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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
An idiosyncratic assortment of shops makes Wailuku's Market Street a delightful place for a stroll. Brown-Kobayashi and the Bird of Paradise Unique Antiques are the best shops for interesting collectibles and furnishings. Wailuku Coffee Company houses works by local artists and occasionally offers live entertainment in the evening. On the first Friday of every month Market Street closes to traffic from 5:30 to 9 for Wailuku's First Friday celebration. The fun includes street vendors, live entertainment, and food.
Affectionately called the Sugar Cane Train, Maui's only passenger train is an 1890s-vintage railway that once shuttled crops but now moves sightseers between Kaanapali and Lahaina. This quaint little attraction with its singing conductor is a big deal for Hawaii but probably not much of a thrill for those more accustomed to trains (though kids like it no matter where they grew up). www.sugarcanetrain.com. COST: $22.95. OPEN: Weekdays 10:15--4.
More of a friendly gesture than a town, this tiny outpost is the last bit of civilization before Kula Highway becomes a winding back road. A coffee tree pushes through the sunny deck at Grandma's Maui Coffee, the morning watering hole for Maui's cowboys who work at Ulupalakua or Kaupo Ranch. Keokea Gallery next door sells cool, quirky artwork. And two tiny stores—Fong's and Ching's—are testament to the Chinese immigrants who settled the area in the late 19th Century. The only restroom for miles is in the public park, and the view makes stretching your legs worth it.
Beautiful and secluded, Kapalua is West Maui's northernmost, most exclusive resort community. First developed in the late 1970s, the resort now includes the Ritz-Carlton, posh residential complexes, two golf courses, and the surrounding pineapple fields. The area's distinctive shops and restaurants cater to dedicated golfers, celebrities who want to be left alone, and some of the world's richest folks. In addition to golf, recreational activities include hiking and snorkeling. Mists regularly envelop the landscape of tall Cook pines and rolling fairways in Kapalua, which is cooler and quieter than its southern neighbors. The beaches here, including Kapalua and D.T. Fleming, are among Maui's finest.
The wild side of West Maui and untouched by progress, this tiny village at the north end of Honoapiilani Highway is a relic of pre-jet-travel Maui. Remote villages similar to Kahakuloa were once tucked away in several valleys in this area. Many residents still grow taro and live in the old Hawaiian way. Driving this route is not for the faint of heart: the unimproved road weaves along coastal cliffs, and there are lots of blind curves; it's not wide enough for two cars to pass in places. Watch out for stray cattle, roosters, and falling rocks. True adventurers will find terrific snorkeling and swimming along this drive, as well as some good hiking trails.
The theatrical look of Hawaii tourism—planned resort communities where luxury homes mix with high-rise hotels, fantasy swimming pools, and a theme-park landscape—all began right here in the 1960s, when clever marketers built this sunny shoreline into a playground for the world's vacationers. Three miles of uninterrupted white-sand beach and placid water form the front yard for this artificial utopia, with its 40 tennis courts and two championship golf courses.
Established at the turn of the 20th century by Japanese contract workers, this Buddhist mission is one of Lahaina's most popular sites, thanks to its idyllic setting and spectacular views across the channel. Although the buildings are not open to the public, you can stroll the grounds and enjoy glimpses of the 90-foot-high pagoda, as well as a great 3.5-ton copper and bronze statue of the Amida Buddha (erected in 1968). If you're nearby at 8 any evening, listen for the temple bell to toll 11 times; each peal has a specific significance. COST: Free.
Built in 1927, this beautiful open-air church is decorated with paintings depicting Hawaiian versions of Christian symbols (including a Hawaiian Madonna and child), rare or extinct birds, and native plants. At the afternoon services, the congregation is typically dressed in traditional clothing from Samoa and Tonga. Anyone is welcome to slip into one of the pews, carved from native woods. Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, lived in a large grass house on this site as a child. www.holyimaui.org. COST: Free. OPEN: Daily 8--5.
By now the relaxed pace of life that Hana residents enjoy should have you in its grasp, so you won't be discouraged to learn that the "town" is little more than a gas station, a post office, and a general store.
Just visible above the tide is a gigantic stone, perfectly molded into the shape of a low-backed chair and believed by Hawaiians to hold healing powers. It sits in the harbor where the sea and the underground freshwater meet. COST: Free.