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Maui: A Lot to Lava

The Hawaiian Islands enjoy a fantastic location in the Pacific Ocean. This hot spot affords them access to huge expanses of water, gorgeous weather patterns, and the lushest vegetation I have ever seen. But is the long flight from the mainland worth it? I admit to thinking that Hawaii was merely a playground for honeymooners, a tropical extension of continental America. Now I know… it's so much more!

As with all islands of modest size, Maui is begging to be experienced by yacht. The entire island's coastline presents a landscape full of drama. From the upscale resorts of Wailea in the southwest to the buzzing town of Lahaina in west Maui; from the Road to Hana's epic start in Paia to the scrubland cliffs of Mt. Haleaka's south side, you will see a world of beauty in one trip. It's unfortunate that few, if any, crewed charter yachts are available for vacations here and guests are oftem limited to day trips.

Maalaea Bay accommodates small yachts while larger vessels berth at Lahaina's harbor. Maalaea is quieter but hosts the island's aquatic center as well as a slew of boats to take visitors on ocean excursions. However, if you're on a private chartered yacht, you won't need to look further than your own captain and crew to get to the amazing exposed crater at Molokini or the shoreline of Makena in order to go snorkeling and sea turtle sighting.

Lahaina is in west Maui and juts out like a nob sticking off the rest of the island. This part of Maui sees more action than the rest. Front Street has a concentration of shops and is where I was fortunate enough to see the annual Kamehameha parade (complete with live ukulele strumming, horses wearing leis, and locals toting banners). This is also the place to take a surfing lesson, which I highly recommend.

While on Maui, you might hear people talking about the infamous Road to Hana. This is an incredibly serpentine route people tackle by car that your yacht crew can arrange for you. This harrowing, dicey road is worth the risk if you like your vacations with a side of unbelievable adventure. Each snapshot seems better than the last.

The scenes of bamboo forests, jungle vines, tumbling waterfalls, wading pools, shoreline caves, and dangerous cliffs leave your head spinning in a sea of verdant green and impossible blue. Everything is alive with constant growth. The sparkling black sand of a lava-formed beach seems all the more magical when juxtaposed against the spring green shade of a plant reclaiming the cove's surrounding rock faces.

Of all the items on your Maui to-do list, make sure you include local produce in your daily experience. Much of Maui is dedicated to sugar cane fields, but you will also readily find macadamia nuts, pineapple, Maui onions, and the ubiquitous coconut. Hawaiian cuisine often features pork or seafood, and while poi is not highly prized by visitors, I can say that haupia (coconut pudding) and lilikoi (passion fruit) desserts are well worth a try.

Hawaiian culture is as alive as its terrestrial flora and marine fauna. Rejuvenate your senses and your appreciation for nature on a charter yacht in the US's 50th, most colorful state. Then let us know what hidden wonders you discovered on this island that is chockfull of surprise.

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