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Changing Kaanapali revisited

By Staff | Feb 19, 2015

A catamaran traffic jam on Kaanapali Beach. PHOTO BY NORM BEZANE.

KAANAPALI – For thousands of years, Lanai and Molokai sat in the distance often embraced by clouds. The scene still looks the same today, but closer in, what can be seen is entirely different. Once, you could see a single catamaran landing at dusk. Now, you sometimes see the Kaanapali version of a traffic jam, with five catamarans back from sunset cruises debarking passengers on the shore at the same time.

Recent changes have been acerbating, as pointed out in the last column.

Continuing our journey down the beach path, we come to the Kaanapali Ali’i, which a couple years ago expanded its pool area and added a waterfall. Soon, it will close for a $40 million-plus rehab project, according to a longtime owner.

The old Maui Surf once next door gave way to The Westin Maui. Its two main restaurants have undergone still another re-creation.

The Marriott Ocean Club further along has doubled in size, and red-shirted attendants can be seen teaching guests to fish from the shore.

All along the path, the beach walk’s ocean side once held bushes and sand. Now, broad lawns have been added lined with chaise lounge chairs – easily more than 100, their soft cushions with towels awaiting guests every early morning.

Paddle boarders now serenely paddle toward Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock). Surf schools have proliferated in just the last two years, with yellow- and orange-shirted instructors bringing scores of visitors out into the waves.

Hotel managers from the Mainland, however, have added garish signs more suited to California than our beautiful Hawaiian beach. They are an insult to a culture that venerates beauty. The latest goofy idea is a water attraction that propels visitors into the air. Noted one longtime resident who owns at the Ali’i and is on the beach every day: “Kaanapali Beach is now being treated as if were an amusement park.”

The columnist is not amused.