Kahului, Maui's deep-water port, is home to nearly a third of the island's resident population and busy with shipping traffic. While commerce keeps the city bustling, it also means that Kahului's waterfront is more ships and sailing-vessels then sand. Beaches east of the city center are certainly nothing to sniff at though, whether you're after a swim or a few hours of sun.
Less than a landing strip away from Maui's main airport in Kahului, the Kana Beach County Park is rated one of the best places to learn how to sailboard in the world and consequently most visitors happily let the sound of the surf drown out the noise of the flights landing behind the trees. The same winds that made the area popular with sailboarders have lured in kite-boarders, though sea-kayakers and tentative surfers also find the regular breeze and gentle swell a good way to get up to speed before venturing on to the house-high breaks Hawaii is famous for.
If you think water sports are better left to the birds, stop in at the Kanaha Pond State Sanctuary, also close to the airport, for views of commercial airlines, migratory waterfowl and the endangered Hawaiian stilt and coot.
Kahului's city center boasts such home-town amenities as shopping malls and the Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum. For more of the historic and less of the air-conditioned mall, head out of town along Route 320 to Wailuku, Maui's county-seat with several historic buildings and a museum that exhibits relics from the missionaries-in-Hawaii era.
Continue up Route 320, the 'Road to 'Iao', for 'Iao Valley State Park. A rock pillar, 'The Needle' rises up out of the foliage to a height of 2,250 feet above sea level. It was once a look-out and also an altar. Exploring the views and verdant greenery in the park on a number of short hikes requires, however, no big sacrifice.
Watch for sugarcane fields on the drive out of Kahului. The city is 20 miles—a 45 minute drive—east of Lahaina around Puu Kukui, at 5,788 feet the highest peak in the West Maui Mountains.
Kahului is 38 miles north of Haleakala National Park and 23 east of Lahaina.