Maui, Hawaii

Many people consider Maui the jewel of the Hawaiian Archipelago with its picture-postcard views, 10,000 ft. mountain peaks, and stunning beaches. Sunsets here look just as you’ve always seen them in thousands of full-color photos. Could any other scene on earth be as glorious?

The island of Maui was formed by two extinct volcanoes that fused, creating a valley between them, and giving Maui the nickname of “valley island.”  When the ocean was lower, many thousands of years ago, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai were one. Today, Maui is a tourist Mecca with posh resorts and eateries while sister islands Molokai and Lanai remain mostly rural with a simpler life-style.

The Hawaiian Islands were first settled by Polynesians who navigated the Pacific in crude boats and rafts. According to legend, Maui was a beloved but mischievous demi-god possessed of incredible powers. When travel between Tahiti and the islands stopped, Hawaii was isolated for nearly 500 years until its discovery by the Europeans in 1778. Captain Cook was killed on Maui. During the nineteenth century, Lahaina, on the west coast, became the whaling capital of the Pacific. When the whaling industry declined, sugar took over as the basis for Maui’s economy. Today, Maui’s economic base is tourism, and the island is dotted with historic sites and art galleries.

Expense is probably the biggest drawback to retiring here, but becoming “rock happy” might be another one. Another term for this sense of isolation might be “cabin fever.”   Be sure to check out your claustrophobia tolerance level before sinking your life savings into island real estate. On the other hand, island real estate is a very good investment, and there is probably nowhere else on earth as breathtaking as this gorgeous island.


Climate: Practically perfect!  There are no cold days . Temperature variation ranges from 60-85 degrees with northeast trade winds of 12 mph. The average rainfall amount on Maui is 1-10 inches, but rainfall amounts vary with location, and coastal areas are drier than the western mountains. Summers can be humid with humidity at 72%, but severe storms are rare.

Cost-of-Living:  Maui’s living costs rate a score of 135 on ACCRA’s scale of 100 as the national average meaning that the cost-of-living is way above the national average.  Utilities run approximately $2,000 a year but property taxes are relatively low at $1,300 per year.  Health care, transportation and taxes are lower than the national average, but food is higher. Many people beat the high cost of housing by renting, but rentals range from $75-$150 a night while wages are comparable to those on the mainland.

Education:  Maui Community College is a two-year college with an enrollment of 3,746. The University of Hawaii , with 19,000 students, is located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu.  An additional campus is at Hilo on the Big Island. The University of Hawaii waives tuition and general student fees for those over 60 years of age.

Health Care:  Maui Memorial Hospital, Kula Hospital, and Hana Medical Center are located on the island and Molokai General Hospital is on nearby Molokai. 61 medical specialists, 53 surgical specialists and 29 general practitioners serve the area.

Housing:  Real estate is the most expensive cost-of-living category with an average house priced at $286,000 ($600,000 in Honolulu).  Prices in the upper tenth percent of the market average more than $400,000. 

Population/Location:  The second largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago is situated between the big island of Hawaii and Oahu, 125 air miles southeast of Honolulu.  It has a population of 132,543 with a growth rate of 30% over the last decade.

Recreation:  Water sports abound, of course: swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing, kayaking, sailing. Golf, tennis, and hiking are also popular, as are helicopter and small plane tours. Whale watching is some of the best in the world. Each November, Humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to mate and give birth. They number from 200 to 600 and most congregate in the protected waters around Maui, Molokai and Lanai. In May they return to the rich feeding grounds off Alaska. Whales can be seen from shore or charter boats as can Maui’s many, strikingly beautiful varieties of flora and fauna. There is an 8-screen movie theatre on the island and a resident symphony orchestra. Scheduled touring artists are also a regular feature. Fine dining, museums, art galleries, and shopping are abundant.

Safety:  Violent crimes are not a problem on the island, but the property crimes of burglary and auto theft are relatively high.

Taxes:  State sales tax in Hawaii is 4%. State income tax is based on federal income tax with 8 brackets. They range from 1.6% of the first $1,500 to 8.75% over $20,500. Social Security, private and public pensions are fully exempt.

Transportation:  There is no public bus system on Maui but car rental and taxi service are plentiful. Bicycles and mopeds can also be rented. There is a ferry from Maui to the islands of Molokai and Lanai and cruise ships sail weekly from Honolulu to the other islands; but most inter-island transport is by plane. Maui has three airports served by five carriers. Three airlines, United, Delta, and Hawaiian offer direct flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Inter-island flights are frequent and short.

Contact: The Maui Chamber of Commerce