Kapalua: Untamed Beauty Meets Unparalleled Luxury
Located on the northwest shore of Maui, Kapalua loosely translates to “arms embracing the sea.” This exclusive planned resort community provides stunning scenery surrounded by a nature preserve, the rugged landscape of the West Maui Mountains, and two marine sanctuaries. Blending the charm of old Hawaii with modern luxury, this premier location features elegant accommodations, award-winning dining, and world-class shopping.
Over 2,000 acres of pasture lands in the area that is now Kapalua were originally awarded by royal decree to Dr. Dwight Baldwin, due to his service to the early Maui community. Through a series of mergers and additional grants, the ranch had grown to 24,000 acres by 1902. Recognizing the rich history and beauty of the area, in 1992 the Baldwin family dedicated over 9,000 acres of the land to conservation, making it the largest privately-held preserve in the state. Cook and Norfolk pines planted by the Baldwin family line the streets of Kapalua to this day.
With its golden sands and turquoise waters, Kapalua Bay Beach has been named Best Beach in the World by Conde Nast Traveler magazine and Best Beach in America by the Travel Channel. For those hoping to spend time with the Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles who have made the area their home, Kapalua Bay Resort has watersports equipment available. Visitors may also enjoy following the Kapalua Coastal Trail from Kapalua Bay Beach to tranquil hideaway Oneloa Beach, and on to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s D.T. Fleming Beach, which offers enough of a swell for boogie boarding and surfing. Slightly farther north, Honolua Bay has coral gardens and excellent snorkeling conditions during the summer, while its winter conditions make it a popular surf break.
The famed golf courses of Kapalua (including the Plantation Course, home to the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions, and the Bay Course, which has hosted more than 20 major professional tournaments) showcase breathtaking views of the Pacific and the islands of Molokai and Lanai. Kapalua Ziplines, which also boasts the longest suspension bridge in Hawaii, has several scenic tour options for daring travelers. For those who prefer to remain on land, the Mahana Ridge Trail provides a hike through former coffee and pineapple plantations, with magnificent coastal and gulch views.
A scenic 25-minute drive northeast of Kapalua leads to the Nakalele Blowhole, which may be especially impressive during the winter months. A 15-minute drive south to Kaanapali or a 25-minute drive south to Lahaina leads to opportunities for whale-watching trips, sunset sails, and dinner cruises (most notably, on the Maui Princess and the Hula Girl), surfing lessons (try Goofy Foot Surf School), jet ski rentals (through Jet Ski Maui), and even parasailing excursions (through UFO Parasailing or West Maui Parasail). Lahaina and Kaanapali also offer endless shopping and restaurant possibilities.
For those seeking fine dining in Kapalua, world-renowned Merriman’s Maui features unique dishes with locally-sourced ingredients, along with incredible ocean views. Nearby Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar is known not only for its fabulous cuisine, but for its lively weekend karaoke nights. At Pineapple Grill, visitors will find a more casual fare of sandwiches, salads, and local favorites like fish tacos and poke, with gorgeous views of the Bay Course. Honolua Store provides coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a small market.
Kapalua hosts a number of notable events each year, including the PGA’s Tournament of Champions in early January. Every March, the Celebration of the Arts takes place at the Ritz Carlton, featuring hula performances and other Hawaiian arts, crafts, and food. Kapalua is home to a Wine and Food Festival each June, and local restaurants create special menus for Kapalua Restaurant Week every October. The annual XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon also begins at D.T. Fleming Beach each October.