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kapalua villas locationKapalua Villas :: You can go home again

(Article exclusive to Maui.US) - "Just aim towards Molokai," he told me. "Toward the left edge of the island. Aim that way and your putt will go down fine."

I had no idea what he was talking about -- I was ten years old and just learning how to play golf.

I had no clue about the concept of a putt "breaking", and I couldn't conceive of how aiming towards a completely different island than the one I was on could possibly have anything to do with this stupid game my dad was making me learn.

But I trusted him, tapped the ball, and watched it curve to the left and drop into the cup.

I had a thousand memories like that built up of Kapalua, memories of a magical place on the west end of Maui where my family would spend our vacation time every year.

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Our first year there was the first year the old Kapalua Bay Hotel was open, thirty years ago now, and even then the place had a certain magic about it: gentle trade winds, impossibly blue waters, and people who made you feel like family.

I'd watched humpback whales breaching in the channel between Maui and Molokai, and I'd learned how to body-surf in the bay.

Now here I was, decades later, coming back to a place that belonged to memory. I was excited and terrified at the same time - I'd been invited by a friend to stay with him at the Kapalua Villas and jumped at the chance (who wouldn't?), but wondered if what was in store for me could in any way compare to those golden memories of my boyhood.

Things change a lot over the years, after all… My fears faded away the moment I stepped off the plane and felt the air.

No place on earth has a smell, a feeling in the air quite like Maui, and it brought all of those wonderful memories rushing back.


Quite a lot has changed at Kapalua since I was a kid. The old Kapalua Bay Hotel is gone, and the area is more built-up with vacation villas and condos.

But as I was to discover, there are just some places you can't take the magic out of.

We'd stayed in the Villas only once when I was a kid; my parents just weren't into that kind of thing, and always preferred the hotel.

I have no idea why - they seriously don't know what they missed.

My friend was staying in one of the Ocean Front Villas, exquisitely furnished and perfectly maintained, with a view that just can't be described by platitudes like "breathtaking".

It was April, and the temperature was ideal, and the humpbacks were there in the channel as if they'd never left.

We played a lot of golf, and I finally remembered to aim towards Molokai and finally carried my drive over the bay on hole #5.

Kapalua Villas

We slept late, completely on our own schedule, not being bothered by Housekeeping or worrying about when the restaurant would stop serving breakfast.

This is living, I told myself.

On my last night at the Kapalua Villas, my friend and I sat out on the porch - pardon me, the lanai - and caught up, traded memories, and probably had a little too much to drink.

It hit me then that everything I'd treasured about Kapalua as a kid was still there; it's the feeling of the place, after all, and the welcoming spirit of the people who run it.

It had always felt like home, and it was nice to know that you can still go home again.

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