Safe and Dangerous Places 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.
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.
Can't Get Enough? Discover More of Maui
- Overview: Maui Travel Guide