Lahaina, a seaside town that sits along HWY 30 on Maui’s west shore, offers a vacation experience all its own. Dining, shopping, history, art, nightlife, and even surfing and boat excursions from Lahaina Harbor are available in this fun and charming spread.
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NEW! Also see: Maui Sailing Canoe
The main drag, Front Street, was named one of the “Top 10 Greatest Streets” in America. And the county of Maui takes added measures to preserve and care for the heritage of the area. You won’t find any billboards or flashy neon signs in this historic strip, but instead painted wooden signs and crabs scattering across the salty wet rocks.
The harbor is legendary and the center of town. Many beautiful boats take guests snorkeling nearby and to the island of Lanai.
The ilikahi has 4 beautiful, private suites in the heart of Lahaina Town. This west Maui boutique hotel is only a few minutes’ walk to the beach and offers a quiet, secluded place to get away. The rooms are spacious and renovated, and Lahaina shopping, restaurants, and galleries are all within walking distance. (808) 662-8780
Lahaina Le Le, meaning relentless sun, was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom until 1845. It was a much wetter environment than the dry Lahaina we know today. In fact, the royal household lived on a recently re-discovered small island in the middle of what was once a 17-acre lake. The island that was unearthed, Mokuʻula, holds great cultural significance and is part of an ongoing archeological project.
With the arrival of the European explorers came much change. Mangos were brought to the islands in the early 1800s and thrived heartily in the wetland environment. You’ll find some still scattered throughout the town, and some residents offer up their juicy candy-like fruit in curbside stands. Just pop a dollar in their “vacation fund” jar.
As more ships arrived for trade, they began to take note of the humpback whales that came by the thousands to the tropical Maui waters to mate and give birth each year. The town became a hub of whaling activity, and the once calm sunny coast became a raucous and tawdry area full of sailors. This, of course, became a point of contention for the Christian missionaries who had settled in the area.
In time, the waters of marshy Lahaina were diverted by the next big industry – sugar cane. Sugar cane, pineapple, and also coffee became big enterprises. A further influx of migrant workers arrived from mostly Japan, China, and Portugal to work these plantations. Thus the landscape was forever changed.
To learn more about the colorful history of this town, definitely take the FREE self-guided walking tour called the Lahaina Historic Trail. Many of these key points of pre and post-civilization are designated with informative plaques throughout the town of Lahaina, all a short distance from one another.
The population now consists of some salty dogs, surfers, random celebrities, locals who love nothing more than to just sit and “talk story”, a long-haired gentleman who rides his bicycle up and down Front Street each day with a macaw on his handlebars, and other colorful characters. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the front street we know without visitors from across the globe here to capture a piece of the magic isle. The sunsets are impeccable, and chances are the fish on your menu was caught off Lahaina Harbor that very day! By day or night, this historic port town offers something for the whole family.
Regarded as the Mardi Gras of the Pacific, Halloween on Front Street in Lahaina is something special. Tens of thousands of party-goers come dressed up in wild costumes and enjoy a parade for the kids, costume contests, live music, great food, and cocktails. Depending on which year you go, the streets are often closed off from vehicular traffic allowing pedestrians the opportunity to take over the streets and have some creative fun.