An area of stark contrasts, tourist throngs and
seemingly endless beaches, the south shore of Maui stretches from the turtle breeding sands of Ma'alaea down to the last
recorded lava flows at La Perouse. Along the way resorts and condos, malls and parking lots dot the landscape, spring up like weeds. It is
one of the fastest growing areas in America, a far cry from the "old Hawai'i."
Once upon a time, it took nearly an hour to drive the handful of miles from the town of Kihei to the nude beach at Makena. With the
growth of resorts around Makena, the road has been improved - bypassed, actually. The old road which followed the
shoreline, was a rutted and rocky adventure and generated clouds of choking dust if you drove over five miles an hour. It's been chopped up and blocked by hotels, and no longer connects anything to anything else.
The trip along the highway takes minutes as you whiz past the luxury resorts.
And development spurs more development; an unrelenting surge of growth that threatens the very fabric of an island society.
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The results are crowded beaches (even the naked one), congested roads, diminished authenticity, and more.
The climate of the south shore is mostly dry, which frankly, favors development. It often resembles the savannahs of Africa, sans animals, with its browned grasses and leafless twisted
kiawe trees. It isn't until a series of Kona storms bring summer rains to the area that the natural landscape turns green, the dead and dormant foliage springing back to life.
And then, on the other hand, there are the resorts and the golf courses, green year-round. Awash in water and money.
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