There are many reasons to love Lāhainā (Maui), from its combination of sunny, dry weather and beaches to its boat harbor, beginner surf breaks, historical/cultural significance, and myriad of restaurants and bars. On any given day, Lāhainā’s streets will be bustling with visitors exploring its waterfront and the surrounding areas.
If you’ve never been and aren’t sure what to do, our list below runs down the best things to do in Lāhainā, a range of relaxation and recreational opportunities.
Table of contents
Table of Contents
- Banyan Tree Park
- Craft Breweries
- Cultural Sites
- Farm Tours
- Food Tours
- Front Street
- Historical Museums
- Kaanapali (Sunset Walk)
- Lahaina Beaches
- Live Music
- Luau Shows
- Surf Lessons
- Whale Watching, Snorkeling, and Sunset Tours
Banyan Tree Park
Depending on where you’re from, you may have some big trees back home; however, we guarantee it’s not as big as the one in downtown Lāhainā at Banyan Tree Park. The size and scope of the tree is amazing, and you can fully appreciate it by walking through the park beneath its canopy. Planted in 1873, the tree spans nearly 0.66 acres and is 60-feet tall with 16 individual trunks (banyan trees put down roots from the their branches as they grow, and eventually, they turn into separate trunks).
Why Go: The famous banyan tree is considered one of the largest banyan trees in the entire world. It single-handedly (trunkedly?) creates a beautiful city park just a short walk from the ocean, providing a shady place to sit and a wonderful green space in the heart of the town.
Craft beer has exploded world-wide, and Hawaiʻi is no different. Even better, many of the island’s breweries have tap rooms located right there in Lāhainā, including Maui Brewing Co. (see also their brewery tours), Koholā Brewery, and a satellite outpost of Waikīkī Brewing Co..
Why Go: Craft breweries not only offer refreshing local products, but they also attract good social circles and beer lovers from near and far. If you’re looking to hang out and socialize, local breweries are relaxed, easy-going atmospheres that offer a nice break from the sun.
Lāhainā was the capital of the Hawaiian Islands from 1820 to 1845 (before it was moved to Honolulu), meaning that myriad historical and cultural events took place upon these shores. Today, there are many cultural sites to visit, such as those along the Lāhainā Historical Walking Tour, or the Lāhainā Heritage Museum (Hawaiian history).
Why Go: It would be a shame to let Lāhainā’s modern-day buzz completely overshadow its storied history, especially since you will be amongst so many significant places, and that this town was once home to Hawaiian royalty. We recommended adding a cultural activity or two to your itinerary.
You can read more in our guide to history and culture on Maui.
Maui has a long history of agriculture, including cash crops like sugar cane and pineapples. But, it also has a large array of small, family-run farms, including a couple just on the outskirts of Lāhainā that you can tour, such as the Maui Dragonfruit Farm, Lāhainā Family Farms, and the Maui Bee Tour.
Why Go: Farm tours are a great way to experience the agricultural side of the island. A visit to a local farm gives you the chance to taste products at the source, and meet the local people that make it all possible.
See our guide to Maui Farm Tours for more culinary tours and activities on Maui.
Looking to be a foodie in Lāhainā? There are a couple food tours to help you find your way. Hawaiʻi Tasting Tours (reopening September 2022) offers two different itineraries, one for lunch and one for dinner. Their walking tours involve several stops and incorporate the history, culture, and way of life in Lāhainā.
Why Go: There are so many good restaurants and hidden gems in Lāhainā that it would be impossible to try them all. However, you can cover some solid ground on a food tour and discover places you might not have otherwise. Plus, we think eating and drinking is pretty fun. Don’t you?
If you’re looking for the “Waikīkī” of Maui – that is, a walkable place where there’s an abundance of restaurants, bars, and shops – then Front Street in Lāhainā is where you want to head. Located adjacent to the ocean, there are many restaurants and bars that offer ocean views and live music, and galleries/shops to browse, ranging from trinkets to high-quality local crafts and jewelry.
Why Go: It’s a one-stop shop for a nice evening out, where everything is within an easy walk. Go early to get an ocean-view seat for happy hour and the sunset.
In addition to the cultural sites above, Maui also has historical museums focused on certain time periods and foreign influences that ultimately impacted the way of life in Hawaiʻi. For example, the Baldwin Museum is dedicated to the history and lives of the missionaries (who arguably did more to change Hawaiian history than any other group), and the Wo Hing Museum sheds light on Chinese immigration to Hawaiʻi, mostly as hired labor.
