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Old Lahaina Prison



No American vacation would be complete without a journey to the dark side. Ghost and cemetery tours are prevalent in every city to which a person may travel. If you want to see the dark side of Maui, you should head over to Old Lahaina Prison, also known as Hale Pa’ahao Priso. The small jail once served as home to many rowdy sailors and whalers.

History of the Old Lahaina Prison

In 1850, the practice of whaling was rampant, and the island of Lahaina played host to the men who slew the noble mammals for their oil and flesh. The natives loved the whalers’ visits, as the randy sea men were more than willing to spend their wages on wine, women and song.

The town officials and missionaries agreed that they needed a better jail to incarcerate those sailors who were overly enthusiastic about the islanders’ hospitality. The jail they had was very small and not very secure. In those days Hawaii was a kingdom and the new prison had to be approved by the legislator and the king.

In 1851, a new jail was approved by both entities. The Old Lahaina Prison was designed to keep male and female prisoners apart from one another. It was surrounded by high fences and had plenty of shackles to keep the sailors at bay.

As you can imagine, the most common things prisoners were jailed for in those days were drunkenness and adultery. However, sailors were often jailed for such odd crimes as furious horseback riding, furnishing intoxicating drink to natives, and drinking awa, which was supposed to be reserved for religious ceremonies.

Life in the wooden prison was not comfortable and sailors were often shackled to the walls at night. Fortunately, periods of incarceration were very short, and the men normally left when their ship’s captain would bail them out.

Visiting the Prison

The prison is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily and admission is free. In addition to the prison, the grounds have a beautiful botanical garden.

Where to Stay

Maui is popular and housing on its islands is very limited. The rental experts at Quam Properties can find you the perfect place to stay. Our beautiful homes have spacious living areas with fine and comfortable furniture, bedrooms with tons of closet space and bathrooms with sunken tubs and his and her sinks. You won’t have to eat out every night because we provide fully equipped kitchens. Our properties go fast, so call us today at 808-665-1315.