When the Hawaiian Islands were being created, a small cove was sculpted that one day would become the home of Ma’alaea, a tiny town located in central Maui. Ma’alaea is known for this small harbor because it is a safe haven departure for many of the Pacific adventures offered by travel agencies and tourist services.
Ma’alaea is equally well known as the home of the Maui Ocean Center, Hawaii’s largest aquarium. Located off Honoapi’ilani Highway between Kahului and Lahaina, the center is an attraction that draws visitors from across the world. The walls are fitted with more than 40 aquariums and all of them are teeming with tropical fish. The colors of these tropical species flash like multi-colored diamonds as they dart through living coral reefs! Outside the reef building is a courtyard where three outdoor exhibits are located. These exhibits consist of a turtle lagoon, a touch pool, and a Sting Ray cove. As a rule, visitors do not spend a full day at the Maui Ocean Center, however, it is really enlightening to help understand Maui’s unique marine life.
What is the easiest way to find Ma’alaea? Follow the windmills, of course! You read this right; windmills are not just in Holland, These windmills are functional, modern electricity producing structures that form a line leading to Ma’alaea. The windmills are located on the North West side of the isthmus between the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala.
Ma’alaea’s beaches are where you find seclusion! Unlike many beaches of Hawaii, these offer quiet walks, great shelling, occasional sandy haired surfers, and sometimes you see fishermen doing some surf fishing. One big plus: parking is free. That means you can spend as much time and money shopping for touristy knickknacks as it takes.
Ma’alaea has really neat restaurants near the harbor and Ocean Center, and there are many aquatic activities available. You can take fishing tours, dinner cruises, whale watching and snorkel tours. Morning departures are recommended for any whale watching or snorkeling and that brings you back in to the harbor just in time for dinner.
IF you’re looking for inland recreation, the West Maui Mountains and Kealia National Wildlife Refuge have hiking trails and birdwatching tours for tourists and guests. Whale watching is exciting, believe it or not. If you have never seen a whale in person, their massive size is intimidating. Up the road from Ma'alaea is a lookout point where vacationers can see passing whales during the season. The Maui Tropical Plantation is also a good place to visit. This is where you find a great restaurant, shopping, ziplining, incredible views, and tropical beauty in every direction.
Ma’alaea, this small gem, is sometimes windy, but not all the time. Some find this bothersome and some find the tropical trade wind to have a cooling effect. Ma’alaea offers so much of what tourists come to Hawaii to experience.