The tropical island of Maui is the perfect destination for people who are looking for a relaxing Hawaii vacation getaway. But apart from its crystal clear waters, fine white sands and wonderfully abundant nature, Maui also boasts a number of must-see historical destinations that any history buff would love to visit. To help you learn more about some of the historic Hawaiian locations in Maui, we have rounded up 5 of the best places to visit if you want to learn more about the history of Maui and get a peek at the Hawaiian culture.
A lush, green nature park that is easily accessible by cars and tour buses, the Iao Valley State Park in Wailuku is also home to one of the most important places for the Hawaiian locals and their culture. The Iao Needle, or the Kuka’emoku, is a 1200-feet needle-shaped peak that is believed to be the phallic stone of Kanaloa, the god of the ocean. For centuries, this valley also used to be a burial site for Hawaiian ali’i (royalty). The park was also the site of the battle of Kepaniwai in 1790 where Kamehameha I defeated the Maui army.
The National Tropical Botanical Park that is Kahanu Garden is more than just a haven for a selection of botanical specimens on the island of Maui. It is also the home of Pi’ilanihale Heiau, the largest place of worship in Maui and is also one of the major and best-preserved archeological sites in the islands of Hawaii. This early Hawaiian shrine in Hana was built in different stages, starting from the 13th century. Built using basalt rocks, this huge structure measures 341 by 415 feet and rises 50 feet up. It remained undisturbed until 1974 when the land where this heiau stood was turned into the Kahanu Garden that it is today.
Opened in 1860, the Old Lahaina Courthouse is considered as a glorious piece of living history. Located in the historic town of Lahaina, this courthouse has been the center of court functions and government offices during the Hawaiian monarchy. It also served as a customs house for trading and whaling ships. Moreover, it also housed the post office and collector’s office. In 1925, the structure was rebuilt into the Greek Revival style that it now has. Another major restoration also happened in 1998, which turned the Old Lahaina Courthouse into today’s Lahaina Heritage Museum and Lahaina Visitors Center. It also houses the galleries of Lahaina Arts Society, as well as the offices of the Lahaina Town Action Committee.
The oldest and biggest banyan tree in Maui is located at the corner of Front Street and Canal Street in the town of Lahaina and is the main attraction of the Lahaina Banyan Court Park. This 150-year old tree was planted in the heart of the village to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first American protestant missionary in Lahaina. Spanning 1.94 acres and standing more than 60 feet high, this majestic banyan tree has 16 trunks that make it look like it’s different trees that were grouped together. It serves as a home to hundreds of mynah birds and also offers shelter to park visitors, as well as various events and celebrations held in the town. Every December, the town of Lahaina hosts the Annual Lighting of the Banyan Tree wherein 6,500 lights are strung around its branches to illuminate the beautiful park.
This sacred and one of a kind landscape overlooks the island of Maui and can be seen from almost any part. Located on the southeastern coast on Upcountry Maui, the Haleakala National Park is home to a variety of plant and animal species that can only be found on this part of the globe. A number of important cultural sites and archeological artifacts can also be found inside the park. To preserve these, the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979 was enacted. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the Haleakala National Park through National Park Service’s Haleakala Sunrise Viewing Reservations, which should be done at least 2 months ahead of time. Sunset viewing is also available without the need for reservations.
Whether you are a history lover or just enjoy learning about the history and beauty of Hawaii, these five historical and archaeological must-see locations should be a part of your Maui itinerary. And if you are looking for some genuine Hawaiian arts and crafts to bring home to commemorate your visit in Maui, check out our online shopping directory of made in Maui gifts and handicrafts.