Maui is a terrific place for a vacation. Blessed with incredible natural beauty, a near-perfect climate, and a laid-back vibe that inevitably leads to relaxation, Maui charms even the most jaded traveler.

There are so many things to do in Maui, that deciding how to spend your time can be a challenge. Although you can always opt to do nothing but sit on the beach and watch the world go by.

But you came here for a reason, so you might as well make the most of it and dive in, literally and figuratively. Because you can have experiences here you’d never have back home, and the memories will stay with you forever.

Maui hotels come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. If you can afford it, upgrade to a room with an ocean view. It will be worth it.

The island is small enough that you can reach any place in a few hours – although the trip to Hana takes quite a while. The most popular Maui resorts are Kaanapali, Kapalua, which is a great choice for golfers, Kihea, and Wailea/Makena, where many of the new, luxury hotels are.

You’ll be able to do almost anything no matter where you stay because virtually all of the Maui resorts have activity desks offering a wide range of adventures.

The closest thing to a town on Maui is Lahaina, the center of whaling in the 19th century. It’s the best place to get a sense of the island’s history. And there are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy.

Kannapali has a beautiful beach with wonderful views of Lanai and Molokai. But beach lovers shouldn’t stop there. Makena is an undeveloped beauty that’s well worth the hike or drive.

Speaking of drive, the winding road to Hana is a journey to another world and a trip back in time. Along the way, you’ll pass lush tropical jungles, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the shimmering sea. You can go there and back in a day, but then you won’t have any time to enjoy Hana. Better to go half way, or better yet, to spend the night at the Hotel Hana-Maui (book well in advance).

Snorkeling is one of the most popular Maui activities, and everyone should do it at least once. It can be as simple as renting some gear and heading into the crystal clear water. But once you get your feet wet, you may want to take a full- or half-day snorkel trip to Molokini. The reef there abounds with colorful fish, and delicate coral formations. A variety of trips are available from Lahaina harbor.

If you can’t swim, you can even take a submarine cruise, see everything, and stay dry as a bone.

Maui vacations in winter – particularly between December and April – have an extra attraction: migrating humpback whales. Whale-watching cruises take you right to them. Or you can see them from shore at spots like McGregor Point near Maalaea.

Those who are willing to rise long before the crack of dawn can go to the summit of Haleakala for the sunrise. The view from this 10,000-foot perch is incredible and when the sun rises, you’ll feel like you’re witnessing the dawn of time. It’s cold up there, so take plenty of warm clothes. The adventurous can arrange a package that also includes biking down the mountain from the 6,000-foot level.

To really enjoy the water, rent a surfboard, kayak, windsurfer, or boogie board. Lessons are available, and rates are reasonable. If you’re on a budget, try body surfing. Just be sure to stay where lifeguards are on duty.

Golfers have their choice of courses. Kapalua Resort in West Maui and the Wailea and Makena resort courses are challenging courses with stunning ocean views.

Most visitors find that there are so many things to do in Maui that they return again and again.

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