Hello Friends and Family,

1975 Maui, HI, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Although the flight from Kaua‘i to Maui is only 40 minutes (in those days you could get a non-stop flight — checking today, they all seem to have a stop in Honolulu), the time checking out of your hotel, finding a gas station near the airport, filling the tank of your rental car, returning the rental car, checking in with your airline, waiting for boarding to start, then reversing all that on Maui, this all makes for a long day.

For my first visit to the Valley Isle, I chose the Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel (note this was before I concluded that a condo is the way to go on the neighbor islands i.e. all but O‘ahu). The major reason for this selection was the hotel's claim to be the island’s “Most Hawaiian” hotel — who wouldn't want that on their first visit to Maui?

It’s not a deluxe property, but with its focus on Hawaiian culture, especially in its extensive program of cultural activities for guests, you feel like you’re in Hawai‘i, not at an anonymous resort that could be anywhere in the world. The giant tiki statue welcomes you to that true Hawaiian environment.

The architecture is Polynesian. I was surprised that my room had plantation shutters, instead of curtains, covering the sliding glass door to the balcony. I liked that because you could control the tradewinds, keeping you cool — the rooms were not air-conditioned.

Evenings brought island music to the grounds for all to enjoy (not just those dining at their restaurant). Every Friday, they had keikis (children) performing in a hula show. They were so cute putting their all into the swaying of the hips and dancing of their fingers to the rhythm of the music.

In the background stands the brand new Whaler Condominium complex still under construction while I was there. Graciously, the hotel was placing their guests in rooms away from the noise — which started each morning at about 6:00 AM.

Ka‘anapali is a planned resort community, developed by Amfac, Inc., (formerly known as American Factors) a land development company in Hawai‘i. Founded in 1849 as a retail and sugar business, it was considered one of the so-called Big Five companies in the Territory of Hawai'i. At its peak, it owned 60,000 acres of land and was a dominant sugar company in Hawai‘i as well as the founder of one of its best-known department stores, Liberty House. It now owns 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of land in Ka‘anapali.

This photo shows the initial development of Ka‘anapali, including the golf course and separate residences in the foreground. Up the hill, you can see the sugar cane fields that dominated Maui's landscape at the time.

This view shows the area around the Hyatt Regency Hotel which had just been finished — with building material still stacked in staging areas. Four miles in the distance you can see the smokestack at the Pioneer Sugar Mill which was still in operation at the time. With the discontinuation of sugar production, the mill was shut down but the smokestack has been preserved together with some equipment from the mill (for my 2014 photos, click here).

Ka‘anapali Beach is some three miles long. Some say it is the prototypical Hawaiian idyllic beach. These folks would probably agree. Move the clock forward to 2021 and those same folks would probably say that there are too many people now.

But you cannot deny that at that time, it looked like a slice of Heaven — here with a small catamaran pulled up on the beach and Lana‘i in the distance. It looks close enough to swim across but it is actually nine miles across the channel. Also, although the ocean is relatively calm in the morning, during the afternoon, you might experience some pretty big waves.

The lava rock outcropping signals that you have walked or swum along the beach to the Sheraton — again, just like at Poipu on Kaua‘i — one of the first properties developed in the new beach resort of Ka‘anapali.

That lava rock outcropping actually has a name — Black Rock. And note that the Sheraton is built upon Black Rock such that the lobby is actually on the top level of the hotel. A road on the other side (not visible from this spot on the beach) leads up to that lobby to welcome the new guests and later to see them off after what we hope was a wonderful vacation.

Since the lobby is at the top level, it is easy for anyone, not just those staying at the Sheraton to see magnificent scenery such as this.

I was told (and I have no reason to doubt it) that the snorkeling around Black Rock is wonderful. At that point in my life, I was not a very experienced snorkeler, and looking at these waves pounding on the lava outcroppings convinced me that I might find better spots to enjoy seeing the fish. To be perfectly honest, looking at the waves in this photo, I would still feel the same way — and with many trips to Maui under my belt, I would always recommend Kapalua Beach for snorkeling — the waves are much more gentle and there are always lots of fish.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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