We are coming to Maui in a few weeks for 4 days. What is your advice on places to visit and stay, as well as websites to consult? We would like to find a good spot for snorkeling, as well as do some hiking (preferably away from crowds of tourists).
South (Kihei, Wailea and Makenna) and West Maui (Lahaina, Ka’anapali and Napili) are the best snorkeling areas this time of year because the waves are generally smaller on south-facing shores in the winter. The Maui Snorkeling Guide is a good source for advice about snorkel spots. They include maps. Winter is an amazing time to be in the water here because you can often hear the calls of humpback whales here on their annual visit. Hawaiian green sea turtles (called “honu”) also abound. Avoid the north shores because of big surf (unless you want the thrill of watching the pros ride big waves!).
For hiking, consult the Maui Hiker’s Guide (also with maps and preview videos). Waihee Ridge, Waikamoi and the Haleakala Summit trails are among my favorites. You’ll do well to bring along a solid pair of hiking boots that can handle mud and sand, a broad-rimmed hat, sunglasses, a canteen, lightweight clothes with built-in UV protection, and a fully charged cell phone. Hiking conditions can change quickly here. Also make sure that you always tell someone where you are going before you go.
You’ll find great hikes, snorkeling, diving and other activity advice in the book “Maui Revealed“. It’s a great book written by a horrible author, who betrayed the trust of all he interviewed. There remains an unofficial bounty on his head state wide. Still you can pick up a copy at Costco when you land in Kahului.
Kihei and Wailuku are two of the cheaper areas to stay. Check out the website vrbo.com for vacation rentals that will cost less than hotels. You can also try the new Paia Inn located in the town of Paia. Their published rates are less than the fancy resorts elsewhere on the island.