Maui, a spectacular Island!

When the winter doldrums hits after Christmas, one sure remedy is a trip to the sun and, with an 11 hour flight, you can be in the sunshine, sitting on the beach or by the pool in beautiful Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

There are several routes to fly to Maui from eastern Ontario, but they all require a stay over somewhere. For example, you can fly Ottawa to Calgary, a four hour flight, then direct to Maui the next morning for another seven hour plane ride.

From its heavenly beaches to its scenic natural wonders, there are plenty of reasons you will discover why Maui has been voted the 'Best Island' year after year.

Discover your own reasons to love Maui as you tour the streets of Lahaina and the lovely beaches of Kaanapali. Feel the mana (power) of Haleakala National Park or discover the arts and culture of Kahului and Upcountry Maui.

From the championship golf courses to the scenic road to Hana, your vacation on Maui promises to be an unforgettable experience.

There are more than 80 beaches on Maui and 120 miles of coastline. The beaches come in sands of gold, black, green, red and pure, shimmering white. And while you're at it, grab a snorkel and mask and commune with turtles and butterfly fish. The waters of Kapalua, at the north end of Kaanapali (near Black Rock), and in Makena are ideal snorkeling grounds, especially early in the morning. Many of the hotels rent snorkel gear, or you can rent it from dive and sports shops in Lahaina and Kihei.

Many beaches are easily accessible beach parks with lifeguards, picnic facilities and rest rooms. Others are undeveloped, 'secret spots' found off the beaten path.

Maui offers some of the finest dinning establishments and chefs you will find anywhere, with most following the motto 'From Farm to Table' which means farm fresh produce grown right on the island as well as locally caught fish.

In Lahaina, two award winning restaurants, Pacific'O and I'o, have gone so far as to acquire their own farm. With a vibrant palette of crops and open to visitors, Oo Farm in Kula harvests several hundreds of pounds of fresh, organic produce each week on 8.5 acres of land — from salad greens, spinach, carrots, beets, rainbow chard, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and fresh greenhouse herbs to whatever the season allows. The chef decides what is for dinner based on the farm's output.

There are over 600 restaurants to choose from in Maui offering up a wide variety of menu choice to suit any diner.

Along Maui's rugged eastern coastline is the peaceful town of Hana, considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. The legendary road to Hana is only 52 miles from Kahului, however the drive can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete since it's full of narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns and incredible island views.

The Hana Highway has 620 curves and 59 bridges. It takes you through beautiful rainforests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes.

Just four miles into your drive to Hana from Kahului, you'll discover the historic town of Paia on Maui's north coast. Paia is full of colorful, rustic storefronts filled with local art galleries, shopping boutiques and restaurants. It is a great spot to pick up a box lunch from one of the many restaurants for your drive.There are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the views, so start early in the morning and take your time on your drive.

Where to stay? Take your pick: luxury hotels with sunset views, intimate bed & breakfasts clinging to upland slopes, or spacious condominiums for the family with all the amenities of home. While luxury resorts line Maui's south and west shores, more moderately priced accommodations abound in neighboring resort areas, and in Upcountry and Central Maui. The only difficult thing about Maui's resorts is leaving them to explore the rest of the island.

Thousands of humpback whales migrate to Maui's warm waters year after year making it your gateway to some of the best whale watching in the world. During the winter mating and birthing season, Maui has the largest concentration of humpback whales in Hawaii, easily viewed from whale-watching cruises or even from resort beaches.

The waters off West Maui and South Maui are shielded by the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala, creating calm and clear waters for high visibility.

Humpback whales are drawn to the area's shallow waters, less than 600 feet deep, making Maui an ideal spot during the winter whale watching season from December to May.

One visit to Maui and you just might join the whales returning year after year.

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