Wailuku - Live in Wailuku and Work in Kahului

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Sunday, December 30, 2007

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Wailuku - Live in Wailuku and work in Kahului


We arrived in Wailuku with our usual background knowledge of a new place - that is, none at all. We were, therefore, eager to see what this town had to offer.

Relieved to be far from the site of our harrowing drive along the northern one-lane coastal road known as the Kahekili Highway, we looked forward to enjoying a walkabout in Wailuku.

As a series of one-ways took us through the heart of the town, I wanted to circle back to the central core and see this town on foot.

But first we decided to take a short drive west to the Iao Valley State Park. Maui is known as an island of valleys and the Iao Valley is not to be missed for its beauty and ease of access. We took Highway 32 (Kaahumanu Road) west out of Wailuku which turns into Highway 32O and leads to a dead end in Iao Valley State Park.

Along the way we passed a tourist attraction known as the Tropical Gardens of Maui alleged to be the finest tropical garden and nursery on the island. Since it was getting late in the day we proceeded on our way deeper into the valley.

Upon arrival at the parking lot marking the end of the road, there is a great desire to get out of the car to look at the lush scenery. The valley is ted by a "Sugar Loaf" type of mountain which looms large on the northern side of the valley. This 2,250 foot peak is called Kukaemuko or the "Iao Needle" or the phallic stone of Kanaloa. The information in the photos tells its story. It is a great place to and enjoy the scenery.

The craving for a coffee and banana bread in the late afternoon was starting to creep into our consciousness. It was thus that we drove back into town and ended up at the Marc Aurel Café on 28 N. Market Street in the historic downtown of Wailuku. I had to go there just for the name. It sounded so, well - French, which immediately caught my attention.

Turns out, the reason I had heard the name before was that it belonged to Roman Cesar Mark Aurel (0121 -0180).

The café however was named after Marc Aurel Lionel Hrabak who was born in Germany and who founded the Espresso Bar in 1999.

The interesting story of the Espresso Bar can be found at: http://www.cafemarcaurel.com/aboutus.html

Due to his absence, I did not get a chance to speak with the cosmopolitan, bon vivant Marc Aurel.

The espresso and wine bar is now organized as a "hui" or a collective of owners.

After the mandatory Hawaiian cup of coffee and piece of banana bread we were ready to explore Wailuku. What struck me immediately was the abundance of beautiful architecture that was evident in the old buildings. The word "historical" immediately leapt to mind as we walked the streets of the central core of this town of 13,000.

Particularly fascinating was the old Iao Theatre just down the street from the Marc Aurel Espresso Bar. Most remarkable was its Spanish Mission style complete with a pink exterior. It has been the center of entertainment of Wailuku since 1922. It had been saved from demolition and renovated in 1995-1996. The Maui Community Theatre has been the driving force behind the survival of this beautiful building.

The rest of the town provided plenty of opportunity to admire the other older buildings which were often framed by a backdrop of high mountains. Contrary to other parts of the island we had seen, this seemed to be a lot less touristy and therefore more a reflection of authentic local life on Maui. This former plantation town would be a great place to live if you like the quiet life and work in nearby Kahului, the largest town in Maui. While Wailuku has the charm, Kahului, the town that I flew into when I got separated from Barbara (Blog 101: How Not to Fly from Big Island to Maui) is the economic center of the area.

Our time here was much too short to really appreciate in detail the historical buildings which are witness to a most interesting past. This was one place where I could have been coaxed into entering a book store to buy a walking tour guide with a good map and explanations. The last time I did that was in Quebec City in 1968.

On our way back to Lahaina we stopped at the now closed Maui Tropical Plantation. Even at dusk it was another wonderful opportunity to experience the lush vegetation of Maui.

Coming Soon:

The Road to Hana
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