Yesterday we drove back up to the West side. It was our first time driving up since early June, our first time since the fire.
We used to have a Lahaina routine. We’d park by the Lahaina outlets and invariably end up in the Adidas outlet shop. When you have teenagers, there is always one needing new shoes. Then we’d walk down Front Street to the Banyan Tree, window-shopping, stopping for a gelato or shave ice, avoiding the cosmetics people with their sales pitches. We would always go for dinner at Bubba Gumps (until they closed during Covid). Sig’s favorite place. I didn’t mind the food, but the view was the best if you had a table at the windows.
Past tense…. those places and so many more are all gone now. It’s surreal. Now we will find new West side routines.
Our West side outing
Yesterday our destination of choice was Whaler’s Village. Traffic was pretty light, with a fair number of people surfing alongside the Pali. There were some good beginner waves. The Pali Hwy is easily one of the most beautiful I’ve ever driven with stunning ocean views. It’s easy to get distracted (make sure your driver keeps his eyes on the road). The Pali naturally veers onto the Lahaina bypass and you really don’t see much of the burn zone until it veers left and heads back down the hill. The shoulders along the bypass are a no-parking zone and it is strictly enforced. Please don’t pull over to gawk out of respect to the community. There are also black fabric dust fences set up to shelter the view but also keep the ashes from flying across the road I suppose.
When you get back down to the main road, you have to turn right, past Lahaina Gateway Center and the Cannery Mall. Safeway recently reopened, giving West side residents another option besides Times Supermarket.
How was it?
Whaler’s Village currently has free parking. We knew tourism was pretty non-existent West side, but wow. On a Sunday afternoon there were just a handful of shops open. There were a few visitors and a few locals milling about. A few local families with kids were enjoying the play structure on the lower level. Haagen Dasz was open, so we grabbed some icecream/drinks, tipped generously and headed for the boardwalk. It was a gorgeous day, some people playing beach volleyball but generally very quiet. On the way back to the car we picked up a few t-shirts at Crazy Shirts.
Don’t stop frequenting the West side. Like us, you may need to find new favorite places to visit. Be flexible. It will take a while for the visitor industry to rebound on the West side also. Until then, some businesses may need to have flexible schedules.