Maui may be best known for its beautiful beaches and high-quality hotels, but get away from the resort areas and you’ll discover a friendly, multicultural island community. To explore the Valley Isle like a local, head to Central Maui, where the historic town of Wailuku sits back-to-back with the busy port of Kahului.
To cool off and take in Maui’s natural beauty, drive about 3 miles to ‘Iao Valley State Monument (pictured above), where a short walking path takes you over streams and through a botanical garden to a view of the ‘Iao Needle, a 1,200-foot-high rock formation. Parking, $5. tinyurl.com/iaomonument.
Take an afternoon to enjoy Wailuku’s history and small-town charm. On a stroll down Market Street, browse shops such as Maui Thing (mauithing.com), an island-inspired clothing company, and visit the 90-year-old Iao Theater (mauionstage.com), whose pink facade has become a local landmark.
Sheldon Simeon, a finalist on Top Chef, helped put Hawai‘i’s humble local-cooking style on the culinary map. Join the foodies, bankers, and construction workers who queue up daily for a poke bowl (pictured) or pork belly plate at Kahului’s Tin Roof, Simeon’s homage to the plantation-era lunch counter. Lunch plate, about $10. tinroofmaui.com.
At the nondescript neighborhood favorite Ichiban Okazuya (carry-out only, limited parking) in Wailuku, chicken katsu leads a lineup of plate-lunch classics. tinyurl.com/ichibano.
With just potatoes, oil, and salt on the list of ingredients, Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips are downright addictive. Visit the factory in Kahului to pick up gifts and a few bags for munching on your way home. Cash only. 295 Lalo Street, Kahului. (808) 877-3652.
Located a short walk from Wailuku town, the family-run Old Wailuku Inn (pictured above) is in a 1924 plantation-style home. Rates start at $165, including breakfast. mauiinn.com.