Lahaina Historic Trail Guide
This is my online
copy of the free
Lahaina Historic Trail Guide from the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which manages a number of historical buildings and cultural sites.
This historic trail allows you to fit in some Hawaiian culture and history at the same time you are visiting Banyan Tree Park on Front Street in Lahaina.
This Guide has been replaced with a tiny commercial booklet stuffed with advertisements, so if you prefer this version, I recommend that you just print out this page and take it with you to Maui.
I have three pages about the Lahaina Historic Trail:
• This page is the map and text for a short tour (30 minutes) that just circles around Banyan Tree Park and Lahaina Harbor.
• The map and text for the rest of the Historic Trail covers an wider area and takes an additional hour.
• I also have a page with a large printable Lahaina Historic Trail map. If bigger is better for you to read a map, print this map page and take it with you to Lahaina.
Lahaina Historic Trail Site Markers
When you are walking the tour, some of the sites will still have a brown Lahaina Historic Site
marker. The number on the sign matches the number in the Guide below.
For example, the fort would have a number 12 on the sign, which corresponds to the site number 12 in the Guide for a description of the fort.
These brown site markers were originally placed at the sites by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.
Several years ago they joined a group which has placed bronze Lahaina Historic Trail markers at many of their original historic sites, plus a new group of sites that emphasize early Maui history.
These newer bronze markers include a description of the site, so that a separate written guide is not necessary.
Lahaina Historic Trail Map
To find each site listed below, match the site number in the map image with the site number in the Guide below.
NOTE: The site numbers skip around so much (for example, #62 Old Lahaina Lighthouse is right next to #16 Pioneer Inn) because the site numbers for this original Lahaina Walking Tour were merged into the Lahaina Historic Trail.
Ready? Find the START notation in the map below (you start at the intersection of Front and Dickenson streets) and follow the dotted line.
Quick 30 Minute Tour
The descriptions in italics
below are quoted directly from the Lahaina Restoration Foundation's free Lahaina Historic Trail
22. THE MASTERS’ READING ROOM stands at the corner of Front and Dickerson. Originally a store room for missionaries, it was converted to a downtown officers club by whaling ship captains in 1834. Its coral block and fieldstone construction is preserved exactly as originally built.
You just observe the second floor reading room of this building from the outside - there is no inside area to tour. There is a local Hawaiian craftsmen gift shop that occupies the first floor.
The two story BALDWIN HOME
was the home of Dwight Baldwin a Protestant medical missionary, and his family from the 1830s to 1868. The house served as a medical office and general center for missionary activity. A seamen’s chapel and Christian reading rooms for ships’ masters and men was nearby. The Baldwins had a garden of native and introduced plants: Kukui, kou, banana, guava, figs, and grape arbors. The Museum is open daily from 10AM to 4PM.
You can go through the home in a few minutes, or spend a long time looking at artifacts in each room. They have a small admission cost of a couple dollars.
19. (site only) William Richards was the first Protestant missionary to Lahaina. On the site of the present Campbell Park, the RICHARDS HOUSE was the first coral stone house in the islands. Richards left the mission in the 1830s to work directly for the kingdom as chaplain, teacher and translator to King Kamehameha III. He helped draw up the constitution. Seeking recognition of the kingdom’s independence, he traveled to the United States and Europe as the king’s envoy. He also served as the Minister of Education.
25. (site only) The remnants of a substantial TARO PATCH, called Kapukaiao, were visible as late as the 1950s. Kamehameha III is said to have worked here to show his subjects the dignity of labor.
If this just looks like the front yard of the Lahaina library, you are not mistaken, there is no taro here and the water has been drained long ago!
27. The HAUOLA STONE is believed to have been used by the Hawaiians as a healing place.
How well you can see this in the water is related to whether or not the ocean is at high tide or low tide. There is a brass marker on the shore that helps you locate the Hauloa Stone, which is close to the Brick Palace excavation described next below.
26. (site only) The BRICK PALACE, built around the year 1800, is believed to be the first western building in the islands. It was made of locally produced brick. Constructed at the command of Kamehameha I, the brick palace was used intermittently as a storehouse and a residence until the 1850s. The cornerstones and foundation have been excavated.
