Oldest School West of the Rocky Mountains Found on Maui

Things to Do — By keithdevey on November 5, 2010 at 1:27 am

Lahainaluna High School was originally founded in 1831 as a boarding school for men seeking a religious education from the missionaries that had settled in the hills of Lahaina.   The school’s early beginnings make it indeed the first school formulated west of the Rocky Mountains.

It wasn’t until 1961 that Lahainaluna became a comprehensive public high school that admitted both boys and girls.  If you happen to be vacationing on the western side of Maui in Lahaina or the resort town Ka’anapali, I would highly recommend the short drive to Lahainaluna’s campus. You will climb in elevation as you pass through thick vegetation that throws shade on a meandering road.

Once you arrive at the small intimate campus, enjoy beautiful views of the ocean down below you.  Be sure to stop in at the “Hale Pa’i”, a museum dedicated to Maui’s oldest printing press. It only took the missionaries one year after opening up their school, before they had a printing press and began manufacturing books which could help spread the “Word of God.”  Interestingly, the press also helped publish the first newspaper west of the Rocky Mountains, as well as the first forms of paper currency used on Maui.  The small museum is free to the public and offers some interesting pieces of history that you will surely find intriguing.

Lastly, if you are passionate about hiking trails,  there is a three/four hour hike that starts at Lahainaluna’s campus and marches up 2000 feet in elevation to a large letter “L” that is carved into a mountain top. I have not yet attempted the hike and hear that there are numerous false trails that are designed to lead tourists astray.  You may want to ask a local or someone on campus about the correct route to the “L.”  Once at the summit, it is rumored you can enjoy fantastic views of Maui’s entire west coast, as well as  Molokai and Lanai.  Here is the Google satellite view of the mountaintop “L.”

If you have done the hike, please leave a comment about it!

Tags: Hale Pa'i, Hike to the L, Lahainaluna


  • Leslie Hiraga says:

    Your blurb is full of erroneousness information. And there is no public hiking to the ‘L’. If you would like to post correct & accurate information about our school please contact our archive committee via my email.

  • Keith says:

    Hello Leslie, I am sorry if some of the information I posted is inaccurate. I collected information about the school and Hale Pa’i from printed material I collected from the Hale Pa’i museum. As for the hike to the L, I have not done the hike, but have a couple friends who have and told me about it. If this hike is not public, I will remove mention of it. Mahalo, Keith


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