Friday, April 23, 2010

Lahaina: Authentic Tourist Town

Maui's Lahaina will please both seekers of Hawaiian culture and history and those wishing to be serenaded by Jimmy Buffet while taking a moonlit stroll to buy an aloha shirt with matching puka shells. It's a place to realize a Hawaiian vacation fantasy, and to learn about King Kamehameha, David Malo and how the Hawaiian Kingdom formed and then was shaped by the onset of the raucous whaling industry and the advent of Christian missionaries. Many of the historic buildings are now museums, standing beside galleries and coconut bars.

Lahaina was always an action spot in Hawaii and it still is. While it's not a sleepy place, it is now quaint compared to Maui's other sunny-side resort options of Wailea, Ka'anapali, and Kapalua. You won't find a long run of sand, but beaches on the north and south side of town are excellent for snorkeling, especially with kids.

The lively port is the take off for whale watching, sailing and sports fishing, as well as ferries to the outer islands of Molokai and Lanai. The sprawling Banyan tree (planted in 1873) creates a giant umbrella that a hosts artists and musicians.