Why You Should Visit Kaanapali Beach Maui for a relaxing vacation

Let’s do a weather check for Kaanapali Beach Maui.

“90’s, small chance of rain. Will be like this every day for the rest of the year. No chance of hail, sleet or snow. That sums up Kaanapali Beach weather 

Kaanapali Beach out the front of the hotel

The lead singer of the Hawaiian band entertaining us during our lunch at Hula Grill cackled. He had an energy and presence similar to Jack Black and sang just like him.

“Even traffic jams are stress free. Whales jump out of the ocean to entertain you. The Maui life requirement is to relax and enjoy. Hang out with the turtles that come play on the shore.”

Maui has traffic?

I didn’t believe it until two hours later we left to drive to the airport in that relaxed Maui style. No worries, we have plenty of time. We’re in Maui now.

Until we hit the car park on Highway 30 near Lahaina and arrived late at the airport as the plane was leaving!

It’s a rarity for us to miss a flight, but we did on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.

There were no whales playing as we sat in the traffic and we were more than a little stressed, which quickly evaporated when the Hawaiian Airlines attendant told us not to worry she’d get us on the next available flight to Oahu 20 minutes later.

It’s just too cruisy in Maui.

Fancy relaxing at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii?

Of all the places we visited on our family vacation to Hawaii, Kaanapali Beach Maui is the place that most calls me to return and soak up the Hawaiian Aloha.

You can see why in our video from Kaanapali:

We stayed for five nights at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel (KBH Maui) which is known to be the most Hawaiian Hotel in Hawaii. The joy I experienced in this beach area is mostly attributed to our stay at this resort.

View from Kaanapali Beach Hotel

It’s not flashy, like most other resorts with infinity pools and waterslides or stylized modern design. It’s simple, giving more space for warmth, love, relaxation, and connectedness.

And while we did stay as guests of the resort and Hawaii Ocean Tourism, I was not required to write a review in this way. My post has morphed into this as the focus because our stay at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel touched our hearts and is something we’ll remember forever.

Relaxing in the poolside at Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Because of our exhaustion at the previous 10 days of whirlwind Hawaii travel, we even chose to cancel an intended trip to the Cowboy country to instead relax at the resort and soak up the spirit.

The good news is, it’s not just a place where you stay trapped within the amenities of your beach resort. You are situated right on the Maui beach front.

Taking a stroll along Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii

Ka’anapali Beach is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in Maui Hawaii, and was once rated America’s best beach!

With the islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance the views from your beach chair, or stand up paddle board, are worth spending the day doing not much but gazing.

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel in Maui, Hawaii
Image by KBHmaui.com

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel will fill up your mana (spiritual energy).

The hotel is dedicated to sharing their aloha with visitors through songs, crafts, educations, and special cultural ceremonies.

Our girls learned so much about Hawaiian culture and the Aloha spirit during our stay, we’ve never felt more loved and honored by a culture before.

Parting lei farewell

“This kukui nut lei represents the spiritual connection between the giver and the receiver,”

Malihini said as she placed it around our neck and embraced us for a final farewell.

“This is given to you by us to serve as a reminder that you are a part of our family and are always welcome.”

It was a very authentic and honorable ceremony. Namaste, Aloha style.

Our kids with their kukui nut lei necklaces
Our kids with their kukui nut lei necklaces

Malihini went on to explain this lei giving tradition started at the resort after September 11. During that tragic time, which most of us will remember well, many guests were left stranded at the hotel traumatized.

The staff decided as a way to let them know they were loved and safe to give them the kukui nut lei, a very important spiritual giving Hawaiian cultural tradition.

It helped the guests immensely and have done it ever since.

Her love and gratitude towards us as guests was heartfelt. I was so grateful my girls experienced the spirit of this beautiful lady. Even Savannah intuitively noticed it by calling her Moana’s grandmother.

Later that afternoon at a ceremony the staff had a special Hawaiian ceremony celebrating the completion of a traditional Hawaiian boat. A project started by a young Hawaiian man, which involved staff members and guests as well.

Malihini spoke such powerful words about forgiveness, and the importance of family and culture to help raise the spirit in their young and encourage and support them in their dreams.

I hope you get to meet her if you visit the resort.

You can see more of it in our video here:

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All the staff at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel were kind and attentive. We interacted with many and I enjoyed their insights and stories, as did the girls.

The kukui nut is a very special plant. Kukui nut oil can be used for minor skin irritations, wounds and burns, eczema, psoriasis and a superior moisturizing product for skin and hair. Malihini actually gave me a kukui nut leaf to use the sap on cold sore that popped up (a clear sign I had eaten gluten). It was incredible how quickly it helped it heal.

Passport scavenger hunt

Kids passport at Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel has a cool activity for kids – the Passport Scavenger Hunt.

The staff chatted with the girls to learn more about their personalities and stories before selecting a Hawaiian name for them which they write on their passport.

Kalyra’s Hawaiian name was Nahe Nahe as it means sweet and pleasant (similar to the meaning of Kalyra), and Savannah was Kula which means open meadows in Hawaiian (similar to the savannah plains).

