Exploring Maui’s Downtown Lahaina and the Haleakala Sunrise

I recently came back from a short trip to Honolulu and Maui – my first time in Hawaii! Personally I liked Honolulu better for all its activity and felt like Maui could get a bit boring after a while (I’m not much of a beach person tbh) but I think I need to go back and give it more of a chance in a few years.

We only had two nights in Maui and on our first we woke up very early to take a tour to the Haleakala Summit for the famous sunrise – AKA House of the Sun. Our tour was with Polynesian Adventure Tours, including a pickup directly from our hotel Napili Kai Beach Resort at 2AM (yep, that was fun). After we picked up about 20 other passengers at other various hotels we were on our way up to the summit, with our delightful guide keeping us awake by giving us little details and history on the summit and some fun stories.

It was pretty cold and windy, so if you ever head up there I would suggest bringing along some warm stuff. Coming from Wisconsin it wasn’t truly that bad, but we had to be there early enough to get a good spot before the other hundreds of tourists arrived.

The sunrise seemed to take forever, but eventually the sky turned a bright goldenrod before the sun just started poking out above the rising clouds over the crater. It was absolutely beautiful. As soon as this happened, everyone went quiet and a man dressed in traditional Hawaiian gear started singing for a couple moments, greeting the sun.

If you start to get really cold, you can step into the little shop (of course there’s a shop) that also has windows facing the rising sun.

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IMG_1573 Get here early or else you’ll be stuck behind all these people!

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We walked around the premises a little bit to check out the amazing Silversword plant. It only grows right here at the top of the crater and rarely blooms, dying after it does so. It just so happened that there were 18 Silverswords in bloom right there at that time, which was such a treat! I’m not much of a plant person but I know how amazing this opportunity was. Of course we took a bunch of pictures – isn’t it bizarre?

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Gotta take a picture of course! Being so high it was getting a bit harder to breathe and my heart was pumping like crazy in my chest! Take note of that if you have issues in these areas.

After an included breakfast with the tour, we went back and fell asleep for a while. Later in the evening we managed to take some time checking out Front Street/King’s Road in Lahaina, which is the main road running through town that’s right next to the water. It’s full of shops and restaurants and you can even take the Lahaina Historic Trail through the town as the initial missionary homes are still there, so in various spots there are plaques explaining the missionaries’ history in certain locations. It’s so amazing thinking about how these missionaries came and changed the culture and religion of the Hawaiian people so drastically and were accepted so well by King Kamehameha and the people.

If you’re picking up groceries to take back to your hotel (no all-inclusive resorts here) there’s a grocery store right there. Pay for parking in the public parking lot ($5 for the evening) and walk up and down Front Street before buying your food.

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One thing I really wanted to try was proper Hawaiian Shave Ice – totally different than the junk we get here at the state fair. I finally found the most delicious shave ice at Local Boys Shave Ice right here on front street. Of course there were so many flavors to pick from that I had no idea what to choose, so the cashier suggested I try the Local Girl – SO GOOD. With three different syrups on top and ice cream getting soaked in on the bottom, it was the perfect treat to enjoy while sitting at the Banyan tree park.

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Yum!

The best part of Lahaina, in my opinion, is the banyan tree. If you don’t know what a banyan tree is, it’s a tree originally from India that just keep getting bigger and bigger, with the branches growing down and eventually rooting, creating huge trees that take up entire city blocks, like this one.

It’s really something to see, and the Old Lahaina Courthouse sits behind it. The amazing thing is that the tree isn’t even that old – it was planted in 1873 by a sherriff and it’s grown like a weed since (lol).

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Old Lahaina Courthouse

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The original base.

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Yes – this is all one tree!

A few blocks south in Lahaina you’ll find the Waiola Church Cemetery and the burial sites of several notable members of the Hawaiian royal family. Definitely worth a quick stop!

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