Guided tours are a good option when you don’t want to do it all yourself. You travel along with a group (sometimes large, sometimes small), stay in prebooked hotels, eat with your fellow travelers (the cost of meals is sometimes included in the price of your tour, sometimes not), and follow a schedule.
Tours can be just the thing for first-time travelers to Maui or those who enjoy the group-traveling experience. None of the companies offering general-interest tours in Hawaii include Molokai or Lanai. When you book a guided tour, find out what’s included and what isn’t. A "land-only" tour includes all your ground transportation but not necessarily your flights. Most prices in tour brochures don’t include fees, taxes, and tips.
Atlas Cruises & Tours. This escorted-tour operator, in business for more than 25 years, partners with major companies such as Collette, Globus, Tauck, and Trafalgar to offer a wide variety of travel experiences. Tours range from 7 to 12 nights, and all include Maui. 800/942–3301. www.atlastravelweb.com. From $2,732.
Globus. Founded in 1928 by a man who transported visitors across Lake Lugano, Switzerland, in a rowboat, this family-owned company grew to become the largest guided vacation operator in the world. Globus offers three Hawaii itineraries that include Maui, ranging from 9 to 12 nights; one includes a seven-night cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines. 866/755–8581. www.globusjourneys.com. From $2,459.
Tauck Travel. Begun in 1925 by Arthur Tauck with a tour through the back roads of New England, Tauck has since spread its offerings across the world. Its 11-night multi-island "Best of Hawaii" tour includes three nights on Maui and covers noteworthy sights such as Iao Valley and Haleakala National Park. 800/788–7885. www.tauck.com. From $5,990.
Trafalgar. This company prides itself on its "Insider Experiences," defined as visiting hidden places not found in guidebooks, meeting local people, and sharing traditions you may not discover on your own. Trafalgar offers several itineraries that include Maui, ranging from 7 to 12 nights. 866/513–1995. www.trafalgar.com. From $2,483.
Elderhostel. This nonprofit educational travel organization provides an in-depth look into the culture, history, and beauty of the Islands via its handful of guided Hawaii tours for adults 50 and older. For all programs, out-of-state travelers must purchase their own airfare to Hawaii.On "Snorkeling Hawaii's Spectacular Marine Environments," a nine-night exploration of top snorkeling spots, local experts discuss the region's diverse marine environments, coral reefs, and aquatic creatures, and a local family hosts a traditional backyard luau. Meanwhile, "Magical Maui: Beaches to 'Upcountry' to Sunset Luau" is a seven-night experience encompassing visits with locals who make a living farming such crops as coffee, pineapples, and award-winning goat cheese on the slopes of Haleakala Crater, and a trip to Kahakuloa Valley to meet families who have lived there for generations. 800/454–5768. www.roadscholar.org. From $2,095.
Sierra Club Outings. Want to participate in a service project and observe the migrating humpbacks? "Sun, Service, and Whales" is the theme of a seven-night trip organized by Sierra Club Outings. You learn about local culture and tradition, and swim, snorkel, hike, and whale-watch. The seven-night “Waterfalls, Waves, and Service in East Maui” gives participants an opportunity to experience an area of Maui that’s full of charm, warmth, and relaxation, while participating in both planned and spontaneous service projects. 415/977–5500. www.sierraclub.org/outings. From $1,475.
The World Outdoors. This company has been organizing and leading adventure trips for more than 20 years. Its "Hawaii Two Island Hiker" is a five-night hiking tour to Maui and Kauai. Included in the price are accommodations, meals, interisland airfare, shuttle transportation, and professional guides. The trip is rated moderately easy. 800/488–8483. www.theworldoutdoors.com. From $3,400.
Pure Maui. Devoted to high-end adventure and spa vacations, Pure Maui packages feature private accommodations at elegant estates and villas, with all meals prepared by a personal chef, on-island transportation, and a variety of ocean and land activities. Vacationers must purchase their own air travel between Maui and their gateway city. 866/787–6284. www.puremaui.com. From $1,795.
Sports and Wellness
SwellWomen. Imagine learning how to "hang 10" on the perfect wave on Maui. SwellWomen offers six-night "Surf & Yoga" retreats that include accommodations, daily yoga and surf sessions, stand-up paddling, activities such as hikes and snorkel trips, one-hour massages, meals, and snacks prepared by a private chef. 800/399–6284 or. www.swellwomen.com. From $2,295.
The dollar is the basic unit of U.S. currency. It has 100 cents. Coins are the penny (1¢), the nickel (5¢), dime (10¢), quarter (25¢), half-dollar (50¢), and the rare golden $1 coin and even rarer silver $1. Bills are denominated $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100, all mostly green and identical in size; designs and background tints vary. You may come across a $2 bill, but the chances are slim.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (www.cbp.gov.)
