A splash of brilliance beneath cloud covered mountains, Lahaina, Maui's favourite tourist village with over 2 million visitors a year occupies a sheltered shoreline on the leeward coast of the island.
Overlooking a harbour once crowded with whaling ships is the Pioneer Inn. Built in 1901 by George Freeland, a Canadian Mountie, the Inn is one of Lahaina's oldest and best known buildings. Just a few steps from its front door visitors can board the daily ferry to the islands of Lanai and Molokai, join a group for sport fishing or snorkelling, embark on a whale watching cruise, or set off on an underwater adventure in a submarine.
Arrayed with a fascinating collection of whaling memorabilia and a sign from its more riotous days instructing guests that “Women is not allow in you room” and “If you burn you bed you going out”, the Inn's public rooms provide a glimpse into Lahaina's historic past.
A close look at the stairway leading to the upper floors reveals a small peephole on one of the steps. In bygone days gamblers and the local ladies of ill repute going each going about their business in a den beneath the stairs, had a lookout posted at the peephole to alert them to incipient raids.
In this same Inn, during the filming of a Hollywood extravaganza many years ago, a romantic twosome, Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, shared a quaint old-fashioned bedroom with a glorious view across the watery 'Lahaina Road' to the island of Molokai. Earlier still, in 1906 ex Queen Liliuokalani – deposed by the American government – paid a visit to Lahaina and she too stayed in the Pioneer Inn.
In spite of the Inn's upmarket image there are still those mouth-dropping moments when a man, not too long ago, rode into the bar on horseback and demanded a drink, only to be removed for being drunk and disorderly.
Pioneer Inn Reservations: 1 800 457 5457, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org