If you’re trying to figure out some things to do in Lahaina, this is for you! I’ve actually been to Maui many times over the years, ever since first traveling here with my parents as a pre-teen: with my parents, just hubby and I, and as a family with our two girls. But, for one reason or another, I’ve never written about the island. So, let’s change that! This post is to help you figure out what to do in Lahaina, Maui!
Things to do in Lahaina #9
Learn about the History
La haina means “cruel sun” in the Hawaiian language, which is hard to wrap our minds around as mainlanders. The sun and weather seem ideal to us, but the historic district itself gets only 13″ of rain per year, quite low for Maui, possibly explaining the name.
King Kamehameha the Great conquered Lahaina in 1795, and it was made the capitol of the Hawaiian Islands from 1820-1845. The town was an important point in the whaling industry, and also the home to Christian missionaries, welcomed by Kamehameha the Great’s wife, Queen Keopuolani, the first monarch converted to Christianity.
Today, you can explore the home of the Baldwin family, built in 1834 and home to missionaries in Lahaina. There is also the Wu Hing Museum, which tells the story of the early Chinese on Maui who labored not only on the tunnels and irrigation systems, but also on sugar plantations and sugar mills.
There is also the Old Lahaina Courthouse, Hale Pa’ahao Prison, and Pioneer Mill Smokestack and Locomotives among others. Visit the Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s website to learn more and plan a few visits. Just because you’re in paradise doesn’t mean you can’t learn about the culture!
Things to do in Lahaina #8
Cruise out of Lahaina Harbor
Lahaina has always been a harbor town, and the harbor is still a center of industry. But now, that industry is tourism with whale watching cruises, snorkeling cruises, dinner cruises, and even a submarine cruise departing.
Whale season is technically from roughly mid-December to mid-May. However, if that’s a big focus for you, February and March are your months to visit. You won’t believe the whale activity you’ll see. The first time I took the hubby to Maui it was early march. The Humpback whales were in full breeding spectacular. Our first night we watched whales breeching (fully launching their bodies out of the water and falling back in with a HUGE splash) in the sunset. We’ve never forgotten that, and it draws us back time and again. Watching the whales is definitely one of the top things to do in Lahaina!
Every time we’ve cruised or sailed out of Lahaina harbor, I make sure to be on the top deck with a good view behind us. The view back into town, and the view of the Maui mountains, is amazing.
Things to do in Lahaina #7
Get a pic from Maui’s Bird Guy: Postcards from Paradise
The bird guy!! His business is called Postcards from Paradise, but most people just call him the Lahaina Bird Guy, or Maui Bird Guy. He has a mini-studio set up right on Front street, between Papelekane street and Hotel street.
Brian Botka has been shooting bird pictures for passers-by for as long as we’ve been bringing our girls to Maui. I know that, because every time we visit we get a new bird picture. The birds are very well behaved and seem to be completely unflustered by sitting on strangers and posing for the camera.
If you get your photo taken, Brian will have it ready by for your pick up back at the front street location the next business day. He’s there from Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 9pm.
Things to do in Lahaina #6
Marvel at the Banyan Tree
There is a tree in the heart of Lahaina, right in front of the harbor, that is a must-see. The Lahaina Banyan tree was planted in April 24, 1873, to mark the arrival of the first protestant missionary. In 1886, a royal ball was held under the tree, to celebrate King Kamehameha III’s birthday.
Today, the Banyan tree covers about two-thirds of an acre, nearly all of Banyan Tree Park! This is the largest tree, coverage-wise, in the United States. If you look at the photo above, the central, main trunk of the tree is a bit right of center, partially hidden by an offshoot trunk. All of the other tree trunks in the photo have dropped from the original tree to support it as it grows.
For a really gorgeous look at the tree, visit at Christmas time when the underneath is strung with Christmas lights. It’s magical!
Things to do in Lahaina #5
If shopping is one of your things to do in Lahaina, or even in all of Maui, Front Street is your place. This is the main drag through the town of Lahaina, fronting the water for a long stretch. Lining the street are countless stores to get your shopping fix. Here, in Lahaina, you can pick up a new bathing suit, grab that sunscreen you forgot, peruse fine art at several stops, find a new dressy dinner outfit with perfect island style, or ship home some new island decor to hold on to the Aloha feeling.
In recent years, Lahaina has also brought in a nice size collection of your favorite outlet stores! Along Papalua Street, between Front and Waine’e streets, are the Outlets of Maui. Here you will find factory outlet stores for Coach, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Carter’s, Crocs, Maui Jim, Brooks Brothers, and more. You can stumble home with smoke pouring off that card.
Things to do in Lahaina #4
Devour a Tasty Shave Ice
Oh, an absolute ‘Must Do’ in any Things To Do in Lahaina – or things to do in Maui, or even Hawaii in general – is to try Shave Ice. Not ‘ShaveD Ice’, Shave Ice. Get it right.
You make look at the picture above and say “Oh, it’s a snow cone!” NO. It is NOT. It is infinitely BETTER than a snow cone. This Hawaiian treat is made by shaving ice off a large ice block, so fine that it’s sort of like a snowball of soft, powdery snow. (Not crushed ice chunks like an snow-cone which is only an excuse for drinking syrup – something I completely understand.) Then, syrups are poured over the shave ice in countless combinations.
If you are truly doing Shave Ice the right way, you will get ice cream in the bottom of your dish before adding the shave ice & syrup. And trust me, do it. Most places offer at least vanilla ice cream, but if coconut is offered it really is yummy with some tropical flavored syrup!
In Lahaina, the reigning king of Shave Ice as far as we are concerned is Ululani’s Shave Ice. It moved several years ago, so now you want to head down the little shopping-alley along front street between the Kai Pua Artist’s Studio and Gallery on Lahainaluna Rd and Whaler’s locker. You’ll see the line.
Things to do in Lahaina #3
Visit Maui Grown Coffee
Some people know that coffee is grown on Kona island, and is a sought after brew. But did you know that coffee is also grown right here in Maui? In fact, not far from Lahaina?? Yep! Maui Grown coffee is grown just up the mountain slope, and they have a company store here in Lahaina!
The brews are varied with different roasts and bean combinations offered. Maui Grown coffees make great gift ideas for family back home, and definitely something you’ll enjoy reminding you of the islands when you are back to snow. (Eight inches of snow outside my window right now. But I am honest-to-goodness sipping my Maui coffee right now!)
You can also just stop in for some tasting. There are a number of blends with fun and flirty names like Maui Mokka, Lahaina Beach, Lava Flow, and French Kiss. Check out Maui Grown and find your favorite caffeine fix!
Things to do in Lahaina #2
Well, this makes most things to do lists for me, and things to do in Lahaina is no exception. Eat! This little town is packed with restaurants that turn out mouth watering local fare, as well as the foods you may be hankering for from home.
For our family, our very first breakfast on the island is ALWAYS at Longhi’s. *Sigh* Just typing the name makes me wistful. Longhi’s opened on Front street in Lahaina in 1976, and the dishes are largely local produce and products, including Maui coffee! My absolute favorite is the French Toast Longhi’s-style with a bit of Grand Marnier. Absolutely melt in your mouth and wonderful. This past trip we had breakfast in Longhi’s three different times and can heartily recommend the pancakes, the eggs benedict, and the cinnamon rolls!
In addition to Longhi’s, Lahaina has a lengthy list of places to eat, many with gorgeous views. This includes Cheeseburger in Paradise – which always makes the kids happy, Lahaina Grill, Bubba Gump, Ruth’s Chris, and my favorite surprise awesome view, Lahaina Fish Company.
Things To Do in Lahaina #1: Relax!
Ok. Now that I’ve told you all these amazing things to do, I’m going to tell you the MOST important thing on this whole list of things to do in Lahaina: Relax! You are in paradise. The air is soft and salty, the people are laid back and friendly, and the waves are swooshing at the shore. Don’t get so caught up in ‘doing’ all the fun stuff that you forget to just lounge around and soak up the Aloha for a while.
Mahalo for reading!
Looking at different places to visit? Check out our list for Isla Mujeres, near Cancun!
Be sure to Pin Me to find later!