Stretching 26 miles from north to south and 46 miles across, Maui has 120 miles of coastline with over 42 miles of white sand beaches – the largest number of swimmable beaches in Hawaii - as well as the dramatic mountains of west Maui.
The Original Geography of Maui
Initially, Maui was called “Maui Nui,” and was a landmass of over 5,600 square miles – nearly twice the size of the actual big island of Hawaii. It consisted of 7 volcanoes that then became islands as the glaciers receded into North America, which resulted in the sea level rising. This rise in sea level then created the islands that we know today as Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Maui.
Today, Maui is composed of two volcanoes, giving it the figure eight that can be seen in its shape when looking at map. At 5,788 feet, Pu’u Kukui is the highest peak, and receives over 300 inches of rainfall annually. Some of the terrain is so wild that some parts of this area have never been explored. The second volcano, Haleakala, rises over 10,000 feet above sea level and is the largest dormant volcano on the islands. Its summit crater is so large that is could swallow the entire island of Manhattan. The lowland between the two volcanoes is where Maui's nickname of the “Valley Isle” came from
Topography of Maui
Almost every conceivable geological feature is found on the island, but it is interesting to not that there are no rivers, but hundreds of streams. Two of the largest of these streams are Palikea, which runs through the Kipahulu Valley, and Iao Stream, which has sculpted the Iao Valley over the centuries. Today, the people of Maui, along with many island visitors, can enjoy thee picture-perfect beauty that is Maui.