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Lahaina Cruises Port Guide

Lahaina is the Hawaiian cruise port of call for the gorgeous island of Maui, a destination famous for its miles upon miles of sandy beaches, rugged waterfalls, and tropical drives. Lahaina itself is great to explore, with its excellent shopping complex located in a fun central area close to the beach and plenty of beach-centric shops and delicious restaurants serving up island cuisine. Whether you want to stay close to the city center or get out and explore the rest of the island of Maui, a Lahaina cruise port of call provides easy means to do so.

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to Lahaina

Banyan Tree

Located in downtown Lahaina, this massive 137-year-old tree is believed to be the oldest banyan tree in the United States. Its long branches sprawl alluringly over a pretty courtyard, providing shade and perfect photo ops.

Haleakala Volcano

Haleakala Volcano is the massive peak in Maui that makes up about 75% of the island. You can learn more about this currently dormant volcano by visiting Haleakala National Park, an endeavor that will take you high above the clouds to the top of the crater formed by the volcano. Once you’re at the top, you’ll be in for incredible views of the surrounding island landscapes and the earthen red side of the volcano itself. If you have an overnight in port, you won’t want to miss seeing the epic sunrise from this location.

The Baldwin Home

The Baldwin Home, completed in 1835, was built for Protestant missionaries who came to the island. It serves as an interesting example of island architecture in Hawaii during this time period. The structure itself is made of hand-hewn timbers, while the walls were created with coral and stone. Today, you can tour the Baldwin Home, which has been made into a museum with an interior set up to reflect the decor of a home in the 1850s.

Beaches and Bays

A Lahaina cruise port of call places you close to some of Maui’s most alluring beaches. Families will enjoy the calm nature of Baby Beach, while extreme sports fanatics will get a thrill from hitting up the surf spot called Shark Pit on the south end of Lahaina. For a Hawaii postcard-perfect day, head to Kapalua Bay or Ka’anapali Beach, both of which offer miles of soft sand, snorkeling, and gorgeous coastline. Ka’anapali Beach has a busier vibe, since it’s lined by shops, restaurants, and resorts, while Kapalua Bay feels more secluded.

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Top Things to Do in Lahaina

Watch a Luau

Watching a luau is a quintessential Hawaii activity. The luau is a form of music and dance centered around a meal that often involves a roasted pig. While in Maui, you can choose a luau shore excursion that takes you to a lovely hotel to see a luau during the day. If you have an overnight in port, you can experience a more traditional evening luau, where you will feast on traditional cuisine and watch as performers astound you with their musical and dance prowess after the sun goes down.

Drive the Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is Maui’s most famous drive. The route takes you from Lahaina to the eastern coast of Maui along a beautiful stretch of Hawaiian backcountry, past epic waterfalls, lush foliage, and even a bamboo forest you can hike through. During a cruise to Lahaina, you can explore the traditional road to Hana, or fly over it on a helicopter for incredible views of the Maui countryside.

Snorkel Molokini Crater

From Lahaina, you can get to one of Maui‘s best snorkeling spots, Molokini Crater, in just 30 minutes. This gorgeous snorkeling destination is incredible both above the water, where you’ll see the outline of the crescent shape of Molokini crater as well as Maui’s landscape in the distance, and below it, where the real magic of this excursion begins. Don your snorkeling gear and wade into the clear water for the very likely chance of seeing some of Hawaii’s intriguing green sea turtles. Watch as these graceful marine creatures swim around the rocks and crevices along the Molokini Crater and marvel at their beauty. You’ll also get the chance to see a variety of coral and tropical fish.

Pineapple Plantation Tour

One of the foods most synonymous with island life, especially in Hawaii, is the pineapple. This sweet, tasty fruit is a mainstay of the diet in Maui, and during your cruise to Lahaina, you can learn more about it on a pineapple plantation tour. By visiting a pineapple plantation, you’ll not only learn about how pineapples are harvested, packed, and shipped, you’ll also learn more about the agricultural way of life on Maui and the history of farming on the island. Best of all, you’ll get the chance to sample different types of pineapples and decide which kind of this tantalizingly juicy fruit is the one you like best.

Visit the Island of Lanai

During a port of call in Lahaina, you can take a short excursion over to the more secluded Hawaiian island of Lanai. While there, you’ll get the chance to take an all-terrain vehicle tour around the smaller island and see what makes it special. In addition to the beautiful sandy beaches you’ve no doubt come to expect from a Hawaiian island, you’ll also get the chance to see some impressive rock gardens within an ancient forest. It’s about a 45-minute ferry ride between Lahaina harbor and Lanai. Along the way, soak in the beautiful ocean vistas and panoramic views of Maui, Moloka’i, and Molokini. Depending on the time of year, you may even see dolphins and whales frolicking in the water.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Lahaina Cruise Port

Maui is known for its Hawaiian and Polynesian cuisine, and you’ll have ample opportunity to try some dishes during your Lahaina cruise. Pork and seafood play a big role in the main course. For a quick bite, try a Kalua pork taco or a fish taco made with that day’s fresh catch. Another way to taste the local cuisine is by finding a place that serves a traditional Hawaiian lunch, which typically consists of a main entree of fish or meat (can be chicken, pork, or beef), a couple scoops of rice, and macaroni salad. A side of poi is also common to see with Hawaiian meals, which is a paste made from taro root. For dessert, you can’t miss trying a refreshing shaved ice, a more gourmet version of a snow cone, topped with tropical fruit flavors.

