Maui Perfect Day on a Budget


Story by Lehia Apana

8:30–11 a.m. Dip into your purse, check between the couch cushions, or survey your car floor. We’ll bet you can gather enough coins for Maui Swap Meet admission. This island tradition is a magnet for bargain hunters. Browse tropical-flower stands, creations by local artists, antiques, baked goods, jewelry and so much more. Visitors can find inexpensive souvenirs here, too, but beware: some are imported from elsewhere. Tip: Purchase a grab-and-go lunch to enjoy at your next stop. 50¢ admission; 12 and younger are free. 7 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturdays. University of Hawai‘i Maui College, corner of Wahinepio Avenue and Kahului Beach Road, Kahului; 808-244-3100.

Iao needle

11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Head mauka (towards the mountains) to the wildly lush ‘Īao Valley—or as Mark Twain dubbed it, the “Yosemite of the Pacific.” More than merely a scenic postcard, this area is steeped in Hawaiian history. In 1790, Kamehameha I, chief of Hawai‘i Island, defeated Maui ruler Kalanikūpule in a battle so bloody that warriors’ bodies dammed the river. No trace remains of that long-ago bloodshed. Instead, the valley’s Kepaniwai Park invites you to roam through Maui’s more recent history: at the colorful Heritage Gardens, life-sized structures honor cultures that contribute to Maui’s diversity, including a Japanese tea house and a Filipino farmer’s hut. This charming spot is picnic perfect, complete with ample cabanas. Further up the road is ‘Īao Valley State Monument, where a paved trail leads to Kūkaemoku, nicknamed ‘Īao Needle, a towering 1,200-foot monolith carved by centuries of erosion. Heritage Gardens admission is free; $5 per car for ‘Īao Valley State Monument, free for Hawai‘i residents. 7 a.m.–6 p.m. daily; ‘Īao Valley Road, Wailuku

2–4 p.m. Located in Wailuku and near ‘Īao Valley is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hale Hō‘ike‘ike at the Bailey House. The building contains a trove of Hawaiian artifacts, and is historic in its own right. Built in 1833, it began as a missionary school, and for many years was the home of missionary, educator, artist and inventor Edward Bailey. Arrive, and you can almost picture Olympic legend Duke Kahanamoku riding a wave on the 1919 redwood surfboard, or paddlers powering the thirty-three-foot Honaunau canoe, two of many pieces in the collection.  The museum shop is another treasure, packed with island-inspired souvenirs and an impressive collection of books about Hawai‘i. $7 adults, $5 for Hawai‘i residents and seniors 60 and older. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Saturday; 2375 Main Street, Wailuku; 808-244-3326;


5:30 p.m. Sushi takes a whimsical turn at Wailuku hotspot UMI, where you can order a spicy tuna roll topped with potato chips, or a rainbow roll with kim chee butter foam. Sushi served 5–9 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday; ramen served 5–9 p.m. Sunday–Tuesday. 1951 E. Vineyard Street, Wailuku; 808-633-2502;

7:30 p.m. Opened in 1928, the Historic ‘Īao Theater is an action-packed time capsule that continues to host some of the hottest tickets in town. Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra entertained under the ‘Īao Theater lights; today it’s home to community theater troupe Maui OnStage, which offers performances throughout the year—including O.N.O. (One Night Only), free stage readings, and other art forms the second Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from about $20 to 40. 68 N. Market Street, Wailuku; 808-242-6969;


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