This flat, often windy corridor between Maui’s two volcanoes is where you’ll most likely arrive—it’s the site of the main airport. It’s also home to the majority of the island’s population, the heart of the business community, and the local government (courts, cops, and county/state government agencies). You’ll fi nd good shopping and dining bargains here but very little in the way of accommodations.
This is “Dream City,” home to thousands of former sugar-cane workers whose dream in life was to own their own homes away from the sugar plantations. There’s wonderful shopping here (especially at discount stores), and a couple of small hotels near the airport are convenient for 1-night stays if you have a late arrival or early departure, but this is not a place to spend your entire vacation.
Wailuku is like a time capsule, with its faded wooden storefronts, old plantation homes, shops straight out of the 1940s and 1950s, and relaxed way of life. While most people race through on their way to see the natural beauty of Iao Valley , this quaint little town is worth a brief visit, if only to see a real place where real people actually appear to be working at something other than a suntan. This is the county seat, so you’ll see people in suits on important missions in the tropical heat. Beaches surrounding Wailuku are not great for swimming, but the town has a spectacular view of Haleakala Crater, great budget restaurants, some interesting bungalow architecture, a Frank Lloyd Wright building, a wonderful historic B&B, and the always-endearing Bailey House Museum.