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Lahaina and Maui– Amazing and Unforgettable

| Vicky Sullivan |

I have been curious about Hawaii since I was 7 years old!  My second-grade teacher Mr. Morihiro was from Hawaii.  He showed us how to hula and sing “Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song)” which I can still remember to this day.  He told us stories about Hawaii and taught us to sing Do Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles” which was a huge hit in 1966.  From that time as a kid, I always loved watching shows like Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I., which were filmed on the Hawaiian Islands. I never thought I would go there; it seemed like a faraway dream.  Our family moved to Florida; it was as close to Hawaii as I thought I would get with its beaches and palm trees!  I have since learned that Hawaii and Florida have some similarities but are really very different places.  Hawaii has a fascinating history and traditions like nowhere else. 


I started thinking of going to Hawaii after years of dreaming of it. In researching where I wanted to go, Maui seemed attractive with everything I read, music and art were big there!  I decided to make it a birthday trip in May of 2017, even though I knew I would miss whale watching season. I stayed at the Lahaina Inn that was built in 1938. It was such a quaint piece of Maui history.  I immediately loved Lahaina, the shops, the restaurants, rainbows and the famous 150-year-old Banyan tree.  I had read about Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant on Front Street and was lucky to go when Mick was doing a show with Lahaina singer Gretchen Rhodes and late Hawaiian music legend Wilie K.  His restaurant and the show were fabulous. I drove around the island of Maui and fell in love with it. I knew I would have to come back to this beautiful paradise.

I went back to Maui in 2021, which was a year and a half into the pandemic and Maui was reopening, people were still wearing masks. It was even better than the first time, I felt a sense of being a part of Lahaina since I knew my way around a little and this time stayed at The Pioneer Inn. Built in 1901 and on the National Register of Historical Places in the U.S., The Pioneer Inn restaurant had the best macadamia nut pancakes. The Maui Guesthouse which had been in Lahaina since 1985, was a haven for travelers with a sundeck and pool and a hostess named Tanna.  Everyone was so friendly and helpful in sharing places to go around the island.  It reminded me of Anna Maria Island in the 80’s, when people lived and worked on the island just like people in Lahaina do.  It was an amazing time; I drove the road to Hana and went to Maui’s famous Mama’s Fish House, drove to the North Shore and photographed surfers.  I went turtle watching and at night would return to Lahaina for great food at Cheeseburger in Paradise or Down the Hatch for coconut shrimp.  After a couple of days, I felt like I lived there, it was so comfortable.  I will never forget the feel, smells and amazing beauty of Maui.  


When the news broke about the fires, I felt gut-punched and devastated for the people of Lahaina. All those lovely places I had stayed in are now gone, just in my memories and photos now. Mahalo, to the people and places of Lahaina, who gave me such love and a sense of community that made a vacation feel like home.  The people of Lahaina are suffering in so many ways and need so much help. It will be a long road to rebuild.  Maui is open for business, the west side is closed but the north, east and south sides of Maui are open for business and need support for the local people.  Please help the people of Lahaina & Maui!  Maui Strong – Hawaii Community Foundation   World Central Kitchen – World Central Kitchen Donation Page  For helping the animals – Maui Humane Society

Vicky Sullivan Photos

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