Leaving Bora Bora we then spent the next five days at sea on our way to Lahina, Maui. I had visited Maui back in the mid-70’s while stationed on Oahu and was anxious to see it again. We had scheduled a tour up Haleakala and we were concerned because of discussions of closing or extremely limiting visitation there. Nonetheless we made it as you can see from the photos below.
Maui, known also as “The Valley Isle,” is the second largest Hawaiian island. The island beloved for its world-famous beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, views of migrating humpback whales (during winter months), farm-to-table cuisine and the magnificent sunrise and sunset from Haleakala. It’s not surprising Maui has been voted “Best Island in the U.S.” by Condé Nast Traveler readers for more than 20 years.
Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island’s name in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. According to it, Hawaiʻiloa named the island after his son, who in turn was named for the demigod Māui. The earlier name of Maui was ʻIhikapalaumaewa. The Island of Maui is also called the “Valley Isle” for the large isthmus separating its northwestern and southeastern volcanic masses.
Maui is a leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to humpback whales wintering in the sheltered ʻAuʻau Channel between the islands of Maui county. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles (5,600 km) from Alaskan waters each autumn and spend the winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui, with most leaving by the end of April. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults, or groups of a mother, her calf, and a few suitors. Humpbacks are an endangered species protected by U.S. federal and Hawaiʻi state law.
Maui is an important center for advanced astronomical research. The Haleakala Observatory was Hawaii’s first astronomical research and development facility, operating at the Maui Space Surveillance Site (MSSS) electro-optical facility. At the 10,023-foot summit of the long dormant volcano Haleakala, operational satellite tracking facilities are co-located with a research and development facility providing superb data acquisition and communication support. The high elevation, dry climate, and freedom from light pollution offer virtually year-round observation of satellites, missiles, man-made orbital debris, and astronomical objects.