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Touristy, tacky, hot and dry, Lahaina (its name translates to "fierce heat") is a National Historic Landmark that celebrates the 1800s when whalers turned Lahaina into a lawless liberty port full of booze, gambling and prostitution. It's still a non-stop, year-round party town (especially at Hallowe'en when revelers wear little more than masks) on Front Street's "I got Lei-d in Lahaina" t-shirt shops, bad whale art galleries, and chintzy souvenir shops. Sober day-trippers take a self-guided walk about town to see authentic, restored relics like the 1801 Brick Palace, Old Prison (1850), Courthouse (1850), Master's Reading Room and ...

Touristy, tacky, hot and dry, Lahaina (its name translates to "fierce heat") is a National Historic Landmark that celebrates the 1800s when whalers turned Lahaina into a lawless liberty port full of booze, gambling and prostitution. It's still a non-stop, year-round party town (especially at Hallowe'en when revelers wear little more than masks) on Front Street's "I got Lei-d in Lahaina" t-shirt shops, bad whale art galleries, and chintzy souvenir shops. Sober day-trippers take a self-guided walk about town to see authentic, restored relics like the 1801 Brick Palace, Old Prison (1850), Courthouse (1850), Master's Reading Room and Seaman's Cemetery before seeking shade under the mighty Banyan tree (1873) at Town Square. Or, sit on the waterfront verandah of Pioneer Inn (1901) with a tot of rum, and watch the world go by. Eat at I'o or Pacific 'O for excellent Pacific Rim cuisine perfected by chef James McDonald, regularly voted Maui's best chef. (He raises his own fresh produce on his upcountry farm in Kula). The Feast at Lele is a five star luau. For local kaukau try Aloha Mixed Plate bistro. After dark, don't miss Ulalena, a Cirque du Soleil-like performance, that tells Hawaii's tale without a spoken word. In January whales are best observed in Old Lahaina Roads, now a National Marine Sanctuary.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located on Maui's west coast. In the 19th century, Lahaina was the center of the global whaling industry with many sailing ships anchored in at its waterfront; today a score of pleasure craft make their home there.
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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