Lahaina, West Maui’s Ultimate Vacation Setting
Situated on Maui’s warm, sunny west side with the West Maui Mountains as a backdrop, Lahaina showcases incredible views of the Pacific and the neighbor islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai. Breathtaking beaches and spectacular sunsets abound in this history-rich area, which served as the original capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, became one of the primary ports for the whaling industry world-wide, and later evolved into a center for sugar and pineapple production.
Now a small boat harbor and cruise ship port, Lahaina has a variety of clothing stores like Maui Clothing Company and Honolua Surf Company, gift shops like Sand People, art galleries like Maui Hands, and nightlife spots like Down the Hatch and Captain Jack’s. Also located on the town’s main thoroughfare of Front Street, the Lahaina Heritage Museum and Baldwin Home Museum give visitors glimpses into the town’s past. One of the largest banyan trees in the world acts as the unofficial town center.
The two most renowned luaus on the island, the Old Lahaina Luau and the Feast at Lele, are situated close to the northernmost and southernmost ends of Front Street, respectively. In between, restaurants like Kimo’s and Koa’s serve fresh seafood dishes oceanfront, while Fleetwood’s (owned by Maui local Mick Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Mac) features fine dining, unique cocktails, and live music. Aloha Mixed Plate offers excellent local selections like poke, saimin, and chicken katsu, along with gorgeous sunsets. Paia Fish Market has a casual atmosphere but delicious choices like fish sandwiches, fish tacos, and fish quesadillas.
Lahaina also boasts beach options to suit every visitor’s taste. Kahekili Beach Park provides family-friendly facilities like restrooms, showers, and a picnic area, as well as good conditions for snorkeling. Black Rock is one of the best-known snorkeling spots on the island, while Kapalua Beach has ideal swimming conditions. Less than a 25-minute drive leads to Oneloa/Ironwoods Beach, a postcard-worthy stretch of sand perfect for sunbathing and scenic walks.
As a coastal town, Lahaina also presents opportunities for diving (Extended Horizons Scuba), surfing (Goofy Foot), and jet ski rentals (Jet Ski Maui). Some of the island’s best whale watching tours (Trilogy) and sunset boat cruises (Pacific Whale Foundation) leave from the area. In addition, world-class golf can be found in the neighboring resort communities of Kaanapali and Kapalua.
Each second Friday of the month, Front Street closes to car traffic to hold a town party, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy arts and crafts, local food, and live music. Lahaina also hosts a Chinese New Year celebration each February and a Chinese Kite Festival every April. The town’s annual Fourth of July celebration includes the only professional fireworks display on the island.
The Emma Sharpe Hula Festival occurs in Lahaina each August, and every October, the town has a Halloween celebration that has come to be known as the Mardi Gras of the Pacific. Each year in late November, the Maui Invitational college basketball tournament takes place in the Lahaina Civic Center.