Why Kahului is Maui’s (Non-Touristy) Heart

By Lacy Varner

Kahului Harbor, Maui at sunrise. Photo: Steve Grant.

When Maui locals say that they are going to “town,” they are referring to Kahului. Sitting smack dab in the middle of Central Maui, Kahului serves as the commercial hub of local activity. It is where we go to do our grocery shopping, hit the mall, grab some lunch, go to the doctor and get our oil changed. Doesn’t sound like a town you need to spend any time in? Too bad. It’s also where the airport and the largest harbor (for those coming by cruise ship) are located. So since you will be passing through whether you want to or not, why not take advantage and seek out the gems that can be found in this non-touristy town?

Kahului is Where the Locals Eat and Home to Maui’s Most Popular Treat, Tasaka Guri-Guri

The famous Tasaka Guri-Guri, Kahului, Maui. Photo composite from Rigel, Kirk K., bionicgrrrl.

Since this is such a local town, it’s a great place to find restaurants where locals really eat. Some of our favorites include Da Kitchen, Poi By The Pound, Bistro Casanova, and Wow Wee Maui Kava Bar and Grill. And for dessert, you cannot miss stopping by Tasaka Guri-Guri in the Maui Mall. After over 100 years in business, this delectable frozen treat is absolutely in the running for Maui’s signature dessert.

Kahului was Maui Plantation Workers’ “Dream City”

Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, Maui. Photo: Eric and Mary Ellen.

The Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum, though technically located in Puʻunene, is also worth a bit of your time. It covers the growth of the sugar industry and its influence on this little island. Although sugar cane operations officially shut down on Maui at the end of 2016, it will forever be at the heart of the Valley Isle’s history. And Kahului, especially, was developed as the “Dream City,” where plantation workers were finally able to achieve the dream of owning their own home.

Kahului is Where to Stock-up on Your Essentials

Queen Kaʻahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui. Photo: David Casteel.

And, of course, many visitors like to make a couple of stops in Kahului immediately after picking up their rental car. It’s where you’ll find the likes of Costco, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and etc. So if you’re looking to stock up on some essentials for your vacation, this is where to do it.

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