The scavenger hunt involves the children visiting different sections of the resort, like the gift shop or lei making class. After they tell the attendant their Hawaiian name and what it means they get a stamp, a reward and a new Hawaiian word to learn.

It was a fun way to experience Hawaiian culture.

Part of the reason we left 10 minutes later for our flight back to Honolulu was that Savannah refused to leave until we got her last stamp at the Tiki Hut and collected her reward of french fries. They were good!

Hula dancing lessons

Hula dancing lessons at Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Hula is the Hawaiian heartbeat. Rarely does anything happen, open or get launched in the islands without the chanting and singing of a traditional Hawaiian blessing and hula.

Savannah, Kalyra and I had a fun time learning the graceful steps of the hula under the kukui nut tree.

Our guide was patient and humble and made it seem so easy to learn. The girls practiced every day after and Kalyra can still remember it. Actually, I’m pretty sure she mastered doing it on the SUP.

Guide to the 5 best luaus on Maui

Lei making lesson

Lei making Lesson

Like the Hulu, leis are a special place in Hawaiian culture.

Leis are given for any important event in people’s lives: birthdays, anniversaries, marriage, and births to name a few. They can be any object strung together with a specific intent as I mentioned with the kukui nut lei.

The most common leis are the bright purple Dendrobium Orchid.

I loved making leis with the girls, who did a wonderful job. It’s much easier than you think. Mostly I loved being surrounded by the sweet perfume of the flower and Malihini gentle instructions and cultural storytelling.

Tiki Bar

Drinks at the Tiki Bar at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Enjoying my Mai Tai

The Tiki Bar was casual and manned by Uncle Dave, a Ka’anapali Beach Hotel legend. If you’ve stayed here before you’ll probably know him as he’s been serving cocktails and yarns for many years.

You know you have to do it – have a Mai Tai in Maui. Visit during happy hour and get have more than one!

It’s right near the pool too so you can continue to keep an eye on the kids, and there are bar snacks available as well

Nightly hula performances

We ate at the Tiki Terrace, one of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel restaurants a couple of nights, mostly because of the hula performances and Hawaiian music.

Dinner at Tiki Terrace restaurant in Kaanapali, Maui
Dinner at Tiki Terrace restaurant

The girls loved it and asked to go every night. They found a grassy spot near the kukui nut tree where they could twirl, spin and do cartwheels to the music.

I found a spot on the stage to join in the hula dance after we learned how to do it only a few hours before.

The girls wouldn’t come up as they were too embarrassed so I jumped up to hopefully show them having fun and doing what you love is nothing to be self-conscious about.

Savannah joined me the next evening. Now she’ll get up and dance with me all the time. Last night we were line dancing together in Nashville.

Oh, and if you’re staying at the hotel on a Monday, don’t miss the Kaanapali Beach Luau. There’s also ukelele lessons as well as a couple of other cultural experiences and classes.

Things to do in Kaanapali Beach Maui

Stand up paddle boarding

Stand up paddle boarding at Kaanapali Beach, Maui

You can rent SUP boards from the Kaanapali Beach Resort. I found them a good price at $25 an hour. Children 10 and under have to double up with an adult.

Although we felt Kalyra was competent to SUP on her own, we were happy they were safety conscious. It was a little technical to get out as there were shore dumpers.

We grew up near a beach with shore dumpers so didn’t fear them, but from previous experience, they can inflict a fair amount of damage if you don’t know how to handle them.

I loved supping with Kalyra out on the water, it was easily one of my favorite things to do in Kaanapali. It was so pretty and calm and was fun sitting at the back and making her do all the work.

Stand up paddle boarding at Kaanapali Beach, Maui

I did take over for some of it and eventually had a turn on my own, as did Craig. Supping is our favorite family water activity. It is so calming for your body and spirit.

Stand up paddle boarding at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Stand up paddle boarding at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii

We did supping a few times back in Australia so had the balance hang of it. You can take private lessons if you are new to supping. It does take some getting used to so not a bad idea to do so.

The water was crystal clear, but we didn’t see any turtles. We paddled over to Black Rock but it was a little busy to see too much other than cliff divers. I could easily SUP all day.

Stand up paddle boarding at Black Rock, Maui
Black Rock

Snorkel at Black Rock Beach Maui

Fancy some Kaanapali Beach snorkeling with turtles?

Just a short barefoot beach walk from the hotel is Black Rock Beach, popular because of the cliff diving available from the finger stretch of yep, black rocks.

That’s not the only reason they are popular.

Just underneath the surface, grazing on those rocks, are resident green sea turtles. Pop on your snorkels and play with them, keep a respectful distance, even though they are not fazed by you, you don’t want to stress them out.

One giant turtle was even resting on the sand at the shoreline, which meant our cautious Savannah got a chance to see him. She wasn’t going to swim out with us to the rocks to check them out.

