the West Maui Mountains await you at Baldwin Beach. Just before Pa'ia on the Hana Highway (Highway 36) between mile markers six and seven, this beach is a local favorite. The outer reef often booms with the crashing waves far off shore, and many body boarders test their skill in the waves along the beach.

Ke'anae Shoreline – Ke'anae is a tiny little town just off the Hana Highway (Highway 360) between mile markers sixteen and seventeen. Large north swells crash into the rugged shoreline, carving out gorgeous dark black formations in the lava rock. On a clear day, the north face of Haleakala rises up steep and green until turning a dry red near the summit. Be sure to stop at Aunty Sandy's for some of the best banana bread on Maui while you're there.


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