From Wailuku to Kula, Maui Delights Visitors
Central Maui is the region near the isthmus of land that separates the western and eastern parts of the island. The main towns of central Maui include Wailuku, the county seat, and Kahului, which borders Kahului Harbor.
Many ocean ships and barges visit Kahului Harbor, which is Maui’s main port and only deep-draft harbor.
Located just above Kahului Harbor is the world-class Maui Arts & Cultural Center (808-242-2787) which includes the 1,200-seat Castle Theater as well as the A & B Amphitheater and a fantastic art gallery.
Also in Kahului is the Kaahumanu Shopping Center which is the largest mall on the island.
Wailuku has many interesting sights to see, and a walking tour through the Wailuku Historic District on Kaahumanu Avenue provides a glimpse into the region’s past including many historic buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 1927 Iao Theater (808-242-6969, 68 North Market Street) is a Wailuku landmark that many people love to photograph. it is home to the Maui Community Theater and is the site of many community gatherings. The Wailuku Main Street Association (808-244-3888; 2062 Main Street) offers a self-guided walking tour of the Wailuku Historic District.
Nearby on High Street is the historic Kaahumanu Church (808-244-5189) that was built in the New England style in 1876.
Across from Kaahumanu Church is the Bailey House Museum (808-244-3326, 2375-A Main St.) in a building constructed in the 1830s using lava rock and native Hawaiian woods.
The structure originally served as the Wailuku Female Seminary, the first Hawaiian girl’s school, which was founded by American missionaries Edward and Caroline Bailey to train women in the “feminine arts.” The museum is now operated by the Maui Historical Society.
You can see a lovely botanical garden at Keopuolani Park which is near the War Memorial Stadium on Wailuku’s Kanaloa Avenue. The garden’s walking path meanders among many interesting native plants.
Iao Valley Road leads to Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Gardens which features traditional homes of many different ethnicities.
Iao Valley is a sacred Hawaiian area where many ancient chiefs are buried, and this was also the site of a famous Hawaiian battle between King Kamehameha and Maui’s chief Kalanikukupule. Iao Valley is also famous for the 1,200-foot Iao Needle.
There are some great hikes in Iao Valley, and the Hawai‘i Nature Center (808-244-6500; 875 Iao Valley Road) has an Interactive Nature Museum with many exhibits about Hawaii’s natural history.
The Hawaii Nature Center provides hiking and educational opportunities in ‘Īao Valley. The Interactive Nature Museum with more than 30 hands-on exhibits about Hawaiian natural history.
Another Central Maui attraction is the Kanaha Pond Wildlife Refuge (808-984-8100) where many native Hawaiian birds can be seen. The Refuge is located about two miles west of the junction between Hana Highway and Haleakala Highway.
Last but not least among Central Maui’s main attractions is the Maui Tropical Plantation & Country Store (808-244-7643), an agricultural theme park just outside of Wailuku off the Honoapiilani Highway. The Plantation features many cultural and historical exhibits as well as a narrated train ride.
Last but not least amont Central Maui’s attractions is the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum (808-871-8058, 3957 Hansen Road, Puunene) which relives the sugar plantation days with many exhibits including a scale model of a cane crusher. There are many displays about early plantation life including the immigrant groups that came to Hawaii to work on the plantations.