The island of Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, just after the Big Island and is the third most populous of the islands after Oahu and the Big Island with over 117,000 people who call Maui home. Maui has a thriving tourism industry and is one of the most popular islands to visit, featuring such alluring attractions as the massive Haleakala volcano, the bustling whaler village of Lahaina, the magnificent humpback whales, the infamous stretch of road to Hana, and its numerous family-friendly resorts, and inviting white-sand beaches. Maui is also the largest island within Maui County, which is comprised of three other islands: Lana`i, Kaho`olawe, and Moloka`i.
Maui was formed from the eruptions of the island’s two volcanoes, which were close enough to one another that an isthmus was created in between. This is where Maui gets its nickname as the Valley Isle. At the isthmus, the land is fertile and this is where Maui’s largest city, Kahului is located, along with the main airport of the island of the same name. Indulge in a trip up to the Haleakala crater to gain a sense of how the Hawaiian Islands, and Maui specifically, were formed. An early-morning visit up to the crater is a real treat and a great educational adventure for kids. The island was first populated by early Polynesians from Tahiti and the Marquesas. Maui’s more modern history includes the island being conquered by the powerful King Kamehameha I who made the town of Lahaina the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom for some time. During this time, Lahaina was the epicenter for government and leadership of the King’s unified Hawaiian Islands kingdom. Later in the 1700s, European explorers came here to trade, whale, and log, using much of the island’s natural resources, most notably the whaling industry. Missionaries came to the island in the 1800s and provided much western influence to the island. Visit the more touristy town of Lahaina today for an interesting look at the town’s whaling history and its once bustling trading port.