Central Maui Destination Guide
Dine out, shop Maui’s biggest mall, tour plantations and historic sites, and hike the island’s core, where the top draw is lush ‘Iao Valley State Park, with its quiet undulating valleys and clear mountain streams.
We recommend calling ahead before visiting shops, restaurants and attractions to confirm hours of operation. Many businesses across the island have modified operations in response to the global crisis.
ʻĪAO VALLEY STATE PARK
See Maui’s famous landmark, the ‘Iao Needle, at this lush 4,000-acre park and historic site, just went of Wailuku. Back in 1790, the Maui army used the 1,200-foot-high green-carpeted rock outcropping as a strategic lookout point in a fierce battle against King Kamehameha I. Even so, the king succeeded in his bid to unite the islands, and his pivotal victory changed the course of Hawaiian history. Hike the walking paths past the dramatic landscape of streams and deep ravines. Start early to get the best views of the valley and stream below.
WAIHE’E RIDGE HIKE
This is one of Maui’s most scenic hikes, taking you way up into the clouds with 360-degree panoramas of sea, sky, valleys, mountains and neighboring islands in the distance. Gain elevation — and spectacular vistas — quickly on this five-mile round-trip trail that climbs 1,500 feet past waterfalls and through tropical forest of guava, kukui (candlenut tree), ʻōhiʻa lehua (flowering myrtle) and lacy green ferns. Enjoy exotic bird watching, too, keeping an eye out for Hawaiian honeycreepers: ʻapapane, Hawaiʻi ʻamakihi, and, if you’re lucky, an ʻIʻiwi.
FLYIN’ HAWAIIAN ZIPLINE
Views are unparalleled of both the North and South Shores, along with towering Haleakalā, from Maui’s longest zipline. Choose from eight ziplines over 2.5 miles at this canopy adventure covering The Valley Isle’s West Maui mountains: from a 250-foot ride to a whopping 3,600 feet.
Hawaiian history permeates this colorful town — an interesting mix of the young and old, with its cute wooden storefronts, longtime mom ‘n pop stores, stylish cafes and coffee houses, classic tropical scenery and backdrop of the dramatic ʻĪao Valley. Wailuku’s cultural legacy and historical significance dates back to King Kamehameha I’s 1790 victory at ʻĪao Valley and the birthplace of Hawaiʻi’s powerful sugar industry. Because Wailuku is only 10 minutes from the airport, it’s easy to visit on your way to or from the island.
MAUI TROPICAL PLANTATION
Take a 40-minute guided tram ride right through the fields to get an overview of Hawaiian agriculture at this 120-acre working plantation and preserve. The tour includes a coconut husking demonstration as well. Make time to stroll the nursery and its exotics: showy hibiscus, orchids and ginger, to name just a few. Also onsite are historic displays, live demos, a restaurant and souvenir shop.
QUEEN KA’AHUMANU SHOPPING CENTER
If you’ve got serious shopping on the agenda, spend the afternoon in Kahului at Maui’s largest mall. This shopping and entertainment destination has the island’s only department stores, Sears and Macy’s, and 100-plus other retailers and dining venues. Shop trendy island fashions and national brand names such as American Eagle Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, Claire’s and Vans.
MAUI ARTS & CULTURAL CENTER
If you want to see Hawaiian talents live on stage, take in a concert or ballet, it’s got to be this place — Hawaiʻi’s best and most comprehensive visual and performing arts complex. The $32 million facility on 12 acres showcases diversity with its extensive list of ongoing gallery tours, performances, programs, exhibits and special events.
tHE bAILEY hOUSE
Learn about Hawaiian history and art in this museum on Wailuku run by the Maui Historical Society. The 1833 home at the base of the ʻIao Valley is made of lava rock and koa wood, and its second floor depicts early 19th century local home living. Peruse the native Hawaiian plant garden, including some endangered varieties, and see artifacts and artwork from pre-European Hawaiʻi to the 19th century. The name, Hale Hōʻikeʻike, means “House of Display.”
CENTRAL MAUI RESTAURANTS
In Wailuku, meet the locals over a hearty breakfast or noodle lunch at staple Sam Sato’s, a popular haunt. For sophisticated New American farm-to-fork, go to The Mill House, surrounded by farmland and lush valley landscape on the Maui Tropical Plantation grounds. Kahului’s Da Kitchen is for sticky Teriyaki ribs, Kalua won tons, fish tempura, fried spam and other popular island-style eats. Take a seat at the counter of Hawaiian comfort food master Chef Sheldon Simeon. At his always-full Tin Roof, you’ll want to join the other enthusiasts diving into the garlic noodles, poke or pork belly bowls. Also in Kahului, Geste Shrimp Truck beside the harbor serves line-ups of adoring fans what they call “the tastiest shrimp on Maui.” Order the shrimp plate with pepper and lemon with the requisite crab-mac salad side.
Fairmont Kea Lani’s Concierge Team is always happy to provide additional information, insider tips or reservations and can be reached by email or phone at 1 808 875 4100 ext. 290.