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Maui Neighborhoods

Kaanapali
Photo: Alamy

Kaanapali

Just north of Lahaina, Kaanapali is one of the island's most popular beach resorts, with its pretty coastline, upscale hotels and idyllic golf courses (where obstacles can include the distraction of a surfacing humpback whale). At the north end of Kaanapali Beach is a landmark lava promontory, Black Rock. Every evening, a cliff diver lights the torches and plummets 30 feet into the sea, a tradition dating back to Maui's 18th-century ruler King Kahekili II. Today cliff-jumping at sundown is as popular here as snorkeling, although you can enjoy a more lingering view by booking a zipline experience with Skyline Eco Adventures.
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Kihei
Photo: Getty

Kihei

Located on the southwest coast, Kihei is one of the sunniest parts of the island—with only about a foot of rain per year. It also has six miles of beaches, including uncrowded Kalepolepo; Waipuilani, popular with windsurfers; and Kamaole Beach Park, a trio of sandy crescents backed by grassy areas with picnic tables. A couple of miles north is Kalama Beach Park, encompassing 36 palm-shaded acres with a skate park and tennis courts; and the Cove, a popular beginners’ surf spot. Near Kihei is tranquil Maalaea Bay, where visitors can hire boats to go whale watching, fishing or snorkeling around Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcano that forms a crescent-shaped islet offshore. Picturesque Maalaea also has a cluster of restaurants, shops and a bustling farmers' market.
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Wailea
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Wailea

This is where you may spot some of the world's biggest box office stars as well as its largest marine creatures. The broad and sandy Wailea Beach is surrounded by some of Maui's fanciest hotels and palatial private homes, several upscale retail and restaurant developments and three championship (and ridiculously scenic) golf courses. Polo Beach, a nearby thumbnail of sand, is good for swimming and snorkeling, as is Ulua Beach Park, also popular with morning joggers and sunset strollers. Six miles south lies the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, a renowned snorkeling area and coastal lava field. Ramblers should check out La Perouse Bay, with its coastal and inland hiking trails.
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Wailuku
Photo: Alamy

Wailuku

Wailuku, the island's commercial hub, is located at the foot of the rugged West Maui Mountains and is the gateway to lush Iao Valley. The town's liveliest area is along Market Street, a mix of mom-and-pop stores selling Hawaiian artifacts and antiques, indie boutiques, art galleries and laid-back eateries and cafés such as Wailuku Coffee Co.—"where the hip come to sip"—located in an old gas station. On the first Friday of every month, Market Street traffic gives way to street vendors and entertainers. Notable historic buildings include the Kaahumanu Church, built in 1876; the Bailey House Museum, a 19th-century residence and now a snapshot of the period; and the Iao Theater, a Spanish-mission-style venue that opened in 1928.
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