You may not have heard of Lahaina but you’ve definitely heard of Maui. Sitting on the west end of the island, Lahaina is one of the four major towns that’s a great backdrop for activities, entertainment, food and as a place to call it a night. While it may not have the beaches of Kaanapali, there’s no reason to skip Lahaina as there’s something for everyone.
Keep on reading if you’re thinking about planning a trip to Maui and looking for a travel guide to Lahaina, Maui!
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Where do I recommend you stay in Lahaina?
Here's what we're covering:
- Lahaina, Maui Guide
- Where to Stay in Lahaina
- Activities to Check Out in Lahaina
- Frequently Asked Questions
Lahaina, Maui Guide
Planning a trip to Maui and having reviewed the best areas to stay in Maui and have decided on Lahaina? You’re undoubtedly looking into all the fun things you can do from here.
Lahaina is a hot spot in Maui for a reason. Once called Lele, it’s a town that has a bit of everything. It was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom so it has the historic importance, you’ll find excellent restaurants here, Front Street is lively and fun the stroll, humpback whales come by in the winter, and that oceanfront backdrop is just stunning.
In terms of location, Lahaina is in West Maui and in the southern part of a stretch of coastline that includes other popular areas such as Kaanapali and Kapalua.
Below are a breakdown of must-visit attractions and activities that you should definitely consider adding to your itinerary.
Lahaina is steeped with history
Once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina turned into a major whaling village for sailors and fishermen in the mid-1800’s. Even novelist Herman Melville, made famous by his writing of Moby Dick could be found here during that time. Today, it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places and serves as great town to get to know those days gone past.
The old Lahaina vibe still lives in the town as you stroll through the historic trail that includes stops at the U.S. Seamen’s Hospital, Pioneer Inn, Lahaina Prison, and Carthaginian 2, a replica of a whaling ship.
TIP #1: The Lahaina Visitor Center located in the Old Lahaina Courthouse offers a walking guide which you can pick up.
TIP #2: You can get a free historic guide and walking map of Lahaina at the Baldwin Home Museum.
From a natural history perspective, don’t forget to visit the famous Banyan Tree Park where you’ll find the largest banyan tree in not only Hawaii but all of the United States. The Lahaina banyan tree has mammoth roots that spread throughout the town. When you’re here, you’ll really feel its presence as the heartbeat of Lahaina.
You can try to map out all of the historic locations in Lahaina or you can purchase a self-guided audio tour that can help you navigate all of the obvious and not-so-obvious sites. There’s also a front street segway tour that comes highly recommended.
For those that are looking for something a bit spookier, there’s a ghostly private walking tour that takes you to spots that have haunting stories to tell.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE
Find out how you can plan an amazing 5 days in Maui with this detailed itinerary.
Slice of traditional life
Perhaps the most popular thing to do in town is the Old Lahaina Luau. Widely regarded as the best and most authentic Hawaiian luau in the entire Pacific, feast your eyes on the rhythms of hula dancing and fire breathing heroics while trying a delicious collection of tropical dishes and drinks.
An alternative is the Myths of Maui Luau which is located at the Royal Lahaina Resort. Your entry ticket gets you an all-inclusive Island-style buffet, complimentary cocktails, and the show itself.
Whale watching wonder
During winter, Lahaina is the perfect place to catch a whale watching cruise from the Lahaina harbor. The channel off the coast is one of the best places in the world to spot humpback whales so you’re almost guaranteed to see one on one of these excursions.
Since these are popular activities, your best bet is to reserve your spot ahead of time to make sure you’re not disappointed when you arrive.
Surf paradise for beginners
Many say that Lahaina is one of the best spots for beginner surfers. The reason is that the waves are small and easy to access from the beach.
The most popular beaches for surfing in Lahaina is Launiupoko (depicted above). This park isn’t right in Lahaina Town but it’s a short drive, making it easy to access.
NOTE: Paumana Beach Park is permanently closed because of shoreline erosion and discovery of bones.
TIP: While the beaches have soft and fine sand, make sure to be careful in the shallow reef while surfing.
Note that both are quite popular beaches and so their parking lots will fill up quickly, especially on weekends.
If you’re looking for surfing lessons, there are group classes being offered that will give you the basic skills needed in safe and fun environment. This particular class occurs at the Breakwall in Lahaina which is located on the south side of Lahaina Harbor’s boating channel.
