Lahaina is a town that has experienced each chapter in Maui's storied history. Before the tourists came sugar plantations, and before those were whalers and missionaries. Before the whalers and missionaries, however, Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and home to the ruling chiefs.
Formerly known by the name of "Lele," Lahaina was where the Hawaiian royalty navigated the fusion with Westerners. Though the capital was moved to Honolulu in 1845, Lahaina remained an important city in the growth of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
On a self-guided walking tour of downtown Lahaina, you can experience many of the cultural sites over a few city blocks. Before you set out on the tour, however, be sure to stop at the Lahaina Courthouse to pick up a helpful map.
The courthouse is home to the Lahaina Visitor's Center, and it also houses a collection of displays on the historical development of Hawaii. There is a small theater, which shows documentaries pertaining to Hawaiian culture, and there are dozens of artifacts that date to the days of the original Ancient Hawaiians.
Most impressive is the Hawaiian flag which hangs above the stairwell. This is the original flag that was lowered from the courthouse when Hawaii became a territory, and in 1898 the U.S. flag was raised in its place.
From the historic prison to royal birthing stones to an original missionary home, there are few towns in modern America with as much history as Lahaina.