We all know that Hawaii has this paradise image. But can a place really be that alluring? It can if the place is Lahaina, on Maui. Once a quaint whaling village, the land of perennial sun otherwise known as Lahaina will convert even the most cynical of outlooks.
Lahaina is built on a base of rich history, although you’re no longer in danger of contracting leprosy at the US Seamen’s Hospital, the place for sick and disabled sailors back in the 1800s, and Hale Pa’ahao Prison is less dangerous than happy hour on Front Street! See the site where Hawaiian royals have been laid to rest at Waine’e Churchcemetery, then get back in the now at sizzling Baby Beach. You may never know whether that dizzy feeling you leave with is something spiritual or just a delayed case of sunstroke, but you probably won’t care either.
Lahaina’s Top 10
10. Old Lahaina Courthouse Dating back to the 18th century and now home to a unique collection of art and historical bric-a-brac.
5. Lahaina Historic Trail Explore Lahaina’s historical hot spots without the overly chatty guides.
9. Old Fort Walls Check out the crumbling remains of the walls that once kept the bad guys out.
4. Lahaina Harbour Check out the luxurious yachts or just catch the view from the top of the lighthouse.
8. Old Lahaina Luau One of the most authentic luau experiences in Maui. Food, music, dancing and flowers all in the one night.
3. Ka’anapali Beach Lahaina’s answer to Waikiki. Perfect sands paired with lush waters.
7. Martin Lawrence Galleries Plenty of kooky pop art and kinetic sculptures at this cool gallery.
2. Front Street This bustling centre is the best place to overindulge in everything from shopping to cocktails.
6. Lahaina Jodo Mission A slice of Japan in the heart of Maui. This serene temple features a mammoth bronze statue of the Buddha.
1. Banyan Tree The icon of Lahaina is over a century old and was imported all the way from India back in 1873.
- Baldwin Home Museum – The historical home of Dwight Baldwin, a physician credited for saving the people of Maui from smallpox. It was built in 1834.
- Brick Palace – Built for Kamehameha I to welcome ship captains. It also features an observation tower.
- Hale Pa’i – A printing house that was set up by missionaries in 1834. The first newspaper to come out of the house was west of the Rocky Mountains.
- Hauloa Royal Birthing Stone – A stone in Lahaina where royal women sat to give birth to their children.
- Holy Innocents Church – A 100-year-old church that offers a nice respite from walking around looking at attractions.
Lahaina Art & Culture
- Cirque Polynesia – Modern-day performing arts troupe in the style of other cirque groups and shows.
- Drums of Pacific Luau – Dinner theatre featuring traditional dance, storytelling, great food and drinks.
- Feast at Lele – A luau in Lahaina that includes fire dancing, traditional dance, a five-course meal and drinks.
- Hale Kahiko – A free show that occurs several times per day and features hula dancers.
- Kupanaha – A magic performance that also includes dinner.
- Lahaina Cannery Mall – Discover designer jewellery, fashions and collectibles at this local mall.
- MauiGrown Coffee Company Store – Coffee lovers can buy all the locally grown Hawaiian coffee they can get their hands on here.
- Whaler’s Village – Contains a variety of quaint stores and great restaurants in Lahaina.
- Village Galleries – View and buy great pieces of art at this local gallery.
- Maui Diving Scuba Center Snorkel Shop – Get outdoor water gear or arrange for diving and snorkelling instruction.
Gay & Lesbian Lahaina
- Kailua Maui Gardens – A gay-friendly hotel in Lahaina that is great for romantic couples on vacation or their honeymoon.
- Castaway Cafe – A gay-friendly cafe on Kaanapali beach that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Betty’s Beach Cafe – A gay-friendly restaurant and bar right on the beach.
- Little Beach – A beach in Makena that is a popular place for gays and lesbians to socialize.
- Blue Hawaiian Helicopters – See the island from the sky with this gay-friendly helicopter service.
- Banyan Tree Park – A great place to have a picnic and people watch.
- Glow Putt Mini-Golf – Take the family for a fun day of mini-golf in Lahaina.
- Ironwood Ranch – Take a tour of the city on horseback. The pace is slow and casual, so even inexperienced riders can keep up.
- Ka’anapali Beach – Enjoy basking in the sun or participate in a variety of water sports and beach activities.
- Lahaina Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad – A reconstructed sugar cane train that tours the island sugar cane fields.
- Play golf at the Bay Course or the Ka’anapali Golf Course.
- Play tennis on the courts at Maluuluolele Park in Lahaina.
- Go snorkelling at Napili Beach.
- Hire the Maui Sport Fishing Charters and see what you can catch in the waters around the island.
- Contact Lahaina Divers to arrange for some deep-sea diving.
Celebrate the whale migration with the Lahaina Whale and Ocean Arts Festival in March. Catch a marine biology discussion, or just watch the hula girls.
Who says trees can’t enjoy a party? April throws a bash for the Banyan Tree Birthday Party, complete with cake and a piñata.
June’s Na Kamehameha Pa’u Parade and Ho’olaule’a is more than a mouthful. Held to honour King Kamehameha, this festival includes the big parade, local delicacies and a buzzing atmosphere.
The iconic Banyan Tree lights up in December with thousands of pretty lights. Even fake snow makes an appearance at this Holiday Lighting.
Check out the goods at the Heu’i Arts and Crafts Festival, held (nearly) every Saturday and Sunday under the Banyan Tree.
When To Go
- The average annual temp sits at a beach-perfect 29ºC (84ºF).
- It’s not all sun and games in Lahaina, though, with January bringing a heavy dose of rain.
- The hottest month of the year is August, with an average of 32ºC (90ºF).
- Walking is best, but take care on the narrow footpaths and beware the dodgy traffic.
- Renting a car is great, especially if you want to explore around the greater Maui area, but parking around Front Street is a nightmare.
- Buses are also good if you want to explore further afield. Tickets cost a flat $1.
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