Gracious town of Wailuku an old-fashioned treat on Hawaiian island of Maui
You hear a lot about Maui’s golden beaches and purple-pink sunsets. And there’s good reason for that.
But the last couple times I’ve been in my favourite spot on earth I’ve enjoyed hanging out in some of the funky, smaller towns that are a little ways from the parasailing and whale-watching adventures and the ubiquitous t-shirt shops that line the streets of just about tourist city.
I arrived on Maui a couple nights ago after a perfectly decent but unsatisfying Air Canada flight, unsatisfying mostly because it was an older aircraft that didn’t have seat-back movies. Maybe I’m spoiled (okay, I AM spoiled) but I don’t remember the last time I had to watch a movie on an airplane on one of those tiny overhead monitors and be forced to watch trashy, one-size-fits-all movies. I think mine had Al Pacino and what looked to be Adam Sandler, but is that really possible? Was I dreaming?
Anyway, rather than drive arrive at the Kahului airport on Maui and drive across the island to one of the more touristy spots I elected to stay my first night at an old fave; the lovely and charming Wailuku Inn (see photo). It’s a couple blocks from the main part of town, which really consists of about three blocks of low-key shops along Market St.
The Inn has a series of small rooms in two buildings. The main building has an upstairs dining hall that’s used for communal breakfasts, B and B style, plus a lovely, well-furnished sitting room and a back porch that overlooks a small but perfect garden with riotous croton, flaming red, yellow and green heliconia and a couple small palm trees dripping with enormous, green coconuts.
The owners, Thomas and Janice Stackhouse, are lovely folks and they served a mean Sunday breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, slightly spicy linguica (Portuguese sausage; a specialty in Hawaii given the number of Portuguese workers who came here way back when to man the fields) and a cinnamon bun with great coffee.
Wailuku has tons of charm and funky, small shops that are nothing like what you see in Lahaina or ritzy Wailea. And there's a great old theatre, the Iao.
I wanted to try Café O Lei on Market St. for Saturday dinner but it was closed so I ended up at the Coconut Grill, down at the Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului – near the main Maui airport. I had pork ribs slathered with tropical fruit juice and hoisin sauce for $16, complete with garlic mashed potatoes and a scoop of macaroni salad; always popular with carb-crazy Hawaiians.
The crab cakes with sweet chili aioli and drizzled papaya salsa were about the same price and also came with the same two sides. They were not only terrific, but about the size of a small baseball each.
Tons of cheap food and the local beers were about $4.50; making for a very filling and reasonably priced meal. Yet another reason to try a night in Wailuku.
The weather can be a little cooler and rainier on the Wailuku side, but there are tons of cute towns nearby, including Paia, which features a great coffee shop called Anthony’s and lots more. And it makes for a good base for an exploration of the lovely Iao Valley or the famous drive to Hana.
More to come this week on Lana'i and the equally fun Hotel Lana'i, plus the terrific Challenge at Manele golf course and the Lana'i City Grille. And then it's more Maui time in Lahaina, Ka'anapali and Napili....