Category Archives: Maui books

Discover Maui’s people

Stories of 60 remarkable people from my columns in Lahaina News. See sample essay below.

Beach walk an essay from my book

ON THE BEACH WALK at Ka‘anapali Beach Resort, site of the most popular and best beach on Maui, visitors find a summation of the Maui experience. They will use this as a base for a few days of exploring the island. Visitors will enjoy the sweeping ocean views, waterfalls, and a bamboo forest on the road to Hana. They will thrill at a rainbow of colors at dawn over 10,000-foot Haleakala Crater.

Back down the mountain, likely as not, they will visit the historic cowboy town of Makawao or the former sixties hippie haven of Paia and then cross the pali (cliffs) to return to historic Lahaina, former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, modern-day place for evening experiences.

Another day, visitors will sample the North Shore on a winding one-lane road to see the ocean crashing through a blowhole. The twisty road gives way to the rocky shores of Kapalua a few miles from Ka‘anapali Beach.

For many jet-lagged early risers, though, the love for Maui begins on the beach path at dawn when the sun peaks over the West Maui Mountains. Sometimes a light sprinkling of rain produces an arching 180-degree rainbow above Ka‘anapali Beach that will frame Lana‘i and Moloka‘i still slumbering in darkness. Shadows of stately palms begin to appear as silhouettes on the golden beach as the sun rises. Maui one year was named the world’s best island. Twice the same publication proclaimed Ka‘anapali the world’s best beach.

Along the beach path small birds twitter. Bright yellow hibiscus, scarlet and yellow bougainvillea, spidery white lilies with scarlet tips line the quintessential beach path, steps from the beach is a magnet for visitors from early morning to evening and beyond
line the path that is beginning to fill with strollers. Th
is day, cresting waves white with foam noisily splash to shore. Later, barechested Hawaiians will stand silently with their surfboards placed vertically into the sand. At precise moments, one at a time, they will grab their boards, race to the swells, and once about every six tries manage a perfect somersault as they land in the sea and prepare to return to the next good wave.

Beyond Canoe Beach where canoe clubs gather on a Saturday morning for a morning paddle, the Hyatt (more formally known as the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa) springs to life. Two majestic white swans glide along against the backdrop of a Japanese garden. Attendants have already covered row upon row of chaise lounges with brilliantly hued yellow towels to await morning sunbathers.
Maui’s luminescent sun, favored by artists because of the beautiful light it casts, has a special way of accentuating colors—rich, deep hues that a keen observer sees all along the path.

Past a short tree with clusters of yellow-tinged plumeria the scene shifts to the Marriott, its 35 oceanfront lounges on a narrow swath of grass with stark white towels laid out standing there as if they were sentinels up and ready for duty. Early risers, after first sampling the beach, head to the new Starbucks with its killer views better than almost any to be found at a coffee shop back home.

Sipping lattes at outdoor tables where birds are searching for crumbs, visitors get their news from a miniature handout version of the New York Times and sometimes rise to view humpback whales in all their magnificence breaching off shore. The first iPhones of the day are whipped out for a futile attempt to photograph the world’s largest mammals, here each year from Alaska.

Walking happily along, visitors who wouldn’t dream of saying good morning to a passerby at home offer a greeting or a soft “aloha.” A few of the newly arrived wear crimson airport leis. The apparel of choice is a T-shirt showcasing the colleges they went to. An old guy who knows he is old shows it with a T-shirt that proclaims, “Old Guys Rule.” If he thinks he is old, he is old. He doesn’t know old guys don’t rule.

Farther along the path, beach boys wearing luminescent orange shirts teach visitors how to stand up on a paddle- board. The newcomers stretch out prone on their boards to learn the techniques on still another carefully manicured Marriott lawn. At sea, on placid ocean days, paddlers already are moving over the gentle swells. Farther down, guests will soon be shing, taught by instructors in Marriott red. Inviting but empty hammocks sway in the breeze awaiting little girls who will insist on hopping on with mom.

