A List of Places We Lost in Lahaina—And More Maui Treasures Worth Seeing
Published October 2, 2023
Rebuilding the destruction caused by the wildfire that swept through Lahaina, Maui, in early August is expected to take years, and discussions about what should emerge from the ashes are still in early stages.
While West Maui scheduled a phased reopening to visitors to begin on Oct. 8, 2023, the historic heart of Lahaina, home to generations of local families and a world-famous magnet for travelers, is still closed to the public indefinitely.
But plenty of places on Maui survived and are eager to show visitors the famous island's enduring charm. Below, we provide links to the businesses and attractions that were most impacted so that visitors can track potential plans to rebuild and return—but at the same time, we also are taking this moment to tell you about some other treasures of Maui that were not directly struck by the disaster.
Destroyed: Formerly a world capital of whaling, this harbor has served in modern times as the departure site for numerous snorkeling, diving, fishing, whale-watching (pictured above) and sunset cruises as well as parasailing adventures and ferry services. More than 100 vessels and much of the harbor’s infrastructure were damaged in the fire, leading state officials to predict a 2-year period of restoration.
Alternatives: Ma‘alaea Harbor, 17 miles south, offers the best option for now for cruises with Trilogy and other providers. Other operators sail from Kīhei and Mākena. Ma‘alaea is also where Lanai Expeditions, which lost its office and warehouse—but not its ship—in the fire, now operates ferry service to Lāna‘i on a shortened schedule Monday through Saturday.
Helping: Trilogy is raising funds for its staff affected by the fires via a GoFundMe page, while Lanai Expeditions is raising money for its employees through its website.
Destroyed: The missionary-built Baldwin Home Museum, the Old Lahaina Courthouse and the Lahaina Heritage Museum inside it, the whaling-era Old Lahaina Prison (Hale Pa‘ahao) and Masters Reading Room were all destroyed or severely damaged, along with most of their contents. So was the Wo Hing Museum & Cookhouse, including a temple built by Chinese immigrants in 1912. Waiola Church, founded in 1823 by Queen Keōpūolani and the first church on Maui, was also destroyed, although the markers for the royalty buried in its graveyard remain.
Alternatives: Lahaina's landmark banyan tree somehow survived, badly singed, and it has sprouted new leaves. The Lahaina Lighthouse (pictured above), fortified with concrete over a century ago, also still towers above the harbor. A fascinating collection of pre-Western contact art, artifacts and rare Hawaiian land snail shells, among other curiosities, await inside the Maui Historical Society’s Hale Hō‘ike‘ike in Wailuku. Formerly known as the Bailey House Museum, its galleries are inside the Bailey House, built in 1833 and still one of the oldest surviving Western buildings in the area. While in Wailuku, visit the white-steepled Ka‘ahumanu Church (pictured above), built in 1876 and the Civic Center Historic District on South Street, which includes four structures built between 1907 and 1931, reflecting Beaux-Arts, Mediterranean Revival and Hawaiian architectural elements.
Helping: The Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which operates the Baldwin Home Museum and many other damaged historic sites, is raising funds via its website to rebuild. The congregation of Wailoa Church is also raising funds online to rebuild.
Destroyed: The 34-room Best Western Pioneer Inn, built in 1901 in an enviable perch between Front Street and Lahaina Harbor, had been a relatively affordable and convenient place to stay over the years, as well as home to popular watering holes and restaurants, before the wildfire. Top Chef star Lee Anne Wong operated Papa‘Aina, the hotel’s latest restaurant, which also burned down.
Not as historic, but beloved for its vintage style and adults-only ambiance, the 18-room Plantation Inn was also irreparably damaged by fire, about two weeks after Outrigger Resorts & Hotels had taken over ownership and operations.
Alternatives: It’s hard to match the history of the Pioneer Inn, but the Days Inn by Wyndham Maui Oceanfront hotel (pictured above) on Keawakapu Beach in Kihei at least comes close to its relative affordability and central location. For a secluded, adults-only atmosphere, albeit with more atmospheric prices than the Plantation Inn, check out Hotel Wailea.
Helping: The organizer of a GoFundMe page for Pioneer Inn employees is also providing for the inn’s iconic gray parrot, Alex, while Wong has set up a GoFundMe page for both restaurant and hotel staff, many of whom lost homes in the fire. The OutriggerCares Maui Host Relief Fund is distributing donations to Plantation Inn staff and affected employees of other Maui properties Outrigger owns or manages, including the now-destroyed 188-condominium resort Aina Nalu.
