KAANAPALI: Have you been to Kaanapali Beach Resort lately? Things are a changin'.
Working on a new book and walking the beach path since 1975 have brought the realization that Kaanapali in the last couple of years has started to see big changes. New services are being provided, especially makai.
Years ago, Waikiki used to be a beach with some shopping. Now it is a lot of shopping with a narrow beach. During holidays, Kaanapali - with its wide beach - has started to look a lot like Waikiki in terms of numbers of people. But it remains a very pleasant place.
Paddle boarding is now in vogue and available at numerous locations. The beach now has not one parasail company but two. A new concession is offering catamaran rides off the Sheraton. Leilani's on Friday and Saturday is rocking as never before. Hula Grill appears to be busier than ever. The Hyatt has given a fresh look to its Japengo restaurant, and construction cranes are building a $40 million new time share tower on the old parking lot. The "new" Oceanside Starbucks at the Marriott has to be one of the most picturesque in the country. The only negative is the new speed sign on the parkway.
MORE GOOD NEWS: Lahaina is alive with progressive new groups. West Maui Kumuwai recently took steps to end a 40-year eyesore by planting 1,000
plants along the highway to shield from view the dusty graveyard above Canoe Beach. New groups are working to save reefs and provide education on fishing.
Lahaina Restoration Foundation is on a mission to improve the harbor area and can't wait to get started (no Lahaina Bypass delays for them).
The renovated library continues to win praise and is attracting more patrons. Shawn McLaughlin has completed a landscaping plan, and Sara Foley of the Rotary Club of Lahaina - often known as my better half - is hoping to raise funds to turn the front lawn into a Hawaiian native plant garden with plenty of taro.
PHOTO FUN: Check out the revitalized Voices of Maui Photo Blog, featuring provocative photos of area happenings.
LAHAINA NEEDS A MERCHANTS' ASSOCIATION: Paia has one. The Maui Chamber of Commerce concentrates on legislative issues and has a West Side Committee that was supposed to be dealing with West Maui issues. Today, it has become largely a Lahaina Fourth of July committee.
HOKULE'A REVISITED: The Hokule'a voyaging canoe will visit 40 ports over four years to spread Hawaiian culture, crew members told a large crowd of interested Mauians in Kihei last week. Crews will be interchanged every month or so, with crew members flying to the latest port.
AMAZING MAUI COUNTY: There are a lot of things to criticize the county for. Yet, what it now does is mind-boggling. It just issued a well-designed brochure listing impressive statistics: 131,000 calls to 911 handled, 404 dog licenses issued, 31 film permits issued, 161,000 tons of material recycled, 61,947 Maui Bus passengers accommodated and much more.
COUNCIL CONTROVERSIES: Mike White, longtime general manager of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, a superb executive with the ability to put in place people who actually run the hotel while he is on the County Council, has been getting a lot of flak lately about wanting to change how things are done on Maui. Change always has its critics. More on this in another column.
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