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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
Established at the turn of the 20th century by Japanese contract workers, this Buddhist mission is one of Lahaina's most popular sites, thanks to its idyllic setting and spectacular views across the channel. Although the buildings are not open to the public, you can stroll the grounds and enjoy glimpses of the 90-foot-high pagoda, as well as a great 3.5-ton copper and bronze statue of the Amida Buddha (erected in 1968). If you're nearby at 8 any evening, listen for the temple bell to toll 11 times; each peal has a specific significance. COST: Free.
Built in 1927, this beautiful open-air church is decorated with paintings depicting Hawaiian versions of Christian symbols (including a Hawaiian Madonna and child), rare or extinct birds, and native plants. At the afternoon services, the congregation is typically dressed in traditional clothing from Samoa and Tonga. Anyone is welcome to slip into one of the pews, carved from native woods. Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, lived in a large grass house on this site as a child. www.holyimaui.org. COST: Free. OPEN: Daily 8--5.
Just visible above the tide is a gigantic stone, perfectly molded into the shape of a low-backed chair and believed by Hawaiians to hold healing powers. It sits in the harbor where the sea and the underground freshwater meet. COST: Free.
By now the relaxed pace of life that Hana residents enjoy should have you in its grasp, so you won't be discouraged to learn that the "town" is little more than a gas station, a post office, and a general store.
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