About LahainaOn the northwest coast 22 miles from Wailuku, Lahaina was once the whaling capital of the mid-Pacific. The warm waters are a haven for humpback whales, which come from the Arctic to mate and bear their young off the coasts of Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. From December through May the whales, now protected from hunters, can be seen swimming and leaping.
The town name, which means “cruel sun,” comes from a description by a Hawaiian chief with a balding pate who was trekking across the mountain slopes behind the village. Today Lahaina bustles with tourists who come to browse the countless souvenir shops, clothing boutiques and art galleries lining Front Street, the town’s main drag. Lahaina also boasts the highest concentration of restaurants and bars on the island. Street parking is scarce, but there are several pay lots in the area; watch for signs along Front Street.
The fertile land and abundant freshwater springs so appealed to Kamehameha the Great that he established his capital on Maui after his conquest of the islands. Hawai‘i's first constitution was drafted in Lahaina in 1840. The 1859 courthouse near the harbor, built with coral and lava blocks taken from the ruins of Kamehameha III's rarely used palace, was declared the finest government building in the islands at the time.
Lahaina Restoration Foundation is an organization devoted to “preserve and protect the physical, historical and cultural legacies of Lahaina, and honor the era of the Hawaiian Monarchy.” Note: Due to the Aug. 8 wildfires, phone (808) 661-3262 before visiting historical sites such as Hale Pa‘ahao (Stuck-in-Irons House), a wooden jailhouse; 1834 Baldwin Home Museum; 1828 Waineʻe Church, once said to be the oldest stone church on the islands; and Lahainaluna High School, which contained Hale Paʻi, a coral-block print shop where the first Hawaiian-language newspaper was printed; the school was considered the oldest secondary school in the United States west of the Rocky Mountains.
Visitor Centers Lahaina Visitor Center 648 Wharf St. Lahaina, HI 96761. Phone:(808)667-9175 or (888)310-1117Note: At time of publication Lahaina Visitor Center is temporarily closed due to the Aug. 8 wildfire; call ahead for updates before visiting.
Self-guiding ToursThe Lahaina Historic Trail (Ala Mo‘olelo O Lahaina) consists of 62 historic sites, 30 bronze interpretive signs along Front Street, 10 interpretive plaques on buildings and the remains of the Lahaina Walking Tour numbered signs. Maps are available at the visitor center in the Old Lahaina Courthouse at 648 Wharf St. A descriptive brochure can be obtained from the Baldwin Home at the corner of Front and Dickenson streets.
Note: Due to the Aug. 8 wildfires tours are suspended; call ahead for updates before visiting.
Things to Do Atlantis Adventures: Atlantis Submarines Maui
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