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Linda Dancer
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Maui's Historical town of Lahaina

by Linda Dancer last updated on 10/22/2012 Disclaimer

Lahaina

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The historic town of Lahaina has something to offer every type of visitor. History buffs have a heyday in this former Hawaiian capital, where the Kamehameha dynasty prevailed some two centuries ago; and where bawdy 19th-century sailors and prim Christian missionaries coexisted less than peacefully. Shoppers flock to the dozens of fine-art galleries and souvenir boutiques or visitors can book many water adventures such as: whale watches, snorkel cruises, or ferries to Molokai or Lanai.

Lahaina is a town of extremes, from its 150-year-old banyan tree to one of the biggest Buddhas this side of Asia. Come evening, the town turns into a spirited gathering place with live entertainment and some of the island’s best-loved restaurants. Here are just a few ways visitors can make the most of this Maui must-see.

For the history lovers, inside the Baldwin House Museum an 1835 coral-and-stone home, originally built for Rev. Dwight Baldwin, visitors get a taste of missionary life in old Lahaina. As a practicing physician, Baldwin helped save the people of Maui, Molokai and Lanai from the scourge of smallpox during the epidemic of 1853. From original household furnishings, photographs and artifacts to historic displays, the home presents a fascinating snapshot of days gone by. www.lahainarestoration.org

Lahaina is jam-packed with galleries of all sizes and qualities. Works by local talents share the space with internationally-acclaimed names like Norman Rockwell and Guy Buffet, while artistic themes run the gamut. Every Friday evening, many galleries participate in the town-wide Art Night with special shows, artists-in-action and refreshments. www.lahainagalleries.com

There are many dining options in Lahaina including Kimo's the oldest restaurant on Front Street, (save room for Hula pie), Lahaina grill or Buba Gumps just to name a few. Visitors can choose a table on the open-air lanai overlooking views of Molokai and Lanai. No one should ask for the bill until they have ordered its famous hula pie: macadamia nut ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust topped with chocolate fudge sauce, whipped cream and macadamia nuts. www.kimosmaui.com

Lahaina offers one of the island’s livelier nightlife scenes, including Ulalena. The one-and-one-half-hour production leads audiences on a spellbinding journey through Maui’s history and myths while integrating authentic Hawaiian chants and dances, original music, acrobatic choreography and special effects. Unlike the shows presented at luaus, Ulalena calls on the very unusual techniques like shadow puppetry and Cirque-style aerials. www.ulalena.com

Visit the Maui Visitors Bureau for more information at: www.visitmaui.com

This review appears on Maui.