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Overview

Native birds and plants thrive in the upland forests of 5,871-foot Pu'u Kukui, summit of the West Maui Mountains. Spinner dolphins play along the shore. Between that peak and the sea is a retreat for a select few. Once a red dirt pineapple plantation, Kapalua is a 23,000-acre habitat for humans on a natural shore with five bays and three gold sand beaches, and a few improvements all first class: Hawaii's only Ritz Carlton, Kapalua Villas, and a condo village by the sea.

With little to do here but enjoy the sea breezes off Pailolo Channel and stare at Molokai, the folks at Maui Land and Pine Co. carved out three golf courses, ...

Native birds and plants thrive in the upland forests of 5,871-foot Pu'u Kukui, summit of the West Maui Mountains. Spinner dolphins play along the shore. Between that peak and the sea is a retreat for a select few. Once a red dirt pineapple plantation, Kapalua is a 23,000-acre habitat for humans on a natural shore with five bays and three gold sand beaches, and a few improvements all first class: Hawaii's only Ritz Carlton, Kapalua Villas, and a condo village by the sea.

With little to do here but enjoy the sea breezes off Pailolo Channel and stare at Molokai, the folks at Maui Land and Pine Co. carved out three golf courses, preserved a Hawaiian burial site (after a native uprising), signed kupuna as cultural resources, inaugurated an Audubon Bird preserve, and started nature hikes to the rainforest. They also added a general store, fine restaurants, a beach park, and — this is a real plus — expanded the little local airport so you can avoid trafficky Kahului. Then they invited everyone over for festivals: the famed Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, the award-winning Celebration of the Arts and nationally televised PGA Mercedes Championship, now the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Some folks never left. With 500 residents, mostly rich retirees, Kapalua has become Maui's newest town. Its metamorphosis, like its butterfly logo, is almost complete.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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