You’ll find a number of eateries and bars lining the main streets of Lahaina, from food trucks to waterfront restaurants. For beer lovers, take a taxi to Maui Brewing Company in Kihei to taste some locally brewed Hawaiian beer and tour the facilities, or look for it on the menu at one of the area bars.

Culture & History of the Lahaina Cruise Port

Maui, like the rest of Hawaii, became part of the United States in 1959, but the roots of its culture go back 1,500 years to when the island was settled by Polynesian voyagers. Lahaina itself has a vast and interesting history, having served as the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and also as a plantation settlement and whaling port. You can learn more about Lahaina’s history by doing the self-guided Lahaina Historic Trail walking tour that takes you through Lahaina’s historic districts.

The culture of Lahaina and the rest of Maui exudes the aloha spirit that the island is known for. You’ll encounter friendly, welcoming locals and a laidback way of life focused on nature here.

Lahaina Port Facilities & Location

When you cruise to Lahaina, you’ll be anchored offshore and taken into Lahaina on comfortable tender boats. You’ll be conveniently dropped off right in the heart of Lahaina, just steps away from historical sights, shopping, ocean views, and restaurants.

Transportation in Lahaina

If you’re just sticking to Lahaina, you’ll be able to walk everywhere, but if you want to explore further, you’ll need to get a taxi or arrange a shore excursion beforehand.

Shopping Near the Lahaina Cruise Port

When you have a Lahaina cruise port of call, you’ll have a variety of shopping opportunities. Walk along Front Street in Lahaina to find unique souvenir shops and a number of art galleries selling fine art with a tropical island flair. For a more traditional shopping complex, head to Whalers Village in Kaanapali, which is a multi-story, open-air shopping complex with a number of stores that carry popular brand names and local Hawaiian brands. Some fun souvenirs to bring home with you include grass hula skirts, colorful button-down Hawaiian shirts, Maui potato chips, locally harvested coffee beans, and soap made from lavender grown on the island.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

Businesses in Lahaina and the rest of Hawaii accept the U.S. Dollar. ATMs are plentiful, and some banks on the island will also exchange currency. 
You’ll be expected to tip 15% to 20% of your total bill at restaurants in Maui, with 20% being the norm. Taxi drivers are also tipped similarly. At cafes and coffee shops where you order at the counter, it’s common to see tip jars or tip options when paying by credit card. What to tip at these locations is at your discretion. If you want to tip and you’re unsure what to leave, stick to the 15% to 20% rule.

 

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From Lahaina, Maui, get high in a helicopter soaring over the dormant Haleakalā volcano and peer down on the spectacular Manawainui Valley waterfalls. Play 18 panoramic holes of golf from 1,100 feet up a mountain slope overlooking the Pacific.

A Maui cruise allows you to do some whale watching for acrobatic 40-ton humpbacks. Spot wild spinner, bottlenose, and spotted dolphins from a catamaran off the Maui coast at sunset. Jump in among the dolphins as they do their flips and leaps on a snorkel adventure off the coast of Lanai.

On cruises to Lahaina, learn about Hawaii’s agricultural foundations by touring a working plantation. The local cuisine was invented in the first millennium when Polynesians arrived on the first cruises to Maui. They planted taro, coconuts, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, and yams in the rich volcanic soil, and cooked meat and fish in earthen ovens.

In the 18th century, Europeans and Americans developed sugarcane and pineapple plantations, and in the 19th century, cruises to Hawaii brought labor from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Portugal to work the fields. They all brought their own cuisines.

On your Lahaina cruise, try a "Hawaiian plate lunch," any combination of rice, kalua pig, pork or chicken laulau (wrapped in ti leaves), dried beef, and lomi salmon, poi (starchy taro), and coconut cream pudding. Saimin is Hawaii’s traditional soup, with noodles inspired by Chinese chow mein in a broth evolved from Japanese dashi. Poke (po-káy) is raw seafood salad, similar to ceviche, featuring chunks of tuna or octopus, with sea salt, kukui nuts, and local seaweed.

Shave ice is Hawaii’s iconic frozen treat. Japanese laborers shaved blocks of ice, then poured fruit juice over the shavings. Updates include strawberry, pineapple, even red adzuki beans as a sweet paste.

While shopping on your Maui cruise, pick up macadamia nuts — plain, salted, honey roasted, or chocolate covered. The first macadamias arrived from Australia in the 1880s. Today they are iconic. Another gift that says "Hawaii" is local jewelry — pearls, koa-wood rings, pendants with sea turtles or sandals.

The ultimate souvenir of Hawaii cruises would be the aloha shirt, aka Hawaiian shirt. Created in the 1930s for tourists—boldly patterned, brilliantly colored, with Polynesian motifs—the aloha shirt was adopted by locals in the 1960s and now qualifies as office attire.