Insider's Info to Ka'anapali Beach Resort

Located just north of the historic whaling village of Lahaina, Ka‘anapali means “the rolling cliffs,” a reference to the nearby wide, open ridges that sweep upward to Puu Kukui, the highest mountain peak on West Maui. Legend has it this three-mile stretch of white sand was not only a favorite resting spot for Hawaiian kings and queens, but a training spot for warriors. Today these sands are home to weekend warriors visiting from around the world, looking for a slice of paradise.

History Development didn’t start happening here until the 1960s, with the Sheraton and then the Royal Lahaina, followed by Ka‘anapali Beach Resort in 1964 and a Hilton in 1965. The ’80s saw a second wave, with the Hyatt Regency in 1980, the Maui Marriott  in 1982 and the renovation of the Maui Surf into a Westin in 1987. At the north end of a paved path is Pu‘u Keka‘a (a.k.a. Black Rock) where ancient Hawaiians believed the souls of the dead leapt from this earth to join their ancestors in the spirit world.Ka‘anapali can be an all-inclusive, park-it-and-leave-it resort with a number of lodging choices, as well as golf, tennis, diving, etc. It’s not the fanciest (the Kapalua Resort up the road would be considered more luxe, as would Wailea on the south side of the island), but Ka’anapali offers the best bang for your buck for a resort experience. However, if you need a luxurious experience, there are club levels and Presidential Suites at nearly all the hotels.

Beach World famous three-mile stretch of beach includes with mostly calm waters ideal for snorkeling near the rocks, stand up paddling, surfing or just rolling in the waves. The beach is divided by a rocky outcropping with the total length of around three miles. While you are visiting, here are a few activity options:

  • Snorkeling around Black Rock (Pu‘u Keka‘a) fronting the Sheraton Maui.
  • Surf just to the left of the Westin.
  • Stand up paddleboard or kayak with whales during whale season (December- March).
  • Boogie board or Swog. There are rental options along the path.

Dining There are plenty of dining options at the hotels and the centrally located Whaler’s Village offers restaurants such as, Leilani’s on the Beach and Hula Grill as well as a food court. Other highlights include the nightly sunset cliff-diver ritual at the Sheraton Maui, a sunset sail on one of the catamarans that dock right on the beach, and the nightly hula show at the Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel.

Where to eat:

Island Vintage Coffee's Acai bowl

Island Vintage Coffee's Acai bowl

Breakfast: Island Vintage Coffee for acai bowls, bagels and coffee, conveniently located in Whaler’s Village. A close second for breakfast is a Starbucks right on the beach –I don’t think there is a better view anywhere from these outdoor tables.

Lunch: I’d opt for the healthy - yet still really tasty spring rolls at the Westin (poolside), or Joey’s Kitchen in the Whaler’s Village food court - seriously fresh plate lunches and poke minus the added resort free.

Dinner: It’s impossible to beat Japengo for sushi and other sushi-type offerings, such as their fresh sashimi. It has been voted best on the island many years in a row– I’m not the only one that thinks the spicy tuna roll plus a spectacular sunset - is a winning combo. I also really like Chef’ Tom Muromoto’s Ka’anapali Beach Hotel - not only will you taste authentically delicious Hawaiian food -it’s probably the best deal in town. Roy's on the golf course is another favorite. Otherwise here is a rundown of what the resorts offer.

Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa

Japengo
Shave Ice at the Pool

Westin Maui

The Relish Oceanside
Relish Burger Bistro for lunch

Royal Lahaina Resort. 

Royal Lahaina Resort Luau

Whalers Village

Hula Grill Ka'anapali.
Leilani’s On the Beach.
Joey’s Kitchen
Island Vintage Coffee

by Katherine Minkiewicz