Kaanapali is the Waikiki of Maui - a coastal resort community.
Wailuku offers the best of both worlds in Hawai’i homes. Examples of colonial, art deco, craftsman, and Hawaiian plantation-style homes fill older Wailuku town neighborhoods. Newer small subdivisions with updated plantation styles are close to downtown. Further upland, vibrant planned communities offer several housing options. And closer yet to the West Maui Mountains are custom home communities on spacious lots with stunning scenic views of Central Maui, Haleakalā, and the ocean.
A growing small town centrally located to all Maui has to offer, Wailuku is off the beaten tourist path. Situated below the West Maui Mountains, past and future come together here. Small Town, Big Heart is the new motto for the ongoing revitalization of downtown Wailuku. Commercial redevelopment is blending the old with the new, maintaining the town’s historical character while providing a fresh infusion of desirable businesses and cultural projects. The revitalized “mom and pop” stores renew territorial storefronts along with newcomer fashion boutiques and bistros. It’s exciting times!
The various residential architectural styles in town reflect designs popular in earlier decades. However, Wailuku Town homes are generally a mix of older, Hawaiian plantation-style and newer plantation-style variations in small subdivisions. Beyond town on gentle slopes are recently developed planned communities with all the close-by conveniences. And further yet, upland homes and available residential lots with panoramic views hug the West Maui Mountains.
Wailuku is an exciting place to plan, start, and raise a family. From condos to townhouses and duplexes to single-family homes, a priority in these new planned communities is ‘ohana and community. And more homes are being built, while the county has just approved another unique planned community - a new neighborhood in Kehalani, and ongoing real estate development with a planned total of 2,400 homes.
The recent median list price for homes in Wailuku is up more than 40% percent from last year and over $1,000,000. The market continues to have limited inventory, but home sales are strong.
WailukuLIVE, Maui County’s information site on the revitalization project, explains, “The real character of a community comes from the people that make up the neighborhood. Keeping it ‘small town’ is about relationships, it’s about knowing your neighbor, talking story on the street and shopping local.”
Wailuku also has a significant cultural legacy that residents want to preserve. Because of Wailuku’s Native Hawaiian history and the former agricultural importance of its location at the convergence of four waterways, many residents, especially those whose families have lived here for generations, feel a close spiritual sense of place.
Wailuku has always attracted artists, creating a certain bohemian flair in the community. In Wailuku’s dynamic revitalization project, the arts, in many forms, are envisioned as a means to present and preserve Wailuku’s past while blending with its newly revitalized character. Small Town * Big Art is spearheading a collaborative effort “to develop an arts district that celebrates the distinctive sense of place, history and culture of Wailuku, Hawai’i.”
At the historic ‘Iao Theater, Maui OnStage presents dance and live theatre. And a recent proposal is for a Hawaiian cultural center to anchor the arts district. Hālau of ‘Ōiwi Art plans to be dedicated to studying, practicing, celebrating, and perpetuating Hula and the various ‘Ōiwi [native] arts.
Another Wailuku event intent on re-energizing the downtown area is the monthly First Friday celebration with food and crafts vendors and music. Begun initially to highlight the restaurants and businesses, old and new, it has become a trendy evening gathering place for locals and visitors. Streets are closed to traffic on Market Street, and a party atmosphere pervades.
The current population of Wailuku is almost 18,000. Residents are Native Hawaiian and of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Portuguese ancestry from the imported agricultural workers in the nineteenth century. Other ethnicities have also come to make Wailuku home. It is an eclectic community that embraces its past and looks forward to a revitalized beloved town.
The year-round average temperatures are between 82°F (28°C) and 90°F (32C). In town, the average monthly rainfall does not top 3 inches. Temperatures are cooler in higher elevations, but rain is more frequent. Winter is wettest, and summer is driest.
The average commute time is 21 minutes. However, the revitalization project is ongoing, and certain streets in town may be closed due to construction. The county provides a free shuttle service to town from certain areas in greater Wailuku to ease the traffic situations caused by the construction.
The Maui Bus Public Transit System travels in and around Wailuku and Kahului and has routes throughout the island. Other transportation options are taxis, Uber, and Lyft.
The instances of violent crime in Wailuku are below the state and national averages. However, the property crime rate is higher than both the state and national averages. The hope is that the revitalization project will help to lower property theft.
Maui Memorial Medical Center, Wailuku, is an acute care hospital. The hospital is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
According to seven hospital evaluation providers, Maui Memorial has mostly average or below-average ratings. US News cites heart failure, stroke, COPD, and pneumonia as its high-performance areas.
Kaiser Permanente and Maui Medical Group are among the various medical clinics available in Wailuku and bordering Kahului.
Wailuku has three public elementary schools (PK-5), one public intermediate school (6- 8), and one public high school (9-12). There are two private elementary schools (K-6 and 4-6), three private intermediate schools (7-8), and three private high schools (9-12). There are several pre-kindergarten facilities in and about Wailuku.
Online college classes are becoming more and more popular for convenience; however, Wailuku has a campus school, University of Hawaii Maui College, for those wanting a more personal college experience.
Feasting on Hawaiian, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, and Italian cuisines are just a few of the delights to be found in town! The dining is casual in these wooden storefront and charming hole-in-the-wall eateries.
Just a short hike from Main St. is a taste of nostalgia at Sam Sato’s, known from the ‘30s for its onolicious dry mein (saimin noodles boiled and tossed in sauce). It’s called dry mein because it isn’t served with broth, but delicious broth is available.
Delectable food and a tropical atmosphere are a combination I can immerse myself in! Café O’Lei is now at the Maui Tropical Plantation. I feast on the sautéed mahimahi or the blackened mahimahi while watching palm trees sway in front of the gorgeous view of the West Maui Mountains.
Kaanapali is the Waikiki of Maui - a coastal resort community.
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