A History of the Kaanapali Coast: How it Has Changed Through the Years
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Just past Lahaina, the Kāʻanapali Resort comes into view. The word “kāʻanapali” means “the divided hill.” Since its beginnings as an ancient Hawaiian village, Kāʻanapali has been a spiritual and recreational home for generations of Hawaiians. The current site of the Royal Lahaina Resort was once a thriving fishing village called Keka’a. The black rock, or pu'u keka’a rock cliff, facing the Sheraton Maui Resort, is believed to be the place where earthbound souls entered the gateway into the afterlife.
There used to be a large race horse track, called koko o na moku. It stretched along most of the beach path from The Westin Maui, through Whaler’s Village, and to where the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel now stands. Everyone from Hawaiian royalty to the makaʻainana, or the commoners, would gather to bet on their favorite horses. Even plantation owners and laborers would place bets at the track. It thrived until the end of World War I.
Today, the heartbeat of Kāʻanapali is at the Whaler’s Village Shopping Center. In addition to shops, galleries, and oceanfront restaurants, the center often has live, local entertainment. The beach here at Kāʻanapali offers many activities like snorkeling, swimming, and watching spectacular sunsets along its white sand shoreline. There is also a museum dedicated to the history of whaling. It’s worth a visit if you’ve got the time!
Fancy a visit to Kāʻanapali?
Check out our West Maui Coastline Tour!