Insider Guide: Lahaina, Maui
Lee Anne Wong, chef at Papa ́aina, shares the must-visit stops in Lahaina and beyond.
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Meet the insider: Lee Anne Wong, chef at Papa ́aina
Walk into the Best Western Pioneer Inn, and you’re stepping into a piece of history; the hotel has been operating on Maui since 1901. “Every room boasts a second-floor outdoor lanai that overlooks either busy Front Street and one of the largest banyan trees in the country, or the peacefully hidden historic courtyard on the interior of the hotel,” says Lee Anne Wong, a previous Top Chef contestant and producer who’s now behind the onsite restaurant Papa ́aina. The menu features “locally sourced and inspired brunch fare,” Wong says, like macadamia nut ricotta pancakes and crispy ramen with kalua pork. Here are the chef’s must-visit stops in Lahaina and beyond.
WHERE TO EAT:
Sale Pepe owners Qiana and Michele DiBari “bring a taste of Italy to Maui,” Wong says, “focusing on hand-tossed pizzas and handmade pastas.” Moku Roots is “serving some of Hawaii’s best vegetarian and vegan cuisine.” For modern Hawaiian, book a multi-course meal at chef Jojo Vasquez’s monthly chef’s counter at Fond. “If you’re lucky,” Wong says, Vasquez’s wife, Eliza, will showcase her “DJ skills, setting the mood and food with beats to match.”
WHAT TO DO:
“Get out on the water,” Wong says. “There are numerous boat tours that depart from Lahaina,” including Teralani, Sail Trilogy, and Sail Maui. Or take a farm tour at Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate Factory.
WHERE TO STAY:
Lahaina town, Maui’s historic whaling village, is “a hot spot for art, shopping, and dining, in addition to its pristine beaches,” Wong says. The newly renovated Hotel Lahainais “home to Lahaina Grill, one of Maui’s legendary dinner spots.”
WHERE TO DRINK:
Maui Brewing Co. boasts “Maui’s finest craft-brewed beers, ales, and hard seltzers, made with local Hawaiian-grown ingredients.” A tour of Hawaii Sea Spirits Distillery is “the picture-perfect way to spend an afternoon or early evening.”
WHERE TO SHOP:
“Front Street in historic Old Lahaina is the heart of shopping.” The Saturday Upcountry Farmers Market is “essentially why I left Oahu to move to Maui,” Wong adds. It’s “a literal cornucopia of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood, prepared foods, flowers, plants, and artisan products. Get here early to get the best selection and bring cash.”