LAHAINA is where history comes alive. Lahaina has witnessed all of Maui's cultural changes through the years. Long before Westerners arrived, it was a dwelling place of Maui royalty. From 1820s thru 1860s, Lahaina was the principal anchorage of Pacific whalers, where the ships berthed in the harbor were described as a "forest of masts." It was here, in 1823, that the first band of New England Protestant missionaries landed, influencing every aspect of Maui life. In 1966, 37 acres of Lahaina was declared a National Historical Landmark. Today, visitors can have a glimpse of the past by visiting the Baldwin House Museum, once home of missionary and physician Dwight Baldwin, Wo hing Temple Museum, a Taoist temple, and Lahaina Jodo Mission, a Buddist temple with its serene bronze Buddha, the largest outside Asia.
Lahaina, with a very walkable waterfront area and a mixture of historic sites and tourist attractions, is a great place to spend the afternoon or evening. Stroll along Front Street, where galleries and tourist shops abound. Stop by one of the many restaurants and drinking holes and have a "Maui wowie," a delightful drink with a combined taste of mai-tai and pina colada. Dining in Lahaina is very diverse, with lots of fish and seafood on the menu; restaurants feature everything from Hawaiian cuisine to the latest culinary trends. Do not miss Lahaina's famous Banyan tree planted in 1873 - it now shades 2/3 of an acre.
Drop by Lahaina Cannery Mall, an air-conditioned shopping center featuring some 50 shops selling jewelry, fashion, gifts and crafts, and international dining and food court. There is free keiki hula show every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm and hula shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.
For lovers of the art, every Friday night, from 7 to 10pm, art galleries in Lahaina celebrate Art Night. This is a great opportunity for visitors to meet resident artists and see their latest works as well as enjoy refreshments served at the galleries. Lahaina is also a prime point of debarkation for whale watching, snorkeling, and sailing tours. The harbor is busy, with dozens of catamarans, sailboats, and ferries to Lanai sailing out daily.