Next, at the Ali‘i condominium, attendants clean sleek new stainless-steel barbecue grills, whifs of sizzling steaks from the evening before long gone. At the Westin, two speckled pale green sculpted frogs beckon little ones. A erce ancient Chinese warrior in blue-gray stone stands guard clutching a sword in one hand and a single red hibiscus in another placed there by a playful Westin worker. Deep-blue umbrellas above lounges line the beach. e soft sound of a cascading resort waterfall lls the air.
More blue. e boutique shopping center Whalers Vil- lage looms up, six light-blue ags imprinted with whales waving in the wind against a deep-blue sky. Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolex watches will be
on sale for the prosperous.
At 11:00 a.m., chefs at the popular Hula Grill and Lei- lani’s on the Beach whip up the rst sh tacos and mahi-ma- hi sandwiches. Servers in aloha blouses get ready to dish up Hula Pie, ve inches tall, with a chocolate crust and a tower of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream. e slice is usually shared by two.

At about 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, a packed crowd of visitors and regulars at Leilani’s cheer musician JD playing “Sweet Caroline” as they touch hands. Harry Troupe plays his guitar held behind his back to more cheers. A crowd lines up on the beach and soon families splash through the surf, climb a narrow ladder, and board a tall-masted catamaran. Four of the twin-hulled vessels will return at sunset to form a kind of catamaran rush hour as the sun departs behind Moloka‘i.

Dozens of visitors dressed for dinner flock to the Whalers Village lawn. There’s a Nikon or two, but usually an Apple or Samsung phone held for a selfie with the setting sun beyond varying in quality each day. At the “Most Hawaiian Hotel” near a whale-shaped swimming pool, locals and visitors gather at the Tiki Bar. Dale, who has poured more than 400,000 mai tais during his 40-year career, jokes with customers. A nightly hula show begins, the graceful moves of colorful dancers decked out in long dresses with little girls swaying below to imitate their moves.

Night with its cornucopia of stars is about to arrive at the Sheraton, built alongside Pu‘u Keka‘a, known as “Black Rock.” A muscular Hawaiian with a torch produces a thunderous noise with a conch shell, runs across the beach, climbs the volcanic rock lighting torches along the way, stops at the top, and faces north, south, east, and west.

This is the sacred place where Hawaiians believe souls de- part for heaven. A king once dove regularly from the cli in a show of manliness. Today’s diver removes a flower lei from his neck, sends it and the torch cascading into the deep, and dives into the sea.
More essays

A great read to discover more about Maui

Who was Hawaii’a first feminist? How many locals have you truly gotten to know? Who united these islands? Have you wondered how hula is learned and perfected? Enjoy 60 short tales from my award-winning columns in Lahaina News that offer a unique look appealing to new, frequent visitors or residents ideal for a read on beach or plane.

How did Trilogy excursions, Old Lahaina Luau begin and how did an experience in Germany result in opening of Lahaina’s most successful art gallery? What is it like to live on Maui?

How do you accurately pronounce aloha and what is it true meaning? Who are Maui’s colorful characters and why did one play ukulele without strings?

Here’s the surprising book people love to read with interesting tales of Maui’s remarkable people and our island’s fascinating history. Buy at

Surfer hostess with mostest profiled

She was the first woman in the world to win money in a surfing contest. She posed for a Playboy leaving little to the imagination. Her illustrious father, Lord James Blears advised her to “go for it.” She is Lahaina’s Laura Blears now the “hostess with the mostest” at Kimo’s on Front Street for more than 15 years. (Excerpt)


Your best introduction to Maui

Magical Maui. Ocean..Beaches. Azure Sky. Sunsets. Activities. Yet Maui is more. My book which you can purchase here, Voices of Aloha on Magical Maui from an award-winning writer Norm Bezane tells the life stories of remarkable people of aloha past and present. Here you will read of the passion, the true meaning of aloha and the lives of some 60 truly fascinating people from the best of 200 of my columns in Lahaina News.

Who shaped today’s Maui?

That would be four people’s whose stories are told in Voices of Aloha on Magical Maui.How did Polynesians, Hawaiians, missionaries and sugar barons shape Maui? How has the visitor experience evolved decade after decade? What do Hawaiians think about the loss of their kingdom and the more recent Hawaiian renaissance? Who are the colorful characters and so many others who have wonderful stories to tell? How do these remarkable people shape the visitor experience?

The queen who ended the Kapu system.

Happy Birthday King Kamehameha


(One of 60 short tales of the people who made modern Hawaii and today Maui in the book Voies of Aloha on Magical Maui

POWERFULLY BUILT, SQUARE-JAWED WARRIOR King Kamehameha the Great completed the unification of the Hawaiian Islands. Ten years before, he conquered all of Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i. Kamehameha’s decisions in the early 1800s shaped Maui as we know it today. MORE..

