Kaanapali Alii Real Estate

    Elevation: 10 feet

    Four miles west of Lahaina, just off Honoapiilani Highway, is Kaanapali, Hawaii’s first master-planned family resort. Mid-rise hotels line nearly three miles of sandy beaches, linked by a network of landscaped parkways and jungle-lush plantings. Golf courses wrap around the slope between beachfront and hillside properties.

    This area, with its resorts and beautiful beaches that have unparalleled views of neighboring Molokai and Lanai islands, was once part of a sugar plantation owned and operated by Pioneer Mill Company. At Black Rock, a volcanic spatter cone that divides Kaanapali Bay in half, was a wharf from which sugar, molasses, canned pineapple, fuel and various other products were shipped. At one time there were two large storage tanks, one for molasses and the other for fuel, a sugar warehouse, housing for wharf employees and a plant that turned pineapple cores and skins into cattle feed.

    Just inland of the wharf and the sugar plantations was an old racetrack used on weekends and holidays. It is now a commercial airport for small aircraft.

    Soon after Hawaii became America’s 50th state in 1959, people from the Mainland discovered Maui and began visiting the island and building vacation homes. As more and more people flocked to the island, tourism was seen as the panacea that would waken the sluggish local economy. Beautiful beaches and balmy weather became assets to be developed.

    AmFac (American Factors), a company that had existed since the days of the sugar moguls, owned much of the beachfront property in Kaanapali, and they quickly realized the potential of their holdings. A single low-rise hotel, the Royal Lahaina Resort, and golf course was built before Kaanapali Bay. Shortly afterwards another hotel, the Sheraton, was built on Black Rock. These two hotels were the forerunners of the Kaanapali complex, a line of side-by-side high-rises.