Central Maui is the region that represents why Maui is called “The Valley Isle.” In fact, this is the exact location where Maui’s two volcano’s joined into one island land mass; West Maui’s extinct Pu’u Kukui, and the towering and dormant Mt. Haleakala. Historically, the Central Maui plains were always a huge area of commerce. Once, this area was a thriving agricultural community, housing thousands of immigrants who migrated to Maui to work on the world-renowned sugar plantations. Today, Central Maui still serves as the location where most commercial and industrial business takes place, acting as a “city center.” Here you will find mass-market chain retail stores, shopping centers, movie theaters, restaurants, hiking, beaches, and destination real estate properties.
While in Central Maui, explore Maui’s history at the Bailey House where one of the largest collections of Hawaiian artifacts are on display. Or, visit the Alexander &Baldwin Sugar Museum to learn about Maui’s early missionary and agri-business. If you’re interested in the ecology specific to Maui, do not miss the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens where you can tour 7-acres of native Hawaiian and Polynesian plant species.
Developed in the 1950′s, Kahului now houses over 26,000 residents. Here you will find the bulk of Maui’s mainstream commerce; shopping, restaurants, and the Kahului Airport where over 2.5 million visitors travel through every year. The three main shopping centers are the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, the Maui Marketplace and the Maui Mall. University of Hawaii has recently absorbed the Maui Community College campus. This marks the first time in Maui’s history where residents and out of state students have the opportunity to receive a 4-year university degree on Maui. Offering a diverse selection of classes, UH Maui is a great place to further your education on Hawaiian culture and eco-island sustainability. Kahului is also where you’ll find the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. The MACC has become Maui’s premiere venue for live music, dance, and cultural performances. As a resident or a visitor, the MACC offers an invaluable cultural experience time and time again. There are many secret gems to find in Kahului, but perhaps one of the most underground is offered by Tour da Food Maui. Long time Maui resident, Bonnie Friedman offers specialized guided ethnic-food tours to a selection of “in the know” hole-in- the-wall restaurants, bakeries and family owned businesses around the Kahului area.
If nature is what you’re after, visit the Kanaha Wildlife sanctuary where you can trek a shoreline trail discovering some of Hawaii’s most endangered bird species; the rare Koloa duck, and other various migrating shore birds. If you love the ocean, and a day at the beach, rest your head on the sands of Kanaha Beach Park. This is one of the most popular windsurfing and kite surfing beaches on Maui.
Located just west of Kahului is the historic town of Wailuku, translating to “Water of Destruction” in Hawaiian. The town was named after the battle that took place in Iao Valley between King Kamehameha the Great and the infamous Maui warriors in 1790. This prominent little town now houses the county seat, governmental buildings, antique shops, galleries, restaurants, wine-bars, boutiques and the landmark Iao Theater. In hopes of bringing more energy into this otherwise secret and sleepy town of Wailuku, Maui residents have now successfully held their Wailuku First Friday’s for over three years. A night not to miss, Market Street welcomes a nightlong event of music, dancing, shopping and socializing every first Friday of the month.
Iao Valley State Park
Quoted as “the Yosemite of the Pacific,” by Mark Twain, Iao Valley is one of the most unbelievably magical locations on Maui. Within Iao Valley, a 2,250-foot stone pillar covered in lush green moss, surrounded by the many shades of green jungle-luster, is the Iao Needle. This geographical landmark is surrounded by the walls of the Pu’u Kukui volcano crater and rises above the Iao streams. The valley offers hiking trails, rainforest walks, swimming, botanical gardens, and a perfect location for picnics and barbeques. As a visitor or a resident, be sure to not miss out on this incredibly special Maui adventure.
Just northwest of Kahului, you’ll find Waihe’e and Waiehu. Here you’ll find some of the most premiere Maui coastal and residential beach real estate, pristine white sand beaches, an 18-hole golf course, and Hawaiian cultural landmarks. With just over 7,000 residents, these locations are known for their island beauty and integrated-living tranquility. The Waiehu Golf Course is situated just adjacent to the Waiehu Beach Park, with views of Kahului Bay, the distant Waihe’e reef, and a smooth shoreline of white sandy beach. This course is considered one of the two most superior municipal golf courses throughout the Hawaiian Islands. For a historically spiritual island experience, seek out the Haleki’i-Pihana State Monument located just off Waiehu Beach Road. At this site, you can explore the two ancient stone platforms (heiau) that were once used as a place of worship for Hawaiian demi-gods and royalty. The ancient stories state that this is the exact location where the King of Maui surveyed his lands, and where King Kamehameha the Great stood after his victory over the Kahekili warriors in the late 18th Century.