Devastating wildfires have reportedly nearly completely destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, Maui in Hawaii, leaving Front Street and other popular areas of the town decimated.
As a professional photographer who has photographed Lahaina multiple times over the years, I was deeply saddened to hear what had happened to the town and its citizens.
Here are some photos of the town that I’ve taken over the years, including several that I’m publishing for the first time, showing the beauty of this town–and the importance of helping its residents now and rebuilding later.
Front street is the main street in Lahaina. Historical buildings that once housed whaling stations and other maritime businesses now housed restaurants, shops and local businesses.
Lahaina’s Front Street came alive especially at night, when the tropical heat of the day dissipated. Live music would waft out of the many open-air restaurants, while residents and tourists alike wandered the streets of the historic town.
Many people have been describing Lahaina, Maui as a “tourist town” since the fires. Yes, lots of tourists do visit Lahina. But there’s a lot more to the town than that. It has a deep history and continued to serve locals.
The Buddha at Lahaina Jodo Mission was both a popular place for tourists to visit and also an active religious site for locals.
Likewise, many vestiges of Lahaina’s rich history remained in the city.
The Banyan Tree
One of the most amazing natural sights in Lahina, Maui was a giant banyan tree that covered an entire city block. People would gather under this massive tree to sell goods or simply to rest in the shade.
This was one of my favorite places in Lahaina–a truly unique and spiritual spot.
People have likely been doing this for hundreds of years. The banyan tree was reportedly burned in the fires, a tragic loss for Lahaina’s natural heritage.
Food and Dining
Lahaina kept up with the times, too. One of my favorite thing about the city was its delicious food. On a recent trip just three weeks ago, I took out food from Star Noodle and ate at the modern Lahaina Cannery Mall.
Kimos was one of my favorite places to visit in Lahina.
The restaurant featured a back deck that looked out on the beauty of Lahina’s harbor and the Pacific Ocean.
The tropical drinks were amazing there, too.
Lahaina is also the original location of Ululani’s Shave Ice, the best shave ice on Maui.
Perhaps the best thing about Lahina is its natural beauty. Looking out on the harbor, you could see the majesty of the Pacific in full view.
One of the hard truths about being a photographer is that you never know when the photos you capture will become historical photos, documenting a moment that can never be captured again. I’m glad to have played some small part in capturing Lahaina as it stood for years before the fires.
Now, though, there is work to do. Support recovery efforts with a donation to the American Red Cross.