Why Go: Hawaiʻi has been subjected to a wide range of outside influences that has contributed to its status as a melting pot today. Visiting historical sites can help give you perspective on how various groups made their mark on the islands. You can read about more recommendations in our guide to history and culture on Maui.
Kaʻanapali (Sunset Walk)
Kaʻanapali is a beach resort area that sprawls on for several miles just north of Lāhainā. The reason the resorts were built there becomes obvious as soon as you arrive. Kaʻanapali Beach is considered amongst the best in the world for its soft white sand, typically calm waters, sunsets, and offshore views of Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.
Why Go: Tranquil in nature and home to full-service hotels, Kaʻanapali is the homebase of choice for many of Maui’s visitors. However, visiting on a day trip is easy, as it’s just minutes from downtown Lāhainā and there is plenty of room to spread out. The beach is wonderful for walking, especially at sunset.
The beaches of Kaʻanapali are considered some of the most beautiful in the world, and so many folks tend to head in that direction. But, don’t sleep on the beaches in and around Lāhainā town, such as Launiupoko and Baby Beach.
Why Go: Great for families, barbecues, and beginner surfers, Lāhainā’s beaches are easily reached by those staying in town, and they offer wonderful views of the offshore islands. They aren’t necessarily “world-class,” but they tend to draw a more local crowd than Kaʻanapali’s beaches, which are backed by resorts.
Read more about some of our favorite west Maui beaches.
Every night in Lāhainā, especially Front Street, you’ll find live music at bars and restaurants, a mix of traditional music, modern Hawaiian, and island favorites. Pull up a barstool or grab a table during the sunset to hear a variety of local musicians.
Why Go: If you’ve never listened to Hawaiian music during the sunset, prepare to melt into relaxation. Diving into the local music scene is as good a way to get to know the island as any, and it offers a deep connection to its artists. Check out the live music listings on Maui here, or ask around wherever you’re staying.
Lūʻaus are a fun, interactive live performance that showcase Polynesian history through traditional songs, dances, and customs, like fire-knife dancing. There are many lūʻau venues located in and around Lāhainā, such as the Old Lāhainā Luʻua.
Why Go: Lūʻaus are a fun evening out for couples and families to enjoy a taste of Polynesian culture through its food, song, and dance. Many offer an open-bar and provide beautiful beachside settings for sunset photos. For more information about what to expect from a lūʻau and a complete list of venues on Maui, see our guide to lūʻaus on Maui.
If surfing sounds a bit too intense, consider giving stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, a try. You can launch from Lāhainā town or the surrounding beaches, staying in calm water or, if experienced, paddling out to play around in the waves. Either way, it’s a good all-ages way of getting out onto the water.
Why Go: Paddleboarding is relaxing sport you can take home with you, as all it requires is a board and a body of water, such as a lake, river, stream, or ocean. Trying it out in Hawaiʻi gets you out exploring the island’s waters, but it also gives you a new skill and activity that you can try again elsewhere.
Lāhainā is loaded with shops big and small, from the boutique stores along Front Street and downtown Lāhainā to the outlets at the Lāhainā Cannery. The latter is air conditioned, providing a break from the heat if needed.
Why Go: You want to get some souvenirs, don’t you? Frequenting the local shops is a good way to meet artisans and creatives and find unique, personal gifts and mementos.
Lāhainā has a number of beginner-friendly surf breaks nearby, as well as surf schools to show you the ropes. It’s a wonderful place to learn thanks to its mellow breaks and beautiful backdrop (West Maui Mountains). Check out Maui Surf Schools or Maui Surfer Girls for group or private sessions.
Why Go: Surfing in Hawaiʻi is not only fun; it’s cultural. The Hawaiians are credited with having invented surfing, and today, it’s ingrained in the local customs. We suggest taking a lesson on one of your first days.
Check out the following short video bu Jake Houglum of some locals surfing Lahaina harbor:
Whale Watching, Snorkel, Sunset, and Boat Tours
In the 1820s, Lāhainā was the epicenter of the worldwide whaling industry. Ironically, that same waterfront today is the launching point for many whale-watching excursions, which makes for some interesting history. Snorkeling, scenic boat rides, sunset sails, and dinner cruises are also available and recommended right out of Lāhainā’s harbor.
Why Go: From November through March, more than 10,000 humpback whales hang out off the coast of Maui, making it one of the best places in the world for whale watching tours. Regardless of the time of year, a boat ride off Maui is a must-do for its amazing views of Haleakalā, the West Maui Mountains, numerous offshore islands, and wildlife.