Maui's Kahului Harbor

History, Weather, & Things to Do

If you are planning a cruise to the Valley Isle of Maui, you're in for a real treat. From the top of the impressive Haleakala, to the stunning waterfalls, to the white, yellow, black, and even red sand beaches, you're sure to be left awestruck by the island's beauty. But before you start exploring, your first stop will be Kahului Harbor.

Kahului Harbor is located on Maui's north central coast, just over 1 mile from the town of the same name, and just over 2 miles from the Kahului Airport. Kahului is the largest community on the island and serves as its retail center. The harbor has a long history of being an important center of commerce in the islands.

Kahului Harbor Image

Kahului Harbor History

King Kamehameha I conquered the islands and established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. Shortly thereafter, whalers began to stop at the harbor to stock up on supplies, and shops sprouted up to meet the whalers' needs. A few decades later, the whaling trade began to decline, and an economic void was created. But is wasn't long before the sugar industry stepped in to fill it.

Kahului was established in 1850 when Henry Baldwin and Samuel Alexander acquired land to plant sugar cane, and, after a 17-mile irrigation ditch was built to supply water from Haleakala, the plantation flourished. The men soon purchased more land to build sugar processing mills. The success of the plantation meant an abundance of jobs, and as more workers arrived, the town built shops, roads, schools, churches, and railways to meet the increasing demands for retail and community resources.

The harbor and town prospered until 1900, when the bubonic plague invaded the area and Kahului was burned to the ground in order to eliminate the disease-ridden rats that spread the plague. However, the town was swiftly rebuilt and firmly reestablished itself as an indispensible commercial harbor. By 1901, Kahului had a population of nearly 28,000; a large percentage of whom were Chinese and Japanese immigrants who worked in the sugar industry.

Over the next few years, the harbor continued to grow and was able to accommodate larger vessels. But by the 1930's increased competition from foreign producers and rising labor costs forced many sugar plantations to increase efficiency by the mechanization of operations and worker layoffs. Many people left the Kahului area for other islands.

A few decades later, however, the tourism industry provided a boom to the area and population rebounded. By the late 1980's, construction work was underway that would allow Kahului Harbor to accommodate cruise ships, as well as fuel and cargo ships.

Today, Kahului Harbor maintains its place as a key distribution center for agricultural products and, of course, hosts cruise ships from far and wide.

Kahului Harbor Weather

If you're one of those lucky visitors to the area, know that weather can vary. Kahului itself is located on the isthmus between the West Maui Mountains and Mt. Haleakala, meaning it generally doesn't get large amounts of rain. However, it can be quite windy. And, if you plan to visit Haleakala, be aware that temperatures at the summit can fall below freezing. We advise planning your adventures ahead of time so as to pack and dress accordingly. Be sure to check out our Maui Weather page for more detailed information.

Kahului Bay

Kahului Bay

Kahului Harbor Things to Do

If shopping is on your to-do list, there is some shopping in Kahului, including a mall located just a few minutes from the ship. Many visitors chose to cross the island and visit the more tourist-centered areas of Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach and shop there, as well.

If you are looking for things to do when you arrive at Kahului Harbor, prepare to be overwhelmed (in a good way)! Your cruise ship is sure to offer a variety of excursions and tours during your stay on Maui. Visitor favorites include the Road to Hana, visiting the summit of Haleakala, Iao Valley, and Needle, humpback whale tours (December-March), hiking the Waihee Ridge Trail, and snorkeling at Molokini Crater. And trust us; that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is something for everyone on Maui.

Ready to set sail for Maui and Kahului Harbor? Check out Norwegian, Carnival, Cunard, Costa, or Disney cruise lines and get your well-deserved Hawaiian vacation started!

Our Recommended Maui Things to Do

There's a reason Maui is considered one of the world's best places to vacation, and that's because there's something for everyone! Each and every tour we proudly feature here will show you something spectacular- whether you're soaring through the air, exploring the ocean, or wandering over The Valley Isle's stunning landscapes. Check out our selection of handpicked tours and book your adventure today. 

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