exercise with a view…kapalua

The morning sun is sparkling on the dew-wet green, and a few golfers are already warming up their swings when we arrive at the Kapalua Adventure Center. It’s a perfect day for a hike: cool and clear, with birds chattering in the trees that line the Kapalua Golf Course.

At a table in the hallway of the Adventure Center, the five adults in our group (plus two babies in frontpacks) pick up trail maps and sign liability waivers for the Village Course Temporary Walking Trails. Our plans of taking a coffee for the road are dashed when we see that the café has recently closed down. Still, on such a beautiful morning, we’re just glad the trails are open while plans for the area’s future are being decided.

From the ridges of Mauna Kahalawai (the West Maui Mountains) down to the shoreline, Kapalua Resort provides the public with 100 miles of trails, many of them paved and all with beautiful views and scenery.

We set out along a wide cart path curving downhill through green fairways. At the bottom of the hill, the path narrows and changes to bumpy black asphalt, and we come to the first of several Choose-Your-Own-Adventure moments. Do we take the left- or right-hand tunnel? Either way takes us to the Village Trails, so we opt for the left-hand route, our voices echoing along the corrugated metal passageway.

Out in the open again, we follow signs for the Lake Loop. The path slopes gently upwards along what was once Kapalua Resort’s Village Golf Course. Remnants of the past emerge from the rampant bougainvillea and guava bushes: a staircase entwined with brambles, a faded stop sign, a stone ball-washing station.

Orange butterflies flit among the tall weeds. Snails transporting huge brown shells cross the asphalt at our feet. The warm air is spicy with eucalyptus and Christmas berry.

Tucked into a grove of ironwood is a mystery item: a tall metal basket hung with chains. Closer investigation reveals that it’s a “hole” for disc (Frisbee) golf—another free offering for the public on Kapalua Resort lands. Although no one is taking advantage of the disc golf course this morning, plenty of joggers, dog walkers and moms pushing baby strollers are out enjoying the scenic trails.

The sun gets hotter and the pools of shade get smaller as the path climbs steadily upward. We take frequent water breaks to check out the expanding views.

Just before the last steep climb is a good place to stop and look back across the treetops to Honolua Bay. Creamy white-topped waves and a line of pick-up trucks along the access road indicate that the Bay is breaking today.

We puff up one final slope to our destination: the hilltop duck pond. The water is thick with blue, gray and orange koi, some of them reportedly weighing close to 40 pounds. Although feeding them is not encouraged, somebody must be doing it, as the koi swarm near the surface and a gaggle of ducks greets us with hopeful quacks as we walk around the lake shore. No doubt they have high expectations from our large group of visitors.

Above us, the mist-topped Mahana and Honolua ridges hold a wealth of beautiful trails to explore. Hikers can catch a free shuttle from the Adventure Center up to these trails, as well as to the Maunalei Arboretum. Planted 80 years ago by Honolua Ranch manager D.T. Fleming, the arboretum features an amazing collection of plants and trees brought back from Fleming’s global travels.

There are no benches and not much shade to be found by the duck pond, so we keep following the Lake Loop trail and begin our descent down the other side. Far below us, humpback whales are blowing and splashing in the blue ocean. The island of Moloka‘i floats behind a lei of clouds.

Ahead of us, another Choose-Your-Own-Adventure intersection appears with a sign depicting the various trails. Although we’d like to continue on the very scenic but meandering Lake Loop, tired feet and an increasingly hot sun send us down the more direct route back to the Adventure Center.

Maybe next weekend, we’ll check out one of the mountain trails, or the gorgeous Coastline Trail that runs north from Kapalua Bay to Fleming Beach.

For today, we’ve hiked almost three miles, just enough to earn ourselves an ‘ono plate lunch next door at Honolua General Store—guilt-free!

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