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, an island-inspired clothing company, and visit the 90-year-old Iao Theater, 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..
At the nondescript neighborhood favorite Ichiban Okazuya (carry-out only, limited parking) in Wailuku, chicken katsu leads a lineup of plate-lunch classics.
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.
AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.
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