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The first king

When locals think of Kamehameha, we think of King Kamehameha III Elementary School named after his son, the famous Kamehameha Schools, Kamehameha Avenue in Kahului, and even the ocial Kamehameha Day state holiday in June.

Few remember that a nuclear submarine was named for this Hawaiian and that his statue is in a place of honor in the US Capitol at the National Statuary Hall.

Kamehameha did not cut down a cherry tree, nor did he wear wooden false teeth, yet he could be considered the George Washington of these islands.

If alive today, the great king would probably lash out at the comparison, since he was a great fan of Great Britain, a country he considered a protector of the islands.

Kamehameha was born of ali‘i (kingly) heritage on the island of Hawaii, unied the islands, was a erce warrior, and had the physique of a tall, muscular NBA player. e fascination is in the detail.

Kamehameha—his name means the one who is set apart—was destined for glory as the son of two high chiefs, including one of Oahu’s most powerful warriors, from the day of his birth.

Some believe the future king was born in 1758 at about the time of Halley’s Comet and that he was the powerful king mentioned in prophecies. The fledgling king already had mega mana derived from two royal parents that each had considerable mana in their own right. Mana was acquired by inheritance or heroics in battle. Battles were often fought to acquire more mana.


According to tradition, Kamehameha got more even more mana when he acquired the hair of the slain Captain Cook, explorer of much of the Pacic Rim. Hawaiians be- lieved Cook also had a lot of mana.

e remains of the man who named these Sandwich Islands were divided up after his death on the beach near Kona. Kamehameha, an admirer of Cook, had visited his ships, even though he had nothing to do with the explorer’s demise. Historical facts complete the story.

Trained to be a erce warrior, Kamehameha fought hisrst battle on Maui at 17 in an unsuccessful eort by a Ha- waiian chief to conquer the island.

Kamehameha returned again and again to Maui’s Iao Val- ley to Lahaina’s shoreline, to the rough volcanic landscape of the island of Hawaii, and to the newly discovered harbor in Honolulu he decided was the ideal place to foster trade. Both epic and trivial, these journeys transformed Hawaii.

In 1783, the man who was to become great launched his campaign to unify these islands. Kamehameha had fought his rst battle on Maui at 17 in an unsuccessful eort by a Hawaiian ali‘i (king) to conquer the island.

Later, after moving a 5,000-pound stone called Naha, which legend said could be moved only by a man of destiny, the powerfully built warrior with the erce face set forth on his life’s work of conquest.

To invade Oahu, in a feat of organization, Kamehame- ha assembled 36,000 warriors transported in 800 canoes. Kamehameha organized his units in groups of 400. us, he marshaled 900 sets of troops (36,000) and two groups of canoes (400 each).

Trained warriors led by ali‘i fought to take over land of

both living ali‘i and the recently deceased. warrior. Some 200 years ago, the powerfully built, square-jawed warrior com- pleted the unication of the Hawaiian Islands after conquer- ing Oahu, Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i.

His exploits are richly described in dozens of books by numerous illustrious historians—Lahaina’s David Malo in- cluded. Kamehameha was born of ali‘i (kingly) lineage on the island of Hawaii. He had the physique of a tall, muscular NBA player.

Some believe the future monarch was born in 1758 at about the time of Halley’s Comet, an event mentioned in prophecies as signaling the birth of a powerful king.

e edgling king already had mega mana (a word mean- ing acquired authority, power, and prestige) derived from two royal parents who each had considerable mana of their own. Mana was acquired by inheritance or heroics in battle. Battles were often fought to acquire more mana.

Tradition says Kamehameha got even more mana when he acquired the hair of the slain Captain Cook, explorer of the Pacic Rim. Hawaiians believed Cook also had a lot of mana.

Kamehameha, an admirer of Captain Cook, had visited his ships, although that had nothing to do with the explorer’s demise.

Kamehameha fought his rst battle on Maui at 17 in an unsuccessful eort by a Hawaiian ali‘i (king) to conquer the island. Later, after moving a 5,000-pound stone called Naha, which legend said could be moved only by a man of destiny, the powerfully built warrior with the fierce face set forth on his life’s work of conquest. Wars were declared by cutting down a coconut tree in another’s territory. Battles were fought according to rituals, traditions, and rules.


