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Chapter 12 – Wailuku

Wailuku, commonly known as the birthplace of the sugar industry, is a town nestled in Maui County, Hawaii. Wailuku has a total area of 5.7 square miles and a population of less than thirteen thousand. However, don’t let this small town feel fool you, Wailuku is a local government hub, as it is the county seat of Maui. Only a ten minute drive from the Kahului Airport, this tiny Hawaiian town is a bustling tourist destination with significant charm. Located to the east of the West Maui Mountains and the Iao State Park, Wailuku offers easy access to many beautiful natural attractions.

As a busy tourist destination, there are always things to do in Wailuku.  A notable event is the monthly Wailuku First Friday Street Fair. Complete with a beer garden, this street fair boasts multiple entertainment stages, activities for children, and local vendors selling jewelry, clothes and local art. The festival takes place on the main road, Market Street, and occurs from 5:30-8pm. During this time Market Street is closed to traffic to ensure the safety of participants.

Market Street is also known as “Maui’s Antique Row”. In the quaint antique shops dotting Market Street, visitors and locals find collectibles from all over the world. Wailuku also offers a wide variety of shops selling anything and everything. Whether you are looking for authentic Hawaiian dress and jewelry, or books and music, you can certainly find it in the shops of Wailuku. With over 60 restaurants/cafes, Wailuku also offers a wide array of cuisine options. Whether in the mood for typical American cuisine or authentic Hawaiian cuisine, there is something for every taste bud in Wailuku.

Just three miles to the west of Wailuku is Iao Valley State Park. Boasting the famous Iao Needle, this lush rainforest in the West Maui Mountains is a popular destination for residents and visitors of Wailuku. Iao Valley is home to an extinct volcano and the lush Iao Stream, fed by the significant rainfall in the valley. Visitors to the Iao Valley can hike one of the many trails snaking through the lush landscape, or see the exhibits at the Hawaii Nature Center. The park is open from 7am to 7pm daily.

The average income for a resident of Wailuku is $46,000 per year. While the economy is mostly driven by tourism and the service industry, there are many other career alternatives available, including government and nonprofit jobs, as well as opportunities within the school system and at the local hospital. Wailuku also boasts a very low unemployment rate of 3 percent, as of 2007. Small local business in Wailuku is thriving as a result of the establishment of the Business Action Center, or BAC, making it easier to establish small businesses.

Housing costs in Wailuku vary from year to year. Forty one percent of the people in Wailuku rent their home, with the median cost of rent being $973 per month. The median value of a home/condo in 2012 was approximately $325,000. The majority of homes in Wailuku that are owned have three bedrooms or more, while the majority of homes that are rented have two bedrooms. Most residents of Wailuku use a personal vehicle for transportation; however there is a public bus that travels through Wailuku as well. Many people also travel on foot or by bicycle throughout the town.

Healthcare is readily available in Wailuku, as Maui Memorial Medical Center is located in town. This is the premier hospital of Maui County, MMMC has a new cardiac services department, and has just completed a helipad project for helicopter services to the hospital. Maui Memorial Medical Center can certainly accommodate all of your healthcare needs, from preventative care to acute care, this hospital serves the Wailuku community every day.

Wailuku offers many options for the education of local children. There are four local elementary schools that parents can choose from. Wailuku Elementary School and Waihee Elementary School are two highly rated public elementary schools, while St. Anthony School and Isaiah Academy for excellence offer a private education.

St. Anthony School and Isaiah Academy for Excellence also offer middle and upper (senior high) grades education. There is one public middle grades education school, IAO Intermediate School, and one public upper grades school, Henry Perrine Baldwin High School in Wailuku. For parents looking for a public alternative, Hawaii Technology Academy is also available as an online charter school for grades K – 12.

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