12 Mar Kaanapali Resort Makes A Great Home Base For Excursions And For Play On The Magic Isle Maui
Kaanapali Resort Makes A Great Home Base For Excursions And For Play On The Magic Isle Maui
Even before Hawai’i had tourists, its people had a word for what tourists do-maka’ika’i (ma-ka-ee-ka-ee). It means to see the sights, to stroll around looking, to let your eyes lead the way. It is good for the soul to explore and to experience the beauty of new places. Kaanapali resort is surrounded by opportunities for maka’ika’i.
KAANAPALI, MAUI, HAWAI’I – There’s a general agreement these days, especially by readers of our most popular travel magazines, that the top island destination in the world is Maui. That’s a heavy accolade to lay on a relatively small island-just over 700 square miles. But Maui continues to improve, adding new attractions to its varied and gorgeous natural features. And Kaanapali Resort, as it has for three decades, continues to be the ideal position from which to explore the island. Some of Maui’s best known features are just a hop from the resort. And all the other attractions-even the trip to Hana, located on the opposite side of the island-can be done by car in a single day.
Maui consists of two mountain masses, west and east, with a broad, low valley between them. The resort is situated on West Maui’s leeward-that is, drier-coastline. The shore on this part of the island is lined with some of Hawai’i’s prettiest beaches. Chief among these is the resort’s own Kaanapali Beach. But a short drive gets you to half a dozen other beautiful strands, such as Napili Beach and D.T. Fleming Beach Park.
Another primary fact about Kaanapali’s location: it faces a remarkable sea channel that’s protected by the presence of smaller islands in the offing. This channel is an aquatic playground, not just for sailors, divers, parasail flyers, and other humans but also for dolphins, turtles, and the magnificent humpback whales. These whales migrate every winter from the northern Pacific to this calm sea channel. Every winter, humans get out into the channel to look at the whales and to shout with delight as these enormous mammals leap from the sea. The readiest access to these whale-watching excursions, and all other boat adventures, is right next door to Ka’anapali -at the harbor in Lahaina.
Lahaina town is just about five miles from the resort and easily reached with any number of shuttles or buses. People get a kick out of making the trip on a vintage train. The Lahaina-Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad, Maui’s only train, has only one route, and it’s there just for the fun of it. But its choo-choo and whistling hearken back to an earlier day, when sugar cane dominated the island economy and trains were used extensively on all the plantations to haul cane to the sugar mills. Passengers on “The Sugar Cane Train” learn about this part of Maui’s history from the singing conductor. There is a lot to do in Lahaina. The harbor gives access to all sorts of boat excursions year-round-dive trips, sport fishing, visits to the neighboring islands Lana’i and Moloka’i, sunset cruises…. (By the way, the sunsets seen from this part of the island are mind-blowing every day.) The Atlantis submarine leaves from Lahaina Harbor, too, giving people a chance to get underwater without getting wet.
Lahaina also provides lots of incentive for staying on land. The town has a rich, unique history. It was a prosperous place in ancient days, much favored by the Hawaiian ali’i (chiefs). For a short time in the mid-1800s it was the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom. Lahaina was a leading center of missionary teaching, and, ironically, a favorite carousing spot for Moby-Dick-era whalers. All this history is evident in the town’s many small museums and historic buildings. It’s a great little town for a walking tour. It’s also loaded with art galleries, excellent restaurants, and unique amusements. Of the last, special mention has to be given to the Maui Myth & Magic Theater with its ongoing production “’Ulalena”-a Cirque-du-Soleil-style pageant based on Hawaiian history and mythology.
All the above are quick jaunts from Kaanapali Resort. The rest of Maui is easy to reach in day-trips by car. It’s just a matter of a 20-minute drive along “the pali” to head into Central or East Maui. (“Pali” means sea cliffs. As you can imagine, the views along this seaside drive are sensational.)
Central Maui, with all points located about half an hour from Kaanapali, offers many attractions, including several small museums, the island’s main shopping centers, and the things that island residents like to do-farmer’s markets, movie theaters, the swap meet, and so on.
Central areas also include some of Maui’s finest and newest attractions. Ma’alaea, for example, has come to be an essential stop for visitors. It includes Ma’alaea Harbor, the only other place (besides Lahaina) where visitors can get a boat tour. It includes the Maui Ocean Center, a world-class aquarium dedicated to the sea life of Hawaiian waters. It also includes the headquarters of Pacific Whale Foundation with its new Ocean Science Discovery Center.
