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Maui…Your Year-Round Vacation Destination


By Ray Riegert

There are two types of seasons on Maui, one keyed to tourists and the other to the climate. The peak tourist seasons run from mid-December until Easter, then again from mid-June through Labor Day. Particularly around the Christmas holidays and in August, the visitors centers are crowded. Prices increase, hotel rooms and rental cars become harder to reserve and everything moves a bit more rapidly. Shop around, however; package deals that include discounts on published rates are available.

If you plan to explore the island during these seasons, make reservations several months in advance; actually, it’s a good idea to make advance reservations whenever you visit. Without doubt, the off-season is the best time to hit the island. Not only are hotels more readily available, but campsites and hiking trails are also less crowded.

Climatologically, the ancient Hawaiians distinguished between two seasons—kau, or summer, and hooilo, or winter. Summer extends from May to October, when the sun is overhead and the temperatures are slightly higher. Winter brings more variable winds and cooler weather.

The important rule to remember about Maui’s beautiful weather is that it changes very little from season to season but varies dramatically from place to place. The average yearly temperature is about 78E, and during the coldest weather in January and the warmest in August, the thermometer rarely moves more than 5E or 6E in either direction. Similarly, sea water temperatures range comfortably between 74E and 80E year-round.
Crucial to this luxurious semitropical environment are the trade winds that blow with welcome regularity from the northeast, providing a natural form of air conditioning. When the trades stop blowing, they are sometimes replaced by kona winds carrying rain and humid weather from the southwest. These are most frequent in winter, when the island receives its heaviest rainfall.

While summer showers are less frequent and shorter in duration, winter storms are sometimes quite nasty. I’ve seen it pour for five consecutive days, until hiking trails disappeared and local streets were awash. If you visit in winter, particularly from December to March, you’re risking the chance of rain.

A wonderful factor to remember through this wet weather is that if it’s raining where you are, you can often simply go someplace else. And I don’t mean another part of the world, or even a different island. Since the rains generally batter the northeastern section of the island, you can usually head over to the south or west coast for warm, sunny weather. Or if you seek cooler climes, head up to the mountains; for every thousand feet in elevation, the temperature drops about 3E. If you climb high enough on Maui, you might even encounter snow!


Something else to consider in planning a visit to Maui is the amazing lineup of annual cultural events. For a thumbnail idea of what’s happening when, check the calendar below. You might just find that special occasion to climax an already dynamic vacation.


Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••An elite field of the PGA Tour winners compete in the season opener at Kapalua’s Plantation Course Mercedes Championships.
Molokai••Makahiki was traditionally a time when wars paused, taxes were paid, and partying was plentiful. Molokai celebrates this legacy with its annual Ancient Hawaiian Games; in addition to the sports competitions, there are crafts, food booths and entertainment.


Throughout Maui••Chinese New Year is celebrated at various locations throughout the island with dancing, music, martial arts demonstration, food booths and fireworks. Front Street in Lahaina is a choice spot to enjoy the festivities.


Throughout Maui••You can volunteer to help the Pacific Whale Foundation count humpbacks during the Great Whale Count on the last Saturday in February. Prince Kuhio Day is celebrated throughout Maui County with music and dance.
Kahului–Wailuku Area••Art Maui is a month-long juried art show featuring new work by local artists. It’s held at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on Kahului Beach Road.
Hana Highway••Held the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April, the East Maui Taro Festival celebrates the staple of the Hawaiian diet with exhibits, lectures, music, hula and, of course, food.


Throughout Maui••Buddhist temples mark Buddha Day, the luminary’s birthday, with special services. Included among the events are pageants, dances and flower festivals.
Lahaina••Celebrations, featuring a birthday cake, displays and historical information, are held on Front Street to commemorate the planting of the historic banyan tree during the Banyan Tree Birthday Party.
Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••Over the Easter holiday, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s Celebration of the Arts celebrates Hawaiian culture. Artisans and members of the community offer demonstrations, workshops and entertainment.
Hana Highway••The International Board Windsurfing Competition is a popular ten-day tournament that’s held at Hookipa Beach Park.


Throughout Maui••Lei Day is celebrated by people wearing flower leis and colorful Hawaiian garb. An island-wide festival featuring lei-making contests and Hawaiian entertainment is held on May 1 at the Wailea Marriott, an Outrigger Resort. The Maui Classical Music Festival features chamber music by internationally acclaimed artists.
Upcountry and Haleakala••Seabury Hall Crafts Fair in Makawao offers local arts and crafts, food booths and live entertainment.
Molokai••Celebrate the birth of hula on the Friendly Isle with performances, music and Hawaiian food at the Molokai Ka Hula Piko Festival.


Throughout Maui••King Kamehameha Day, honoring Hawaii’s first king, is celebrated mid-June with parades, chants, hula dances and exhibits.
Kihei–Wailea–Makena Area••The Maui Film Festival features five days of up-and-coming independent films, some of which are shown under the stars.
Kahului–Wailuku Area••Top guitarists come together for the Ki Hoalu (Slack Key) Steel Guitar Festival.
Upcountry and Haleakala••Staged at the Eddie Tam Complex in Makawao, the Upcountry Fair is where the 4-H crowd swings into action. Enjoy the live entertainment and local delicacies.


