If you’re planning a trip to Maui, chances are you’ll spend some time in Lahaina. More than two million people visit annually, making it one of the most popular places in Maui. Why do so many people flock to these shores? It’s because Lahaina artfully combines a tropical escape with history, culture and plenty of places to shop, drink and explore. Discover all of the things to do in Lahaina, and why this Maui town is one of the best places to connect with the spirit of Hawaii.
Things to Do in Lahaina
When Hawaii was a kingdom, Lahaina was its capital. In addition, it was the center of the whaling industry worldwide. Lahaina has since replaced the whaling ships with pleasure cruises, but the history of this seaside port lives on.
Culture & History
To fully explore the culture and history of Lahaina, trek the Lahaina Historic Trail. The self-guided tour takes you to the Baldwin House, a protestant missionary home circa 1830s and an old jailhouse for naughty sailors known as the Hale Paahao, used in the 1850s. In addition, the influence of Chinese and Japanese immigrants is seen at structures like the Wo Hing Temple and Lahaina Jodo. There are 62 historic sites along the Lahaina Visitor Center, many of which are National Historic Landmarks. Look for bronze plaques marking these points of interest. Pick up a walking guide at the Lahaina Visitor Center so you don’t miss a thing!
Front Street is one of my favorite places in Lahaina. It was my first introduction to Maui, and stole a piece of heart right away. Rollicking taverns with sailors once filled this street, but that has been replaced with an eclectic mix of local shops, art galleries, restaurants and historic sites. As mentioned earlier Front Street features many stops along the Lahaina Historic Trail. After you see the history, take in a piece of today at restaurants like the Lahaina Pizza Co., an open-air pizza joint with a balcony boasting coastal views, and Fleetwood on Front Street, an upscale eatery with rooftop views that never end. Spend one night on Front Street, and I’m sure it’ll steal your heart too.
The Banyan Tree
Imagine a tree sprawling an entire city block, with massive branches twisting towards the earth. This is the Banyan Tree. Planted in 1873, it has grown to be the largest banyan tree in Hawaii. The canopy of the tree creates an ideal place to stroll, sit and relax. Plus, the Banyan tree is often home to art shows and festivals as it’s rooted in the heart of Lahaina.
Visiting golden sand beaches, of course, are one of the best things to do in Lahaina. Maui’s swaying palm trees and clear blue waters shine on Maui’s west side. Along the coastline is D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Kapalua Beach, and Ka’anapali Beach. All have been voted America’s Best Beach at one time or another, and feature excellent swimming, snorkeling and surfing. Other pristine beaches nearby are Wahikuli State Park and Launiupoko Beach Park. All of the beaches on Maui’s west side offer some of the most epic sunset views—anywhere. Seriously, what’s not to love?
Kapalua Coastal Trail
I love hiking, but usually my hikes are in forested mountains. Hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail is totally different, as the 1.75 mile trail (one-way) runs along the ocean’s edge. From Kapalua Bay to Oneola Beach, the trail winds its way through black lava rock, blooming tropical plants and sun soaked beaches. Along the route are Dragon’s Teeth, a jagged rock formation that’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. It is totally picture-worthy, though.
The ports of Lahaina have long since said goodbye to sailors, and hello to tourism. The Lahaina Harbor is still home to a thriving humpback whale population. You can see them from shore, but for up close views you’ll need to reserve a whale watching cruise. On top of that, the Lahaina Harbor is where snorkeling excursions to Molokini embark. Pacific Whale Foundation offers several tours, but my recommendation is the Molokini and Turtle Arches combo tour. Swim with tropical fish, then beside a sea turtle? So awesome. So Maui.
These things to do in Lahaina are just the beginning. To experience all this charming Maui town has to offer, make your escape to the Hawaiian Islands.
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.