Arriving at Kahului Airport, most visitors will start their vacations in Central Maui. It’s the island’s industrial and commercial hub that may not seem like much to a newcomer but upon closer look, offers off-the-beaten-path treasures waiting to be discovered.

Central Maui is home to Īao Valley State Park.

Central Maui is bordered by the West Maui mountains and Haleakala. Beyond the industrial buildings, however, you’ll find many opportunities for shopping. Queen Kaahumanu Center is the island’s largest shopping mall. It’s home to the typical retail stores, such as Macy’s and Foot Locker. For island specialties, head to the little kiosks in the middle of the mall.

As far as shopping for the necessities while on vacation – such as stocking up on groceries or replenishing toiletries – your best bet would be the Maui Mall or Maui Marketplace. That’s where you’ll find a Long’s Drug Store, Walmart, Kmart and Costco. There are a few specialty shops here, like Tasaka Guri-Guri. A great way to cool off after all that shopping.

Now for the really fun stuff: sightseeing! Drive over to Kahului’s neighboring town of Wailuku, where you’ll find history living in every building and every mom-and-pop shop. Wailuku is home to the Maui County government buildings, as well as historic churches and the Bailey House Museum. Of course, I’m all about the island foods, so be sure to check out Sam Sato’s. Hands down, the best manju bakery in the islands.

A day spent in Central Maui just isn’t complete without a visit to one of the most sacred places on the island, Īao Valley State Park. The main attraction at the park is the iconic green-mantled rock outcropping that rises 1,200 feet in the air. Nicknamed “The Needle,” the outcropping is located at the center of the valley, below the emerald peaks that guard the lush valley floor.

CENTRAL MAUI • Kahului, Wailuku

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