Destroyed: Lahaina has been the epicenter of Maui’s nightlife since the rowdy days of sailors and whalers. Among the notable losses in the wildfire are Kimo’s, the first location for the T S Restaurants chain, originator of the towering hula pie and a popular venue for local musicians; Fleetwood’s on Front Street, a restaurant renowned for live music, had a beloved rooftop deck and hosted occasional appearances by proprietor and rock icon Mick Fleetwood; Pacific’O on the Beach, a proponent of Maui farm-to-table cuisine for three decades, most recently helmed by chef Isaac Bancaco; and Sale Pepe Pizzeria e Cucina, owned by chef Michele DiBari and restaurateur Qiana DiBari, who in late 2022 also became a managing partner of Pacific’O.
Alternatives: You can still get your fix of hula pie and live music at T S Restaurants’ three restaurants in Ka‘anapali: Leilani’s on the Beach and Hula Grill (pictured above) in Whalers Village and Duke’s Beach House Maui at the Honua Kai Resort; all three reopened before Oct. 8 in order to serve the local community and first responders. For a Fleetwood’s-worthy roster of performers, head to Mulligan’s on the Blue in Wailea. In Kapalua, Merriman’s highlights local produce and proteins with spectacular views from its perch on a rocky point, while the Pour House Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar boasts outstanding burrata and organic pasta dishes. On Maui's North Shore, the famous Mama's Fish House is also still going strong, and as long as tourism to the island is down, it's easier to get a table than it has been in years.
Helping: T S Restaurants’ Legacy of Aloha Foundation is accepting donations for its affected staff members and employees of Maui Brewing Co., while GoFundMe pages are raising money for the staff of Pacific’o and Fleetwood’s and the owners and staff of Sale Pepe.
Closed due to damaged facilities: Located on the beach behind Pacific’O, the Feast at Lele was Maui’s most romantic luau, known for its private tables with waitstaff and gourmet plated menu with courses themed to the different Polynesian cultures whose dances were being performed. Old Lahaina Luau was a family-friendly buffet-style event featuring authentic hula, and it was the only specifically Hawaiian entertainment, as opposed to a pan-Polynesian revue.
Alternatives: For luxurious, culturally rich luaus in romantic (though not all-adult) settings, the Tales of the Kapa Moe luau (pictured above), which opened in the summer of 2023 at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui, and the Feast at Mokapu at Andaz Maui in Wailea should satisfy. Families may especially enjoy the more traditional Te Au Moana luau at Wailea Beach Resort—Marriott, Maui.
Helping: The Feast at Lele has set up a GoFundMe account for affected employees. (The company that owns Old Lahaina Luau, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop in Olowalu and Star Noodle in Lahaina, closed a similar fundraiser for its staff after raising more than $515,000.)
Destroyed: The dozens of art galleries, clothing boutiques, surf stores and gift shops that lined Front Street lost all of their inventory as well as their structures in the blaze. They included Maui Hands, which showcased the work of more than 300 Valley Isle artists; family-owned Maui Clothing Company; Maui Tropix, a local surf shop chain founded by Maui surfer Louie Martin in the 1980s; and Whaler’s Locker gift shop, founded in 1971 and stocked with scrimshaw, crystals, jewelry and collectibles. Two shopping malls, Outlets of Maui and Wharf Cinema Center, which included cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues, were also severely damaged.
Alternatives: The upcountry town of Makawao and the North Shore village of Pāi‘a (pictured above) provide the closest experience to Lahaina’s eclectic mix of shopping amid new and vintage buildings; Maui Hands has branches in both towns. Maui Clothing Company has a regular and an outlet store in Kihei, which is also home to several shopping centers; one of them, Pi‘ilani Village Shopping Center, includes a Maui Tropix. The gift shop at the Maui Ocean Center in Ma‘alaea Harbor has an intriguing array of sustainable, Maui-made gifts and marine-themed items.
Helping: Outlets of Maui encourages donations to the Maui Strong Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation; Maui Tropix and Maui Ocean Center both sell T-shirts whose proceeds benefit the same fund. Maui Hands has set up a GoFundMe page for an employee who lost everything in the fire.