The largest town on the Hawaiian island of Maui
Situated on the north coast of Maui, Kahului boasts a 30,000 population, an international airport, deepwater harbour, light industry, a multitude of hotels and condominiums as well as a commercial centre. Acting as a distribution focus for agricultural products, the town is the main shopping and business outlet for the entire island and includes several shopping malls, department stores and restaurants. The Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, named after Maui’s one time Queen, is the town’s main square, offering more than a hundred boutiques, restaurants and stores as well as an up-to-the-minute cinema complex. The four shopping malls in the town are popular with locals.
Kahului, meaning ‘the winning’, is zero feet above sea level and is set on flat land backed by rugged, mountainous, tropical forested, volcanic terrain. Primary agricultural produce includes pineapples and sugarcane, both of which are also processed in the area. A museum, next to the sugar mill, traces the history of sugar plantations and those who worked on them.
During the rule of King Kamehameha I, Maui was the central hub of trade and commerce in Hawaii. Whaling was the main industry, but eventually agriculture took over, with sugar being the primary product. This attracted settlers and the city of Kahului was established in the mid 1800’s. The sugar industry flourished to the point where Kahului became the place to be, a town where everyone’s dreams came true due to the abundance of work and opportunity.
Most of the Kahului’s attractions today lie outside the town and are natural. This is what the area is all about, with some of the most beautiful and unforgettable scenery in the world. The white sand, palm lined beaches, azure blue sea, volcanic peaks and tropical climate complete the classical view of paradise on earth.
Equally stunning sights, created by man, but only made possible because of the island’s natural resources include a helicopter ride over the island, where the scenery takes on another perspective. Some of the rides will take you over the location for the film Jurassic Park. Kanaha Beach Park is a must see, with its views of the West Maui mountains and you should not miss Kanaha Pond Waterfowl Sanctuary, where endangered birds are looked after. The sugarcane plantation village of Paia, just outside Kahului has retained a yesteryear feel, though modern shops and restaurants are there to cater for visitors.
It is Kahului’s spectacular beauty that draws people to this part of the world, however. Villages, national parks, miles of beaches can all be seen first hand by cycling or hiking the countryside and if the lush scenery becomes a tad boring, then you can always head out to sea to catch a glimpse of the huge humpback whales as they make their way to distant waters.
Photo copyright: ©Hawaii Tourism Athority / Tor Johnson