Safe and Dangerous Places in Maui

by J. Conboy, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Sep 14th 2010 03:52 PM


Areas to Avoid Maui


Looking for a safe place to live in the United States? Come to Maui, Hawaii. Maui really is one of the "jewels of the Pacific," an idyllic landscape full of charm from end to end. However, as paradisiacal as Maui may be, the island is not a place of absolute perfection. There are several known safe areas, dangerous places and areas to avoid in Maui.

The normal social ills do rear their ugly head here, albeit on a typically smaller scale than many other sought-after destinations in the world. Criminal activity, domestic abuse, substance abuse, and other crime issues are all present in Maui, in different proportions depending on the town you happen to focus on.

I have lived and ventured about Maui for more than a quarter of a century, so if you're new to Maui, or visiting for a vacation, take note of my advice on the top five safest and most dangerous places in Maui.

Safe Areas in Maui

1. Wailea: Comprised of upscale residential complexes, hotels and shops, the town of Wailea is one of several safe places in Maui. Well-kept, with quite a few residents and business staff that keep a watch for suspicious activity around the area at all times, this is a very safe place to visit, stay or live, day or night.

2. Haleakala National Park: Thousands of feet above sea level, this national park is secured by United States park rangers and is a fun place to explore with the family. Especially at the summit of Mount Haleakala, which stands over 10,000 feet above sea level and resembles a Martian desert landscape! Haleakala National Park is definitely considered one of the safe places to visit in Maui.

3. Kamaole Beach Park III: A fantastic beach and park area located at the end of Kihei, families regularly flock here for parties and get-togethers. As such, people here watch out not only for themselves but for their picnic neighbors as well. This creates a great family-friendly atmosphere that encourages you to get to know those around you. It's one of Maui's nicest safe areas.

4. Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center: The shopping hub of Maui, this double level open-air mall houses a variety of stores and is patrolled regularly by security guards. While not immune to the occasional shoplifter or brawl, these occurrences are relatively rare as most patrons wish to make Maui a safe city. This, of course, cultivates a safe environment where, once again, people look after and respect each other.

5. Iao Valley: Like Haleakala National Park, Iao Valley is a popular tourist attraction for first-time visitors and long-time residents alike, and is one of the most pleasant outdoor safe areas in Maui. As such, the atmosphere here is very relaxed, with visitors there to have a fun and safe time -- be it hiking along the path to take pictures or dipping into the fresh mountain water of Iao Stream. Somewhat ironically, the refreshingly calming waters of this stream run down through the middle of Happy Valley (see below) before exiting into the Pacific Ocean.

Areas to Avoid in Maui

1. Happy Valley: Widely regarded as one of the most dangerous places in Maui, the ironically named Happy Valley is a haven for Maui's criminals. A severely economically depressed area, Happy Valley is well known for its rabid illicit activities, with drug-dealing, prostitution, gang-related crimes and violent confrontations occasionally leading to deaths. Happy Valley is therefore number one on the list of areas to avoid in Maui, particularly at night. There really should be no reason for you to take a trip to Happy Valley, but if you do happen to take a wrong turn, simply make a U-turn at Takamia Market and go back the way you came. This is still Maui after all, and unless you provoke the wrong person, it's unlikely that anyone will bother you while driving through Happy Valley.

2. Pakuz: Possibly half the size of Happy Valley, this small area which locals refer to as "Pakuz" is really just a suburb of Wailuku Town, just off of Lower Main street. Another area known for its low income and drug activity, you may mistakenly think this area harbors a beach or two due to its close proximity to the ocean, but it doesn't. Even if Pakuz had beaches, you probably would not want to visit them, because the area is not only uninviting to strangers, but the part of the ocean it fronts is typically very choppy with dangerously powerful undercurrents.

3. Lower Main Street/Wailuku Industrial Area, Wailuku: Located just above Pakuz, this is not so much a dangerous area as a seedy one. Comprising local businesses and so-called "hostess" bars (establishments that typically charge a premium for their drinks in exchange for female companionship), you generally will not want to come into this area unless you have some type of business need to fulfill. You particularly do not want to be driving in this area between the hours of 10PM-6AM because drunk drivers are very common in this area, making it one of the most scary places in Maui for drivers and pedestrians.

4. Waiehu: Yet another town comprised of primarily low-income residences, Waiehu can be accessed directly by passing through either Happy Valley or between Pakuz and Lower Main. A bit off the beaten path, domestic and drug-related issues are common in this unsafe area of the island. Due to its remote location, acts of violence are not uncommon here, including the odd shoot-out and car chase.

5. Harbor Lights; Nestled between Maui College and Kahului Harbor, this condo complex is another place known amongst locals as a haven for drug activity and prostitution. As such, violent confrontations occasionally arise here.

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I agree with CheePono. Please don't try to bring your US mainland bull** to Hawaii. Obviosly you haole's modus operandis is to twist facts to appear better than others.

September 05 2013 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

typical donkey talking about places you have no idea about. Yet you only mention "haole city" kihei as the most safe place to live. Don't dare call me a racist because i am half haole my self. I take it you had a bad experience in these parts of maui and this is why you wrote this biased article with no real hard facts to back it up.

October 14 2011 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CheePono's comment
Scott Percival

The only thing I noticed is a slight racism when looking for skilled jobs, such as meat cutter/mgr.

July 13 2012 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just like the previous people have written before, this is a JOKE! If you lived here you would know that it's not about the areas, but about the respect you give. This entire article is absolutely false and totally racist of the people who live in these areas. Not only do I find it racist, I find it disrespectful. I think that the author really needs to understand that he has offended numerous people. I was born and raised upcountry but now live in Waiehu. I want people to realize that the author make a generalization about one specific area saying that the people who live here a drug dealers, criminals, and prostitutes. A lot of us have jobs, work hard, and are successful. The "safe" areas are the places that are promoted to invite the typical tourist to come and say "Wow, this is Maui." I don't think that J. Conboy realizes is that the people who work there live in places like Pakuz, Waiehu, Lower Main, and Kahului. The aloha spirit and warmth of those people shine because of the places that they are from, and the people they are surrounded by. If anyone takes what this guy says into consideration, my warning is that you shouldn't.

October 13 2011 at 4:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I can not believe this article...I was born and raised on Maui and have lived in Happy Valley...The people there are respectful and humbol. There is drugs no matter where you go on this plannet. Yeah the "safe" zones on Maui may be okay but theres still drugs "commoners" just dont see it cause your blind!

October 13 2011 at 4:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am not local and have lived on Maui for over 20 years. I have always felt comfortable in central Maui and have been treated well. It's not about where you are, it's about who you are. Treat people with the respect they deserve, and you will get that back. This article is not only wrong, it is racist. The one thing all these areas have in common is that locals live there which is where aloha comes from. You won't find the real aloha in Wailea - just a Disney version sold to tourists. Don't know who this J. Conboy is but he doesn't know anything about Maui.

May 27 2011 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you guys published something like this. It shows a complete disrespect to the people that grew up and live in these areas. Waiehu has areas that are great to surf and dive. Happy Valley where Takamiya is located; they have some awesome Ahi poke'. So before you go and blast the locals, get your facts straight. Thanks for making us sound like a bunch of degenerates!!! The people here have a lot more respect for others than you do. Maybe you should pack up and just leave the island. You are just the type haole that we don't need here. The guy before was right this article is a joke!!!

April 27 2011 at 11:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, like he said. No come Maui. Stay home, stay safe. This article is a joke!

April 15 2011 at 2:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply