The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727 square miles (1883 km²). Maui is part of the State of Hawaiʻi and is the largest island in Maui County. Three other islands, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, and Molokaʻi belong to Maui County. As of 2005, Maui has a resident population of 139,884, which is ranked third within the state behind the islands of Oahu and Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island's name in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator attributed with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Maui after his son who in turn was named for the demigod Māui. According to legend, the demigod Māui raised all the Hawaiian Islands from the sea. The Island of Maui is also called the "Valley Isle" for the large fertile isthmus between its two volcanoes.

Polynesians, from Tahiti and the Marquesas, were the original peoples to populate Maui. The Tahitians introduced the kapu system, a strict social order that affected all aspects of life and became the core of Hawaiian culture. Modern Hawaiian history began in the mid-1700s. King Kamehameha I took up residence (and later made his capital) in Lāhainā after conquering Maui in 1790, during the bloody Battle of Kepaniwai.

On November 26, 1778, Captain James Cook became the first European explorer to see Maui. Cook never set foot on the island because he was unable to find a suitable landing. The first European to visit Maui was the French admiral Jean François de Galaup de La Pérouse, who landed on the shores of what is now known as La Perouse Bay on May 29, 1786. More Europeans followed: traders, whalers, loggers (e.g., of sandalwood) and missionaries. The missionaries began to arrive from New England in 1823, choosing Lāhainā because it was the capital. They clothed the natives, banned them from dancing hula, and greatly altered the culture. They tried to keep whalers and sailors out of the bawdy houses. The missionaries taught reading and writing, created the 12-letter Hawaiian alphabet, started a printing press in Lāhainā, and began writing the islands' history, which until then existed only as oral accounts. Ironically, the work of the missionaries both altered and preserved the native culture. The religious work altered the culture while the literacy efforts preserved native history and language for posterity. They started the first school in Lāhainā, which still exists today: Lāhaināluna Mission School. The Mission school opened in 1831 and was the first secondary school to open west of the Rocky Mountains.

At the height of the whaling era (1840-1865), Lāhainā was a major whaling center with anchorage in Lāhainā Roads; in one season over 400 ships visited Lāhainā and the greatest number of ships berthed at one time was about 100. A given ship tended to stay months rather than days which explains the drinking and prostitution in the town at that time. Whaling declined steeply at the end of the 19th century as crude oil (petroleum) replaced whale oil.

Kamehameha's descendants reigned in the islands until 1872. They were followed by rulers from another ancient family of chiefs, including Queen Liliʻuokalani who ruled in 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown. One year later, the Republic of Hawaiʻi was founded. The island was annexed by the United States in 1898 and made a territory in 1900. Hawaiʻi became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.

Maui was centrally involved in the Pacific Theatre of World War II as a staging center, training base, and for rest and relaxation. At the peak in 1943-44, the number of troops stationed on Maui exceeded 100,000. The main base of the 4th Marines was in Haiku. Beaches (e.g., in Kīhei) were used for practice landings and training in marine demolition and sabotage.

The island has experienced rapid population growth in recent years (e.g., 4.6% in 2001/2002) with Kīhei one of the most rapidly growing towns in the U.S. (see chart, below). The growth is occurring because many people, having visited Maui, decide to move or retire to the island.

Population growth—partly due to an influx of new people, typically from Canada and the U.S. mainland—is producing strains, including growing traffic congestion on many of the major roads. There is concern about the availability of affordable housing and access to water. Property prices have risen to levels such that families on average incomes find it difficult to afford renting or buying a home. Property developers have insufficient regulatory or financial incentive to build less expensive (affordable) homes. Maui County Council has been investigating ways of changing the situation.

There have been long-standing concerns about the reliability of Maui's potable water supply; droughts have been declared in most recent years and the Īʻao aquifer is being drawn from at what some believe are unsustainable rates of above 18 million US gallons (68,000 m³) per day. While the long-term situation remains unclear and reliable supply has not been secured, recent estimates indicate that the total potential supply of potable water on Maui is around 476 million US gallons (1,800,000 m³) per day, many times greater than any foreseeable demand.

At one time in the not too distant past, sugar cane cultivation used over 80% of the island's water supply (The Water Development Plan of Maui, 1992 – Present?). One pound of refined sugar requires a ton of water to produce. The water used for sugar cultivation is taken mostly from the streams of East Maui, routed though a network of tunnels and ditches hand dug by Chinese labor over a century ago. Controversy exists as to whether the sugar companies have a right to monopolize water from ditches dug on leased public land transporting public water. In 2006, the town of Paia successfully petitioned the County against mixing in treated water from wells known to be contaminated with both EDB and DBCP from former pineapple cultivation in the area (Environment Hawaii, 1996). Agricultural companies have been released from all future liability for these chemicals (County of Maui, 1999).

