There is a prominent Hawaiian saying about Maui: Maui no ka oi. “Maui is the best.” Residents and visitors alike can agree that there is something special—even magical—about Hawai‘i’s second largest island. Yet it’s hard to pinpoint exactly one thing that places Maui among the most dreamed-of vacation locations in the world.The endless stretches of golden sand are an obvious and noteworthy draw, but sand alone doesn’t entice millions of visitors to flock to a 727-square-mile dot in the middle of the Pacific.The endless stretches of golden sand are an obvious and noteworthy draw, but sand alone doesn’t entice millions of visitors to flock to a 727-square-mile dot in the middle of the Pacific. Perhaps it’s more than just the image of yourself in a lounge chair on the sand with a mai tai in hand and the soft breeze rustling the palm trees overhead. Maybe it’s also the way the trade winds blow across a beach of black sand at Wai‘anapanapa State Park, stirring up waves on the sparkling blue waters. Or it’s the hope of a close encounter with a giant green sea turtle while snorkeling off the coast of Napili Bay. Or maybe it’s the way the setting sun reflects in the waters off Makena, creating an atmosphere that’s both fiery and calm in the same fleeting moment.
There’s a good chance the secret to Maui’s allure lies in the many moments that stick with you long after you’ve left the island behind. Hiking through a bamboo forest so thick it nearly obscures the sun and finding yourself at the base of a 400-foot waterfall cascading down a rocky cliff. Riding your first wave and feeling the thrill of the surf as you glide across a silky blue break. Waking at 3am to drive up a dark mountainside in the freezing cold to see the first rays of light illuminate the rich colors of Haleakala Crater.
These are the moments that make a trip to Maui truly no ka oi.
Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Maui.