Banyan Tree Park Meet Up

banyan tree park oahu hawaii

Banyan Tree Park, also known as Lahaina Banyan Court Park, is one of Oahu’s most famous meeting places and a must do for visitors. Photo: Vmenkov

Lahaina Banyan Court Park (often called Banyan Tree Park) is a public park that is located at the junction of Canal Street and Front Street in Lahaina, Hawaii. Lahaina was the Kingdom of Hawaii’s capital city from 1820 until 1845. The park houses multiple heritage sites along the Lahaina Historic Trail and visitors can embark on a self-guided walking tour of the Lahaina Historic Districts.

The park sits on the same ground that was once the site of the Old Lahaina Fort, which was built in 1831. The fort was built by Hoapili, who was the Royal Governor of Maui, to protect Lahaina from unruly sailors during the years when the town was used as an anchorage port for the North Pacific Sailing Fleet. In 1854, after the fort had been demolished, a courthouse took its place on the grounds.

In 1964 the old Lahaina Fort was partially rebuilt and in 1965 the old Lahaina Courthouse gained recognition as a contributing property of Lahaina’s Historic District. It is currently being used by the Lahaina Historic Society as well as the Lahaina Arts Council.

The park is often referred to as Banyan Tree Park because in 1873 and Indian Banyan tree was planted in the Courthouse square by Sheriff William Owen Smith. The tree was planted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lahaina’s first American Protestant mission.

When the seedling was planted it was just around 8 feet high, but it has grown to be one of the largest banyan trees in the United States and the largest in Hawaii. In 2005 it measured an amazing 49.2 feet in height, had 16 trunks, and covered an area of 0.25 miles.

The tree now faces threats from several different directions. Vehicle and foot traffic from tourists and special events held in the park are compacting the soil and courthouse renovations are interrupting the irrigation of the tree.

In 2000, after the tree’s health began to decline, new restrictions were set in place for the park. One of the many things that attract visitors to the park are the common Myna birds that roost in the tree’s branches at sunset and make their distinctive call as night approaches.

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