There is a great deal of discussion about the meaning of—and the way to achieve—smart development. There clearly exists a tension between economic growth and urbanization on the one hand, and the wish to preserve the beauty of Maui and a relaxed way of life on the other. In the past there existed a pro-growth bias in policy with developers and politicians working together to stimulate the economy; now the balance has swung toward more sensitive consideration of community concerns about the dangers of uncontrolled growth and development.

In August of 2006, Fitch Ratings assigned a "AA" (double-A) rating to US$29.2 million of the County of Maui's General Obligation (GO) Bonds (2006 Series A). It also affirmed the US$217.6 million in outstanding GO bonds. The bonds will sell via negotiation by UBS Investment Bank during the week of August 7. The Rating Outlook is Stable. According to Fitch, the double-A rating "...reflects Maui's solid financial results, healthy economic activity, low debt burden, and conservative [county government] management policies." For two years running, revenue growth has exceeded the growth of expenditures, keeping the balances of the county's General Fund in the positive column. Earlier draw-downs of the GF's balance in 2002 and 2003 were used to soften the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the economy. Fitch views these prudent fiscal actions as "instrumental in maintaining the county's strong credit standing." The county's debt burden, relatively speaking, is very low, which is typical of all the Hawaiian counties, considering the state's broad functions. (Read the entire article about Maui's 2006 Fitch Rating.)

Unemployment Rate – The 2005 unemployment rate fell to 2.6 percent, lower than the 2.8 percent rate for Hawaii as a whole and 5.1 percent for the nation.

Major Industries - Traditionally, the two major industries on Maui are agriculture and tourism. However, government research groups and high technology companies have discovered that Maui has a business environment favorable for growth in those sectors. Agriculture value-added enterprises are growing rapidly.

Agriculture – Maui Land & Pineapple Company and Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S, a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin Company) dominate agricultural activity. HC&S produces sugarcane on about 37,000 acres (150 km²) of the Maui central valley, the largest sugarcane operation remaining in Hawaii. The cane is irrigated mostly with water drawn from aqueducts that run from the windward (northern) slopes of Haleakalā that receive considerable rainfall. A controversial feature of Maui sugarcane production is the harvesting method of controlled cane field fires for nine months of the year. Controlled burns are performed to reduce the crop to bare canes just before harvesting. The fires produce smoke that towers above the Maui central valley most early mornings, and ash (locally referred to as "Maui snow") that is carried downwind (often towards north Kīhei).

High Technology and Government Contracting – The Maui High Performance Computing Center in Kihei heralded the coming of "serious" high-technology employers and government contracting to the island. It is an Air Force Research Laboratory Center managed by the University of Hawaii, providing more than 10,000,000 hours of computing time per year to the research, science, and warfighter communities.

Another promoter of high technology on Maui is the Maui Research and Technology Center, also located in Kihei. The MRTC is a program of the High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC), an agency of the State of Hawaii whose focus is to facilitate the growth of Hawaii's commercial high technology sector.

Maui is also an important center for advanced astronomical research. The Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site was Hawaii's first astronomical research and development facility at the Maui Space Surveillance Site (MSSS) electro-optical facility. "At the 10,023 feet 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."

Each volcanic cone in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands is built of dark, iron-rich/quartz-poor rocks which, as highly fluid lava, poured out of thousands of vents over a period of millions of years. Several of the volcanoes were close enough to each other so that lava flows on their flanks overlapped one another, causing several volcanoes to merge into a single island known as a "volcanic doublet".

Maui is such an island, formed from two shield volcanoes that overlapped one another to form an isthmus between them. The older western volcano has been eroded considerably and is cut by numerous drainages, forming the peaks of the West Maui Mountains (called Mauna Kahalawai by Hawaiians). Pu'u Kukui is the highest of the peaks at 5,788 feet. The larger, younger volcano to the east, Haleakala, rises to more than 10,000 feet (3,050 m) above sea level, but measures five miles (8 km) from seafloor to summit. The eastern flanks of both volcanoes are cut by deeply incised valleys and steep-sided ravines that run downslope to the rocky, windswept shoreline. The valley-like Isthmus of Maui that separates the two volcanic masses was formed by recent lava flows and erosion of material from the steep slopes of the volcanoes. This prominent topographic feature is the reason why Maui is known as "The Valley Isle".

