Maui (Photo:Artazum/Shutterstock)
2018 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Maui

Known the world over as a "trip of a lifetime" destination, the remote Hawaiian Islands were settled by the Polynesians more than 1,000 years ago and were "discovered" by explorer Capt. James Cook in 1778. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state, and to this day, it retains a sort-of-outsider status. Hawaii clings to its rich history while accepting newcomers and absorbing their unique traditions. Every Hawaiian island is imbued with a friendly "aloha" spirit, and most travelers fall in love with the destination the moment orchid leis are draped over their shoulders upon arrival.

Maui, the second-largest island of the archipelago, typifies all that is magical about the Sandwich Islands (as Capt. Cook first called the island chain). It's also referred to as the Valley Isle because a verdant, low-lying isthmus connects the two halves of the island. From the air, Maui looks like a butterfly with the 10,000-foot Haleakala volcano on one wing, Pu'u Kukui and the West Maui mountains on the other and the valley in the middle. You'll revel at the stark contrast between the stunning variety of flowering tropical plants and cascading waterfalls and the lunar-like landscape of Haleakala and Maui's other mountain peaks.

With more than 120 miles of coastline, Maui has dozens of beaches for you to discover. Some will be easily accessible, while others will take a bit of elbow grease -- in other words, pull on your hiking boots, or hop in a sea kayak. The ocean is teeming with wildlife and welcomes a large humpback whale population each winter. Maui is also one of the only places on Earth where you can still encounter the endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

While more rain falls on the windward sides of the island (north and east, i.e. Paia and Hana) than the leeward (south and west, Wailea and Lahaina), the temperature is just about always an ideal 85 degrees.

Maui offers a multitude of attractions, but there's one additional reason to visit -- the island's people. With a population of just fewer than 160,000, the community is small enough to retain strong, historic ties but is large enough to create the right type of infrastructure to eagerly welcome tourists from around the world. The Hawaiian people will embrace you with friendship and goodwill -- again, that "spirit of aloha" -- and will make you feel right at home.

About Maui


Maui's friendly locals and vast, picturesque coastline embody everything a Hawaiian vacation is expected to be


As per its reputation, Hawaii can be quite expensive, so you'll want to save up for the trip

Bottom Line

Hawaiian vacations are considered once-in-a-lifetime for a reason: The experience is like no other

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Where You're Docked

Depending on your itinerary, you'll either dock at Kahului Harbor in north Maui or anchor off Lahaina on the island's west side.

Good to Know

Maui is a very safe place to vacation, and violent crime is rare. However, car break-ins occur regularly. Do not leave anything in your vehicle, especially cameras, shopping bags or other easy-to-grab items.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

A variety of bank branches and standalone ATMs are located near both cruise ports: Kahului and Lahaina. In Lahaina, there's a Bank of Hawaii ATM at the Wharf Cinema Center (also public toilets); in Kahului, try the Maui Mall or Long's Drugs. Most banks handle foreign-currency exchanges.


Everyone speaks English there, but it is fun to learn a few Hawaiian words. "Aloha" can mean many things, but you'll use it most often to denote "hello" and "goodbye," while "mahalo" means "thank you."


You'll find a plethora of festive Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts to fill your souvenir shopping bag, but if you're looking for a more authentic gift, food items make great souvenirs. Drop by a grocery store and pick up Maui Potato Chips, still made by the original Kahului family, or coffee from a farm in Kaanapali. (Kona isn't the only place on Hawaii with signature coffee.) Or, you might prefer some sweet-smelling soaps and body lotions from Alii Kula Lavender Farm.

Best Cocktail

There's just something about a frosty, fruity tropical drink that screams "Hawaii!" You're not officially on vacation until you've sipped a Polynesian cocktail or two. From mai tais (rum, orange liqueur, simple syrup and lime juice) to pina coladas (rum, coconut cream and pineapple) to other libations, featuring fruit juices and rum, you'll find plenty of sweet and strong drinks. Order a glass of "POG" -- a blend of passion fruit, orange and guava juices -- for the kids.

Maui Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards

2018 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations
2017 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations
2016 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations