Historic Lahaina Town

By Hawaii.com Team

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/ Tor Johnson.

A car is not an asset in Lahaina. Find a parking lot, lock up and set out on foot to explore this historic harbor village.

Lahaina, which means “merciless sun,” is a National Historic Landmark. Maps and guides are available at the Lahaina Visitors Center in the Old Lahaina Courthouse near the banyan tree at 648 Wharf Street, and at the Lahaina Restoration Foundation at the corner of Front and Dickenson streets on the top floor of the Baldwin House. Pick up a self-guided tour map with information about 31 historic sites or inquire about a guided tour.

The Baldwin House, built in 1834 for missionary Dr. Dwight Baldwin and his family, is the oldest standing structure in Lahaina. It has been accurately restored and is open daily. In the harbor is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the Pacific. It was built in 1840 by King Kamehameha to aid the many whaling ships visiting Maui. The Pioneer Inn, about face from the harbor, dates to 1901 and was the only hotel in west Maui until the late 1950s.

A few steps from the Pioneer Inn is one of the world’s largest banyan trees. When it arrived from India in 1873, it had one trunk and was only eight feet tall. Today, it has grown 12 major trunks, is over 50 feet tall and provides shade to over two-thirds of an acre in the courthouse square.

The largest statue of Buddha outside of Japan resides in the Jodo Mission, located on Pu’unoa Point near Mala Ramp. The Buddha was erected in 1968 to celebrate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants 100 years prior.

At the corner of Front and Shaw streets, an important archaeological find has been identified. Here buried beneath a baseball field are remnants of an island in a pond that was once the home of Hawaiian royalty. The artifacts were uncovered in 1993 and now, with financial help from Maui County, an organization called Friends of Moku’ula is working to restore and preserve the site.

On Shaw Street, you’ll see Waine’e Church and churchyard. Built between 1828 and 1832, it was the first stone church constructed in Hawaii. The church has had a precarious history. The belfry was blown down in 1858, tossing the bell, which remained undamaged, 100 feet to the ground. In 1894, fire broke out in the church. It was rebuilt and burned again in 1947. It was again rebuilt, then demolished by a whirlwind in 1951. When the church was again rebuilt in 1953, it was renamed Waiola, “The Water of Life,” and is still standing.

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