Back Rock Rainbow

8 Reasons Why You Should Stay In Kaanapali

On the west side of Maui is a 3 mile stretch of white sand and turquoise blue water fronting the perfect hub for your Maui vacation. Truly, you have everything you need in one strip of beach. This is the go-to place to stay on the west side with a mix of affordable and luxury accommodations. You have everything you need to never step foot in a car for your entire vacation, or use this hub to explore the west side of Maui. (Kaanapali is pronounced Kah-ah-nuh-polly. Here’s a map of Maui’s regions to help orient you to its location.)

(UPDATE: This blog was updated in January 2021, but due to the constantly evolving impacts of COVID-19, the status of some of the activities mentioned in this blog might change. Please check directly with them to verify access, operating status, and hours. Mahalo!)

8 Reasons Why You Should Stay in Kaanapali

Kaanapali Beach

All-in-One Outdoor Shopping and Activities at Whalers Village

At the heart of Kaanapali boardwalk is the outdoor shopping center of Whalers Village. This center offers more than great souvenir shopping, it has something for everyone! Perk up with coffee in the morning at Island Vintage Coffee, let the kids work off some energy in the Jelly Fish jungle gym, or cool down with some local shave ice mid-afternoon! Those in the group not interested in shopping can check out the Hawaii Wildlife Discovery Center or try their hand at an Escape Room.

Whalers Village in Kaanapali

Whalers Villas in Kaanapali

Downstairs at Whalers Village is the Food Court offering affordable prices for lunch and dinner with some local favorites like Choice Health Bar and Joey’s Kitchen. On the water’s edge of Whalers Village, you’ll find wonderful restaurants where you can watch the sun dip behind the horizon line with a Mai Tai in hand. My personal favorite is Hula Grill, where you can stick your toes in the sand at the Barefoot Bar and enjoy live music all day long.

World-class Dining along the Kaanapali Shoreline

Oceanfront dining is unbeatable in Maui, and specifically on Kaanapali Beach. The sunsets are only seen from certain areas of the island and Kaanapali Beach on the west side is one of them! Some of the best sunsets can be seen right from your dinner table, paired with world-class service and cuisine. Aside from the fabulous restaurants at Whalers Village, each resort property has multiple spectacular restaurants to enjoy fresh ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, or Kalua pork. See our blog for a Guide to Local Hawaii Food.

Oceanfront Dining Kaanapali

Beachfront Dining in Kaanapali

Stroll Along the Beach Boardwalk

After filling up on amazing fish and local beer, work it off with a leisurely walk along the oceanside boardwalk! This is a favorite pastime of locals and visitors alike. It is perfect for those who want to get an oceanside early morning run in, or a wonderful way to start your day with coffee in hand and a significant other by your side. For those 21 and over, I recommend a beach bar crawl to find your favorite island cocktail amongst the many bars and restaurants! The perfect end to the day is following the boardwalk up to Black Rock to witness the cliff diving sunset ceremony (described below). Check out condos to stay in along Kaanapali.

Beach Boardwalk Kaanapali

Watch the Sunset Cliff Diver at Puu Kekaa (Black Rock)

 “Lele kawa” refers to the art of cliff-jumping, something high chief Kahekili of 1766-1793 excelled at, sometimes from heights of up to 200-300 feet! At the northern end of Kaanapali Beach is Puu Kekaa, commonly referred to as Black Rock. This sacred spot is a very special place where Kahekili would often dive. Puu Kekaa is also known as “ka leina a ka ‘uhane” – the place where a soul leaps into eternity. Every evening at sunset, a cliff diver sprints up the lava rocks and lights the torches along the way to honor those souls who have departed, and dives headfirst into the water below. (Kaanapali Beach Hotel‘s description of this ceremony).

Cliff Diver Black Rock

Snorkeling by Black Rock

Also at the base of Puu Kekaa is some of the best snorkeling on island! Rent snorkeling gear from your accommodation and walk on down to the beach. Swimming along the reef and spotting colorful fish is a memory you will cherish forever. Often seen here are Honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles! These creatures are on the verge of endangerment and do require at least a 10-foot distance. Do not try to touch, feed, ride, or harass the honu as locals are very protective and will report harassment to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to keep the honu safe.

Take Surfing Lessons 

Along the boardwalk, you will find multiple spots to rent surfboards, stand up paddleboards or take surfing lessons! Perfect for bonding with the kids or giving the teenagers time to let loose. The convenience of watching your loved ones catch their very first wave from your beach chair or lanai (balcony) of your hotel room is unmatched! Always remember to honor the ocean and never turn your back on it. It has far more power than you realize. Read more in our blog about Ocean Safety.

Surfboard in Kaanapali

Get Curbside Pick-up for your Snorkeling Trip, Whale Watch, or Sunset Cruise

As if you didn’t need yet another reason to never leave Kaanapali, the boats come to YOU! While on Maui, you MUST get on the water either for a snorkeling tour, whale watch, or sunset cruise. Rather than driving 20 minutes to Lahaina Harbor, or 1 hour to Maalaea Harbor, just walk right onto your boat from the Kaanapali shoreline. Well, more like run. The catamarans that pick up guests for boat tours from Kaanapali Beach have a unique system. They lower the stairs right onto the sand, and as soon as the wave comes in, they rush a few guests to run up the stairs until the next wave comes. It is a very exciting, exhilarating process and makes for fun memories. An important thing to note is you will get wet from the knees down. This is not ideal for those with mobility limitations.

Kaanapali Boat Drop Off

Play a Round at Kaanapali Golf Courses with Jaw-dropping Views 

As you drive into Kaanapali, you pass along the pristine greens of the Kaanapali Golf Courses. Thirty-six holes of championship golf make up both the Kaanapali Kai Course and the Royal Kaanapali Course, all with amazing ocean views and West Maui mountain rainbows as your backdrop. As a resort guest in Kaanapali, you get a discount as well! Take the complimentary Kaanapali Trolley to the golf course, have lunch at the restaurant on property, and you’ll be back to your room by the afternoon. Or, try something different and play Footgolf with family or friends!

Kaanapali Golf View


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 (Note: We recognize and respect the significance of the ‘okina and kahakō markings in the written Hawaiian language; however, we have omitted those diacritical markings on our site in order to integrate with the more common spellings used in online searches.)

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