Category Archives: Travel

Maui’s Magnificent Climates

Shangri-La is a fictional place described as a mystical, harmonious valley in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton, and has become synonymous with any earthly paradise ~ a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.

Like Shangri La the Hawaiian Islands may be the most isolated archipelago on earth, yet contain all the earth’s terrestrial biomes, except for tundra.

The climate of a region determines what plants will grow, and what animals will inhabit it. All three: climate, plants and animals are interwoven to create the fabric of a biome. A biome is a large geographical area in which life is adapted to that particular environment.

The major terrestrial biomes in the world include: Desert, Tundra, Chaparral or Scrub, Taiga or Coniferous Forest, Temperate Deciduous Forest, Grassland, Temperate Rain Forest, Tropical Rain Forest, Land Caves, and Wetlands.

For such a small area Hawai`i has a wide variety of biomes  due to a variety of factors including topography and locations. Each biome consists of many ecosystems whose communities have adapted to the small differences in climate and the environment inside the biome.

Hawai`i’s main biomes are: Coastal, Dry Wood Forest, Mesic Forest,
Rainforest, Desert, Sub-Alpine Grass/Shrubland and Alpine Desert.

The island of Hawai`i are rather dry and were it not for their
large mountains that catch precipitation, these islands would be noticeable
deserts.

ARRIVING BY AIR

In the 1920s a select few well-heeled visitors came to vacation in the two or three grand hotels at Waikiki Beach. Some flew in small amphibian airplanes to see the volcanoes on the Big Island, but Maui was seldom on their itinerary.

Inter-Island Airways, Ltd., (which eventually became Hawaiian Airlines), a subsidiary of Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, landed its first Sikorsky plane on Maui on November 11, 1929. The following year Maui’s first official airport opened at Ma’alaea, and Inter-Island Airways began a daily passenger service to Maui, carrying passengers aboard Sikorsky planes with a 75- minute flight time from Honolulu.

In early 1938, construction began on a new Maui airport near Camp 6 in Pu’unene. And during the early 1940’s, the military completed construction of air bases on Maui, including the Pu’unene Naval Air Station. During WWII, as Maui became an important training, staging, and rest area for U. S. military forces in the Pacific, that station was no longer big enough, and the Naval Air Station at Kahului (NASKA) was established in the cane fields and beaches around Kahului. After the war, the site at NASKA was described as the “most potentially ideal commercial airport site,” and in August, 1950, work began on Maui’s new commercial air terminal.

In 1951 Maui hosted 14,000 visitors.

The Kahului Airport became Maui’s main commercial and passenger air terminal on June 24, 1952, when Hawaiian Airlines and Trans-Pacific Airlines flights landed. By August, 1959, the year Hawai’i became a state, Maui had committed to developing its own visitor niche and work began at Ka’anapali, Hawaii’s first planned resort.

The early 1980’s brought direct service from the mainland to Maui when United Air Lines’ first flight from Los Angeles landed at the Kahului Airport carrying 180 passengers.

In 2010 Maui hosted 2,089,661 visitors.