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britman Lahaina, Maui - A travel report by Brit
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Lahaina, Maui,  United States - flag United States -  Hawaii
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britman's travel reports

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

  15 votes
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Lahaina pronounced La-hi-na is the main town in northwest Maui. The island of Maui is the second largest island of America’s 50th State - Hawaii. The island is 49 miles long and 26 across at its widest point. Lahaina was originally the capital of the Hawaiian Islands and the seat of the Maui chiefs.


Lahaina beach off Front St. looking to the small boat harbour
Lahaina beach off Front St. looking to the small boat harbour

When westerners came to Maui, Lahaina became the main whaling port in the Hawaiian Islands. With whalers constantly using the port Lahaina was developed to resemble a New England whalers' village, complete with New England-style architecture. Though cruise ships replaced the whaling ships long ago, Lahaina still maintains its port town atmosphere. It has a population of around 10,000. The town is now a National Historic District and many of its buildings, particularly on Front Street and Wharf Street are being restored to their former glory. It is so compact that you can easily walk around the main downtown area; that is along Front Street, between Papalaua Street and Shaw Street.

If you really want to escape the many day-time cruise tourists crowding Lahaina - head out of town to visit my top five places to see on Maui:-
1. “Highway to Heaven” road between Kailului and Hana.
2. Haleakala National Park
3. Ioa Valley Park.
4. Kaanapau.
5. Wailuku.

Favourite spots:
West Lahaina where the road runs out and whales bask nearby
West Lahaina where the road runs out and whales bask nearby
Pioneer Inn The Town Square - look at the 1895 Court House Banyan Tree Square Worst parts: - One or two tacky tourist shops and the odd expensive ‘greasy-spoon’ burger style restaurant on Front Street! Lahaina is primarily a tourist holiday town and chiefly a cruise ship port of call. Despite mixing trendy boutiques with fancy restaurants to create an upmarket feel it can be quite tacky and touristy here and there. The main hub of activity that continues to warmly welcome guests, as it has done since 1901, is the wooden built Pioneer Inn, now a Best Western Hotel. You step back into a different world when you walk inside, with old whaling photos and equipment. Catching whales may be long dead but whale watching is big business here, with the protected humpback whale (The Hawaii State mammal) appearing here between late November and early May annually. The warm waters around Maui are ideal mating grounds for the humpbacks and a popular place to watch them enjoying their ‘winter vacation’ is off Puunoa Point.

What's really great:
See text opposite
See text opposite
When the cruise ships leave the port with all their passengers the town becomes itself again. On arrival here it hits you immediately - that American cheesy contrived dream vacation atmosphere. Then it seems that almost every male has been packaged in an ubiquitous uniform of gaudy Hawaiian shirt, long shorts, socks worn with sandals ugh and the obligatory baseball cap. But this is really upmarket vacation America - if you think this all sounds crass, don’t even think of going to Honolulu!

My top sights in Lahaina, that is if you do not want just shopping!

1. The Baldwin Home on Front Street – Restored Historical Missionaries Home,
2. Carthaginian II – Whaling Museum opposite 658 Wharf Street.,
3. Lahaina Courthouse – 649 Wharf Street
4. Hale Pra’ahao – Old Jailhouse –Prison & Waine’e Street
5. Pioneer Inn 658 Wharf Street

Sights:
Lahaina Fish Company just off Front Street Lahaina
Lahaina Fish Company just off Front Street Lahaina


1. The Highway to Heaven road between Kailului and Hana is hairy driving but spectacular. Take Highways 36 & 360, these roads were built in 1927 by convict labour, the 100 mile roundtrip with 54 bridges and over 600 curves needs 5 to 6 hours to cover there and back along the same route - but is one of the most scenic highway and byway drives in all the United States of America.

2. The sheer enormity of the largest dormant volcano crater in the world at Haleakala National Park – its 21 miles around, it is awesome at anytime but is best witnessed at sunrise or sunset.

3. The tranquillity and beauty of the volcanic needle and lakes of Ioa Valley Park are well worth the visit.

4. I enjoyed the drive to the west of Lahaina past the airport to the wild cliffs where the tarmac road runs out – it is worth that deviation if you have time.

5. Lahaina historic town centre – see above - the 5 must see sights.


Accommodations:
The huge old Banyon tree takes over the square
The huge old Banyon tree takes over the square

Most hotels in Lahaina are located around the busy port area and Banyan Tree Square in the centre of town. Banyan Tree Square named after the incredible Banyan Tree (now spreading and reaching two-thirds of an acre) planted in 1873 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first missionaries to the town is usually teeming with Mynah birds.
1. Best Western Pioneer Inn
2. Kulakane Hotel
3. Lahaina Shores Beach Resort
4. Ohana Maui Islander Hotel
5. The Plantation Inn

Nightlife and many restaurants are also all within walking distance or a very short drive from the town square.

Nightlife:
Whatever you want Mauii Espresso sells it!!
Whatever you want Mauii Espresso sells it!!
Lots of disco’s and bars in old Lahaina town

4 Golf Clubs within 30 miles of Lahaina.
3 x 36 hole courses and 1 x 18 hole course.

Hangouts:
Simply the best place to stay, meet, eat and drink.  Great atmosphere of
Simply the best place to stay, meet, eat and drink. Great atmosphere of "old" Lahaina

Lots of places serving 'grog' However the best meeting place and only real pub has to be the Pioneer Inn – Built by an Englishman George Freeland in 1901, the land is still owned by the family - It’s simply the best pub in town.

Restaurants:
I just love the different vehicle licence plates from each American State.
I just love the different vehicle licence plates from each American State.
True Hawaiian food is difficult to find. Lahaina mainly caters to the American tourist market and so most fast food variants are dished up almost everywhere.

1. Pioneer Inn - My favourite (Local Food)
2. B.J’s Chicago Pizzeria, 730, Front Street (Italian)
3. Hard Rock Café in Front Street (No - I didn’t buy the T Shirt!)
4. Pacific ‘O’s , 505 Front Street., (seafood)
5. Sam Choy’s, Front Street (Local & Pacific Food)

Published on Wednesday May 5th, 2004


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Sat, Dec 04 2004 - 05:34 PM rating by runofthehouse

Focusing on Lahaina during a visit to Maui is a bit like never leaving O'Hare and thinking you've seen Chicago. Or staying at the airport hotel and claiming the area is too commerical. Lahaina is foremost a port, one of Maui's two commercial centers, the island reception area, a welcome mat, but that's all it is. As to manufactured Disney world storefronts - well, those buildings are authentic from the early days of whaling. There is far more to do and see in Maui than its welcome mat, so if at all possible you need to get into the water, drive up Haleakala, tramp to the opposite shores and meet the locals. Who would expect to find the best food at the airport? Well, there may be a few good restaurants in Lahaina, but none are on Front Street. :) Return again and browse deeper and you'll find the great stuff in Maui - even lots of "local style" food. Aloha!

Wed, May 05 2004 - 09:18 AM rating by whereisliz

Andreas suggested I check out your stuff, and I'm glad I did! Wonderful writing, great information. Keep it up!

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