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Maui Travel Updates: September 22nd, 2023
Our family just returned from a seven-day trip to Maui. We came with aloha and were greeted with aloha. Visiting Maui feels like a vacation to Maui, except we didn’t go to West Maui of course.
The crews on the snorkeling boats were thankful to have us visit, and so were the waiters at all the restaurants. People were happy to have us on the island.
How to donate to the Lahaina community. The community needs our help. Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires. We hear that this organization is doing a great job at getting the money where it needs to go. More charities are listed below.
The biggest difference was the lack of crowds. As less than 40% of the daily visitor census is on the island, it was easy to walk into restaurants, book a tour, and drive an empty Hana Highway. Read our 8 Takeaways on Visiting Maui After the Fires for more on our Maui trip.
As the fires were specific to the Lahaina area, we did not see any damage. We didn’t see the damage from the Kula fires during our trips to Upcountry to walk historic Makawao Town or volunteer in Kula.
There are Maui Strong signs all over the island and people are grieving. That is clear from talking to locals and listening to the radio. As the recovery effort continues, workers want to work and businesses are eager to have you wait in line for shave ice.
The recovery and cleanup effort continues in Lahaina, the West Maui town that was devastated by a wildfire on August 8th. For the time being, West Maui is closed to visitors till October 8th and the rest of Maui is open.
Maui and the other major Hawaiian Islands (Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii Island) are welcoming visitors.
A great way to support Maui is to visit.
Visit Maui to support local workers, have a wonderful vacation, and see the beautiful island.
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Aid to the Survivors of the Lahaina Fire
We are looking forward to sharing the rebuilding of the town over the years to come on this web page. Local restaurants, shops, and tour companies in Lahaina and across Maui will return and need our support.
If you want to help those devastated by the Maui fires, here is a list of Hawaii-registered charities. On August 10th, we donated to the Hawai’i Salvation Army, Maui Food Bank, Hawai’i Community Foundation, and Maui Humane Society.
Ad revenue from our YouTube channel in the month of August was donated to Lahaina Fire Relief Charities.
Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires. We hear that this organization is doing a great job at getting the money where it needs to go.
The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Alakaina Foundation Family, and Kakoo Haleakala will match up to $1,000,000 in donations for Kakoo Maui. Learn more and donate here: Kako’o Maui.
Hawaii Salvation Army will start providing meals for thousands displaced in Maui emergency shelters. 1,400 are still in shelters as of August 11th. You can donate here – Hawai’i Salvation Army.
The Maui Food Bank was a lifeline for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now seeking monetary donations to help displaced families.
Maui United Way is accepting donations to its Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Fund.
The Maui Humane Society is also in desperate need of support.
We cannot validate anyone on this list, but this GoFundMe and Venmo list is being circulated by Maui locals as a way to hear from those impacted and make a direct donation. Donate directly to families impacted.
The state Attorney General’s office is urging residents to use caution when choosing where to send their money and donations. Verify that the charity is legitimate. Any charity that solicits donations in Hawaii must be registered with the Department of the Attorney General, and its status can be verified here.
Volunteer on Maui
As the emergency response turns into a marathon, Maui needs help with food distribution, land reclamation, mental health support, and so much more.
If you are interested in volunteering when on vacation, see our list of Maui Volunteer on Vacation Signups. We volunteered with Hungry Heroes Hawaii one day during our stay. Sign-up was simple and the event was well organized. They are a terrific group of people providing meals on Maui!
While many look at Lahaina as a tourist destination, the town has a strong community. One could feel the civic pride at the annual Lahaina Halloween Parade, Christmas under the Banyan Tree, or school pick-up outside Kamehameha III Elementary School.
Hawaii Travel Update
Travel to Maui is no longer contentious. The messaging from locals, government officials, and even celebrities are endorsing a visit to the Aloha State.
Governor Green is working with the local community to ensure those displaced by the fires are comfortable and not made homeless when West Maui reopens to visitors on October 8th.
Discussions with hotels and short-term rental owners continue in order to address long-term housing needs, as hotels cannot house the survivors indefinitely. More than 1,400 displaced residents have been placed in vacation rentals in addition to almost 8,000 in hotel rooms and several hundred in Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. units.
“People are not going to be displaced from hotels into a homeless state,” Governor Green said while stressing that tourism and recovery “go hand in hand.”
If we don’t have enough tourism, we don’t have enough services for people to have school or food sources.Governor Green on September 21st, 2023
For more information, including what you can do if you decide to visit Maui, see our Can You Visit Maui Right Now? article.
Advice on Travel to Maui in October and After
We have received the question a lot about canceling or rescheduling trips to Maui in October and after.
The Governor announced at a press conference that West Maui is expected it open by October 8th, 2023. This will include the hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals north of Lahaina such as Ka’anapali, Napili, and Kapalua.
If you have reservations in October or after October then we recommend keeping them at this time. West Maui opening will provide a lot of jobs and help the economy.
The Governor announced at a community meeting on September 6th that the state, county, and Maui Strong are providing a grant to Lahaina business owners of $25 million. The grant will provide $10,000 to $20,000 payments to help with employee and lease costs.
Can You Travel to the Other Hawaiian Islands?
Yes, travel to the other islands has not been impacted. Due to the fires on Maui and the resulting news coverage, many have canceled their trips to the other Hawaiian Islands.
If you have a trip planned to Oahu, Kauai, or the Island of Hawaii, we recommend you keep your plans.
Join Our Newsletter for Hawaii Travel Updates
Join our Hawaii travel newsletter for ongoing updates on traveling to Maui, the recovery effort in Lahaina, and travel to the other major Hawaiian Islands.
We were a steady resource on factual Hawaii COVID Travel Restrictions during the pandemic. We plan to support Maui and Hawaii in the same way during this tragedy.
Travel information is rapidly changing and we want to do our best to support workers on the Hawaiian Islands and the survivors. Our newsletter is the best way to stay informed.
Lahaina was our home but as we shared in our newsletter and on our site, we recently relocated to the mainland for a family need. We are devastated by the loss our friends and neighbors on Maui are experiencing. We can see where their houses stood in satellite images from August 9th.
We are remembering Lahaina for the town and the community that it always will be. Below is our tribute video to them.
Erica’s grandparent’s townhome burned down in the fire. We moved there in the fall of 2019 to remodel the home and make a new life on Maui. We are so glad we had the opportunity. Erica has been visiting Maui and that home since she was a little girl. We are glad to have so many memories of time well spent there. We are grateful our friends and family are safe.
From Puamana on the south end of Front Street to past the Cannery Mall on the north end of Front Street, makai (ocean side) of the highway has burned down or is heavily damaged.
The helicopter video below was the first image we got at daybreak of the extent of the damage. One can see the clubhouse in Puamana has burned down, with many of the homes. Puamana Nui, Shark Pit, Lahaina Shores, and 505 Shopping Center are burning or gone.
The Old Lahaina Courthouse, the Pioneer Inn, and all the way down historic Front Street are destroyed. The fire came so fast that many people jumped into Lahaina Harbor to escape the flames. The Coast Guard pulled many from the water.
Front Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town center dates to the 1700s and was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
It looks like the 1.9-acre Banyan Tree survived, albeit heavily damaged.
We will continue to update this page on the Lahaina Fire as updates are made available. As our website is a guide on vacationing in Hawaii, we will focus on traveling to Maui, traveling with thought to those who live there, and supporting local businesses.