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Lahaina is probably the second most famous town in Hawai’i, second only to Honolulu. Lahaina served as capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from the early 1820′s until 1845. The 1840′s saw Lahaina as the major whaling port of the Pacific. The whaling ships and whalers are long gone, and today’s Lahaina is both a bustling shopping mecca as well as a city steeped in the culture of old Hawai’i.

Lahaina becomes very crowded with tourists and locals alike from noontime until late into the evening, because it is located close to the resort areas of Kaʻanapali and Honokowai. Due to this proximity, driving through and especially along the waterfront in Lahaina becomes increasingly difficult as the day wears on. Parking can, at times, be next to impossible.

Aside from the many shops and galleries which you’ll want to explore in Lahaina, you should allow yourself some time to explore the historic sites of the town including the Baldwin Home, the famous Banyan Tree and the Maria Lanakila Church. An excellent guide to the historic sites of Maui is the Lahaina Historical Guide, available at the visitors center in the Old Courthouse.

Located on the northern edge of Lahaina at Puunoa Point is the Lahaina Jodo Mission, the home to the largest Great Buddha statue outside of Japan. There is also a beautiful temple and 90-foot-tall pagoda.

Just a few miles north of Lahaina, the resort area of Kā’anapali is home to Whalers Village, a wonderful open-air shopping center filled with great shops and restaurants, as well as the Whaler’s Village Museum which celebrates the “Golden Era of Whaling” (1825-1860). Whalers Village also is located right at world famous Kā’anapali Beach where you can watch the boogie boarders, parasailers and surfers frolic in the waves.

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