Planted in 1873 as a memorial to the first American Protestant mission to the Hawaiian islands, this massive tree sprawls across more than half an acre along Front Street.
The size of an entire city block, the Indian Banyan (a member of the fig family) stands more than 60 feet high, and serves as a welcome break from the tropic heat. Within you can find all sorts of people looking for some shade; food cart vendors, a handful of random musicians, and of course, tourists from all over the world enjoying the scenery over a refreshing shave ice.
Native to India, this mighty banyan was just a mere slip of a sapling at eight feet tall when received as a gift from the missionaries. One of the 60 varieties of fig tree that grow on the island, the banyan is now a monolith with 16 trunks and an aerial root system stretching over a quarter of a mile.
Many events and art exhibits are held beneath the banyan’s eaves. Art in the Park is a regular sale of affordable paintings, limited edition prints, and a wealth of crafts every second and fourth weekend of the month. Everything from lone troubadours and street dancers to Obon festivals and massive block parties are held under its welcome shade.
In August 2023, fast-moving wildfires swept across Maui, leading to dozens of deaths and devastating damage to Lahaina and other towns. While Lahaina’s historic landmark was badly singed by the fires, the banyan tree is still standing. The full extent of the loss caused by the fires is not yet known.