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Wailuku History

Early History

Wailuku, a city on the island of Maui, Hawaii, is a unique place that is filled with rich Hawaiian history, lush landscape, friendly locals, and family businesses. In pre-historic Hawaii, Wailuku used to be the center of power and one of the most populated regions on the island. Wailuku was the site of Kamehameha’s conclusive victory in the Battle of Kepaniwai that took place in 1790. However, this changed with the arrival of European missionaries who brought their own religious beliefs, culture and ways of life. Some of the members of the local royal family helped propagate Christian beliefs.

Soon after the arrival of missionaries, the Wailuku Sugar Company moved in and developed a strong irrigation system that collected water from several streams. This resulted in the development of sugar production, which was the major economy sector around Wailuku. In the 1850s, the sugar industry employed thousands of local people and immigrants. Both skilled and unskilled workers from China, Korea, the Philippines, America, and Japan came to the island of Maui to work on sugar plantations. Many of immigrants settled down in Wailuku, where city infrastructure including houses, churches, stores, schools were built. Wailuku and neighboring cities became the melting pot of Hawaii.

In the early 20th century, Wailuku was a prosperous city and Maui’s County Seat. The sugar industry flourished, and the city soon became the center of government, leisure, and business. In the 1960s, the plantation era saw a decline and sugar production was largely reduced. This, however, did not put an end to Wailuku’s prosperity: the region soon developed into a popular tourist destination in Hawaii.

The rich history of Wailuku offers visitors a great variety of places to explore, from historical attractions to cultural sites. Some of the must-see Wailuku landmarks are Maui Ocean Center (aquarium and oceanography center), Maui Tropical Plantation, Iao Valley State Monument, Mendes Ranch, and Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Gardens.

Wailuku Nowadays

Today Wailuku remains the cultural center of the island of Maui, with the population of 17,354 as of 2020. Downtown Wailuku has plenty of fascinating restaurants, an amazing theatre with warm and welcoming atmosphere, and a variety of stores for any taste. These days, Wailuku is experience a renaissance, so you should not miss it while traveling around Maui!


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