Ka‘anapali, Maui

NicoleMaui Photography


Ka‘anapali is fit and trim, manicured from its lu`au lawns to its golf tees. The hotels possess gourmet dining rooms, lagoons with swans and flamingoes, art treasures in improbable places, vast landscapes and waterscapes with mega-pools, cascades and thrill slides. The toys in the once-royal playground are catamarans, outrigger canoes, boogie boards and surfboards, aqua bikes, snorkel and dive gear, rafts, windsurfers and sailboats.

In ancient times, Ka‘anapali was a royal retreat for the rulers of Maui. They liked the perfect three-mile stretch of white sand beach, gentle waves, warm sunny days, and the broad swatch of green land that swept up to the rainbow-haunted West Maui Mountains. Maui’s “royals” surfed, raced their outrigger canoes, feasted at lu`aus that lasted for weeks, and where the Ka‘anapali Golf Courses now blanket the land, they played ulu maika, a form of lawn bowling using heavy lava rock balls.

Ka‘anapali’s two championship golf courses are open to all. One is the creation of the eminent Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the other designed by Arthur Jack Snyder. The way the courses are laid out, both duffers and pros get a good game. The only problem is whales. If they’re jumping offshore in their fantastic gymnastics, nobody seems to make par. The magnificent vistas of sea and mountains are distracting enough to be considered outright hazards on the links.

Ka‘anapali has four “A’s” in its name and three of them stand for “Action. The other “A?” It stands for “A Surprisingly Great Deal” because Ka‘anapali hotels and condominiums offer a wide spectrum of accommodations, packages and rates.

Ka‘anapali was Hawai‘i’s first planned resort and has become a model for resorts around the world. The hotels and holiday condominiums offer a variety of experiences from soaring marble lobbies to beachside bungalows. All are planted in the 1200-acre enclave amid lavish gardens along the beach and golf courses, each so private they appear solitary. In the center is the Whalers Village, an open-air, world-class shopping complex housing a whaling museum. The shops, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, activity centers, golf courses and even Lahaina town and are all connected by free transportation. Alternately, the Lahaina-Ka‘anapali and Pacific Railroad, a restored sugarcane train pulled by a vintage steam locomotive, chugs between the resort and Lahaina through sugar plantation fields.

Ka‘anapali is aware of its history and traditions. Every evening at sundown, cliff divers reenact the feat of Maui’s revered King Kahekili, who bravely dove from the cliff at Pu`u Kekaa, or Black Rock, into the churning sea, at a time when the spot was considered to be the jumping off place for the soul to enter the nether world. The tiki torches are lit along the shore as the ancient pahu drums and triton shell horns call the hula dancers and revelers to the beachside lu`aus.

To preserve the unique culture and way of life of Maui, some Ka‘anapali properties have adopted innovative programs whereby employees share their heritage with guests in small ways such as greeting them with genuine aloha, and large ways such as colorful festivals during Aloha Week, Lei Day and Kamehameha Day honoring Hawai‘i’s greatest king.

Even with all its wondrous amenities, Ka‘anapali has retained the reality of gracious royal Hawaiian hospitality and the pace of the action that made it the choice of kings.