5 Best Photo Opportunities in Maui

Photo Opportunities Maui

Lee Van Grack

If you have ever visited Maui, one of the eight main islands in the state of Hawaii, you'll know that the island offers endless photo opportunities. Maui has golden sandy shores and lush green mountains, surfers and sunsets, hippie towns and the road to Hana, pineapple plantations and pretty rainbows -- and even nude beaches. Here are my five favorite photo ops on "Valley Isle":

1. The Romantic Photo: Sunset on Ka'anapali Beach

On Maui, viewing a sunset is like going out to a show. It's always a spectacle to see the changing colors, the crashing waves and the swaying palm trees, and it's the most popular photo opportunity on Maui. There are two basic ways to view a sunset: from the shore or on the water. There are many sunset-cruise boats that leave from Lahaina late in the afternoon and don't return until dark, after the sunset show has ended. The least expensive way to view a sunset – and just as romantic – is to watch it from the shore. A great viewing spot is on Ka'anapali Beach, right in front of Leilani's on the Beach restaurant in the Whalers Village shopping center. People line up on the shore, many with cameras (and often Mai Tais) in hand, and take in nature's beauty. In the distance is Lanai, and with this island as a backdrop, the sunsets are even more spectacular. Whenever we are on Maui, we plan our days such that we have a great view of Maui's famous sunsets every evening. One night, during our recent visit, we joined the crowd watching the sunset on Ka'anapali Beach, and on another night, we had dinner reservations at Leilani's, and watched the sunset through the open windows from our table on the restaurant's second floor.

2. The Quirky Photo: Jesus Coming Soon

Jesus is coming soon to a church at 1211 Front St. in Lahaina. In fact, he's been "coming soon" for years. Mounted atop the small Apostolic Faith Church building, which is surrounded by palm trees and other tropical foliage, is a neon sign that proclaims "Jesus Coming Soon." On a Sunday in March, we heard the sounds of the church congregants singing through open windows. But here's a helpful hint: this photo was taken from the parking lot of a recycled bicycle shop. But do NOT park there. The staffers will come out and chase you away if you are not a customer. This is what happened to my husband and me. My husband ended up dropping me off and driving to the opposite side of the church, where he parked and waited for me. You can also snap great photos of this sign from that angle. The sign also looks beautiful at night when the neon shines bright.

3. The Family Fun Spot Photo: Maui Ocean Center

Looking for good family photo opportunities? Maui Ocean Center offers an up-close-and-personal look at the marine life. It's a three-acre marine park that really is fun for the whole family. "Open Ocean" is one of the aquarium's most popular exhibits. While safely inside an acrylic tunnel that offers a 240-degree view, you can see 2,000 fishes, sharks and other underwater creatures. You can snap photos of your family, as they appear to touch swimming sharks. We took many still digital photos in this acrylic tube, and my husband also used my Canon PowerShot G10 to shoot some fantastic videos of the sea life and the visitors' reactions to it. Maui Ocean Center is at 192 Ma'alaea Road in Wailuku at Ma'alaea Bay. You can get a 10-percent discount on a day pass if you book your tickets online.

4. The Scenic Photo: Haleakala National Park

Haleakala, Maui's highest peak at 10,023 feet above sea level, is a breathtaking natural feature. More than a million people reportedly visit the summit at Haleakala National Park each year. From the top, you can look down into a dormant crater, the world's largest. This popular scenic spot is one of the most photographed on Maui. Afternoon is the best time to take photographs, when there are fewer clouds and the sun lights up the crater. Note that the weather can change quickly – from warm and dry to rainy, windy and cold – so come prepared for any type of weather. I enjoyed photographing the cars as they came driving up a winding road to the top. I also took photos of people walking along a ridge with puffy white clouds behind them. It almost looked as if they were walking on clouds.

5. The Classic Photo: Surfers at Ho'okipa Beach

What's more classic in Hawaii than surfers? Surfers are a staple on all of the Hawaiian Islands. On Maui, the place to see them in action is Ho'okipa Beach on the North Shore off Hana Highway. Watching their athleticism, especially at sunset, is beautiful and exciting. You can also see windsurfers at this beach that is world-renowned for its perfect wind conditions. The waves are the largest here during the winter; however, during our trip in March, the waves were large enough to be impressive. Because of the strong winds and powerful currents, only experienced surfers and windsurfers should attempt these waters. However, from the beach or parking lot, you can pose for a photo with these incredible athletes as your backdrop. There are three parking lots, one of which offers a lookout point. After spending a lot of time photographing the waves and the surfers here, my husband and I headed to our very favorite Maui restaurant, which is right next to this beach. Mama's Fish House offers a magical, old-style Hawaiian experience and is a fantastic place to celebrate any occasion (we celebrated our anniversary here).

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