If there is one place in Hawaii which reminds one of Key West, it has to be Lahaina. Located on the west end of Maui, Lahaina is a very typical tourist town. It sits right on the shoreline facing the island of Lanai to the south and Molokai to the west. In the town itself sits a lot of small homes tightly packed, just like Old Town in Key West. The streets are narrow and along the shoreline is Front Street which is nearly identical to Duval except without the drag queens and x-rated t-shirts in the windows. The street is crammed with little restaurants, snack shops, souvenir shops selling the same crap as in Key West, but with Maui printed on them, and the occasional museum, park, or historical marker and all of them charging the appropriate tourism prices. The street is crowded all the time with tourists shopping and looking for something to eat. At certain times of the year, they close the street down for parades or festivals, which are way more subdued than Key West, but then most places in the world are more subdued than Key West.
To get to Lahaina one must traverse the Honoapi’ilani Hwy., or Rt. 30. It runs from Kahului all the way across the island. There is a bus which runs there also with a connecting stop to pick up riders from the south at Maalaea. The trip takes roughly an hour, sometimes more if there are delays. And just a quick heads up, the bus is usually standing room only, especially on weekends. Traffic can be heavy and if there is an accident the police will close off both lanes until said accident is cleared. It’s possible to ride a bike along the road with bike lanes on both sides, but not a lot of room so be careful. Also, because the road was cut out of the side of the mountain, there are tons of loose rocks and boulders which frequently fall down on said road especially after a big storm.
The road is very scenic however with spectacular views of both the mountains and the shoreline. Just pay attention to your driving as you go along.
Once in Lahaina on Front St., the center of attention is at the Wharf Cinema Center. Here is a theater, a small shopping mall and the bus stop.
Directly across the street is a beautiful little park full of giant banyan trees. It provides lots of shade and plenty of good spots to take photos.
Behind the park is a marina where all the charters and tour boats launch from, along with a museum and remnants of an old fort.
From there to the east and west are a long line of shops, restaurants, and some really nice views.
Overall, Lahaina is a nice place for a day trip but having spent the last 40 years dealing with tourists in Florida, it’s not exactly my style. I doubt I will go there very often, maybe to catch the occasional festival but it’s just a bit too touristy for my tastes. However, should there be the off chance I might find a room or something there, if the price is right, I’ll go for a little while. By all means, go visit if you are here. Just remember what it is. A tourist town.