A turtle swimming under water
Snorkeling with turtles at Black Rock Beach in Maui
Craig’s selfie with a turtle

The beach around Black Rock right in front of the Sheraton is a great place to spend a few hours relaxing.

The water was a bit choppy and churned up when we visited. I’d suggest getting there early in the morning before the crowds starting stirring things up.

Every evening, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliffs of Black Rock and then dives off in a re-enactment of a feat by Maui’s much loved King Kahikili.

We recommend watching it, and a stunning Maui sunset, from the Cliff Dive Bar located in the Sheraton Hotel.

Sunset at the Cliff Dive Grill

Cliff Dive Bar, Sheraton Maui
Cliff Dive Bar

One of the other Kaanapali Beach restaurants we loved was Cliff Dive Grill at the Sheraton Resort, which overlooks the Black Rock cliffs.

We only visited on our last night and loved it. It has a super chilled tropical vibe and is relatively cheap compared to other places along the beachfront. Go early to grab a table.

Maui is known for its spectacular sunsets, and it sure was pretty watching it go down with a glass of chardonnay from here.

Sunset at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii
Sunset out the front of Cliff Dive Grill
Sunset at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii

We only visited on our last night and loved it. It has a super chilled tropical vibe and is relatively cheap compared to other places along the beachfront. Go early to grab a table.

Actually, sunset from anywhere along Kaanapali Beach

Here are a couple more sunset photos from Kaanapali Beach Maui taken from out the front of the Ka’anapali Beach Resort.

Sunset in Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii

Explore the Esplanade

Walking along the Esplanade at Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii

Anyway, you can!

Craig enjoyed his morning walk and I loved my morning sunrise runs along the esplanade before most people woke up.

Once I finished my meditation alone on the beach and started my run back, everyone had woken though as it was busy. Joggers, walkers, swimmers, paddlers, coffee lovers and lounge devotees greeting the day with fresh enthusiasm.

The Esplanade is a row of resorts, cafes, and restaurants. There’s a Starbucks if you must (expect a line) and Whalers Village Maui is the place for shopping and eating.

Strolling the Esplanade

We’d generally stop at Whaler’s for lunch and grab an acai bowl from Island Vintage Coffee. Craig enjoyed the food from Joey’s Kitchen. 

Hula Grill Ka’anapali

Hula Grill is right on the beach

One of the most popular Kaanapali Beach restaurants.

Hula Grill is the place to go for dinner or lunch to enjoy the beachfront ambiance.

Either book in advance or get there early. It is popular. They have live music most days. We could only manage to get in for lunch on our last day before we missed our flight.

Drive to Nakalele Blowhole

Wow! The scenery on this short drive around the Kaanapali coast is gorgeous.

We actually preferred it to the Road to Hana (a lot shorter and less windy) so if you’re not up for driving the Road to Hana this is a nice alternative. It felt more rugged and rolling hill green like Ireland.

The beaches along here were quite pretty as well. I wish we had more time to drive a little further north to see more. Putting it down for our next trip to Maui.

The Nakalele Blowhole

This is a cool spot to visit, especially for the kids.

We had a great impromptu science lesson here talking about how blow holes work and watching it in action. We had little judging contests and the blowhole managed to perform a 9. Well done. Excellent execution, form, and height.

The Nakalele Blowhole can spurt water up to 100 feet.

The Nakalele Blowhole on the Kaanapali Coast in Maui, Hawaii

The area is gorgeous and you can walk around the rocks, just be careful, as you know, its rocks and cliff faces. Don’t go near the blowhole either as it may suck you in. Has happened!

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay - Beautiful scenery along the Kaanapali Coast in Maui

We didn’t have much time, so only drove to the lookout. Honolua Bay is known for its snorkeling and there were plenty of people vying for car park spaces to give it a go.

Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay in Maui, Hawaii

Although I much preferred Ka’anapali Beach over most of the other Maui beaches, many people recommended Kapalua as one of their favorites.

It’s situated in a bay lined with palm trees and fringed by lava rocks extending into the ocean, which makes it good for snorkeling and great for families.

The Road to Hana

Upper Waikani Falls - one of the bet top along the Road to Hana drive in Maui, Hawaii
Upper Waikani Falls on the road to Hana

The start of the popular Road to Hana is about a 40-minute drive from Ka’anapali Beach Hotel. You can read our Ultimate Guide to the Road to Hana to help you plan and enjoy this scenic Hawaiian drive.

Click for more things to do in Maui with kids.

The Ultimate guide to Haleakala National Park, Maui

Our experience driving the Road to Hana can be seen on this video:

Tours in Maui

Viator is a Tripadvisor company and offers a large range of tours, cultural experiences, and activities from all over Maui. Click to find one that suits you!

More Tips on Travel to Hawaii

Plan Your Trip to Maui

Accommodation in Maui

Flights to Maui

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees). Download the new Skyscanner App, which makes it easier for you to find the best travel deals. It’s an all in one flight, hotel and car hire search engine app!

Car Rental in Maui

  • RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar. You can rent your car in Maui here. 

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