Culinary highlights abound
Lahaina is most known for its food and has many options to choose from despite its size. Lahaina’s Front Street being the main thoroughfare for the town, you can take your pick of cuisine and budget that will surely delight your tastebuds.
Aloha Mixed Plate is a local favorite, serving authentic Hawaiian cuisine in an unpretentious setting from a tiki-torch laden deck with sunset views. Lahaina Fish Company is another place to try fresh seafood prepared with an island influence. And lastly, whether you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth or cool down, Local Boys West has the best fluffy shaved ice in town.
Another spot I recommend just outside of town is Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop which has seriously the best pies in Hawaii. I recommend getting their key lime pie and famous chocolate mac nut pie.
Speaking of Mixed Plate, my current pair of sunglasses are by a brand called Maui Jim which has a model called exactly that. When you’re looking for the best lenses in the industry, opticians will tell you it’s Maui Jim. I’ve been so impressed with my pair that this is a reminder for you to visit the official store that’s located in Lahaina (721 Wainee St. Lahaina, HI 96761)!
Shop till you drop
If you’re into shopping, the retail storefronts and boutiques are open later than you think. Spend the evening browsing around, picking up new beach clothing, buying beautiful pieces in art galleries, or snagging a few souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
For more shops, Whalers Village is an outdoor shopping mall that includes big brands such as Billabong, Quiksilver, crocs, Lululemon, Louis Vuitton, and also some local brands like ABC, Hilo Hattie, and Honolua Surf Co.
Seeking a good deal? Outlets of Maui is also located in Lahaina for some serious retail therapy.
Sparkling night life
Once the sun goes down, the city comes to life with its many restaurants, bars and night clubs on Lahaina town’s Front Street.
One of the surprising things as we mentioned earlier is that the shops and boutiques are open rather late. This means that even after the sun goes down, you’ll be able to browse the storefronts.
In terms of evening fun, Kimo’s Restaurant is right along Front Street and always packs a crowd. The Maui Brewing Company also doubles as a restaurant and brewpub which makes it a great place to hang out.
If you’re looking to do a little partying, Cheeseburger in Paradise turns into a night club after hours.
For something even more unique, don’t forget that there are sunset cruises available that serve dinner. This experience includes a 3-course Hawaiian meal, 2 alcoholic drinks, and soda as you’re taken care of by the superb crew. The cruise also departs from Pier One in Lahaina Harbor so you can even walk here if you’re staying in town.
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While not necessarily in Lahaina directly, Boss Frog’s has a store in town and they run amazing catamaran snorkelling tour to Molokini (crescent moon island) and Turtle Town. It’s a half day excursion and you’ll have a blast snorkelling there as there’s a ton to see and it’s a nice balance of being able to explore on your own but is also guided at the same time.
This is the Molokini snorkelling and catamaran tour that I recommend.
Read next: We’ve also dissected and broken down the best snorkeling in Maui. Guess what, Turtle Town is on the list!
Where to Stay in Lahaina
There are plenty of accommodations in Lahaina that will fit any budget.
Located 2 minutes walk from Ka’anapali Beach, this resort features a 3.5 acre pool, full-service spa, and each suite has private balconies or lanais.
GREAT FOR GROUPS
An Outrigger property that I review in this video and is a fantastic option for those travelling in large groups since these are apartment-style suites. Conveniently located, suites are clean, and has a pool as well. Read the full review of Aina Nalu.
Activities to Check Out in Lahaina
The below are some of the top activities that you can find in Lahaina from our trusted booking platform, GetYourGuide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lahaina and all of West Maui is great all year round. That said, if you’re coming for whale watching, January to April are a great time of year to come to take advantage of whale watching cruises.
This is mostly personal preference if you’ve decided to stay in West Maui. Regulars that visit Maui love Lahaina because it has a less pretentious and charming atmosphere over Kaanapali and Kapalua that has a much more resort-feel to them.
The largest free parking in Lahaina can be found at the corner of Prison Street and Front Street. This lot has a 3-hour limit and is often full. Another option is to park at Whalers Village where you can easily get validation at the ABC Store. Lahaina Center and Wharf Cinema Center also offer similar free parking with validation.
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