Located just a few miles North of downtown Lahaina, Kaanapali beach has over three miles of white sand merging with a very calm shore break. Kaanapali beach was named "America's Best Beach" in 2003 by Dr Beach.
The beach has fine, dark yellow sand. A paved beach walk lines most of the beach and connects all of the hotels, condos, and open-air restaurants lining the beach. There is plenty of secluded room on the long beach, especially considering the hotels are scattered amongst the beach with pools, where the guests often stay. The year round swimming is excellent with calm and clear water and there are a few great snorkeling areas on the beach.
The beach has public showers and restrooms in different locations and there is food and concessions amongst the hotels and restaurants along the beach. Parking can be tough. It is suggested to park at the south end, at the Kaanapali Resort, and pay for parking there. There are also shuttles within the resort that run into Lahaina Town and back. In general, one must access the beach by walking through one of the resorts grounds, which is allowed.
Snorkeling on Kaanapali Beach
Black Rock borders the very North end of Kaanapali Beach. Cliff divers jump from the rock each night, but the snorkeling is the best feature of the rocky area. It is common to come face to face with a turtle while snorkeling around the rocks. The turtles frequent the rocks and can be found sleeping on the bottom or swimming around on the top.
Several diving classes are also held around the rock. The depth is generally 10-20 feet, which is great for basic snorkeling and educational diving.
Kaanapali Beach Resort
Kaanapali was Hawaii's first planned resort and still serves as a model for resorts around the world. The beach now has five major award-winning resort hotels, six condominium resorts, and a world class shopping village called Whalers Village. The resort area also has tennis courts for day or night play and two championship golf courses. These hotels have been remodeled over the years to keep up with today's travelers. They include:
- Sheraton Maui
- Kaanapali Beach Hotel
- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort
- Whaler On Kaanapali Beach
- Westin Maui Resort & Spa
- Maui Marriot
- Kaanapali Alii
There is free shuttle service within the resort. The shuttle makes a couple of stops between each hotel and also goes into Lahaina. It usually leaves every 30 minutes, but check with a hotel concierge to confirm the times and pick-up locations as it can change with each season.
The shopping at Whalers village consists of over 70 shops and restaurants. It also includes a whaling museum that is free to the public and contains an incredible 40-foot whale skeleton. Often, free entertainment wraps up the evenings in the Village.
The two championship golf courses are open to everyone. The Royal Kaanapali was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and the Kaanapali Kai was designed by Arthur Jack Snyder. The greens fees generally cost between $195-235 for standard fees, but the courses are well worth the price. The courses also have pros that will provide private lessons.
Kaanapali Beach Tips
- Take a walk before sundown up to the northern end of the beach to watch the cliff divers
- Don't forget your own towels. The resorts usually require a "towel card" to use their towels, which they have given to their guests only.
- Sunblock, snorkels, boogie boards, swimsuits, and other accessories can be purchased in several stores within the resorts or Whalers Village. However, try to bring your own as it will be cheaper than paying the resort prices.
- Book your activities online ahead of time to ensure great rates and reserved times. Activities such as catamaran cruises, outrigger canoe rentals, surfing lessons, aqua bike rentals, diving classes, windsurfing classes, and sail boating classes can all be reserved ahead of time.
- Once you access the beach through a resort, wander up or down the beach a few hundred feet to find more seclusion. The hotels are spaced out enough that there is always empty space to lay down a towel.