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Once the capital of old Hawaii and later a bawdy stopover for whalers, Lahaina is now a quaint seaside town, but it still has the reputation of being southwest Maui’s party central. The rowdy sailors, at least most of them, are gone and the locals no longer swim out “au natural” to welcome ships but there is still much to amuse the modern day traveler.
Relax Under the Banyan Tree
Planted in 1873, this Indian import takes up an entire city block in Lahaina town. The tree tops 60 feet, spans nearly an acre and has twelve trunks. Art in the Park, an event held twice a month featuring local artists, fits almost entirely under the canopy. It’s a great place to catch a bit of shade while people-watching at Lahaina Harbor.
Follow the Historic Trail
Stop at the Lahaina Visitor Center, next to the Banyan Tree, and get the self-guided tour map featuring 62 historic sites. Find the fort where the sailors clashed with the missionaries over their wanton ways and then the jail where some of those sailors slept off their gallons of grog. The fort went up in the 1830s, but the sailors got a bit of a reprieve for the jail wasn’t built until the 1850s. Other sites include the Seaman’s Cemetery, the Old Lahaina Lighthouse and the Baldwin house, built by one of the first missionaries.
Take the Art Walk
Once an artist lands in Lahaina, or Maui in general, it’s hard to leave. Many, seduced by the ocean breezes and incredible sunshine, just stay. The result is a host of galleries that line Front Street. One of the local favorites, Pegge Hopper, was transplanted from California. While you’re out and about, stop in at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, also on Front St. Shave ice is kind of like a mainland snow cone but the ice is fluffier. Try it local style with a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream and sweet Azuki beans on the bottom. No ka oi…simple translation…yummy.