Hello Friends and Family,

Maui on my Mind, Part 29

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Continuing my morning walk, I approached Kapalua as evidenced by their iconic sign that I have shared with you in previous years. Still beautiful. I still love their logo — the butterfly with a body the shape of a pineapple. (I have a closet full of golf shirts with this logo.) These are nostalgic images since there are not many butterflies left (one must really hunt for them) and the pineapple fields are fallow or developed for other uses (like homes and golf courses).

A few yards further and on the makai (ocean) side of the lower road, we are still in Napili with its own iconic sign. Napili Kai was the first resort on this part of Maui — at that time (1961) the only resorts were the Hana Resort and the Maui Palms. The Pioneer Inn had 8-10 rooms, and the Banyan Inn was the only other eating house. Plans for a golf course at Ka‘anapali were underway, but Napili was still a remote area with no drawing card.

Three Canadians joined together to lease a half-acre parcel on Napili Bay where the first building was constructed which was called the Lahaina Wing. As it gained in popularity additional buildings were added, eventually resulting in the resort you see today.

Their website contains a bit of history plus a small book that documents the history back to the founding of the resort. Interestingly, the story seems consistent with what I had been told — that Napili was developed by Canadian interests whose priority was achieving a peaceful, quiet paradise community. Ka‘anapali Beach, on the other hand, was developed by American and Japanese interests who were most concerned about the return on their investment. This supposedly explains why the condos at Napili are a maximum of two stories in height while those at Ka‘anapali Beach soar to dizzying heights. I have often described the latter as feeling like you are in a big city on the beach — such that when you're swimming, you look back at the beach and see those concrete monstrosities. By way of contrast, swimming in Napili Bay, you see lots of palm trees with smaller buildings hidden amongst the trees.

Next to Napili Kai is the access to the Kapalua Beach complete with a modest amount of parking. A bit of history remains with this tiny cemetery almost overlooking the beach. It seems well maintained and loved ones are still placing leis and flowers on the gravesites.

On this end of Kapalua Bay is Merriman's Restaurant, which I vote for as the best restaurant on Maui (although some folks would argue that Mama's Fish House in Paia is the best). Merriman's website says, "Dine at the most breathtaking oceanfront setting in Kapalua Resort. Pete Merriman Chef/Restauranteur has brought his unique style of Hawaii Regional Cuisine to Maui. A pioneer in the 'Farm to Table' concept, Peter serves only the freshest products, at least 90% of which are locally grown or caught, using only sustainable methods. Join us for Happy Hour at The Point and enjoy cocktails, wine or pupu while catching the sunset. Our aloha friendly staff will ensure that you have an extraordinary dining experience." I agree with their self-description. Do book in advance and try to schedule your dinner for sunset.

On the makai side of Merriman's, I spotted the setup for a wedding. This is a beautiful spot for it...

...looking straight out over the ocean, we see the island of Moloka‘i on a beautifully clear day. Note that it is uncommon to be able to see the summit of Moloka‘i — today is a treat. If on the day you visit, the clouds obscure the summit, keep coming back until you see it. And once you've seen it, come back again and again to see it once more.

If the wedding guests look to their right, they have a beautiful view of Kapalua Beach. I love this early morning shot before the crowds arrive — so peaceful and relaxing. Can you feel it?

Pressing on, I stood on a rock and cement structure (probably built to correct storm damage to the beach) to get this shot. Note that Kapalua Beach is a wonderful spot for snorkeling because the two "arms embracing the sea" (which is the meaning of "Kapalua") dampen the wave action resulting in smaller waves and less agitation of the sandy bottom. This is also the reason why I suggest this beach for families with kids and any adults who are timid in the ocean waves.

I continued walking on the sidewalk above the beach with its views of the Coconut Grove condominium complex. I have been coming to Maui for enough years to remember when it was a real coconut grove. So this is progress, huh?

Looking back at the ocean, I noticed this man preparing his surfboard (or is it a paddleboard?). It looked like he wants to take it all the way to Moloka‘i. However, the Palilolo Channel is quite rough (hard to tell from this distance) and some 8.5 miles wide. Probably best to just paddle around Kapalua Bay and enjoy the morning safely and peacefully.

At the far end of the sidewalk, I look back at Coconut Grove. A metaphorical tear comes to my eye thinking of what we lost — a wonderful collection of wild, natural, historic coconut trees — replaced by luxury condos, some costing more than $5M.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com