Exploring the Manic Isle — West Maui

Starting at the beginning is always good, and that means West Maui — the historic heart of the island, and many would argue, of all the Hawaiian islands. West Maui includes

Kaanapali Beach
Kaanapali Beach
© MAUI VISITORS BUREAU / Ron Dahlquist
Lahaina, a National Historic District, and the famed Kaanapali and Kapalua resort areas. Some of the prettiest beaches in the world are also found in this region.

Protected by the picturesque West Maui mountains, which are topped by the peak of Puu Kukui, the weather here is superb and the opportunities for exploring the history and the culture of Maui are unmatched.

Heading north from Kapalua one discovers a wild, majestic area of Maui that few visitors encounter — the soaring sea cliffs topped by verdant ranch lands overlooking the Maui-Molokai channel. Further on is the charming village of Kahakuloa, with its wood-frame houses and churches. Stop for a shave ice and "talk story", then travel a few miles to discover the beauty of the Ana Anuhea Tropical Gardens.

Lahaina, West Maui Mountains
Lahaina, West Maui Mountains
© MAUI VISITORS BUREAU / Ron Dahlquist

Lahaina Town — Maui's Living Museum

There is one place where the past, present and future of all Hawaii meet — Lahaina Town. The capital of the Hawaiian Islands during the Monarchy Period (1795-1843) and for many centuries before that a playground for Hawaiian aristocracy, it was also the bawdy, brawling center of the Pacific whaling industry — a fact most troubling to the missionaries who arrived in 1823. In 1860 "black gold" was discovered and the demand for whale oil died, and with it the whalers' way of life. The humpback whales, which had been hunted almost to extinction, began their slow, painstaking recovery, and Lahaina became a sugar plantation town.

Kaahumanu Church, Wailuku
Kaahumanu Church, Wailuku
© MAUI VISITORS BUREAU / Ron Dahlquist
In the 1960s, Lahaina was designated a National Historic Landmark and serious restoration of its many historic treasures began, a process that continues today through the heroic efforts of the Lahaina Restoration Society. Now more than 30 lovingly restored sights await you — like the Old Prison, the sailing brig Carthaginian, Hale Pai (House of Printing), the Seaman's Hospital, the Old Courthouse and the Pioneer Inn. But even as Lahaina honours and preserves its past, it is very much a place of the present.

Front Street is the centre of fun and excitement on Maui, with dozens of world-renowned art galleries, numerous shops, every kind of restaurant imaginable and a thriving night life. And every Friday night is Art Night, when visitors can get up-close and personal with some of the thousands of extraordinary creative people who choose Maui as the ideal place to inspire their artistic vision.