A clear picture of what Kamehameha did, and how he did it, emerges by looking at his travels.

1778, Hana: Meets Captain Cook and discovers unique sticks that re bullets. He has the foresight to see their potential in battle.

1783, Island of Hawaii: Starts campaign to unify islands by unsuccessfully attacking Hilo.

1785, Hilo: Hawaii A new attack.

1788, Kauai: Trades land he controls for guns, includ- ing a swivel cannon. Captures sailor John Young, kidnaps Isaac Davis, and then names them military advisors.

1790, Maui: Fights near Huelo and uses cannon for therst time in the Iao Valley. Blood and bodies clog the stream, giving the ght the name “Kepaniwai” (Dam- ming of the Water). Leaves before conquering Maui.

1791, Island of Hawaii: Builds Pu‘ukohola Heiau temple to win support of the gods for his unication eort. Uses swivel gun and cannon to win the battle and conquer the island.


1792–94, Period of peace.

1793, Befriends Captain George Vancouver, who was also acquainted with beautiful, Hana-born Ka‘ahumanu, a surng partner who became the king’s rst and favor- ite wife. Vancouver gives Kamehameha cattle, sheep, and goats. Ka‘ahumanu along the way deserted Kamehame- ha, after he irted with Ka‘ahumanu’s sister. Vancouver is instrumental in bringing the two back together.

1794, Announces that Hawaiian people are subjects of Great Britain and under its protection. Great Britain nev- er agreed, but Vancouver gifts Kamehameha with a sail- ing ship with a Union Jack sail.

1795,Maui and Oahu: Destroys Lahaina and then con- quers Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i in February. Sails to Oahu and wins Battle of Nu‘uunu on the windward side of Waikiki to control Oahu. Leader of Kauai eludes cap- ture.

1796, Kauai: Invades Kauai for the second time.

1797, Takes a second wife in Keopuolani, who bears him a son, Liholiho, who succeeds Kamehameha as king. Ka‘ahumanu, though childless, would later rule as regent for the young Liholiho and become Hawaii’s rst “fem- inist,” ending the kapu (forbidden) system that banned kane and wahine (men and women) from eating together.

1802, Maui: Fleet lands in Maui to prepare to invade Kauai again. A storm overwhelms warriors and ends ex- pedition.

1803: Honolulu: Sends eet to new harbor and head- quarters there. Kamehameha believed the Oahu harbor is better for loading ships (Lahaina harbor was too shallow to permit docking of sailing ships). Becomes a trader, taking over the lucrative sandalwood trade and sending wood to China in exchange for worldly goods.


1810, Completes unication by acquiring Kauai by agreement with the ali‘i Kaumuali‘i without a ght.

1812–19, Kohala, Island of Hawaii: Returns to birth is- land. Engages in his favorite pastimes of surng, swim- ming, shing, and growing taro. Dies in 1819.

2018, Front Street, Lahaina: Kamehameha images will grace annual parade. Each Kamehameha Day, horseback rid- ers on the former King’s Highway pass within yards of where Kamehameha the Great once surfed, lived, and en- joyed the King’s Taro Patch. Kamehameha, in a sense, was a man before his time. He recognized immediately the merits of western technology (guns, for example, which he rarely used).

He lived in three geographic areas like modern-day corporate types, learned a foreign language (English), and created what would become one of the world’s most pro- gressive monarchies. Add everything up, and no wonder he is called great.


Great photo of the day (6/7)

Kaanapali: another day at the beach as visitors return in large numbers.
blue skies - 1 (1)

Great photo of day (6/2)

No shortage of beautiful people o Maui.

Stories “like tasty cookies.”

One reader says the book for you has stories that jump from the page and are thougtful, short, easy to digest like tasty cookies.

Catamaran adventure

Here you will read about :Musicians. Artists. Hawaiians. Luau founders. Trilogy sailing entrepreneurs. Modern day whalers, 400,000 Mai Tai man. Hostess-surfer. Teacher of intricate hula. Ultimate visitor. Concierge. Lei lady.”Morning Goddess.” Parrot man. Chef. Story teller. Gallery owner. Architect. Gadfly. Activist. Old Timer and fascinating historical figures. 

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