Monday, August 13, 2012

A Little Lahaina Anyone?

Front St. in Lahaina

Last week I did a post about my family's recent trip to Maui and you can read it here. This post is going to be about the town we called home for 8 days: the old capital of Hawaii and old whaling port of Lahaina.

A Little Geography

L Town
Lahaina is on the Westward side of the island of Maui, about 45 minutes or so from the airport in Kahului. Lahaina actually means cruel sun in Hawaiian because of the intensity of the sun and how dry the climate is with only 13 inches of rain a year. Of course 13 inches a year is a veritable rain forest compared to the amount of rain we get here in the desert but for Hawaii, 13 inches is dry. This makes it ideal for those who come from wetter climes and seek the comfort of the sun's rays. Personally I could do without the sun but it did rain once during our stay in Lahaina so I was happy about that.

A Little Background

As I mentioned above, Lahaina was the old capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii before it was moved to Honolulu in 1845. Lahaina was also "...the center of the global whaling industry(,_Hawaii)". The town's activity centers around the famous Front St. which dates back to the 1820's (that's old to us Californians).

Posted throughout the town is a board showing the Historic Trail locating the various points of interest in Lahaina. We didn't get to them all (leaving room so we have to come back, right?) but the ones we did see were pretty awesome.

The Baldwin House
The Baldwin House really stole my imagination. And it had nothing to do with Rev. Dwight Baldwin and his work as a doctor, but rather his wife, Charlotte. They had 8 children all together even though 2 died young from dysentery. Rev. Baldwin's work would often take him away from Lahiana leaving Charlotte to care for 6 children. All I could think about was how hard it had to be for her to keep her household together and take care of all those children in a strange land. Historically we always learn about the great deeds men do-but sometimes the stories of the everyday struggles of those left behind, if you will, are far more fascinating. We did a candle lit tour of the house which added to the feeling of going back in time and helped us to truly imagine what life may have been like in the mid-19th century. If you visit Lahaina Restoration  you can see their event calender to plan your candle lit tour to Baldwin House on your next visit.

The famous Banyan Tree
Another famous must-see in Lahaina is the Banyan Tree. This tree was planted in 1873 and now covers more than 200 feet and shades about 2/3rds an acre. What is so fascinating about the Banyan Tree is that is re-roots itself. In the image above, in the center is the main large trunk. Throughout the image you can see smaller 'shoots' implanted in the ground. This is where vine-like roots have grown down from various branches and planted themselves-adding stability to the growing tree. It is one thing to see in pictures but in person, it is a little mind blowing how massive this tree is.

Old Prison Gate
Old Prison Wall
In the 1850's Lahaina built a new prison to help house and separate the female and male prisoners. It is called Hale Pa'ahao. The original gatehouse had burnt down but was rebuilt in the 1960's based on original photos. Part of the exterior wall of the Prison was built by the old fort walls the lined Front St.

Old Fort
We visited the Courthouse in Lahaina on our second to last night there and the Courthouse was closed before I had the chance to visit it. I was bummed, needless to say as I was really looking forward to visiting this historic landmark.

Old Ka'anapali-Lahaina Sugar Train
One thing I wanted to make sure we did while in Lahaina was take the six mile train ride from Lahaina to Ka'anapali on the old Sugar Mill Train. The Sugar mill was in operation starting in 1860 but started taking passengers only in 1970. My two year old loves trains and he loved the open air steam train that wobbled and swayed on it's rusty tracks. It is a slow paced ride with a guide who shows you points of interest and played a ukulele and sang one of my favorite songs: What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I enjoyed it and highly recommend it. 

There is so much to do in Lahaina that we saw only a fraction of what is there. I fell in love with this little beach town and if I ever win the lottery (lol) I would totally buy a house here. The shopping is great (you must visit HALEZEN) , the history is great, the scenery is great, there are a ton of art galleries and restaurants. Oh and there is a gelato place to die for on the corner of Dickenson St. and Front St. called Lahaina Gelato. I don't know about the rest of the major towns in Hawaii, but for me, Lahaina is the quintessential beach town that stole my heart.

Mahalo for reading! 

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