Lahaina Town or "Lele" in Hawaiian means relentless sun, and if you've ever been walking down Front Street in the middle of the day in September, you know why. Despite the heat, it is still the 2nd most visited spot in Maui and again, if you've ever walked down Front Street in the middle of the day in September, you know why.
|Though probably most well-known for the shopping; and there is a plethora, Lahaina also boasts a rich and varied history. The missionaries arrived in the 1820s to civilize the Hawaiian people, Ephraim Spaulding being one of the first. It was Spaulding that built The Baldwin House, known at the time as "the missionary compound" and it wasn`t until 1836 that the Baldwin family moved in, making it their legacy. The Baldwins entertained Captains from ships that were docked in Lahaina; as well as Hawaiian Royalty from time to time.
Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820-1845 and during that time became a port for sailors. In fact, a fort was built to protect Lahaina from cannonballs sailors were launching from their ships in protest of the missionaries and the changes they were making; notably not letting the local women swim out to "greet" the sailors. A prison was built in 1853, Hale Pa`ahao (stuck-in-irons house), to house the rabble-rousing sailors when they were on land. The prison was restored in 1963 and if you enjoy history, there is a walking tour with 28 stops, including the prison, available either with a guide or self-guided that will lead you through all the historical spots and buildings along and around Front Street.
Another part of history and still one of the more popular spots on Front Street is the Banyan Tree. Sheriff Smith brought it from India when it was 8" tall and planted it in the current location in 1873. In the over 100 years the tree has been there, it has spread to cover nearly an acre, making it the largest banyan tree in Hawaii. Now the park hosts craft fairs each Sunday afternoon and a cool spot to escape the heat of the day the rest of the week. The Old Lahaina Courthouse is also in the park and the Lahaina Historic Society is housed in the building.
|Many activities take place in the Banyan Tree Park and one of the favorites is a tree lighting ceremony in early December (and if you miss the snow, they usually bring in a snow machine, it`s almost like you`re in the middle of winter...).
There are 2nd Friday Town Parties where the Lahaina community comes together the second Friday of each month for an outdoor night of music, food and art. As a part of 2nd Friday there is an art walk; Front Street has over 40 art galleries, and several of them offer free drinks and pupus, so grab a glass of wine and enjoy the creative side of Lahaina!
Front Street is also the place to be if you enjoy the night life. Restaurants and stores are open later and the brightly lit street seems to bustle until all hours. The most notable night on Front Street is Halloween, and it seems as though the entirety of Maui comes out of the woodworks. Even if you don`t like to dress-up, it is an experience to stand on the side and people watch; the costumes are creative, and eclectic.