The last eruption (originating in Haleakala's Southwest Rift Zone) occurred around 1790; two of the resulting lava flows are located (1) at Cape Kina'u between Ahihi Bay and La Perouse Bay on the southwest shore of East Maui, and (2) at Makaluapuna Point on Honokahua Bay on the northwest shore of West Maui. Although considered to be dormant by volcanologists, Haleakala is certainly capable of further eruptions.

Maui is blessed with a wide variety of landscapes, all of which resulted from a unique combination of geology, topography, and climate.

The island of Maui is one of the four main Hawaiian Islands that formed the much larger island, Maui Nui that submerged about 200,000 years ago, and is now about 500 m below sea level. The other three islands that made this prehistoric island are Lana'i, Moloka'i and Kaho'olawe.

The climate of the Hawaiian Islands is characterized by a two-season year, mild and uniform temperatures everywhere (except at high elevations), marked geographic differences in rainfall, high relative humidity, extensive cloud formations (except on the driest coasts and at high elevations), and dominant trade-wind flow (especially at elevations below a few thousand feet). Maui itself has a wide range of climatic conditions and weather patterns that are influenced by several different factors in the physical environment:

* Half of Maui is situated within five miles of the island's coastline. This, and the extreme insularity of the Hawaiian Islands themselves account for the strong marine influence on Maui's climate.
* Gross weather patterns are often determined by an area's elevation and whether it faces into or away from the Trade winds (prevailing air flow from the northeast quadrant).
* Maui’s rugged, irregular topography produces marked variations in conditions from one locality to another. Air swept inland on the Trade winds is shunted one way or another by the mountains, valleys, and vast open slopes. This complex three-dimensional flow of air results in striking differences from place to place in wind speed, cloud formation, and rainfall. When irregular topography is combined with variations in elevation, marked differences in air temperature are the result.
* One of the most distinctive features of Hawaii’s climate is the small annual variation in air temperature range. This is because there is only a slight variation in length of night and day from one part of Hawaii to another because all its islands lie within a narrow latitude band. The small variations in the length of the daylight period, together with the smaller annual variations in the altitude of the sun above the horizon, result in relatively small variations in the amount of incoming solar energy from one time of the year to another. This factor, and the location of Hawaii in mid-ocean contribute to Hawaii’s pleasant climate. The surface waters of the open ocean around Hawaii have an average temperature that ranges from 73° to 74° F between late February and early April, to a maximum of 79° to 80° F in late September or early October. With air temperatures this mild for hundreds of miles around, the air that reaches Hawaii is neither very hot nor very cold. Temperatures of 90° F and above are quite uncommon (with the exception of dry, leeward areas). In the leeward areas, temperatures may reach into the low 90’s several days during the year, but temperatures higher than these are unusual.
* The other reason for the small variation in air temperature is the nearly constant flow of fresh ocean air across the islands. Just as the temperature of the ocean surface varies comparatively little from season to season, so also does the temperature of air that has moved great distances across the ocean; the air brings with it to the land the mild temperature regime characteristic of the surrounding ocean. In the central North Pacific, the Trade winds represent the outflow of air from the great region of high pressure, the Pacific Anticyclone, typically located well north and east of the Hawaiian Islands. The Pacific High, and with it the trade-wind zone, moves north and south with changing angle of the sun, so that it reaches its northernmost position in the summer. This brings the heart of the trade winds across Hawaii during the period of May through September, when the Trade winds are prevalent 80 to 95 percent of the time. From October through April, the heart of the Trade winds moves south of Hawaii; however, the Trade winds still blow across the islands much of the time. They provide a system of natural year-long ventilation throughout the islands and bring to the land the mild, warm temperatures characteristic of air that has moved great distances across tropical waters.

These seemingly contradictory factors combine to create a unique and diverse set of climatic conditions, each of which is specific to a loosely defined sub-region of the island chain. These sub-regions are defined by major physiographic features (such as mountains and valleys) and by location (i.e., is it on the windward or leeward side of the island). These sub-regions (and their characteristic climates) are as follows.

* Windward Lowlands – Below 2,000 feet on north- to northeast-sides of an island. Region is oriented roughly perpendicular to direction of flow of prevailing trade winds. Moderately rainy; frequent trade wind-induced showers. Skies are often cloudy to partly cloudy. Air temperatures are more uniform (and mild) than those of other regions.

* Leeward Lowlands – Daytime temperatures are a little higher and nighttime temperatures are lower than in windward locations. Dry weather is prevalent, with the exception of sporadic trade winds showers that drift over from the mountains to windward and during short-duration storms.

* Interior Lowlands – Intermediate conditions, often sharing characteristics of other lowland sub-regions. Occasionally experience intense local afternoon showers from well-developed clouds that formed due to local heating of the land during the day.

