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Lahaina's Front Street

20 Feb 2020

Once called Alanui Moi, or “King’s Road”, Front Street was the epicenter of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1820 - 1845 and home to King Kamehameha III. His palace complex was built on Moku‘ula, a small island surrounded by a moat that is now buried beneath a park at Front and Shaw Streets. Today, Front Street remains a significant gathering place for both Maui visitors and locals. Many come to walk this street of living history and enjoy the numerous shops, restaurants, art galleries, museums, and nightlife it has to offer. Read on for a guide to Lahaina’s Front Street with tips on where to eat, shop, and our favorite historic sites to visit.

 

Historic Sights

Lahaina was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and a major center for the Whaling Trade. Its rich history is preserved with many historic buildings and sites up and down Front Street. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation has a full list of the historic places of interest with background stories. A few of our favorite places to visit include the Hale Pa’ahao Prison (1853), the Baldwin House Museum (1835), the U.S. Seaman’s Hospital (1833), the Wo Hing Temple Museum (1912) and Cookhouse Theatre, and Lahaina’s famous Banyan Tree (1873). 

Read our next blog post on the Lahaina Banyan Tree for more information about this amazing tree that takes up a whole city block! You can pick up a brochure with ‘historic walking trails’ to points of interest around Lahaina’s Front Street at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center website has more information on monthly festivals and events happening in Lahaina.

 

 

Where to Eat 

Looking for places to eat on Front Street? Here’s a quick run down of some of our go-to spots for a good meal. For breakfast - you’ve got to try 808 Grindz - hello bacon mac nut waffles and a special eggs benedict menu. Mala Ocean Tavern - for intimate, ocean side seating on their lanai. Zesty oyster shooters and fresh fish, creative salads and yummy bruschetta with juicy local tomato. 808 Mixed Plate - for satisfying local style grinds. 

Cool Cat Cafe, which we’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts, is a great spot to take the kids. It has a fun 50s style dinner theme and classic American fare like burgers and shakes. Nearby is Down the Hatch with great happy hour specials from 2-6pm daily. They are also known for their “adult shave ice” at Breakwall Shave Ice which is connected to the bar. Prison Street Pizza - perfect for a slice and a brew, open until 10 pm. For more upscale dining, try Kimo’s (same owner as the famous Dukes Restaurant). Feeling like Mexican? Try Frida’s Beach House. Wait, there’s dessert! Stop by Ono Gelato and Espresso Bar or Ululani’s Shave Ice. 

 

Where to Shop 

If you love to ‘shop local’, check out Goin Left off Front Street right behind the Baldwin House. This awesome surf shop and unique gift boutique features many local artists and makers. Another interesting shop is Island Sandals, where owner Michael Mansmith has been making custom leather sandals for over 20 years for customers in Maui and around the world. For deals on your favorite name brands, Outlet Malls of Maui is located right on Front Street. Strolling up and down Front Street, you’ll find major surf brands like Quicksilver, Volcom, Rip Curl, and dozens of other retailers. 

If art is your thing, there are many galleries on and around Front Street, from fine art photography to glass blowing. Moana Glass, located just a few blocks up from Front Street is well known for their stunning blown glass pieces and glass blowing lessons for visitors. You can make your own blown glass souvenir to take home. Maui Hands is an interesting art gift boutique featuring crafts from a selection of island artists. Every Second Friday, Lahaina’s Front Street has a monthly town party, from 5-8 pm. Many of the galleries on and around Front Street participate with pupus and wine. Other area shops and restaurants take part with specials and live entertainment. An ‘art map’ with more information and locations of Lahaina’s galleries can be found at the Lahaina Visitors Center on Wharf Street.

 

 

Waterfront and Beaches

Front Street borders the water for much of it’s length with beautiful views of the Lahaina Harbor and the islands of Molokai and Lanai. In the center of the historical district, Wharf street runs parallel to Front Street for a few blocks. This is where many boating charters depart for snorkel tours or whale watching. 

There are several beaches that border Front Street. Popular Baby Beach, known for its calm waters and child-friendly atmosphere is on the northern end. To the south, Emily’s Beach is good for a stroll along the sand. The Lahaina Harbor and surrounding area is popular with surfers. When the waves are up, you might spot surfers on the street with boards in tow, heading out for a session. Surf schools also give lessons here. During winter whale season, you can often spot whales breaching off shore from Front Street. 

View from Lahaina Harbor, photo courtesy of mthewriter.com.

 

Halloween on Front Street 

Perhaps Lahaina’s most famous annual event, Lahaina’s Front Street welcomes more than 20,000 costumed visitors on Halloween for a parade and block party. If you happen to be on Maui over Halloween, it’s a memorable time and definitely worth checking out! Residents from neighboring islands often travel to Lahaina for this giant block party. 

A highlight is the Keiki costume parade, which has been an annual event for over 40 years. The parade begins at 4 pm at Front and Papalua Streets. All children, including visitors, are welcome to dress up and participate. For adults, bars up and down Front Street offer costume contests and drink specials for a Halloween party that lasts into the wee hours of the morning.

 

What’s your favorite spot on Front Street? We’d love to hear from you about your favorite galleries, shops, sites, or go-to eats in historic Lahaina town.