In Kahului, near the airport and the island’s commercial harbor, Maui Arts & Cultural Center offers a year-round banquet of cultural events. The principal venue at this art center, Castle Theater, has been dubbed “the Carnegie Hall of the Pacific.” Close by in the Wailuku area, people like to visit Maui Tropical Plantation, a huge garden and working orchard with a tram ride that teaches about bananas, papayas, and other tropical crops. And ‘Iao State Park, deep in the West Maui Mountains, attracts a constant stream of visitors, not just for its refreshing beauty but because this has always been Maui’s spiritual heart. The Hawai’i Nature Center, adjacent, is an excellent place for children and their parents to enjoy hands-on learning.
On the East Maui, day-trippers have two basic choices. One is to drive up the mountain- 10,000-foot Haleakala, a dormant volcano. Haleakala National Park encompasses the summit and provides views and trails into the amazing crater at the top. Other activities in the “Upcountry” area include visits to botanical gardens, a couple of off-road ATV countryside tours, horse rides, exploration of fun little towns such as Makawao, and a stop at Maui’s only winery, with its tasting room and free museum, located at ‘Ulupalakua Ranch.
The other East Maui choice is to drive along the mountain’s windward North Shore and head out to Hana. This is a full day and an extremely scenic drive. The jungle road twists and turns, traverses numerous antique bridges and gorgeous waterfalls, and basically transports travelers into a dream-like wonderland.
To absorb all that Maui has to offer, a person would have to stay at Kaanapali Resort for at least a year. Even then, that might not be enough time. There might never be enough time. Kaanapali itself is so engaging that visitors have a hard time deciding to go anywhere at all!
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina HI 96761-1985. (808) 661-1234; fax (808) 667-4497; reservations U.S. & Canada (800) 55HYATT; packages (800) 772-0011. www.maui.hyatt.com.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, 2525 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina HI 96761-1912. (808) 661-0011; fax (808) 667-5978; toll-free (800) 262-8450. www.kbhmaui.com.
Maui Marriott Resort & Ocean Club, 100 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 667-1200; fax (808) 667-8300; toll-free U.S. & Canada (800) 228-9290. www.marriott.com.
Royal Lahaina Resort, 2780 Keka’a Drive, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 661-3611; fax (808) 661-3538; reservations (800) 22ALOHA. www.2maui.com.
Sheraton Maui Resort, 2605 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina HI 96761-1991. (808) 661-0031; fax (808) 661-0458; reservations (800) 782-9488. www.starwoodhotels.com.
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, 2365 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 667-2525; fax (808) 921-4699; reservations (808) 921-4655. www.westinmaui.com.
Kaanapali Alii, 50 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 667-1400; reservations (800) 642-6284. www.classicresorts.com.
Maui Kaanapali Villas, 45 Kai Ala Drive, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 667-7791; fax (808) 667-0366; 24-hour toll-free reservations U.S. & Canada (800) 92-ASTON [(800) 922-7866]; 24-hour worldwide direct reservations (403) 444-4136.
Outrigger Maui Eldorado, 2661 Keka’a Drive, Lahaina HI 96761-1993. (808) 661-0021; fax (808) 667-7039; toll-free US, Canada & Guam (888) 339-8585. www.outrigger.com.
The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, 6 Kai Ala Drive, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 667-3200; fax (808) 667-3201; toll-free (888) 488-3535. www.starwood.com/hawaii.
The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach, 2481 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 661-4861; fax (808) 661-8315; 24-hour toll-free reservations U.S. & Canada (800) 92ASTON [(808) 922-7866]; 24-hour toll-free reservations (403) 444-4136.
Kaanapali Golf Courses, 2290 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, HI 96761. (808) 661-3691; fax (808) 661-0203; toll-free (866) 454-GOLF. www.kaanapali-golf.com.
Lahaina-Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad, 975 Limahana Place Suite 203, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 667-6851; fax (808) 661-8389; toll-free (800) 499-2307. www.sugarcanetrain.com.
Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants on Kaanapali Beach, 2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina HI 96761. (808) 661-4567. www.whalersvillage.com.
Kaanapali Beach Resort Association
34 Kupuohi Street Suite 304A
Lahaina, Hawai’i 96761
Digital images available upon request.
Images & text © 2005. Kaanapali Beach Resort Association.
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