* Leeward Side High-Altitude Mountain Slopes with High Rainfall – Extensive cloud cover and rainfall all year long. Mild temperatures are prevalent, but humidity is higher than any other sub-region.

* Lower Mountain Slopes on Leeward Side – Rainfall is higher than on the adjacent leeward lowlands, but much less than at similar altitudes on the windward side; however, maximum rainfall usually occurs leeward of the crests of lower mountains. Temperatures are higher than on the rainy slopes of the windward sides of mountains; cloud cover is almost as extensive.

* High Mountains – Above about 3,000 feet on Haleakala, rainfall decreases rapidly with elevation. Relative humidity may be ten percent or less. The lowest temperatures in the state are experienced in this region: air temperatures below freezing are common.

The wind patterns on Maui and the other islands are very complex. Though the trade winds are fairly constant in speed and duration, their relatively uniform air flow is distorted and disrupted by mountains, hills, and valleys. Light to moderate mountain winds are prevalent in the more mountainous areas of Maui. The usual regime is to have upslope winds by day and downslope winds by night. Local conditions that produce occasional violent winds are not well understood, even though the general causes of these winds can be surmised. These are very localized winds, observed only in a few areas. They sometimes reach speeds of 60 to 100 MPH and are best known in the settled areas of Kula and Lahaina on Maui. The Kula winds are strong downslope winds that occur on the lower slopes of the west side of Haleakala. These winds tend to be strongest between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above mean sea level. The Lahaina winds are also downslope winds, but have somewhat different characteristics. They are also called “lehua winds” after the lehua tree, whose red blossoms fill the air when these strong winds blow. They issue from the canyons at the base of the main mountain mass of western Maui, where the steeper canyon slopes meet the more gentle piedmont slope below. These winds are quite infrequent, occurring every 8 to 12 years. They are extremely violent, with wind speeds of 80 to 100 MPH or more.

Cloud Formation – Under trade wind conditions, there is very often a pronounced moisture discontinuity between 4,000 and 8,000 feet. Below these heights the air is moist; above it is dry. The break (a large-scale feature of the Pacific Anticyclone) is caused by a temperature inversion embedded in the moving trade wind air. The inversion tends to suppress the vertical movement of air and so restricts cloud development to the zone just below the inversion. The inversion is present 50 to 70 percent of the time; its height fluctuates from day to day, but it is usually between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. On trade wind days when the inversion is well defined, the clouds develop below these heights with only an occasional cloud top breaking through the inversion. These towering clouds form along the mountains where the incoming trade wind air converges as it moves up a valley and is forced up and over the mountains to heights of several thousand feet. On days without an inversion, the sky is almost cloudless (completely cloudless skies are extremely rare). In leeward areas well screened from the trade winds (such as the west coast of Maui), skies are clear 30 to 60 percent of the time. Windward areas tend to be cloudier during he summer, when the trade winds and associated clouds are more prevalent, while leeward areas, which are less affected by cloudy conditions associated with trade wind cloudiness, tend to be cloudier during the winter, when storm fronts pass through more frequently. On Maui, the cloudiest zones are at and just below the summits of the mountains, and at elevations of 2,000 to 4,000 feet on the windward sides of Haleakala. In these locations the sky is cloudy more than 70 percent of the time. The usual clarity of the air in the high mountains is associated with the low moisture content of the air.

Rainfall – Showers are very common; yet while some of these are very heavy, the vast majority are light and brief – a sudden sprinkle of rain and it's over. Even the heaviest rain showers are seldom accompanied by thunder and lightening. Summer is the warmer season; with an overwhelming dominance of trade winds, it is the season when widespread rainstorms are rare. Throughout the lowlands, summer is the drier season in terms of average monthly rainfall. At one extreme, the annual rainfall averages 17 to 20 inches or less in leeward coastal areas, such as the shoreline from Maalaea Bay to Kaupo, and near the summit of Haleakala. At the other extreme, the annual average rainfall exceeds 300 inches along the lower windward slopes of Haleakala, particularly along the Hana Highway. If the islands of the State of Hawaii did not exist, the average annual rainfall on the same patch of water would be about 25 inches. Instead, the actual average is about 70 inches. Thus, the islands extract from the air that passes over them about 45 inches of rainfall that otherwise would not fall. The mountainous topography of Maui and the other islands is responsible for this added water bonus.

