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The charming West Maui town of Wailuku, located just west of Kahului, is already attracting visitors. It is the gateway to the Iao Valley State Monument, and is home to the historic Kaahumanu Church and the Bailey Museum. But the last few years have seen it grow into a thriving tech district, too.

Boutique shops and art galleries by local designers line its streets. Various groups of the Wailuku Performing Arts Association, such as the Maui Chamber Orchestra, Maui OnStage at Iao Theater and ProArts Playhouse organize plays, concerts, workshops and performances. Another Hawaiian cultural center, Halau of Oiwi Art, is also slated to open in the next few years.

One of Maui’s main towns, Wailuku is known for its historic sites, shops and stores. Photo Credit: County of Maui

What stands out the most, however, is the multitude of artworks that have added color, cultural stories and creativity to its streets thanks to the public art program, Small Town Big Art. As of 2019, 47 pieces of public art, including 18 murals, have been built in Wailuku.

“Small Artists is a community program named after Wailuku Town’s motto, which is ‘Small town, big heart,’ and we bring together talented artists with kupuna, community members, to create art and tells the story of Wailuku’s history and culture,” said Kelly McHugh-White, founding director of the Maui Public Art Corps. “The ultimate goal of the Arts Center is to establish Wailuku as an arts district.”

The murals include Hawaiian mythology, the four rivers of Wailuku, people, birds, fish and fish. Also on display were photos of a giant Chinese aquarium sculpture and a 6-foot-tall fish trap basket.

Public art can be scheduled through Halau Oiwi Art’s website,, or on the free app, Hookamaaina, which has three guided walking tours: a cultural tour , historical tourism and public tourism. Each tour provides detailed information about the attractions that can be visited.

“People really want to make sure that Wailuku is not a sea town, it’s a mountain town, it’s not a salt water town, it’s a salt water town, this is a cultural center with different history and cultures. – different obtained through the sugar industry. ” said McHugh-White. “And I know people are really proud of Wailuku and want people to ask questions and learn more.”

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