Maui Revealed Controversy: Is the Anger Valid, Or Misdirected?

If you plan on visiting Maui, you may see Maui Revealed pop up as a recommended guidebook.

With a multitude of sales, a heap of reviews, and a different book for every island, the Revealed series might seem to be the best way to discover Maui.

Then you hear about the controversy: Maui Revealed came under fire with accusations of endorsing trespassing, as well as other anger-inducing oversights. 

But was the controversy valid?

What Is Maui Revealed?

Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook is a guidebook of Maui written and published by Andrew Doughty in 2000. It’s part of the “revealed” book series, written by Doughty based on his experiences traveling across the islands of Hawaii.

When Maui Revealed was published, it became the first guidebook to show Maui off the beaten track. Rather than guiding tourists to the built-up resort towns, it unveiled hidden pathways to natural wonders.

Maui Revealed quickly became a top choice for visitors to Maui.

What Is The Maui Revealed Controversy?

As the name would suggest, Maui Revealed uncovered many places on the island that tourists weren’t previously aware of. Or, places that a few tourists were aware of, but that were rarely mentioned in other guidebooks. Unsurprisingly, this brought more people to those areas. 

As visitors, this all sounds very exciting. Maui Revealed was popular on first release, as readers were eager to discover these Maui marvels.

To locals, Maui Revealed was less enthusiastically greeted. There are a few reasons why.

First, Maui Revealed brought tourists to places that were once considered local spots. Once the crowds had arrived, locals felt a little shoved to the side. With crowds tend to come higher prices as well. 

Second, Maui Revealed was accused of directing tourists onto private property in order to access these fantastic areas. Hard-to-reach beauty spots were listed, alongside directions that took you across private land. 

Were The Locals Right?

In some cases, these accusations were definitely accurate. The author admits to having accidentally included paths that cut through private property. Although, once these errors were pointed out, Doughty promised to remove them from later editions. 

Third, natural formations and landmarks were often considered to be spiritual areas in pre-contact Hawaii. Some felt that by listing them as places for tourists to discover, it undercut the significance of these sacred sites. 

Finally, many of the areas revealed in Maui Revealed were off the beaten track. Which in many cases meant that they were dangerous to access.

Tourists following the guidebook may have found themselves in trouble when the safety features were less extensive than they assumed.

Further controversy came when the author responded to these issues. Although references to certain areas and paths were removed, the disclaimer warning readers not to trespass felt like a Band-Aid over a serious problem. 

Of course, by the time Doughty was able to respond to the claims, the wide reach of the Maui Revealed guidebook meant the damage had already been done.

Was The Maui Revealed Anger Valid?

The debate around Maui Revealed continues on, although by this point many of the places first “revealed” in the guidebook are widely covered across other forms of media.

  • Speak to a tourist, and you’ll likely hear the opinion that Maui Revealed is a fantastic guidebook that offers an unbeatable look at all parts of Maui.
  • Ask a local, and you’ll hear a different opinion. Maui Revealed took local secrets and broadcast them publicly, and in doing so trampled over many local toes (both literally and figuratively).

The busy tourist areas on Maui can get incredibly crowded, which can be frustrating for locals looking for breathing room. 

Natural beauty spots may be breathtaking, but local knowledge was keeping them safe.

When tourists took a day trip, not fully understanding the danger—which was understated in Maui Revealed—accidents occurred. To prevent further problems, these sites were blocked for all visitors, disappointing Maui locals.

When presented with these issues, the author, Andrew Doughty, could have done more to resolve the issue.

Instead, Maui Revealed continues to be a source of local anger.

So, yes, in some ways the anger was valid.

Was The Maui Revealed Anger Misdirected?

Maui Revealed may have been the first book to introduce tourists to the hidden side of Maui, but it certainly isn’t the last. Inevitably, as the tourist industry grew (along with the internet), similar guidebooks have also been published.

Safety warnings on Maui are often lacking, even after  20 years since the release of Maui Revealed. Even at popular tourist spots like Nakalele Point, warning signs are few and far between.

Andrew Doughty has apologized for accidentally encouraging trespassing, and has removed specific references to paths. 

There was (and still is) a lot of anger towards the Maui Revealed guidebook among Maui locals. As disappointing as it can be to discover your favorite spot has become everyone else’s favorite spot, with the growth of the tourist industry it was inevitable. 

So, Did Maui Revealed Deserve The Controversy?

Maui Revealed is a helpful guidebook that accidentally ignited some real frustrations. And while that anger was definitely valid in part, Maui Revealed was really just the tip of the iceberg.

By now, Maui Revealed is just one of many guidebooks helping tourists discover more of Maui.

If you do want to check out Maui Revealed, then make sure to buy it on the mainland. Some shops on Maui still refuse to stock it because of the controversy.

As you travel around Maui, keep an eye out for signs identifying private property. Stay safe, keep to clearly marked paths, and watch for the tides. 

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