Maui is located right in the middle of the inhabited part of the Hawaiian island chain. Maui, the metaphorical middle child, is surrounded by ohana (family), which is perhaps why island residents claim a particular sense of safety and relaxation.
Geologically, Maui is actually part of a larger formation called Maui Nui (Great Maui), which is comprised of the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe. If sea levels were to drop only 300 feet, these four islands would stand joined together as Maui Nui. Recognized as one geopolitical entity, these islands are collectively known as "Maui County".
Maui is the second-largest and second most-visited island in the state, welcoming about 2-1/2 million people each year. The annual Conde Nast Traveler reader's poll has twice named it “best island in the world, which confirms what the residents have said since before the coming of Western civilization: Maui is simply "no ka oi," the best.
Within Maui's relatively 727 square miles are three cloud-wreathed peaks more than a mile high each, thousands of tumbling waterfalls and sparkling pools, valleys, rainforests, rainbows, and lava fields. The island boasts 120 miles of shoreline and more than 80 sandy beaches (including two that are more than a mile long), home to coral reefs and endless waves.
Haleakala Mountain, or "House of the Sun", is a shield volcano with a crater so big and so deep that it could encompass Manhattan Island. Between the two volcanoes is the valley-like isthmus formed by their lava flows (the most recent one was Haleakala's 1790 eruption). The flat, fertile isthmus which link the two volcanoes gives Maui its nickname, "The Valley Isle."
Photo Credit: Daniel Parks via Flickr