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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Picnic facilities dot the landscape of this county park, a memorial to Maui's cultural roots. Among the interesting displays are an early-Hawaiian hale (house), a New England-style saltbox, a Portuguese-style villa with gardens, and dwellings from such other cultures as China and the Philippines. Next door, the Hawaii Nature Center has excellent interactive exhibits and hikes easy enough for children.
Originally named Maui Central Park, Keopuolani Park got its name after schoolchildren argued before the county council that it be named for Hawaii's most revered queen, who was born near here and was forced to flee across the mountains before the arrival of Kamehameha the Great's army. This 101-acre park includes seven playing fields and a running path, gym, pool, skate park, and grass amphitheater. OPEN: Daily 7--7.
Natural wetlands have become rare in the Islands, and the 700 acres of this reserve attract migratory birds and other wildlife. Long-legged stilts casually dip their beaks into the shallow waters as traffic shuttles by. Sharp-eyed birders may catch sight of migratory visitors such as osprey. Interpretive signs on the boardwalk explain how the endangered hawksbill turtles return to the sandy dunes year after year. The boardwalk stretches along the coast by North Kihei Road; the main entrance to the reserve is on Mokulele Highway. A new visitor center with the reserve headquarters and exhibits provides a good introduction. www.fws.gov/kealiapond. COST: Free. OPEN: Weekdays 7:30--4.
When Mark Twain saw this park, he dubbed it the Yosemite of the Pacific.Yosemite it's not, but it is a lovely deep valley with the curious "Iao Needle," a spire that rises more than 2,000 feet from the valley floor. You can walk from the parking lot across Iao Stream and explore the thick, junglelike topography. This park has some lovely short strolls on paved paths, where you can stop and meditate by the edge of a stream or marvel at the native plants. Locals come to jump from the rocks or bridge into the stream—this isn't recommended. Mist often rises if there has been a rain, which makes being here even more magical. Parking is $5. www.hawaiistateparks.org. COST: Free. OPEN: Daily 7--7.
Nowhere else on Earth can you drive from sea level to 10,023 feet in only 38 miles. And what's more shocking—in that short vertical ascent to the summit of the volcano Haleakala you'll journey from lush, tropical-island landscape to the stark, moonlike basin of the volcano's enormous, otherworldly crater.
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