Just to the west and adjacent to Kahului and its protected harbor, Wailuku Hawaii is one of the main gateways to the beautiful Iao Valley. It is, in essence, a suburb of Kahului, which is the largest community on the island and the site of the main airport. This makes Wailuku travel quite convenient and means that a Wailuku vacation can put you close to many of the island’s attractions without the crowds normally associated with resort areas. If you take a vacation to Wailuku in Maui you will undoubtedly need to take advantage of car rentals. This is the only practical method of getting from place to place around the island, as is true on the other Hawaiian islands.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Wailuku Hawaii was the main tourist destination on the island. This wasn’t saying a lot then, as tourism was nothing like the industry it is today. It was, however, central to reaching the sugar plantations, at the time the main source of Maui commerce. Today those plantations and the part that sugar production played in the island’s history and culture are major tourist attractions.
On your Wailuku vacation you can visit Kaahumanu Church, named for beloved Queen Kaahumanu (wife of King Kamehameha I) who was born in one of the caves along the Hana coast. This Hawaiian monarch was an early Christian convert and played a pivotal role in allowing the influx of missionaries from Massachusetts and other New England states to set up missions across all the islands. The Kaahumanu Church was built in 1876 in the New England style, as were most early Hawaiian churches. It is located on Highway 32 just behind Kahului Harbor and next to the Bailey House Museum.
The Bailey House Museum, the former girls’ mission school and home of Edward Bailey who built the neighboring church, is one of the nicer museums to visit during your Wailuku travel or even if you’re just passing through the town. The museum boasts lovely gardens and houses Hawaiian artifacts, period furnishings, and paintings by Bailey. Here you can even see Kahanamoku’s 150-pound redwood surfboard. Another missionary-era home you can see on history tours of Wailuku Hawaii is the Alexander House, established by William Alexander, one of the descendants of the Alexander and Bailey sugar plantation in Paia. To see another of the museums chronicling the impact of plantation life on the islands, visit the Sugar Museum in nearby Puunene.
Your Wailuku vacation can also include some hiking suitable for children, something unusual in the normally rugged island countryside. The Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens memorializes the cultural roots that created the Maui melting pot, with an early Hawaiian meetinghouse (called a hale), a saltbox house in the New England style, a Portuguese villa and gardens, and other dwellings and gardens from China, Japan, and the Philippines. Just next door, is the Hawaii Nature Center with hiking trails.
During your Wailuku travel you can explore two of the state’s most accessible archeological sites at the Halekii-Pihana Heiaus State Monuments. These are located in town just a couple blocks from the beaches. The park protects two ancient temples, called heiaus, dating to the thirteenth century. One is thought to be where King Kamehameha I performed his last native sacrifices.