Going to Maui? Learn How to Party Like a Local in Lahaina
Considering a family trip to Maui for your next vacation? I can say without a doubt that Maui is the most versatile Hawaiian island. Epic beaches, food, adventure, history, relaxation, and world-class vistas, it’s got all the bases covered.
And of all the spots in Maui, I’d argue that the historic town of Lahaina captures the most fun in one place. It has plenty of festivals, delicious restaurants, a renowned nightlife, and of course some of the best whale watching in the Pacific.
With that said, I sifted through a lot of articles on Maui activities and turned the spotlight on events that I know my family would love and remember forever. This isn’t your usual Road to Hana, Sea Turtle diving guide, it’s about finding experiences that celebrate local culture, wildlife, and above all make for a great time.
Maui Whale Festival
Every year from late January through March, the Maui Whale Festival celebrates the island’s whaling history — and whale-preserving future. Free daily activities include whale-watching hikes along the Lahaina Pali Trail and discussions with experts from the Pacific Whale Foundation. You can also participate in the Great Whale Count, an annual island-wide event where volunteers pitch in to help scientists keep track of area populations.
Special Event Dates
Run and Walk for the Whales: Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015
The course begins and ends alongside Ma’alaea Harbor at the Ma’alaea Harbor Shops. There is a 5K run, 10K run, half marathon run and 2.5 mile walk. Registration is open and costs vary depending on race choice.
World Whale Day: Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015
Attended by more than 25,000 people last year, this FREE event runs from 9am to 7pm and is held at Kalama Park in Kihei.
Great Whale Count - Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015
This is a free event and apparently volunteer positions are limited and fill up quickly. The watching begins at 7:30am and ends at noon.
For detailed event information, visit http://mauiwhalefestival.org/
Photo courtesy of mauiwhalefestival.org
Maui Onion Festival
The Maui Onion Festival, held every May in Lahaina’s Whalers Village, celebrates the world’s sweetest onion, which is grown locally in nearby Kula. View cooking demonstrations from the pros — like Chef Roy Yamaguchi, one of the masters of Hawaiian fusion cuisine — and watch as Hawaii’s best chefs compete to create the best Maui onion-based dish. There’s even a raw Maui onion eating contest for your viewing pleasure!
The food booths run from inexpensive to expensive depending if seafood is part of the menu. They are not the sit-down type of places so this event may be better suited for the teenagers, not the toddlers. There’s tons of music and entertainment going on and parking is free that day. This event regularly draws over 10,000 people and everything I read said to make sure you get there early.
This is a one-day event and the date has not yet been set for 2015. Check http://www.whalersvillage.com/onionfestival.htm for updated information and to view pictures of previous festivals.
Photo courtesy of Kaiscapes Media - Peter Liu
Na Kamehameha Commemorative Parade
Celebrate Hawaii’s former kings and current political leaders with the festive Na Kamehameha Commemorative Parade through Lahaina. The day-long event features performances by local Hawaiian musicians, cultural exhibits, free walking tours, and traditional Hawaiian food. One of the most sacred days in Hawaiian history, the original King Kamehameha Day was held June 11, 1872.
The parade starts at 9:45 a.m. at Front and Kenui streets and proceed along Front Street to Shaw Street. Everything is free to the public and scheduled to last until sunset. Front Street will be closed to traffic at Kenui Street from 8:30 a.m., and cross streets, including Baker Street, Papalaua Street, Lahainaluna Road, Dickenson Street and Prison Street, will be closed at 9 a.m.
There is not a dedicated website devoted to event information, but there is a Facebook page with pictures and general information. https://www.facebook.com/NKCPPH
Image courtesy of hawaii.gov
Halloween in Lahaina
Every October, over 20,000 revelers from all over the Hawaiian Islands head to Lahaina’s historic Front Street for a Halloween celebration of Mardi Gras proportions. During the festive street party and parade, visitors showcase their unique costumes. If your travel plans have you in Lahaina during this event, it is a must attend. Bring a costume from home and join in the fun, you won’t regret it. If you forgot a costume, just put on your fanny pack, sunglasses, and a big Hawaiian print shirt and go as a tacky tourist! I’m sure the locals will appreciate the effort.
Liquor consumption is not allowed on the street anymore (apparently past Halloweens have gotten out of hand - must be all the sugar) and police are everywhere to make sure it is more of a family event. There’s a children’s parade that starts at 4pm and all parking is free. If you are staying outside of Lahaina, shoot for getting there by 3pm to avoid the long, slow traffic jam that occurs every year. Last year, Pride of Maui hosted a Halloween cruise from Ma’alaea Harbor to Lahaina as an alternative to driving.
Regardless of how you get there and where you park, Halloween in Lahaina has become THE place to be on October 31st!
Here is a great FAQ page that will answer all your questions about the event. http://www.lahainahalloween.com/hawaiian-faq.php