Captain George Vancouver first landed his ship at Maalaea Bay in 1793, when he brought the first cattle to Maui’s fertile grounds. Since then, Maalaea has served as a major commercial port, as well as Maui’s first airport, and finally, its current status as a harbor.

Maalaea Harbor HistoryAfter initial flights to Maui suffered faulty landings in areas of Makawao and Spreckelsville in the early 1920’s, the Territorial Legislature allotted $15,000 for Maui’s first airport to be built in 1927. Maalaea was chosen for the location, and after the property was purchased from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, the first scheduled air service from Oahu to Maui began in 1929. Due to its low elevation and location near the ocean, however, the airport, which was technically just a dirt field, was unusable anytime it got too wet. In 1935, Inter-Island Airways added 16 passenger planes to its fleet and quickly discovered that Maalaea was too small and too close to the West Maui Mountains to meet proper safety standards. In 1938, Maalaea Airport was condemned by the U.S. Chief Inspector for the Bureau of Air Commerce.

Also recognized for its incredibly fast wave, known locally as Freight Trains, Maalaea became known for its rare but challenging surf break among the local surfer crowd.

maalaeaIn 1998, the Maui Ocean Center opened its doors to the public, drawing thousands of visitors annually ever since. Today, the infrastructure has been expanded to include several restaurants and attractions, as well as condominiums, though the aquarium and harbor remain the Bay’s primary draws.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Joan wehr says:

    Love the harbor we usually go out on the whale watching from that harbor

  • Marina says:

    The Maui Ocean Center is well worth several visits. The reef exhibits are extraordinary. One of the best Aquariums!

  • Princess ruth of waipio says:

    How about talking about our soul NOT ads being where Vancouver landed but for already was there? I livre in maalaea, one of very few Hawaiians and the most story of maalaea NOT as a quaint “little harbor village” but as a real ancient Hawaiian fishing village. How about talking about the loss of the salt beds in the so called “conservation” area. It disgusting the Hawaiians that so very many of the foreigners who come here to take never want to understand the truth of our home. Instead of asking why we are so angry one should ask why in the face of having enough money to come here and quitclaim and quiet title our beloved ‘āīna, control schools, employment and even beach access, why are YOU so fragile when we break the facts of our nation and the truth about amelika down to divisional fractions? Um who always stands to benefit from the TAKING AND NO GIVNG. And i don’t consider spam a meat group yet that’s what my people have to eat. What kaka.

Leave a Reply