The free hula shows at the Lahaina Cannery Mall (1221 Honoapi‘ilani Highway by Safeway) take place in the center of the mall at 1pm on weekends, and evening shows begin at 7pm on Tuesday and Thursday.
‘Ulalena (Maui Theatre, 808/856-7900, 6:30pm Mon.-Fri., $40-80) is a captivating show that details the history of the Hawaiian Islands. Told through chant, dance, and visual effects, the show takes place in the 680-seat Maui Theatre. The show is musical, performed without words. Because of the use of creative audience participation, words aren’t necessary. Ticket prices vary depending on seats and packages; the most expensive tickets will allow you to spend 20 minutes with the cast. If you’re a fan of shows or have an interest in Hawaiian history, this isn’t an evening to be missed.
Friday night is Art Night in Lahaina. In keeping with its status as the cultural center of Maui, Lahaina opens the doors of its three dozen galleries 7pm-10pm, throws out the welcome mat, sets out food and drink, provides entertainment, and usually hosts a well-known artist or two for this weekly party. Take your time and stroll Front Street from one gallery to the next. Stop and chat with shopkeepers, munch the goodies, sip the wine, look at the pieces on display, corner the featured artist for a comment on his or her work, soak in the music of the strolling musicians, and strike up a conversation with the person next to you who is eyeing that same piece. People dress up, but don’t be afraid to come casually.
Bars and Live Music
Rooted in the grog shop days of its boisterous port town past, Lahaina is Maui’s nightlife capital. There’s only one spot where you can actually dance. Just because most places don’t stay open late, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t find live music and a genuinely good time.
For free, family-friendly live music in a historic outdoor setting, the Lahaina Restoration Foundation hosts a Hawaiian Music Series 6pm-7:30pm on the last Thursday of every month. Shows take place on the lawn of the Baldwin House, a preserved missionary site on the corner of Dickenson and Front Streets right in the center of town. Musical artists vary from month to month, but most sessions involve live music and kanikapila storytelling. Seating is limited at this popular event, although attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or beach chair for enjoying the show.
The family-friendly Friday Town Party takes place on the second Friday of every month between the Baldwin House and Wharf Cinema Center. Part of the Maui Fridays series, the free event runs 6pm-9pm and features everything from live music and keiki competitions to silent auctions and dance performances. Various bars and restaurants feature live music, and most restaurants offer specials valid for that night only.
One of the best spots for live entertainment in Lahaina is Fleetwood’s (744 Front St., 808/669-6425), a two-story bar and restaurant that offers the only rooftop perch in Lahaina. This bar was opened by legendary rock musician Mick Fleetwood, and Mick himself has been known to jump in with the band for some impromptu percussion. Live music is offered most frequently on the rooftop bar.
Off Front Street in the Lahaina Cannery Mall, Lulu’s Lahaina Surf Club (1221 Honoapi‘ilani Hwy., 808/661-0808, open until 2am) is the town’s dance club. Saturday night is the big night at Lulu’s, so there is usually a $5 cover. Live music can sporadically be found on the other nights of the week. While the dance floor is large and there are a couple of pool tables in the back, the mall location detracts from the vintage Lahaina experience. Another problem here seems to have plagued Maui nightlife since the invention of the subwoofer: late nights and loud music can lead to fights.
Also, while the schedule is highly irregular, Longhi’s (888 Front St., 808/667-2288) will occasionally have late-night music until 1am, which can feature jazz, rock bands, or visiting DJs. This is the classiest venue in Lahaina, and as of the time of research, Thursday is the best night for late-night dancing.
Both Cool Cat Café (658 Front. St., 808/667-0908) and Kimo’s (845 Front St., 808/661-4811) provide live music during the dinner hour seven nights a week. There isn’t an official dance floor so the atmosphere is relegated to drinks and mingling.
For karaoke, the most happening place in Lahaina for late-night sake and singing is Kobe (136 Dickenson St., 808/667-5555, open until 1am) steak house on Friday and Saturday nights from 9:30pm until well after midnight.
A couple of classic watering holes stay open until 2am. On Front Street, Spanky’s Riptide (505 Front St., 808/667-2337) in the 505 shopping center on the far southern end is a good place to grab a cheap goblet of PBR, play pool, and engage in conversation with a colorful cast of characters.
Legendary dive bar Sly Mongoose (1036 Limahana Pl., 808/661-8097) is in a nondescript location in the Lahaina industrial park, on the inland side of the highway behind Pizza Hut. This is a no-nonsense dive where the beer is cold, the drinks are cheap, and the patrons are regular. This bar isn’t walking distance from Front Street so you’ll have to take a cab here.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.