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Those who live on Maui and those who visit share a common bond: they don’t want to be anywhere else. Some love the beaches, or the mountains, or the ocean, or the weather. Others cherish the family connections and cultural continuity the island nurtures. Many enjoy Maui’s unique, friendly, fun-loving, big-hearted, active and healthful lifestyle. And everyone appreciates the island’s robust diversity.
The qualities that make Maui unique and universally loved are captured in the chapters that follow. There is a Maui only the sun, the stars, and the birds could see until recently: rugged cliffs, surf-fringed reefs, hidden waterfalls, and eroded mountain tops. There is a Maui seen from a walker ’s perspective: misty ocean coves, palm shaded beaches, dramatic overlooks, smoldering sunsets, and storybook skies vivid with rainbows. There is a nature lover’s Maui: tiny insects, birds and mountain ferns, dazzling arrays of tropical flowers, as well as monk seals, great whales, and other sea life. There is Upcountry, a “mountain Maui” of scenic farms and ranches; and the rugged Hāna Coast, where emerald rain forests meet a sapphire sea. Then there is the Maui most familiar to its longtime residents: famous local eateries, fairs, parades, and beloved island celebrities.
Absolute Maui draws its inspiration from the award-winning books Maui On My Mind and Maui, The Last Hawaiian Place by Robert Wenkam—both of which are now considered classics. But Maui isn’t really timeless, as the island is always changing. Wenkam’s 1970 Maui differed from the one explored 15 years later in Maui on My Mind, although both faithfully represented their eras.
Absolute Maui revisits the island many consider the world’s finest. Images were requested from Maui’s major photographers, who search its byways, mountains and beaches daily for visual opportunities. From the more than 9,500 photographs submitted, the 175 best appear in these pages. Each image is shot from the perspective of an explorer seeing a subject for the first time. And in each, we sense the photographer’s wonder—whether the subject is a whimsical roadside stand, a canoe team, an Edenic landscape, or simply Mauians enjoying their island pleasures and pastimes.
Absolute Maui takes its title from the caliber of these images, painstakingly taken by the island’s finest photographers, utilizing almost every modern-day photographic technique. The title also reminds us what Maui is, what it offers, and how lucky its residents and visitors are.