Maui’s Small Towns

With all that our island has to offer, most residents will concur that Maui well deserves its no ka ‘oi moniker. Ask us about our favorite town here, and things get a bit more complicated. So we did just that: Asked local experts what’s so good about their towns. We’re not taking sides—we love them all.


Wailuku | Makawao | Kīhei | Lāhainā | Paʻia | Hāna

Maui towns
Front Street seen from Lahaina Harbor.


Once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, Lahaina is steeped in history and oozing with charm. Its epicenter is iconic Front Street, which the American Planning Association named one of the top ten “Great Streets in America” in 2011. Often referred to as the “jewel in the crown of Maui,” lively Lahaina boasts a plethora of shops and restaurants, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in the country.

Our resident advisors:

  • Tiara Kukahiko, assistant entertainment manager at Old Lahaina Lu‘au
  • Chuck Dicker, longtime Lahaina resident

What was it like growing up in Lahaina?

TK: My dad took us to the beach every day to surf or paddle canoe. My mom worked at the Golden Palace Chinese Restaurant, so we ate there nearly every day. I also played a lot of sports. During some times of the year, I’d be participating in as many as three different sports.

Lahainaluna High School football
Lahainaluna High School football

What’s the best thing about living in Lahaina?

CD: Everyone knows everyone else, which gives you a tremendous sense of ownership of your town. And our local businesses are supportive of the community on an everyday basis by making donations and sponsoring events.

TK: We live across from Wahikuli Beach Park, and my family and I spend a lot of time there playing in the sand and swimming. Lahaina is also a very family- and sports-oriented town, so there’s a lot of camaraderie. We all root for the Lahainaluna High School football team!

What makes this town unique?

TK: Because Lahaina was the capital of Old Hawai‘i, the culture is particularly strong here.

CD: There are so many free community celebrations here — Kamehameha Day Parade, Plantation Days, and Halloween, just to name a few. I encourage my mainland friends to plan their visits around these events.

Favorite place to eat?

TK: My husband and I love the whole wok-fried ‘opakapaka at Honu Seafood & Pizza. For casual dining, the burgers and fish tacos at Cool Cat Cafe are ‘ono [delicious]!

CD: My wife and I enjoy sitting in the back at Hula Grill watching Chef Bobby Masters and his team cook. We tell Bobby how much we want to spend, and let him pick their best product of the day for us.

What’s there to do here at night?

TK: Paradise Grill in Ka‘anapali has great live music every night, and Friday is Salsa Night. Friday and Saturday nights there’s late-night karaoke at Kobe Japanese Steak House, which is great fun.

They also recommended:

Talking story with local artists at Friday Night Is Art Night . . . soaking up some Hawaiian culture at Old Lahaina Lu‘au . . . shopping for ladies’ island attire at Mahina . . . checking out artifacts from Lahaina’s whaling days at The Whaler, Ltd. . . . taking a free (or almost free) class at West Maui Senior Center . . . sinking your teeth into the beef tacos at Shark Pit Maui . . . experiencing a slice of Lahaina’s history at the Pioneer Inn. — HP



  1. I used to live out near the East end of Pi’ihana Road for 8 years. Many times on Sunday mornings I would drive up to Iao Valley at 6:45am, just when the ranger was opening the gate to the Needle. When I would arrive at the top, I was the only one there and I would go hike up to the high observation point at the top of the steps. The air was so fresh and clean with a little moisture from the mist. I always felt a spiritual presence that would give me chicken skin. The silence from the lack of people made it all the more special, almost like I was transported into another dimension of space and time. One time I took my brother up to the bridge right in front of the gate at midnight on a full moon. We were silently looking down at the water below when all of a sudden a shadow came across the lone street light that’s there. As we looked up and looked back at the water, an apparition appeared on the rock below. I swear he looked like an ancient Hawaiian dressed in feathers and he was glowing white. We looked at him for maybe 4 or 5 seconds and ran like lightning to my jeep and tore off out of there. We couldn’t talk for at least 5 minutes, finally looking at one another and yelling out, “What the f*** was that…?!!!” I’ll never forget Maui, I love her with all my heart and soul. With aloha…


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