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The theatrical look of Hawaii tourism—planned resort communities where luxury homes mix with high-rise hotels, fantasy swimming pools, and a theme-park landscape—all began right here in the 1960s, when clever marketers built this sunny shoreline into a playground for the world's vacationers. Three miles of uninterrupted white-sand beach and placid water form the front yard for this artificial utopia, with its 40 tennis courts and two championship golf courses.

In ancient times, this area was known for its bountiful fishing (especially lobster) and its seaside cliffs. Puu Kekaa, today incorrectly referred to as "Black Rock," was a lele, a place in ancient Hawaii from which souls leaped into the afterlife. (Today this site is near the Sheraton Maui.) But times changed and the sleepy fishing village was washed away by the wave of Hawaii's new economy: tourism.

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