Photos: Hawaiian paradise

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  1. Waimea Canyon, Kauai

    Kalalau Valley, on Kauai's west side, is more than 3,000 feet deep and provides stunning panoramic views. Waimea is nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." (John Borthwick / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii

    Men row their Hawaiian outrigger canoe towards Waikiki beach, with Diamond Head in the background. Outrigger canoes are now used for recreation purposes and to ride the waves, but in times past they were the main means of transportation between the Hawaiian Islands. (Mike Nelson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The tranquil waters of Oahu

    Hanauma Bay is one of the finest stretches of beach in the world. (Eric L Wheater / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Surfer's paradise

    Australian Luke Egan competes on Oahu's North Shore, one of the best places in Hawaii to ride the big waves. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Water colors

    A school of manini fish pass over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Wailua Falls

    The beautiful 83-foot tiered Wailua Falls is an easily accessible, must-see waterfall on the island of Kauai. Wailua Falls was first made famous when it was featured in the television show, "Fantasy Island." (James Randklev / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Emerald peaks

    The iconic, towering emerald peaks of the 1,200-foot Iao Needle, stand out in Maui's Iao Valley State Park. (Adina Tovy Amsel / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Historic reminder

    The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, marks the resting place of many of the battleship's 1,177 crew members who lost their lives during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 by the Japanese. The memorial is the "ground zero" of World War II. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Aloha!

    Hula dancers welcome the sailing crew of a Hokule'a, a canoe, into Kailua Bay. (Ronen Zilberman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The heart of Hawaii

    The sun sets on Honolulu, Oahu's capital and Hawaii's largest, most populous city. (Robert Y. Ono / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Polynesian heat

    Brandon OFueo Maneafaiga, 23, of Waianae, Hawaii balances two flaming knifes during the 13th Annual World Fireknife Championship at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Laie, Hawaii. (Lucy Pemoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Explosive attraction

    People watch from a viewing area as an explosion takes place on Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Legend says the volcano goddess Pele dug fire pits as she traveled from island to island looking for a home with her brothers and sisters. She finally settled at Kilauea's summit, where she lives at Halemaumau crater. (Leigh Hilbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Forces of nature

    The Dragon's Teeth are bizarre lava formations eroded by wind and salt spray at Makalua-puna Point. (Karl Lehmann / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Heaven on Earth

    Astronomy observatories are seen on the peak of the snow-covered, Mauna Kea mountain near Hilo, Hawaii. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano. (Tim Wright / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. On the way to Sainthood

    Tourists walk through a cemetery past the grave, left, of Father Damien at Kalawao, Hawaii. After cancer patient Audrey Toguchi prayed to Father Damien, known for helping leprosy patients in Hawaii, to help her, and her cancer went away, Pope Benedict XVI approved the case in July 2008 as Damien's second miracle, opening the way for the 19th century Belgian priest to be declared a saint. (Eric Risberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Cool colors

    Rainbow eucalyptus (Mindanao Gum) trees grow in Keanae, Maui. Once a year, these magnificent trees shed their bark and take on the colors of the rainbow. (James Randklev / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Magic Sands

    An aerial view of La'aloa Beach Park or Magic Sands beach in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The beach is called Magic Sands because when rough surf hits, all of the sand is emptied off the beach and temporarily moved out to sea. (Brian Powers / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 6/30/2005 6:59:06 PM ET 2005-06-30T22:59:06

It's time to start thinking about a visit to the island of Maui, where you can see Hawaii without the big cities, chill out on any number of beaches, climb an extinct volcano, watch whales, and just generally have a good time in the tropic sunshine.

Make it a Christmas vacation and take in the holiday lighting of the Banyan Tree, one of the landmarks in the island's main town of Lahaina. Go to Aloha from Maui - http://www.visitmaui.com/ - look for the calendar and click on December. Looking for a helicopter tour, eco tour, ocean fishing or a nice quiet nature walk? Click on "Activities" and browse through the list. There's even stuff for kids listed under "Family Vacation."

Be sure to click on Aloha's "Hawaiian Culture" to learn about the Hawaiian people, along with "Moloka'i/Lana'i" to see what there is to appreciate about the two nearby islands.

Learn even more about the people whose islands you'll be visiting at the Maui Nui Cultural Links Directory - http://www.mauiculture.net/kuhikuhi/ - which will take you to sources of information about everything from tours of historical sites to music to ancient history and foods.

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Look over some of the island's boat charter, whale watching and diving services by clicking on "Maui Ocean Activities" at Maui Hawaii Tours - http://www.lahaina.com/activity.htm - which also provides links to outfits that will help you have a good time in the air and on land.

Check out the "Top 10 Things to Do on Maui" at the guide from About.com - http://gohawaii.about.com/od/maui/ - including the standard luau, whale watching and hiking in a rain forest. While you're on the list, look for the beach guide, which is really an expanded photo gallery. Don't stop at the "Top 10"; you also need to read their entries on Haleakala National Park, driving the Hana Highway, and Lahaina and the Kaanapali Beach.

Take a break from the beaches and the tours and golf and take a stroll in the Maui Botanic Gardens & Arboretum - http://www.mauigardenofeden.com/ - through their flowers and scenery surroundings. Need a visual kick? Click on "Photos" to sample the attractions.

"Things Not to Miss" is one of the best sections of Plantsman's Maui - http://pages.prodigy.net/plantsman/contents.htm - especially for its brief guide to major beaches. Be sure to scan through the photo gallery and visitors' tips. But be cautious of their dining and shopping tips - this Web site hasn't been updated in a while.

Survey places to stay, categorized from bed & breakfast to wheelchair-friendly, in the Maui accommodations section of Best Places Hawaii - http://www.bestplaceshawaii.com/maui/ - where you also can get a glimpse of entertainment - including festivals and luaus - and shopping to fit almost any appetite.

Keep exploring with the help of Hawaii Island Connections -http://www.islandconnection.info/maui.htm - where you'll find links to a hotel and resorts directory, dive sites, and even the Maui Music Festival, set for next Memorial Day weekend.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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