Thousands of humpback whales visit the Maui coast each winter. You can easily see them from shore, or boat, and their powerful tails can propel their 45-ton bodies skyward with a single thrust as they jostle, leap and lunge on their species' largest breeding grounds. Then, backpack 4 miles into the Haleakala Crater to the Holua campsite where the oo ah oo call of rare Hawaiian Petrols echoes from spectacular cliffs after dark. In the morning day hike four miles south, past beautiful silversword plants to the cindercones of Kawilinau.
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: (800) 831-4888, http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/
Haleakala National Park: (808) 572-4400, www.nps.gov/hale