Where Can You Find Meaningful Maui Architecture?
The Best Examples of Maui’s Architecture and Where to Find Them
One of the best parts of Maui is its abundance of natural beauty. Wherever you are on the island, almost everywhere you look will be filled with lush and verdant life that can only thrive in Maui’s tropical climes. However, there is a less-discussed part of Maui’s heritage and that is its surprising architectural strength. Yet, if you know where to look, you’ll be amazed at the wonders to be found.
While better known for its natural wonders, there are plenty of interesting architectural sites and structures visitors to Maui can visit. Highlights of Maui County’s architectural heritage include Lahaina’s Historic Trail, the Bailey House Museum, the Seamen’s House and Hospital, and Hana’s Palapala Ho’omau Congregational Church, among others.
So, whether you are a traveling architectural enthusiast or just looking for something different to do on your next trip to Maui, be sure to keep reading for some of the best examples of architecture the island has to offer.
Lahaina’s Historic Trail
Many of Maui’s best-preserved historic sites are found in Lahaina. In fact, this trail collects over 62 sites into an easily digestible stroll that can make for a pleasant afternoon walk. Highlights include several historic buildings that have been lovingly restored as well as nearby Puunoa Point, which served as the first capital of the Hawaiian Islands. This is also the neighborhood we happen to call home here at Dive Maui, so be sure to stop in and say hello if you happen to be in the neighborhood!
For much of Maui’s history, the most ubiquitous structure would have been the traditional hale.
Unfortunately, searches for a hale ho’okipa these days will likely turn up search results for a local B&B, as there are very few existent examples of these thatched structures in Maui County today.
For those that are interested, however, a glimpse of this past can be seen thanks to the Maui Historical Society’s work at the Bailey House Museum. Besides the historic house itself, the museum focuses on preserving Maui’s rich past and making it more accessible to curious visitors in the present.
Seamen’s House and Hospital
When this building was commissioned by King Kamehameha III, it was likely to provide a space for merchants and others to congregate without the judgmental air of local missionaries. Later the space was converted to a hospital before being completely rehabilitated and designated a historic site in 1982.
Visitors must schedule a tour to see more of the site and witness the amazing reconstruction that saw the main structure rebuilt from rubble. If short on time, walking by on the way to other Lahaina highlights—such as the Old Lahaina Courthouse or Baldwin Home—is recommended.
Palapala Ho’omau Church
The trip to East Maui and Hana is well worth it for many reasons besides architectural ones. Visitors who make the trip will find a sleepy rural town that retains much of its charm thanks to largely escaping the development found in other parts of the island that is at the doorstep of some of the best natural areas the island has to offer.
Visitors to Hana will want to take a few minutes to tour the grounds of this humble church and its grounds. Keen-eyed observers will be able to find the grave of Charles Lindbergh, who was buried on the island after passing away in 1974. Be sure to be respectful of the grounds when visiting.
Finally, we have Maui’s grandest “Cathedral,” one that can only be visited underwater. Of course, we know this isn’t a man-made site. Yet the naturally occurring Lanai Cathedrals are one of Maui’s special spots that we often find the most inspiring. And—we may be biased—but taking a trip through the sun-streaked waters is an amazing experience that compares favorably to viewing the world’s most stunning buildings.
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And there you have it, five must-see Maui architectural marvels to take time to see on your next visit to the island. And if SCUBA, snorkeling, or whale watching are on your Maui itinerary, we do hope that you’ll consider us here at Dive Maui for all your water activity needs.
Have questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to reach out, our dedicated team of dive pros loves to share their knowledge of Maui County and help any way they can. Until we next meet in Maui, Aloha!