West Maui Living: Courtney’s Insider Tips
Having grown up on Maui in the small Upcountry town of Makawao, one of the things I most appreciated about my childhood was the open spaces and natural beauty of the area.
As we weren’t close to any beaches, weekends and summers were spent exploring beaches from Wailea to Kapalua to Hāna.
My favorite was Kapalua, which back then was still a sleepy plantation town, with the Honolua Store as its landmark.
Situated along Maui’s scenic northwest coast, the 22,000 acre Kapalua Resort extends from the Pacific Ocean to Mauna Kahalawai, the West Maui Mountains and the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve.
The Kapalua Resort is unique, as it focuses on conservation of both marine and botanical life in the surrounding area, combined with the amenities (beaches, golf, tennis, dining) and accommodations of a luxury resort.
No matter what you like to do, there’s something for everyone.
Now that I live in Kapalua, my favorite part of living here is the path less travelled—the extensive system of hiking and walking trails.
HIKING AND WALKING TRAILS
The natural beauty of Kapalua is unparalleled. Visitors and residents alike are afforded endless opportunities to explore, with hiking trails that extend from the coastline to the mountain’s conservation areas.
Perhaps the least well known, but the most enjoyable way to spend a day, is on Kapalua’s trail system.
The 1.67 mile coastal trail starts at Kapalua Bay and traces the coastline to Hawea Point , overlooking the sandy beach at Oneloa Bay, past Makaluapuna Point to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
My favorite part of the trail is Hawea Point.
This rather barren point is home to the Ua’u Kani, a wedge-tailed shearwater. The birds here are endangered but the flock has flourished over the years thanks to the efforts of local fisherman Isao Nakagawa and many volunteers.
The birds burrow in nests underground, so stay on the marked trails and do not pick them up or attempt to touch them.
I enjoy the months they come to land, watching them glide into the point as they head home after a day at sea.
From the point, it’s also possible to see sea turtles in a little cove on the south side of the point, and of course, whales when they are in season.
The coastal trail then winds along Oneloa Bay to a beach boardwalk.
It then takes you past Makaluapuna Point and the Honokahua burial site.
I personally don’t take the walk out to Makaluapuna Point, out of respect for its cultural significance, and continue down past the Ritz-Carlton to Fleming Beach.
Across from Flemings is the Kapalua Preschool, which was originally a meeting hall and then converted to a church in 1936.
Just past the charming little school is the entrance to the trail I love the most in Kapalua, the Mahana Ridge Trail.
The Mahana Ridge trail is approximately 17 miles round trip (brace yourself for the ascent up rocks set into red sliding sands, that gives way to an ironwood forest, followed by a wild pineapple field, and eventually the Maunalei Arboretum).
Be sure to wear proper shoes, and bring adequate water, food and sunscreen.
It is a strenuous hike and you should take note of weather conditions.
At the top is a viewing platform that allows you to look out over the preservation area known as the Pu’u Kukui Watershed to the West Maui Mountains.
Sometimes I’ll segue off the Mahana Ridge trail to the Village Walking Trails.
Formerly the Village Golf Course, the old cart paths provide a challenging, and in some places steep, place to hike and absorb the natural beauty of Kapalua.
There are many different trail options, with the master trail leading to a hilly three mile climb.
Additional “loops” allow you to extend your hiking. At the top of the Lake Loop, you can even stop to feed the ducks.
You’ll often find an abundance of monarch butterflies on the trails, attracted to the large balloon milkweed.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Kapalua logo is a butterfly with a pineapple at its heart. I’ve been told this symbolizes the metamorphosis of the master-planned resort from the pineapple fields that were cultivated on its slopes.
LIVING IN PARADISE
Kapalua provides you with many options to live surrounded by natural beauty and conservation areas.
Along Oneloa Bay there are one and two bedroom condominiums residences at the Kapalua Bay Villas, as well as two and three bedroom condominium residences at the Ironwoods, which are situated at the north end of the beach overlooking the Kapalua Bay Golf Course.
Centered along Oneloa Bay is the beachfront enclave of Kapalua Place. With just eight home sites, Kapalua Place is one of Maui’s most desirable oceanfront communities.
The arboretum was the vision of D.T. Fleming, the plantation manager of Honolua Ranch. He established the arboretum in the 1920s and you’ll still find signs along the trail today pointing out different native species.