Daily Variations in Rainfall – In the lowlands, throughout the year, rainfall is most likely to occur during the night or morning hours, and is least likely to occur during mid-afternoon. The most pronounced daily variations in rainfall occur during the summer because most summer rainfall consists of Trade winds showers that most often to occur at night. Winter rainfall in the lowlands is the result of storm activity, which is as likely to occur in the daytime as at night. Rainfall variability is far greater during the winter, when occasional storms contribute appreciably to rainfall totals, than during summer, when trade-wind showers provide most of the rain. With such wide swings in rainfall, it is inevitable that there are occasional droughts, sometimes with severe economic losses. The real drought years are the ones where the winter rains fail, when there are only a few (or even no) significant rainstorms. Droughts hit hardest in the normally dry areas that depend on winter storms for their rainfall and receive little rain from the Trade wind showers.

Torrential rainfall is common in all parts of Maui, except the very high mountains. It is also true that in Hawaii very light showers are extremely frequent in most localities. On the windward coast, it is common to have as many as 10 brief showers in a single day, not one of which is heavy enough to produce more than one-hundredth of an inch of rain. This is because the usual run of trade wind weather yields many light showers in the lowlands, whereas the torrential rains are associated with a sudden surge in the trade winds or with a major storm. Hana has had as much as 28 inches of rain in a single 24-hour period.

Major storms occur most frequently between October and March, inclusive. During this period, there may be as many as six or seven major storm events in a year. Such storms bring heavy rains and are sometimes accompanied by strong local winds. The storms may be associated with the passage of a cold front – the leading edge of a mass of relatively cool air that is moving from west to east or from northwest to southeast.

Kona storms are features of the winter season. They are so-called because they often generate winds coming from the “kona” or leeward direction. The rainfall in a well-developed Kona storm is more widespread and more prolonged than in the usual cold-front storm. Kona storm rains are usually most intense in an arc, or band, extending from south to east of the storm and well in advance of its center. Kona rains last from several hours to several days. The rains may continue steadily, but the longer lasting ones are characteristically interrupted by intervals of lighter rain or even partial clearing, as well as by intense showers superimposed on the more moderate regime of continuous, steady rain. An entire winter may pass without a single well-developed Kona storm. More often, however, there are one or two such storms a year; sometimes there are four or five. Three harbors provide some protection from Kona storms Kahului Harbor (used mostly for commercial vessels), Lahaina and Maalea Harbors used primarily for sailing craft.

True hurricanes are very rare in Hawaii, indicated by the fact that only four have affected the islands during a 63-year period. Tropical storms are more frequent. These are similar to hurricanes but with more modest winds, below 74 MPH. Because weak tropical storms resemble some Kona storms in the winds and rains they produce, and because early records do not distinguish clearly between them, it has been difficult to estimate the average frequency of tropical storms. A tropical storm will pass sufficiently close to Hawaii every year or two to affect the weather in some part of the Islands. Unlike cold front and Kona storms, hurricanes and tropical storms are not limited to the winter season. They are most likely to occur during the last half of the year, from July through December.

Maui is a leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to the fact that many Humpback whales winter 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 northern hemisphere winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults and one or more calves. Humpbacks are an endangered species protected by U.S. federal and Hawaiʻi state law. There are estimated to be about 3,000 humpbacks in the North Pacific.

The numbers – Maui County welcomed 2,207,826 tourists in 2004; for 2005, the total was 2,263,676, with total tourist expenditures of US$3.09 billion for the Island of Maui alone. While the Island of Oahu is most popular with Japanese tourists, the Island of Maui tends to appeal to visitors mostly from the US mainland and Canada: in 2005, there were 2,003,492 domestic (i.e., USA nationals) arrivals on the island, compared to 260,184 international arrivals. It should be noted that the latter figure is a 2.1 percent increase from 2004, a trend that may be increasing in coming years.

* Maui County QuickFacts from the U.S. Census Bureau
* Hawaii Dept. of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
* High Tech Maui – A program of the Maui Economic Development Board
* Roadside Geology of Hawaii, 1996 (Third Printing 2002), R.W. Hazlett and D.W. Hyndman, Mountain Press Publishing Co. (part of the "Roadside Geology" series).
* Environment Hawaii. (Note: Access to archives requires a password.)
* Settlement Agreement and Release of all Claims, 1999, County of Maui.
* East Maui Water: East Maui Water Development Plan, East Maui Water History, undated, Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter, Maui Group.
* Hawaii-Navi Hawaii Travel Information
* Maui travel guide from Wikitravel
* The Maui News ~ main local newspaper
* Haleakalā Times on-line newspaper
* Official site of Maui County
* Explore Maui's Activities, Attractions and Beaches
* A Comprehensive Guide to Maui's Beaches
* Maui Wind Conditions
* Maui WindCam
* Maui Film Festival
* Maui Magazine Maui's Local Magazine - Culture - Ecology - Style - AdventurePermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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