Lahaina••Fireworks ignite the night sky over Lahaina’s roadstead during an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration.
Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••Themes for the wines sampled at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival range from regional (Italian) to whimsical (hard-to-find).
Upcountry and Haleakala••In addition to fireworks, Maui celebrates the Fourth of July with the Makawao Parade and Rodeo. Lanai••The Pineapple Festival, held in Lanai City, features contemporary Hawaiian music, pineapple cooking contests and arts and crafts.
Molokai••An evening saluting the unique qualities of Hawaii’s own music is found at the Molokai Annual Slack Key Guitar Festival.


Throughout Maui••Buddhists perform colorful Bon Dances every weekend in July and August to honor the dead.
Lahaina••Ole Longboard Classic, Maui’s premier longboard surfing event, is held at Launiupoko Beach Park, south of Lahaina Town.
Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••In addition to a raw onion–eating contest, you’ll find food booths containing onion dishes from local restaurants, live music, a farmer’s market and a cookoff where people can enter their favorite Maui onion recipe at the Maui Onion Festival, held at Whaler Village.


Lahaina••Food and music are the themes of Maui Chefs Present and A Taste of Lahaina and The Best of Island Music, two celebrations featuring gourmet comestibles topped off with live entertainment and games and rides.
Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••Hawaii’s largest tennis purse is the prize on which everyone keeps their eyes at the Kapalua Open Tennis Championships.•A six-person relay across the nine-mile channel from Lanai to Kaanapali draws roughly 50 international swimming teams to the Maui Channel Relay Swim.
Kahului–Wailuku Area••The six-person Hana Relay, a 54-mile swim from Kahului to Hana, is one of autumn’s more challenging events. From late September into October, the Maui County Fair features agricultural exhibits, ethnic foods and arts-and-crafts displays at the Wailuku War Memorial Complex. The Maui Marathon is run from the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului to Whalers Village in Kaanapali. A celebration of Hispanic and Portuguese culture takes place in Wailuku at the Somos Amigos Hispanic & Portuguese Festival, showcasing food, entertainment, cooking contests and arts and crafts.
Upcountry and Haleakala••Maui Cycle to the Sun is the ultimate uphill challenge: a 36-mile bike ride from the ocean to the 10,005-foot peak of Haleakala. Covering the same route is the Haleakala Run to the Sun.
Molokai••A lantern parade and block party are two events that highlight Aloha Festivals in late September. More than 60 six-women outrigger canoes race across the channel from Molokai to Oahu during the Na Wahine o Ke Kai.


Throughout Maui••The highlight of Hawaii’s cultural season is the Aloha Festivals, a series of week-long celebrations featuring parades, street parties and pageants.
Lahaina••Halloween in Lahaina is a memorable street party with a parade, food fair, music and dancing on Front Street à la Mardi Gras.
Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••The EMC Kaanapali Classic tournament draws top stars from the PGA Tour.
Kahului–Wailuku Area••Folks convene for the Kuu Home o Wailuku Hoolaulea, a multicultural gathering featuring entertainment, food, arts-and-crafts demonstrations and much more.
Lanai••Aloha Festivals draw revelers with a parade, a block party, a beach party and activities honoring the various ethnic groups on the Pineapple Isle.
Molokai••The Molokai Hoe, Men’s Molokai to Oahu Race, has over 100 six-person outrigger canoes from around the world darting across the channel from Molokai to Oahu.


Hana Highway••The Aloha Classic Wave Championships is a windsurfing competition at Hookipa Beach on the Hana Highway, a key event during the Pro Boardsailing Association World Tour.


Throughout Maui••Buddha’s enlightenment is commemorated with Bodhi Day ceremonies and religious services.
Lahaina••Held at Banyan Tree Park, kids can enjoy fake snow and arts and crafts during the Holiday Lighting of the Banyan Tree.
Kaanapali–Kapalua Area••Hawaiian arts and crafts, music and dance are highlighted at the Na Mele o Maui Festival.
Upcountry and Haleakala••Christmas arts and crafts are the star attractions at the Hui Noeau Christmas House in Makawao.

Before You Go

The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, a state-run agency, is a valuable resource from which to obtain free information on Maui and the rest of Hawaii. The Bureau can help plan your trip and then offer advice once you reach Maui. The Valley Isle office is called the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau. ~ 1727 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku; 808-244-3530; You can also contact the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau in Honolulu. ~ 2270 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 801, Honolulu, HI 96815; 808-923-1811, 800-464-2924;

Another excellent resource is the Hawaii State Public Library System. With a network of libraries on Maui, this government agency provides facilities for residents and nonresidents alike. The libraries are good places to find light beach-reading material as well as books on Hawaii. Visitors can check out books by simply applying for a library card with a valid identification card. ~

Or boot up the computer and link up with Maui Net. This web page is more like a web book, with a wealth of information on lodging, dining, transportation, beaches and outdoor activities. ~ 808-875-2535, fax 808-875-2539;


Excerpted from Hidden Maui by ay Riegert. Copyright © 2006 by Ulysses Press. All rights reserved. Excerpted with permission Ulysses Press. $14.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800-377-2542 or click here.

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