WEST MAUI – LAHAINA
Lahaina, known as “the jewel in Maui’s crown” is home to 9000 people and to Courtyard Square’s vast banyan tree. The tree is well over one hundred years old. It is sixty feet high and covers two hundred feet of space. With its drooping branches this major landmark looks like a miniature jungle. This fun town in West Maui is filled with galleries, great food, heritage and aloha spirit.
Lahaina used to be a whaling town and the wooden shops that once housed sailors are now unique boutiques and wonderful art galleries. There is a lovely ocean front tavern of Front Street called Mala. Be sure to sit on the patio for an unforgettable view of the ocean. Both the service and food are excellent. And if you’re there in the early evening you might even get lucky and see some turtles swimming and the sun casting a glow on the mountains in the distance.
Front Street is a mecca of shops and restaurants where you can meet all your shopping needs but you might also want to check out the Hauola stone at the north end of Lahaina Harbor. At low tide a partially submerged stone chair is visible in the water. Positioned at the mouth of an underground stream, the chair was said to have medicinal powers and was used by Hawaiian women in childbirth.
On Dickenson Street you’ll find the Baldwin House. Dr. Dwight Baldwin saved many lives by immunizing thousands of Hawaiians during a deadly smallpox epidemic. The Baldwin House has medical antiquities on display and in Dr. Baldwin’s spare dispensary you’ll find his hobby – a collection of colorful native land snails.
In the early days, trains were used to haul sugar cane from one spot to the other. Today almost nothing is left of the original Hawaiian railroads. However, the cherry-red Sugar Cane Train still travels the tracks between Lahaina and Ka’anapali. A dinner ride is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you wave at the engineer chances are he’ll signal “shaka” and flash you a great aloha smile!
The shaka sign – a pinky and thumb salute is the ultimate symbol of aloha and local culture. It means “hang loose” or “right on” and is a constant reminder that in Hawaii, it is not the norm to worry or rush. Shaka represents the island way and signals that everything is alright. It is a simple yet powerful way to remind locals and visitors of the way people look out for each on the islands and strive to spread aloha day in and day out, in keeping with the Hawaiian principle of take care of one, take care of all. To send a shaka make a fist with either hand. Extend the thumb and pinky while keeping the middle fingers curled under. Face your thumb and pinky away from your body and draw an invisible “J” in the air.