A 10-stop walking trail, sponsored by the Kāʻanapali Beach Resort Association, gives residents and visitors a little look into the past of this now-flourishing resort destination. Following is a summary of the 10 points of interest and a little bit about each stop (all of the content here comes from their on-line information on the trail:)
1. Kāʻanapali Airstrip and Windsock Lounge
From 1962 until 1987, the Kāʻanapali Airstrip and Terminal occupied this area adjacent to the beach, which was surrounded by cane fields. In fact, the north side of Kāʻanapali Beach became known as “Airport Beach.” In the early years, prop jet air taxis from Honolulu would land at the strip and were able to pull up to the Royal Lāhainā Beach Hotel.
During its last ten years, the airstrip was closed to general aviation and operated by Royal Hawaiian Air Service whose fleet of Cessna airplanes averaged 60 flights a day in and out of Kāʻanapali. The Windsock Lounge, as the name indicates, was located at the top of the terminal (whose interior walls and ceiling were covered with business cards from all over the world.)
2. Plantation Farm and Ancient Village of Kekaʻa
During the first half of the 20th century, this site flourished with mango trees and grasses. It is most remembered by local families for its pig farm, in which hogs were raised to feed the many sugar plantation workers. There were several plantation houses near the beach, where families of Japanese sugar plantation workers lived and maintained the farm.
In ancient times, the area around Royal Lāhainā Resort held the royal gardens of old Hawai‘i. A kalo (taro) patch and other food crops were cultivated here, aided by a freshwater spring. Kekaʻa was a fishing village nestled against the beach, where fishermen and farmers would gather bounty from the sea and cultivate lowland crops.
3. The Stones of Moemoe and Wahine O Manua/Wahine Peʻe
At the south end of Maui Eldorado Resort behind the tall hedge, lie two large brown pōhaku, or stones, which are steeped in legend. Over six feet long, the larger of these is called Moemoe and resembles a reclining or sleeping person. Moemoe preferred to lie down at Kekaʻa and sleep for his own contentment.
The smaller stone has been the subject of several legends and two different names. The popular name is the Hiding Woman Stone (Pōhaku o Wahine Peʻe) which relates to a love story between her and Moemoe, but there’s also legend of the abused, or fighting, woman (Wahine o Manua) who was hidden by the stone.
4. Kekaʻa Landing Pier
The Kekaʻa landing pier, that once stretched quite a distance into the ocean, operated for many years as the primary loading spot for shipping processed sugar from the island and bringing in supplies for the plantation camps. Railroad tracks led from the sugar cane fields to the beach, and warehouses for storage were erected near the pier.
Logs used for lumber were also transported to the pier, but would often be loaded into the water first. Submerged in the salt water, logs were left there to cure for a few months. Many plantation era homes were reportedly termite-free due to this method of wood preservation.
5. Pu‘u Kekaʻa and Chief Kahekili
This famous dark lava rock promontory is named Pu‘u Kekaʻa in Hawaiian (which translates as “the rolling hill.” It is revered as a sacred spot known as “ka leina a ka ʻuhane” – the place where a soul leaps into eternity. Each island has these significant places (usually at its western-most point.) This
It was also a point for lele kawa,” or cliff jumping. Chief Kahekili (ruled circa 1766-1793) was known to have jumped into the sea from heights of 300 to 400 feet. Here, he gained respect from many warriors, as most were frightened of the spirits who lived in the area. These days, every evening at sunset, a Sheraton Maui Resort diver gracefully leaps from the top of the rock into the ocean, symbolizing the great chief’s dives, as torches are lit for the coming night to honor the souls of the departed.
6. Chief Kākaʻalaneo and Legend of Kaululā‘au
Kākaʻalaneo was a high chief of the land at Kekaʻa (Maui’s capital circa 15th century). The chief reigned over a thriving community of many people, as his land was fertile and rich with groves of breadfruit, bananas, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and taro. He and his wife had two children who were born here, their son Kaululā’au and daughter Wao.
The family kahuna (priest) predicted that Kaululā’au would be destructive, but that the lands would eventually be blessed by his strength and deeds. Kaululā’au would uproot young taro and sweet potato plants for fun. His father finally banished Kaululā’au to the island of Lānaʻi to live among the spirits there. Kaululā’au eventually rid the island of all the ghosts and later became the ruling chief of the island.
7. Koko O Nā Moku Race Track
This is named after the famous battle between two royal brothers who fought in the area; a race track stood right on Kāʻanapali’s sandy beach. The track stretched from Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel, past The Whaler and Whalers Village to The Westin Maui Resort.
It was built for horse racing, which was a favorite sport of many members of Hawaiian royalty during the Gay 90s era, as well as plantation owners and laborers. The race track thrived through the World War I era, until the last official race was held on America’s Independence Day, July 4, 1918.
8. Battle of Koko O Nā Moku
Upon great chief Kekaulike’s death, younger son Kamehamehanui was named heir to rule Maui. In 1738, his older brother Kauhiʻaimokuakama (Kauhi) began to wage war to win the title of ruling chief. Kamehamehanui engaged the forces of his uncle from Hawai‘i to fight with him, whose troops numbered over 8,000, and Kauhi brought troops of warriors from O‘ahu.
Battles were fought across West Maui, from Ukumehame to Honokōwai. The war ended with the most famous battle, Koko O Nā Moku, which translates to “Bloodshed of the Islands.” Over several days, the blood of fallen warriors from both sides flowed from the mouth of the stream into the shorebreak and caused the ocean to turn red. Kamehamehanui triumphed and ruled Maui in peace for many years.
9. Lo‘i Kalo (Taro Patch)
Across from the south end of Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, at the 17th green of the South Course, the ground dips slightly lower. This area was used to cultivate taro (kalo) in abundant terraced patches (lo‘i) in old Hawai‘i. The Hahakea Stream flowed from the mountain to the sea; earthen berms were built up to channel the water between rows of this staple food.
Kalo is believed to have the greatest life force of all foods. According to the ancient creation chant, the Kumulipo, kalo grew from the first-born son of Wākea (father sky) and Papa (mother earth). He was stillborn and buried in fertile soil. Out of his body grew the kalo plant, also called Hāloa, which means “everlasting breath.”
10. The Owl Cave Legends
At the Lāhainā end of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is the mouth of the Hahakea Stream that originates way up the mountain. On Kāʻanapali’s South Course, near the Hahakea, streambed is the site of what once was known as the cave of Pueo, or the “Owl Cave,” the actual location of which is a guarded secret.
According to one legend, it was where Hina hid her son Maui so he would not be sacrificed; in another legend, it is referred to as the home of the guardian spirit owl who protected the villagers of Kekaʻa. The Pueo protected children from warriors by leading them to another cave located in Pu‘u Kekaʻa. They hid there, until the warriors became frustrated and ended their search.
The image shows the Kāʻanapali Historical Trail points of interest over a Google Earth image. In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.