We walked by this many times, incorrectly assuming it was something like an abandoned volleyball court, before we stopped and read the brass markers to discover the historical significance of this excavation.
62. The OLD LAHAINA LIGHTHOUSE fronting the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina was commissioned by Kamehameha III in 1840 as an aid to navigation for whaleboats coming ashore for Rest and Relaxation. It began as a 9 foot wooden tower that was increased to 26 feet in 1866. The whale oil lamp light was kept burning by a Hawaiian caretaker. The Old Lahaina Lighthouse was rebuilt in 1905. The present concrete structure was dedicated by the US Coast Guard in 1916. This light was the first in the Hawaiian Islands and predates any lighthouse on the US Pacific Coast.
The Old Lahaina Lighthouse is easy to spot at the north end of Lahaina Harbor.
16. The PIONEER INN’S original section fronting the harbor dates from 1901. Additional rooms and shops were added in 1965, but this extension was carefully built to match the style of the original. It served as the only visitor accommodation in West Maui until the late 1950s. The stern old turn-of-the-century regulations for guests are still posted in the rooms.
This is still a working hotel where you can stay, and also has a small restaurant that handles overflow visitors waiting for their activities at Lahaina Harbor.
15. The BANYAN TREE was planted in April 1873 to mark the fiftiesth anniversary of the beginning of Protestant missionary work in Lahaina. This banyan tree is now more than sixty feet high and casts shade over an acre.
You can't miss Banyan Tree Park on the ocean side of Front Street at the south end of Lahaina. The Old Lahaina Courthouse is behind the huge banyan tree, and Lahaina Harbor is just across the street from the back of the Courthouse.
14. The old Lahaina COURTHOUSE was built with stones from the demolished Hale Piula. The courhouse also served as a custom house and the center of anti-smuggling activity during the whaling era. In August, 1898, the Hawaiian flag was lowered here and the American flag was raised. This marked the formal annexation of the islands by the United States.
In March 2008 during our visit the upstairs Lahaina Heritage Museum was closed for renovation, but in the hallway you can view an eight-foot by five-foot three-dimensional relief map of the island of Maui displayed in a koa wood cabinet,as well as the last Hawaiian Flag to fly over the state. Find the outside entrance to the basement, which includes some old jail cells that are like the ones in Hale Pa'ahao (Stuck in Irons House) of the mid-1850s. Inside, a sailor-prisoner talks about his escapades in Lahaina that led up to his arrest while sea chantey tunes play in the background.
12. The reconstucted remains of part of the waterfront FORT stands on the two corners of Banyan Tree Park that face Lahaina Harbor. The fort was built in the early 1830s after some sailors lobbed cannonballs at the town during an argument with Protestant missionaries over the visits of native women to ships. Visitors thought the fort looked as of it were built more for show than force. The fort was used mostly as a prison. It was torn down in the 1850s to supply stones for the construction of Hale Pa’ahao - the prison on Prison Street.
(site only) Lahaina had no natural harbor like Honolulu Harbor. Lahaina only had an open roadstead, so the whaler ships' small Chase Boats had to come in from the deep-water offshore anchorage to trade. When the surf was up, they often had trouble beaching. In the early 1840s, the United States consular representative dug a CANAL
to a basin near the market, and charged a fee for its use. After a few years, the government took over the canal and built a thatched market house with stalls, which almost immediately burned down. The canal was filled in 1913.
(site only) All trade between natives and ships was carried on at the GOVERNMENT MARKET. “These are the things which I strictly forbid,” ran the edict of Princess Nahi’ena’ena in 1833, “overcharging, underselling…wrangling, breaking of bargains, enticing, pursuing, chasing a boat, greediness... I hereby forbid women from going to the market enclosure, for the purpose of sightseeing or to stand idly by...” Despite this, the area around the market was noted for its gamy activities, and was called Rotten Row.
Continue to the rest of the Historic Trail
, which covers an wider area and takes an additional hour.
Lahaina from Lahaina Historic Trail