Thanksgiving on Maui with teenagers

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Thanksgiving on Maui with teenagers
Question: What is your recommendation for an active Thanksgiving weekend with two adults and three kids: ages 12, 14, and 19? We like hiking and biking. Familiar with eastern Sierra Nevada. Looking for new places.

Rina Shapira
Los Angeles, CA

Adventure Adviser: That time of year, your best bet for an active vacation that involves hiking and biking (read, no snow) can be summed up in one word: Aloha. Not that I'd recommend Hawaii for any old Thanksgiving jaunt, but since you just so happen to live in L.A., it probably makes more sense than making the cross-country schlep to the East Coast. And anyway, this will score you big points with the kids.

Of the seven islands, Maui probably has the most family-specific outdoor options beyond the beach. For lodging, talk to the experts at Hawaiian Island Vacations; they'll set you up with week-long house rentals--in everything from rural cottages to waterfront condos to plush beach houses--that include car and boardsailing rentals for $483-$650. The Lahaina-Kaanapali area is chock-a-block with condos, but you'll pay dearly for the hustle-and-bustle convenience. Head south to the sprawling (and, admittedly, slightly tacky) beachfront town of Kihei, where the condos are slightly cheaper.

Once you've gotten your sun-and-sand fix on some of the island's best south-shore beaches, head inland to Haleakala National Park and take your pick of some 36 miles of prime hiking trails both along the rim and inside the 10,023-foot dormant volcano itself. If you're looking for a full-day commitment, consider trekking the Sliding Sands Trail from the Visitor Center, which descends a steep 2,500 feet in four miles, or the Halemauu Trail at the parking lot off summit road. Pick up maps and information at the park visitor center (entry, $4 per vehicle; 808-572-9306), and don't forget a warm jacket: Daytime temperatures at the top usually max out at a chilly--by Hawaii standards--60 degrees. If you'd rather go with a guide, sign on with one of Hike Maui's interpretive hikes to some of the island's prettiest--and, better yet, least-traveled--mountain and coastal regions (half-day hikes, $70 per person; 808-879-5270).

While you're in the Haleakala area, why not indulge in a hair-raising downhill spin from the volcano's summit, down the rough and narrow Piilani Highway, through ocean-view ranchlands and fields, to rocky Nuu Bay. Chris's Adventures guides these 46-mile descents for $110 per person, including bike rental and lunch. Call 808-871-2453 for details. For solo riding, rent mountain bikes from West Maui Cycle in Lahaina ($19-$25 per day; car racks, $5; 808-661-9005) and try the 20 miles of unimproved coastal road--no rental cars allowed--that extend north from Kapalua, around the north end of West Maui, to Wailuku. Other fat-tire worthy routes: the Skyline Trail in Polipoli State Park in Upcountry Maui, or--and here's something a little different--the Munro Trail on neighboring island Lanai. To get there, take the Expedition ferry from Lahaina (round-trip, $50; 808-661-3756) and pedal to the trailhead at the base of the island's highest point, 3,400-foot Lanaihale. For more details, talk to the fat-tire folks at West Maui Cycle.

Back on Maui, south-shore Makena's Little Beach has some of the best snorkeling in the state--plenty of green turtles and butterfly fish just off the rocky shore. Be forewarned, however, that this is the island's unofficial nude beach. For guided half-day tours ($50 per person), call Snorkel Maui at 808-572-8437. If you need additional Hawaii information, consult "The Sportif Guide to Hawaii" in Outside's 1996-97 Winter Travel Guide.

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