Considered less than inspiring by most, Maui’s transit hub of Kahului is usually seen through the rearview mirror on the way to and from the airport, Hana, or the west side. However, this local’s haven is where you should shop for groceries, hit up the mall or the swap meet, and windsurf.
The industrial look and the traffic hide the beauty of Maui’s crossroads, where east meets west, airliners rumble onto the island and cruise ships drop their anchors. However Kahului’s natural abundance stands its ground amid development.
Kahului’s Natural Attractions: Kahului Harbor the port for cargo vessels and cruise ships. Hidden here is Hoaloha Park, an oceanfront grassy area ideal for a picnic of freshly caught fish sizzled to perfection in a coat of panko, or served as a tangy poke from the beloved Cynnamon’s food truck.
At the western edge of the harbor, the free Maui Nui Botanical Gardens showcases native Hawai’ian plants and begs to be meandered through.
Shopping: Maui’s vintage steals can be found on Saturday morning at the huge Maui Swap Meet (310 W Kaahumanu Ave, Kahului). This is the place to score Hawai’iana, aloha shirts, banana bread and fresh produce for dirt cheap prices.
Kahului’s cheap eats: Many of Kahului’s restaurants are hidden in strip malls centered on or around Highways 36 and 32. The most notable table to grab Hawai’ian comfort food is Da Kitchen Café, known for gigantic portions of spam musubi, loco moco, and teriyaki. Another fun stop is Wow Wee Maui’s Kava Bar and Grill, which has a hidden sushi bar inside and a lively drinking area serving up the ancient kava root beverage that some say carries a whopper of a buzz. Hidden in Maui Mall, Tasaka Guri Guri shop offers a sweet strawberry and pineapple confection sure to satisfy your dessert cravings. For your caffeine fix, nothing beats Maui Coffee Roasters’ vanilla mac-nut brews. For more on Hawaii’s coffee scene, click here.
Another gem in this stretch of the island is Maui College’s culinary program. This kitchen is famous statewide. The students run two eateries during the school year: A food court that serves yummy farm to table cuisine; and the multi-coursed Class Act for a surprisingly upscale locally sourced sit-down meal atop white tablecloths (make reservations for this seasonal restaurant).