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Exploring: Island Tours > Maui > Central
Most people speed through central Maui on their way to and from the airport, but this area is well worth a tour. Beyond the strip malls and the developments that house a third of Mauians there are some noteworthy sites, natural and historical. The towns of Kahului and Wailuku have a rich history, being the sites of great battles. One of them, the bloodiest in the island's history, gave Wailuku it's name, Bloody Waters.
The towns offer some bargain shopping, and the Iao Valley State Park is a must on your island To Do list. Beginning in Kahului, here are some of Central Maui's attractions:
Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary was once an ancient Hawai'ian fishpond that now serves as home to two indigenous birds, the ae'o (Hawai'ian stilt) and the alae ke'oke'o (Hawai'ian coot) as well as migrating ducks and geese. Bring you binoculars for a good look.
Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum sits beside an operating sugar mill and has informative displays of the lives and living conditions of sugar plantation workers since the 1870s. Its gift shop has some interesting articles as well as a good collection of books.
Maui Community Arts and Cultural Center, a new complex, provides a lovely venue for the performing arts. Check the schedule of performances, and don't miss the Hawai'ian cultural presentations such as hula and music.
Ka'ahumanu Church, located in Wailuku, is built on the site of the first church services attended by Queen Ka'ahumanu in 1832. The present structure was built in 1876 and restored in 1975. It's a lovely building, but you can go inside only for Sunday services. If you are so inclined, you'll hear hymns sung in Hawai'ian and enjoy an unusual cultural and religious experience.
Hale Hoikeike or the Bailey House Museum is the restored home of a prominent Maui family headed by Edward Bailey, who among many his many contributions to Maui was also an accomplished artist. His paintings along with ancient Hawai'ian artifacts and period furnishings are on display. Outside are outrigger canoes and a surfboard that belonged to Duke Kahanamoku. A self-guided tour here is highly recommended.
Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens is dedicated to the cultures that comprise Hawai'i's people. On display are different types of ethnic structures, a Hawai'ian grass shack, a Japanese teahouse, a Chinese pagoda, a Filipino bamboo house, a Portuguese villa, and a New England salt box. This is a charming place for a family picnic.
Maui Tropical Plantation is another good family activity. Kids will love to ride on the Tropical Express, a tram that winds through fields of sugarcane, pineapple, mangoes, bananas, coffee, and macadamia nuts as well as gardens of fragrant, exotic flowers. On some weekday evenings, there's a barbecue/luau and entertainment.
Iao Valley State Park: This sacred valley draped in green has long been a place of pilgrimage. Now visitors come to see the impressive Iao Needle rising 1200 feet from the valley floor and to dip into pools along the valley's stream. Well-maintained paths take you into the valley, but to escape the crowds, take the dirt paths further up and explore amid the mists of this magical valley.
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