Banyan Tree in Lahaina, Maui is the oldest and largest banyan tree in Hawaii, and one of the oldest and largest banyans in the United States. It’is a true landmark and a sight not to miss. Located in the center of Lahaina Banyan Court Park, it can be visited and admired at any time. Many events in Lahaina take place under its canopy. All Lahaina ocean tours and activities depart from the harbor, right behind the Lahaina Banyan tree.
Photo credit: the header photo of Lanaina Banyan by Mary and Andrew
Banyan trees are native to India. In Hindu religion, the banyan tree is considered sacred and represents eternal life because of its ever-expanding branches. Brought to Hawaii from India by missionaries from India, Lahaina Banyan Tree was planted in 1873 by Maui sheriff William O. Smith to mark the 50th anniversary of Protestant missionary work in Hawaii.
Lahaina Banyan has a huge central core, over 10 major trunks and several hundred drooping branches. It is 60 feet high, covers almost 2 acres and has rather symmetrical shape as a result of community efforts. It provides nice shade during the day. Just this one tree serves as a complete forest with park benches to enjoy your time. Sometimes it feels like a cathedral with sun rays or stars shining through its canopy, especially early in the morning or late at night when there is no crowd.
How Banyan Trees Grow So Large
A banyan tree starts as a shrub. As it forms the canopy, it develops aerial roots that hang down from the tree limbs; when the aerial roots touch the ground they become another “trunk” of the tree.
Lahaina Banyan Park Events
The second and fourth weekend each month, from 9 am to 5 pm, Lahaina Arts Society hosts Craft Fair Under The Banyan Tree – a free event with live music, free face painting and art projects for the kids. Local artists exhibit their paintings, woodwork, jewelry, glass, ceramics, photography and more.
Practically every festival and event along Lahaina’s historic Front Street starts and ends under Lahaina Banyan Tree. This includes the hugely popular and populous Halloween celebration and the Holiday Lighting of the Banyan Tree early December. Refer to Maui Recurring Events article for the the complete list of weekly, monthly and yearly events and festivals.
Other Famous Banyan Trees in Hawaii
The famous Banyan Drive in Hilo, also known as the Hilo Walk of Fame, was first planted with banyan trees in 1933 by movie stars. Later, famous people like President Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Richard Nixon, Louis Armstrong carried on this tradition. Not all of the majestic trees survived the devastating tsunamis, but around 50 of them line the Banyan Drive today.
The large banyan tree near Iolani Palace is believed to be planted by Queen Kapiolani. The slightly elevated area between trunks is called the Banyan Terrace. This location suites well for small outdoor parties and intimate events.
The banyan tree grove near Kawela Bay on Oahu’s North Shore starred in the cult TV Series Lost, filmed in Hawaii in 2004-2010. It also played in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Pirates of the Caribbean and other movies and TV shows.
There are more contestants of Lahaina Banyan Tree, but it’s still the most majestic of them all! It’s no wonder that it grows in the center of the old Hawaiian capital, in the center of the most visited public park and is the center of attention of locals and tourists alike. The Banyan Tree in Lahaina is royal. Long live Lahaina Banyan!