Have you always dreamed of climbing aboard a whale watching tour? Seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural surroundings is guaranteed to be the thrill of your vacation. When you plan a trip to Lahaina in Hawaii, this dream can come true. The island of Maui is full of dramatic scenery, water sports, and local culture. With a little help from VacationRentals.com, you can complete this perfect trip with an oceanfront villa, where if you’re lucky, you might see a dolphin or two swim right by.

What to Do in Lahaina

lahaina beach

Fun Under the Sun

Located in west Maui, Lahaina is known as a historic fishing village turned island hot spot. While this destination has a lot to offer active travelers, the first order of business in Lahaina should still be the blissful beaches. Origins of the name in Hawaiian translate as "relentless sun," so visitors will have no trouble working on their tans.

If you’re looking for a little more action, go ahead and sign up for a whale watching tour. Setting sail from Lahaina Harbor, these tours bring visitors to one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales. After your day on the beach, the town of Lahaina offers plenty more entertainment as well.

The Sophisticated Side of Lahaina

Every Lahaina travel guide should also reveal that there is much more to this Maui destination than just the beach. Savvy travelers plan a trip here for the art galleries, unique shops, and a chance to attend one of the best seaside luaus in Hawaii. Here you can watch traditional Polynesian dances while enjoying fresh cuisine.

Beyond the dozens of art galleries, there is also a local theater where you could easily spend a night on the town. This destination was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early 19th century, and it is easy to see why leaders would have selected this beautiful location. Many sailors also rested in Lahaina, including Herman Melville who wrote so memorably about his sailing experiences in Moby Dick.

The Historic Side of Lahaina

After the famous Lahaina restaurants, this Maui destination is also known for its history. Lahaina is on the register of National Historic Places, and offers many attractions for those with an interest in history and local culture. Get a taste of old Lahaina by strolling down Front Street, and get a feel for what this historic whaling village must have felt like during the whaling boom of the mid 1800s.

The Lahaina Historic Trail extends to over 55 acres and is now being carefully preserved. If you aren’t interested in history, don’t worry; all of this will add up to a charming backdrop during your visit. While Lahaina has a very intriguing past, it also offers the best of Hawaii today. Frozen cocktails, live entertainment, and the waves lapping up on the shore are all on offer in Lahaina.

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What to See in Lahaina

Some travelers need even more entertainment after the sun goes down. Reserve tickets for a show at the Maui Theatre or attend one of the famous seaside luaus. If you’re looking for an interesting way to spend a day in Lahaina, one stunning attraction is the Banyan Tree in front of the Lahaina Courthouse. This Banyan is one of the largest in the entire country and was imported from India in 1873.

During any trip to Hawaii visitors are sure to notice the influence of a variety of cultures. One place where this is especially evident is the Lahaina Jodo Mission, a Japanese Buddhist Temple in Lahaina. Here visitors will see one of the largest statues of Buddha outside of Asia.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Lahaina

lahaina shopping

Sensational Shopping in Lahaina

No Lahaina travel guide would be complete without mentioning the great local shopping. These unique shops have such a reputation that travelers from all over Maui trek to this western region just to have a look around. Whether you’re looking for a special keepsake or gifts for friends and family, shops here will deliver.

Many visitors come to shop and wind up being lured into local art galleries. Some travelers think that the best memento to take home is a piece of art that you will see every day. If you forgot any of your beach basics, local shops will have a wide selection to choose from.

The Art of Dining in Lahaina

Lahaina restaurants are responsible for establishing a reputation for this area of Maui. Some travelers are first introduced to Lahaina through its restaurants. While some casual dining is available, Lahaina specializes in the art of fine dining. Everything is carefully crafted, from the environment to the service to how the fresh ingredients are prepared — you will be amazed!

Undoubtedly the most famous dining option is Mama’s Fish House. While the name sounds unassuming, this elegant restaurant showcases what Lahaina dining is all about. Fresh seafood, an oceanfront setting, and romantic décor will make this one of the most memorable dining experiences of your life. Reservations in advance are a necessity.

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When to Visit Lahaina

A superior Lahaina travel guide will tell potential visitors the best time to visit for their interests. If whale watching is at the top of your list, you will want to plan a visit during the winter months, when humpback whales are migrating. If you’re more concerned about working on your tan than encountering whales, plan your trip during the rest of the year.

Hawaii experiences two distinct seasons. Summer lasts from May through October and winter from November to April. While winter is considered the wetter of the two seasons, showers often pass quickly and keep the temperatures very comfortable. If you’re planning on visiting in the summer season, be aware that this can be a popular time when kids are out of school and families plan a Maui adventure.

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What to Bring to Lahaina

You won’t have to worry much about your packing list for a trip to Lahaina. This destination requires not much more than your beach basics. Beyond a bathing suit, flip flops, and sunscreen all you will need is a fancy outfit or two to indulge in Lahaina restaurants. A romantic vacation might be enhanced by bringing along candles or bubble bath, while a family trip could use some entertainment for the vacation rental including board games, a deck of cards, or a favorite DVD.

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Local Services in Lahaina

While Lahaina may have a history as a charming whaling village, today it is filled with local services for visitors. From grocery stores to quaint cafés, to ATMs and art galleries, travelers are often impressed by the quality of local services. Locals are accustomed to making visitors dreams come true, whether you want to go fishing, whale watching, or learn to surf. Locals are also a great source of information for the hottest new restaurants, so be sure to ask around for the latest tips.

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What to Know About Lahaina

Some travelers are intimidated by the sheer number of art galleries in Lahaina — where to begin? If you don’t want to spend the entire day browsing art galleries, there is one place to go where you can cover a lot of ground. The non-profit Lahaina Arts Society is home to 185 artists. You are sure to find something that appeals to you within this variety. Another great option is to attend Art Night every Friday between 7 and 10 p.m. Along Front Street galleries open their doors to welcome visitors to chat with artists and have a glass of wine.

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Getting to Lahaina

Lahaina is located on the western tip of Maui, approximately a 45-minute drive from Kahului Airport. There are many direct flights into Maui from the continental U.S., although some travelers find that is more affordable to first fly to Honolulu and connect. There is so much to see and do around Lahaina, that most visitors choose a rental car. Cruising along the coastline of Maui is one of the greatest pleasures of visiting this exotic island.

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Why Lahaina Vacation Rentals?

If there’s one thing that can make a trip to Maui even better, it is an oceanfront vacation rental. Make every day of your vacation perfect from start to finish when you wake up and go to sleep in the privacy of your own luxurious villa. Extra amenities can make your stay even more romantic, such as an outdoor shower or soaking tub for two. For great value and convenience, choosing vacation rentals is a no-brainer.

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