Where to eat, where to stay, Where to park
If you haven’t been to Lahaina, you haven’t really been to Maui. Though its population is only 9000 residents, this little town has the most of everything for tourists: shopping, restaurants, history, ambiance, harbor, and much more.
Lahaina was the royal capital of Hawaii in the 1800’s, and most of the old buildings on the main street are preserved, though now converted into shops and restaurants. This was the “whaling capital of the Pacific” from 1825 to 1860. Whalers came here for rest and relaxation after months at sea hunting whales. Today the tourists come hunting burgers and bargains. But don’t miss the history while you are here. Pick up a free brochure in the Visitor’s Center in the Old Courthouse adjacent to the harbor, and take a self-guided walking tour of the many historical buildings.
Front Street is the main street of Lahaina. It’s about a mile long, and lined with art galleries, restaurants, souvenir shops, clothing stores, and jewelry stores. A huge famous banyan tree occupies a large square in front of the Old Courthouse building. This famous banyan tree is a great spot to relax in the shade and watch the tourists go by. The sidewalk through town goes along the seawall (built in 1878) with views of the ocean and the island of Lanai. There’s a boat harbor where you can choose a boat to take you out for sailing, whale watching, fishing, snorkeling, parasailing, dinner cruise, or a ride over to the island of Lanai about 9 miles across the channel.
There are free hula shows at the Lahaina Cannery Mall on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and free children’s hula shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There are shopping centers at opposite ends of Front Street: the Wharf Cinema Center on the south end, the Old Lahaina Center and the Outlets of Maui on the north end. There are two big (but expensive) luaus in Lahaina most nights. (Less expensive luaus are just a couple miles away in Kaanapali.) On Halloween in Lahaina, there are costumes and parties. You can get an idea of how the missionaries lived in Lahaina in the 1800’s at the Baldwin Home Museum.
Every Friday evening is “art night” so many of the galleries have visiting artists, snacks and specials. The second Friday of every month there is a “town party” with food vendors and free outdoor musical entertainment in Campbell Park at 680 Front Street. See the Maui Events Calendar for other special events all over Maui, listed by months of the year.
Inexpensive places to eat in Lahaina, in order of my recommendation, include Penne Pasta, Lahaina Coolers, Captain Jack’s, Lahainaluna Cafe, Lahaina Pizza Company, and Cool Cat Cafe. Moderate priced very good restaurants include Honu, Kimo’s and Bubba Gump. The top fine-dining very expensive restaurant in Lahaina is Lahaina Grill. The best shave ice is at Ululani’s. Free cookie samples are at Honolulu Cookie Company. Or for a more complete list with more info about those and others, see Lahaina Restaurants.
There are very few places to stay that are actually inside the town of Lahaina (Lahaina Shores, Pioneer Inn, Aina Nalu), and I don’t really recommend any of them. All of the hotels and condos on the whole west side of Maui have Lahaina mailing addresses, though they are not actually in the town. I suggest you stay in the Kaanapali Beach area, about 3 miles (8 minutes drive) north of the town. That way you will be in a resort area instead of in a city, and you will be closer to other major hotels, snorkeling, the beach walkway, and the Whalers Village shopping center. For reviews and photos of recommended accommodations there and nearby, see West Maui Hotels or West Maui Condos.
Parking in Lahaina
Where are the best places to park, whether you are looking at the shops and galleries, relaxing under the banyan tree, dining at any of the restaurants, getting on a boat in the harbor, or just strolling along Front Street? The only free parking lot is at the corner of Prison Street and Front Street. If that is full, the best deal in a centrally located paid lot is behind the Wharf Center (enter from Wainee Street just south of Dickenson). At the south end of town, you can park in a paid lot across from the 505 Front Street shops (enter from Shaw Street). The largest paid parking lot, and the only parking structure, are at the north end, at the Outlets of Maui shopping center adjacent to Hilo Hattie (enter from Papalaua Street half a block inland from Front Street). There are several other paid parking lots scattered through the town, but they are mostly smaller and more expensive. More about Lahaina Parking.
See the page of Things To Do In Maui for luaus, whale watching, snorkeling, tours, helicopters, horseback riding, ATV, dinner cruises, parasailing, fishing, zipline, biking, golf, beaches, kids and family fun, and more.