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Nestled in the middle of the Hawaiian Islands chain, out where the trade winds roll off the Pacific and the swells are large enough for all the Duke Kahanamoku-style surfers who come its way, little Maui has been inspiring tropical dreams for decades. It's easy to see why. The coastline here is fringed with yellow sands and swaying groves of coconut palms. Sea turtles bob in the green-blue bays, and coral gardens mingle with the black rocks of old volcanic eruptions. And talking of eruptions, there are the cinder cones and petrified lava flows of mighty Haleakala National Park to take in, too. Walking boots and wide eyes are a must up there, where the lush valleys and tropical forests make way for scree ridges and cloud-topped peaks.
There are so many benefits to booking Maui holiday rentals over a classic hotel stay. First off, they tend to come with much more space, offering you plenty of storage room for those waxed-up surfboards and dusty walking boots after wandering the ridges of Haleakala. Then there's the added bonus of getting places to stay that are a tad more off-the-beaten-path than you'd expect, away from the main resorts of the west coast. You could bag a rustic highland lodge in the West Maui Mountains, for example, or settle down in a clifftop cottage above the crashing waves of the verdant Keʻanae Peninsula. It's up to you.
With the roaring swells of the Pacific Ocean forever buffeting the inlets of Hookipa Beach and Honolua Bay, it's hardly a surprise that this enclave of the Hawaiian Islands has become one of the world's bona fide surfing meccas. There are rental shops for boards and tanned-face local instructors in virtually every town you'll encounter, making this a top spot for finding your feet on the waves. Other adventurers will prefer to leave the Pacific behind and head inland, to where the sinewy rises of great Haleakala offer other things to do. Hikers will certainly take to the Pipiwai Trail and the soaring Halemauu Trail. And after all that exertion, there's really nothing quite like a traditional Polynesian luau to get the good vibes flowing – think twirling hula dances and uber-tasty poke fish dishes next to a crackling fire.
There's no question about it – the best way to get around rugged Maui is with your own set of 4 wheels. Thankfully, hiring a car is a doddle on the island, with popular spots existing in the airport town of Hana, the resorts of Wailea, and up on the Kapalua coast. Road conditions are generally excellent, and the various highways can even be an attraction in themselves. Some ring the dramatic clifftops and sandy beaches before taking you to the door of Maui holiday apartments. Others wiggle up jungle-clad ridges to reveal sweeping panoramas of the Hawaiian lands. Be sure to have the camera ready.