Eric Noland of the Los Angeles Daily News chronicles Wailuku’s recent revival in a March 12 piece entitled, "A revival in Maui’s Wailuku"
Blight in paradise? Unthinkable.
That, however, is the story of Wailuku, which was Maui’s thriving center of commerce and social life during the plantation era a century ago, only to fall on hard times when the sugar industry soured in the 1960s and ’70s. Today the town has stirred back to life, in fits and starts, and with a distinctly bohemian aspect.
The renaissance remains a fairly well-kept secret—at least with Maui’s tourists. Wailuku is far, far from the beaches of this jewel in the Hawaiian chain. It is near the bustling airport, a gritty harbor and the big-box mediocrity of Kahului.
Yet Wailuku has a great deal of character to offer: Old West storefronts, eclectic retail products, a history that runs deep, a genuinely lived-in feel.
Attracted by cheap rents, offbeat entrepreneurs have established a burgeoning enclave of antique stores, art galleries, cafes, bookstores and clothing shops along its downtown streets. Plays are presented at the ‘Iao Theater, a former Roaring ’20s movie palace. …
It’s probably too early to characterize Wailuku as a model of resurgence—not with the cracked sidewalks, peeling paint and businesses that seem to open and close with the wafts of the trade winds—but the signs are encouraging.