Lahaina buzzes with a happy energy. The setting is lovely, and no matter how busy it is, you always feel relaxed. Lahaina loosely translates into “cruel sun.” I’ve been there in the summer, and that’s no lie! The trade winds that keep the rest of the island cool and comfortable flow around the north and south ends of the island, missing Lahaina completely. The summer season in Lahaina can be stifling. It is situated on a natural harbor and, at one point in its long history, served as a whaling port and the royal capitol.
Lahaina is quaint and has retained much of its historical charm. The harbor is a hub for many different boating activities. There was a fishing tournament going on while we were there. It was fun to watch the fishermen bring their catch in to be weighed.
Front Street is the main drag lined with shops and restaurants. Okay, let’s get down to the business of shopping. Shopping in Lahaina is fabulous. Every other store on Front Street is a jewelry store. I was in heaven and finally purchased the black Tahitian pearl pendant of my dreams. I got a screamin' deal on it too. Hawaii Jewelry, ask for Michael. If you are looking for a new swimsuit, this is the place to shop. If you can’t find one here, you won’t find one anywhere. I’m partial to Maui Waterwear. There are clothing stores that run the gamut, from Tommy Bahama to el cheapo and everything in between. There is a Hilo Hattie’s here, but it reminds me of an island version of JC Penny. Art galleries abound, but be prepared to leave a chunk of change. You can also buy locally made island goods, like a carved bone Maui fishhook for your favorite skateboarder, shark-tooth jewelry, and lots of things made from Koa wood.
If you get hungry, there are lots of restaurants to choose from. My favorite is Kimo’s. They make the best Lava Flow on the planet. If you are an ice-cream lover, make sure you try a scoop from Lappert’s.
Lahaina is definitely a party town, and things get livelier as the evening wears on. I have heard that Halloween in Lahaina is really something to behold. There is a parade somewhat akin to Mardi Gras. The people who live on Maui really get into Halloween. It’s kind of refreshing and makes you feel like a kid again.
The downside to Lahaina is everybody loves it. Consequently, it is always crowded, especially on cruise-ship day. Parking is a nightmare. We did discover the secret free three-hour parking lot. It’s on the corner of Prison and Front streets. Be prepared to fight for a spot, though. It will take you more than one trip to get the complete Lahaina experience, but that’s a good thing.