Arms Embracing the Sea
by Heidi Pool

Kapalua is the ideal location for immersing yourself in pure luxury...

Kapalua exudes quiet elegance and sophistication. Framed by hundreds of stately Cook pine trees, Kapalua is a 1,650-acre destination resort set amidst 23,000 acres of privately owned pineapple plantation land. Situated on Maui’s scenic northwest coast at the base of verdant mauna kahalawai (West Maui Mountains), Kapalua boasts opulent accommodations, award-winning restaurants and spa services, championship golf courses, pristine bays, glorious white-sand beaches, and miles of scenic hiking trails. It’s the ideal location for immersing yourself in pure luxury.

In Ancient Times

 Loosely translated as “arms embracing the sea,” the name Kapalua is derived from two jagged promontories that extend into the ocean on either side of picturesque Oneloa Bay. In ancient times, Native Hawaiians residing in the Kapalua area grew taro in the upper elevations and fished in the bay. The region was abundant in natural resources, and much of the land was considered sacred. Ruling ali‘i (royalty) brought their families to Kapalua to relax and play.

The modern history of Kapalua began in 1836 when Dwight Baldwin, an American missionary doctor, arrived on Maui. After 17 years of service, Dr. Baldwin was rewarded a royal grant of 2,675 acres for farming and grazing. Through additional grants, purchases, and mergers, the holdings known as Honolua Ranch grew to 24,000 acres by 1902.

Between 1889 and 1902, Dwight’s son Henry Perrine Baldwin, with the help of ranch manager David Thomas (D. T.) Fleming, a horticulturalist originally from Scotland, planted acres of coffee, taro, aloe, and mango. Later, 20 acres of pineapple were planted, and a cannery was constructed. In 1914, the first pineapples were shipped to the mainland.

Soon Honolua Ranch became Baldwin Packers, the largest producer of private label pineapple and pineapple juice in the nation. In 1946, Baldwin Packers merged with Maui Land & Pineapple Company. Led by president Colin Cameron, a fifth-generation descendant of the Baldwin family, the company created Kapalua Resort in the early 1980s—a worldclass retreat worthy of royalty—on some of the prime oceanfront pineapple land.

Cameron’s other notable achievement was the establishment of Pu‘u Kukui Watershed Preserve, located at the summit of mauna kahalawai. Pu‘u Kukui is one of the wettest spots on Earth, receiving nearly 400 inches of rain per year. It’s the primary water supply for all of West Maui, and home to plant and animal species that exist nowhere else in Hawai‘i. In 1992, Cameron and his company granted 8,304 acres of Pu‘u Kukui to The Nature Conservancy, creating the largest private nature preserve in Hawai‘i.


The Kapalua area is home to three lovely beaches: Mokule‘ia (just north of Kapalua), D. T. Fleming, and Kapalua Bay Beach. Mokule‘ia (nicknamed “Slaughterhouse Beach” by local surfers) is part of the Honolua-Mokule‘ia Marine Life Conservation District established by Maui Land & Pineapple Company. This is a great spot for swimming, bodysurfing, and sunbathing, but keep in mind there are no facilities. D.T. Fleming is one of the island’s most popular beaches, especially for watching the sun set over the shimmering Pacific, but strong ocean currents make it a better place for sunbathing than for water sports. There are facilities aplenty. Kapalua Bay is a prime spot for snorkeling and swimming—there are restrooms and showers, but no other facilities.


 Recognized as one of the top golf resorts in the world, Kapalua’s two championship golf courses are nothing short of magnificent. The Plantation Course is considered one of “Kapalua’s two championship golf courses are nothing short of magnificent.” The Plantation Course at Kapalua 106 the toughest and most spectacular golf courses on Maui. It has wide fairways and large greens, but plays tight due to elevation changes, sloping fairways, and strong trade winds that challenge you on every hole. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions is played on the Plantation Course every January. The Bay Course is the more traditional course at Kapalua, with gentle rolling fairways and generous greens. It winds its way through towering palms and flowering hibiscus. The most remarkable hole is the fifth, where your tee shot carries sparkling Oneloa Bay. You can spend some of your Maui vacation improving and perfecting your golf game, too. The Kapalua Golf Academy is a state-of-the-art teaching facility, offering both casual and intensive instruction by an experienced staff of PGA professionals.


Kapalua is also the venue for two major events each year. The Celebration of the Arts Festival, held over Easter weekend, is a recipient of the prestigious Kahili Award from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, and a unique opportunity to experience the “Hawaiian heart and soul” through interaction with artisans and cultural practitioners, workshops, films, food, and music. The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, held in early June, is the longest running food and wine event in the country. This celebration of epicurean excellence convenes the finest in food and wine, and embraces all things Hawaiian.


 If you’re a hiking enthusiast, Kapalua has miles of delightful trails, from mountain ridges to the coastline. You’ll find one for every level of hiker. You can even explore Maunalei Arboretum, established in the 1920s by D.T. Fleming. He traveled the world seeking new plant and tree species that would complement our island home; these discoveries can be seen today planted like a lei encircling the mountain top. Information and trail maps may be obtained at the Kapalua Adventure Center, and there’s a complimentary resort shuttle (reservations required, 808-665-9110) that takes you to the trailhead. Kapalua offers exceptional experiences to turn your getaway dreams into reality. Once you settle in, you’ll never want to leave.

Celebrating Over 35 Years In Hawaii

For over 3 decades, The Best Publishing Company has been producing a series of elegant and popular Visitor Magazines & Guidebooks for the islands of Maui, The Big Island and Kaua‘i.  Our magazines and guides are distributed for free throughout the Islands and also on the web.  

LOCALS KNOW BEST!  Our magazines and guides are published by established Hawaii residents.  We pledge to provide you with the local insight that you need to make your Maui, Kauai or Big Island vacation experience THE BEST it can possibly be!