Lahaina history mirrors much of the history of Maui and Hawaii.
The historical and cultural sites are compressed into a small
geographic area of Lahaina that you can either tour quickly or leisurely.
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation has worked for decades to preserve Lahaina history. Their 30 minute Lahaina Historic Trail walking tour of a few important historical sites is the most organized and best documented way to learn about Lahaina history and culture.
Lahaina Restoration Foundation
Since there are not a lot of tourist dollars involved, there is not a lot of advertising, so discovering and locating historic and cultural sites in Lahaina can be challenging. Several volunteer organizations struggle to restore and maintain sites.
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation developed a Lahaina Walking Tour of important Lahaina historic sites that are quick and easy to visit because they are near areas like Lahaina Harbor, Banyan Tree Park, and Front Street that you are probably going to visit anyway in Lahaina.
Their free informative brown pamphlet lists 31 sites within a few blocks radius of the center of Lahaina.
The pamplets are sporadically available at the major historical and cultural sites managed by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation:
• Master’s Reading Room (1834) The second floor is the headquarters for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.
• Baldwin House (1835) This is the most likely location to find the free brochure.
• Hale Pa’i Printing House (1837)
• Hale Pa’ahao Prison (1852)
• Hale Aloha Church
• Old Lahaina Courthouse (1859)
• Wo Hing Chinese Temple (1912)
Or you can take my online version of their pamphlet with you to Maui.
The sites are indentified with a brown Lahaina Historic Site marker. The number on the sign matches the number in the pamphlet. For example, the fort has a number 12 on the sign, which corresponds to the site number 12 in the pamphlet for a description of the fort.
Lahaina Historic Trail
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation then joined with several other groups to develop the Lahaina Historic Trail
- Ala Hele Mo‘olelo O Lahaina, which adds an additional group of sites that emphasize early Maui history. There are 62 sites on the Lahaina Historic Trail.
I have not found a pamphlet similar to the one from Lahaina Restoration Foundation that lists all the the sites on the Lahaina Historic Trail. My guess is that they don't have the money to print a free pamphlet.
Instead the information is posted in locations around Lahaina in two ways:
• Maps that list all the sites are displayed in wooden kiosks in public parking lots around Lahaina. Use these maps to find where you will go on the walking tour.
My problem with this is I can use a stationary map to get to one location, but my memory is not good enough to remember all 62 sites!
• Bronze markers at some of the sites include a description of the site, so that a separate written pamphlet is not necessary.
If you look for these, you will notice many of them as you walk around Lahaina.
You can just stop and read the site description and learn about Lahaina history and culture.
Maui Historical Walking Guide
There is a free booklet for the Lahaina Historic Trail - the Maui Historical Walking Guide
There are so many advertisements that this guide looks and reads more like the many activity brochures that stuff the sales racks at grocery stores and public places.
I tried using this small guide, but the tiny print and map, combined with the large advertisements, made it almost unusable.
This free guide is available at the sales counter in the Lahaina Visitor Center (this is really just a gift shop) on the first floor of the Old Lahaina Courthouse (between Lahaina Harbor and Banyan Tree Park at the south end of Lahaina).
This guide also highlights a problem with the Lahaina Historic Trail for most casual Lahaina tourists - there are just too many sites, many of which seem trivial.
That's why I stick with my original recommendation - pick up the free Lahaina Restoration Foundation pamphlet, or print out the online version, and take their 30 minute walking tour to view the highlights of the Lahaina Historic Trail. Then poll your family to see who wants more Lahaina history.
Links to Maui History Websites
The Maui and Lahaina history links below open a new browser window to their websites.
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation has worked for decades to preserve Lahaina history.
View a listing of all members of the Maui Museums Association.
Lahaina from Lahaina History