Gay Vacations in Maui, Hawaii

Surfer on the beach in Maui, Hawaii
Maui, Hawaii (Eri Morita/Digital Vision/Getty)

Maui Highlights

  • Go whale watching. It may seem touristy, but the shallow shores off western Maui are one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal to humpbacks seen in groups here from December to March.
  • Rent a car. Public transport on Maui is not too great, and cars can be rented easily at the airport. You'll want one to explore the gorgeous island and not be a prisoner to your resort.
  • Watch your skin! Hawaii's sun is ferocious, especially for the uninitiated. Even if you don’t burn easily normally, you will on Maui—especially at the nude beaches! Wear heavy sunscreen and stay in the shade at peak hours. Some unsuspecting tourists have been known to walk away with second-degree burns.

After Oahu, Maui is the most frequently visited of the Hawaiian Islands. It is regularly voted the best island in the world in magazine surveys, and it's a perennial favorite for gay travel. It's much less built-up than Oahu but more sophisticated than the other neighboring islands in the chain. The dry, sandy western shoreline of the island is where most of the hotels and condos lie, bordering some of the best beaches in the state. Maui is also called the Valley Isle thanks to the deep ravines found on the flanks of Haleakala, a dormant volcano that dominates the eastern part of the island. Mystical sunrises atop Haleakala are a tourist favorite, as is the drive on the Hana Highway along the north shore, winding past scores of waterfalls and tiny towns. Hana itself is a remote outpost on the eastern tip of the island, where tropical life floats on as it has for decades. Maui’s upcountry on the slopes of Haleakala is great for horseback riding and enjoying cool mountain evenings. And the old whaling of town of Lahaina, despite its tourist popularity, retains an air of yesteryear.

The gay and lesbian scene on Maui is the second largest in the state, although still tiny compared to Oahu's. The Kihei area on the southwest coast tends to be where most gays and lesbians reside and play, and there's a gay following upcountry around the town of Makawao as well. Just south of Kihei is where a lot of the queer socializing goes on–at the nude Little Beach at Makena. Here, tourists and locals alike mix and chat. With the absence of a full-time gay bar on the island (some Kihei bars host gay nights every now and then), Little Beach is the next best thing, or even better, with the island views and warm ocean. But Maui’s large LGBT population does get together in other places: The local LGBT groups, Maui Ohana Pride and the Maui Lesbian Network, host a small pride event in early June at Kalama Park in Kihei, as well as frequent queer whale-watching cruises and other low-key activities. The Maui AIDS Foundation hosts benefit concerts, dances, and other community events as well.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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