Driving in the United States is on the right. Speed limits are posted in miles per hour, between 20 and 55 mph on the island of Maui. Watch for lower limits near schools (usually 20 mph). Hawaii has a strict seat-belt law. Passengers in the front seats must be belted. Children under the age of four must be in approved safety seats in the backseat and those ages four to seven, or who are less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall and weigh less than 80 pounds, must be in a rear booster seat or child restraint such as a lap and shoulder belt. Morning (between 6:30 and 9:30 am) and afternoon (between 3:30 and 6:30 pm) rush-hour traffic around Kahului, Paia, Kihei, and Lahaina can be bad, so use caution. In rural areas, it’s not unusual for gas stations to close early. If you see that your tank is getting low, don’t take any chances; fill up when you see a station.
If your car breaks down, pull onto the shoulder and wait for help, or have your passengers wait while you walk to an emergency phone. If you have a cell phone with you, call the roadside assistance number on your rental-car agreement.
The U.S. standard is AC, 110 volts/60 cycles. Plugs have two flat pins set parallel to each other.
For police, fire, or ambulance, dial 911 (0 in rural areas).
Australia (202/797–3000. www.usa.embassy.gov.au.)
Canada (202/682–1740. www.canadianembassy.org.)
United Kingdom (202/588–6500. ukinusa.fco.gov.uk.)
New Year’s Day (Jan. 1); Martin Luther King Day (3rd Mon. in Jan.); Presidents’ Day (3rd Mon. in Feb.); Memorial Day (last Mon. in May); Independence Day (July 4); Labor Day (1st Mon. in Sept.); Columbus Day (2nd Mon. in Oct.); Thanksgiving Day (4th Thurs. in Nov.); and Christmas Day (Dec. 25).
You can buy stamps and aerograms and send letters and parcels in post offices. Stamp-dispensing machines can occasionally be found in airports, bus and train stations, office buildings, drugstores, and convenience stores. U.S. mailboxes are stout, dark-blue steel bins; pickup schedules are posted inside the bin (pull down the handle to see them). Parcels weighing more than a pound must be mailed at a post office or at a private mailing center.
Within the United States a first-class letter weighing 1 ounce or less costs 49¢; each additional ounce costs 21¢. Postcards cost 34¢ to send. Postcards or 1-ounce airmail letters to most countries cost $1.15.
To receive mail on the road, have it sent c/o General Delivery at your destination’s main post office (use the correct five-digit ZIP code). You must pick up mail in person within 30 days, with a driver’s license or passport for identification.
DHL (800/225–5345. www.dhl.com.)
FedEx (800/463–3339. www.fedex.com.)
The UPS Store (800/789–4623. www.theupsstore.com.)
United States Postal Service (www.usps.com.)
Passports and Visas
Visitor visas aren’t necessary for citizens of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, or most citizens of EU countries coming for tourism and staying for fewer than 90 days. If you require a visa, the cost is $165, and waiting time can be substantial, depending on where you live. Apply for a visa at the U.S. consulate in your place of residence; check the U.S. State Department’s special visa website for further information.
Destination USA (877/487–2778 visa services. travel.state.gov.)
Numbers consist of a three-digit area code and a seven-digit local number. The area code for Hawaii is 808. For local calls on Maui, you need to dial only the seven-digit number (not the 808 area code). If you are calling businesses on other neighboring islands while on Maui, you will need to use "1–808," followed by the number. Calls to numbers prefixed by "800," "888," "866," and "877" are toll-free and require that you first dial a "1." For calls to numbers prefixed by "900" you must pay—usually dearly.
For international calls, dial "011" followed by the country code and the local number. For help, dial "0" and ask for an overseas operator. Most phone books list country codes and U.S. area codes. The country code for Australia is 61, for New Zealand 64, for the United Kingdom 44. Calling Canada is the same as calling within the United States; the country code for both is 1.
For operator assistance, dial "0." For directory assistance, call 555–1212 or occasionally 411 (free at many public phones). You can reverse long-distance charges by calling "collect"; dial "0" instead of "1" before the 10-digit number.
Instructions are generally posted on pay phones. Usually you insert coins in a slot (usually 50¢ for local calls) and wait for a steady tone before dialing. On long-distance calls the operator tells you how much to insert; prepaid phone cards, widely available in various denominations, can be used from any phone, as can major credit cards. Follow the directions to activate the card (there’s usually an access number, then an activation code), then dial your number.
The United States has several GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks, so multiband mobiles from most countries (except for Japan) work here. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to buy a pay-as-you-go mobile SIM card in the United States—which allows you to avoid roaming charges—without also buying a phone. That said, cell phones with pay-as-you-go plans are available for well under $100. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Virgin Mobile offer affordable, pay-as-you-go service.
AT&T (800/331–0500. www.wireless.att.com.)
T-Mobile (800/866–2453. www.t-mobile.com.)
Virgin Mobile (888/322–1122. www.virginmobileusa.com.)