Lahaina is the largest city in Maui County, Hawaii. It covers an area of seven square miles and has a population of over nine thousand residents, though this number can often swell to over forty-thousand people during the tourist season. Lahaina covers the Hawaiian coast along highway 30, through Olawalu and all the way to Honokowai. The name Lahaina can be attributed to the phrase “La Haina”, which is Hawaiian for ”wicked sun”. As of the 2000 census, the city had twenty-six hundred households and eighteen hundred families. Lahaina’s population density is around fifteen hundred people per square mile and the housing density is about five hundred and twenty-six houses per square mile. The racial composition of Lahaina can be broken down in the following fashion; forty-three percent are Asian, almost ten percent are Pacific Islanders, twenty-six percent are caucasian, less then a half percent are African American, seven percent are Hispanic, seventeen percent are mixed ethnicities and one third of one percent are Native American. Of all the households in the city, forty-eight percent were married couples, twenty-seven percent had children under the age of eighteen and twelve percent had a female head of household with no male present. Average household size was three and a half people, and the average family size were four people. Median income in the city was $61,000 and the average household income was $80,000. Per Capita income is just under $30,000.
Lahaina can trace its history back hundreds of years, when it was the royal capital of Maui Loa. Before the Hawaiian islands were unified, Lahaina was attacked by Kamehameha the Great. Between 1820 and 1845, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It was during this time that Betsey Stockton founded the first missionary school. Lahaina was also an important port for the whaling industry during this period of time. The whalers presence in the city often caused terrible conflicts between them and the Christian missionaries living in the area. Several times these conflicts escalated to the point that the whaling fleets would shell the city. Most sections of modern Lahaina can be traced to the early nineteenth century. This is especially true of Front street, which dates back to about 1819. Front Street is home to many restaurants and stores, and during the tourist season is filled with visitors to the islands. It is also the entertainment hub of the city, especially when it comes to West Maui’s nightlife. Another historic portion of the city is Banyan Tree Square. This square features a gigantic banyan tree that was planted in 1873 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of arrival of the first missionaries. The tree has gotten so large that it now covers almost two thirds of an acre.
Lahaina has beautiful natural surroundings and many different attractions to offer visitors. The city also hosts a number of special events and festivals. One of the more well known activities in the city is the PGA Tour’s Mercedes Benz Golf Championship at Plantation Course in Kapalua during the month of January. A lot of tourists choose to visit the city during Halloween. In fact, it has become such a major event in the city that the crowds often top over thirty thousand people. Halloween night is started off by the closing of Front Street to automobiles so that the Keiki Parade of Children in Costumes can begin. Then adults join the festivities and the mood of the celebration changes to a party. Lahaina also hosts the Maui Invitational and the Vic-Maui Yacht Race.
A popular attraction in the city of Lahaina is the Wo Hing Society Hall (also known as the Wo Hing Museum). This building was built in 1912 and served the Asian population that was living in the city and working in the sugar cane fields. By the 1940s, the Asian population of the city began to shrink and the building was abandoned. In 1982, it was placed on the state’s register of historic places. It would be restored in 1983 by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. After a year of restoration, the building was opened up to the public as a museum. The museum consists of two parts, a main building that contains two floors and a cookhouse. On the first floor of the museum is a collection of Chinese artifacts and early twentieth century memorabilia of the city. The second floor contains a Taoist altar, a Guan Ti altar and various Chinese relics. The cookhouse contains artifacts that are related to cooking and contains a small theater. This theater often shows films that Thomas Edison took of Hawaii during the turn of the century.
Lahainaluna High School is the second oldest high school west of the Rocky Mountains. It was established in 1831 as a Protestant missionary school and was originally known as Lahainaluna Seminary. It was the first school established in Hawaii and has remained in constant operation. The school has a graveyard where several pioneers of the town are buried. The school is place high on a hill and offers the most spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the islands of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Notable alumni of the school include David Malo, Keali’i Reichel and Samuel Kamakau.
Other attractions in the city of Lahaina include Kaanapali Beach, Safari Boat Excursions, Lanai Passenger Ferry, Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy, Kaanapali Golf Courses, Ocean Project, Scotch Mist Sailing Charters, Lei Spa, Feast At Lele, Kaanapali Sunset Luau at Black Rock, Hula Girl Excursions, Ulalena by Maui Theater, Ironwood Ranch, Maria Souza’s Stand Up Paddle School, Drums of the Pacific Lu’au, Napili Beach, Whalers Village Museum, Zensations Spa, Teralani Sailing, Atlantis Adventures, Lahaina Snuba, Maui Diving Scuba Center Snorkel Shop, Warren & Annabelle’s Magic Dinner Theater, Maui Surf Clinics, Ultimate Whale Watch, Lahaina Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad, Lahaina Jodo Mission, Kahekili Beach, Lahaina Kaanapali Railroad, Waiola Church, Maluuluolele Park, Whale Center of the Pacific, Maui Zen Day Spa, The Spa at Black Rock, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina Cannery Mall Free Hula Shows and Teralani Sailing.