Maui’s Kāʻanapali Named The Best Beach in America, Again. Tour It In Pictures Until You Can Visit
It’s not a surprise that over 3 million people a year visit Maui, proclaimed America’s best island and home of the U.S.’s best beach. With the warm, welcoming aloha spirit of its people, glimpses of Old Hawaii along the undeveloped Road to Hana, mountains, lush valleys, a U.S. National Park, top golf courses, top resorts, and amazing farm-to-table food, it’s seemingly got it all in one small island.
It Reigns Supreme: Kāʻanapali Beach
When you think of Hawaii, miles of white sand, crystal clear waters, and palm tree-lined coastline come to mind. Well, that’s what you’ll find on Kāʻanapali Beach, arguably the island’s most popular and beloved beach, first by The Hawaiian Royal Family and later by tourists. With spiritual importance to Hawaiians, it has grabbed ahold of visitor’s hearts and minds for generations.
Named for the rolling hills surrounding it, the mountain and ocean views are equally stunning. Once you’ve been here, you’ll see why it was the location of the island’s first master-planned resort area. In 1962 The Royal Lahaina Resort opened on 27 acres of beachfront property, and over the years, more top resorts have followed their lead.
24 Things to Do In Kāʻanapali Beach + West Maui
As you explore the beauty of Maui, please respect the unique culture of the Hawaii people and their deep connection and protection of their ʻĀina (land). Visit Hawaii with Aloha’ Āina, a love of the land, so it will be here for generations of visitors to come.
So whether you’re looking to stretch your vacation dollar with free activities or splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, here are 24 Things to Do in Kāʻanapali Beach and the immediate area.
1. Have a Kāʻanapali Beach Day
Kāʻanapali Beach has a gorgeous stretch of coastline filled with powder white sand, gentle waves, and stunning views of the island’s West Maui mountains. Enjoy endless water activities or relax on the stunning beach, often named one of the world’s best. It includes seven hotel fronts and outdoor shopping at Whalers Village, so you don’t have to go far for things you need!
2. Whalers Village Shopping Center
Whaler’s Village is a shopping center located right in the center of town with an array of stores and restaurants. Visitors can find anything from surf gear high-end clothing, and the iconic ABC convenience store. Shops include Billabong, Lululemon, Sephora, and many more. So if you like to pack light and travel with a backpack, you can pick up supplies and clothing at Whaler’s Village in case of a change of weather.
While you’re there, grab something to eat or drink at MonkeyPod. You won’t regret it.
3. Take a Kāʻanapali Beach Walk
The paved path along Kāʻanapali Beach is about 1.5 miles long and stretches from the Sheraton all the way to the Hyatt. The trail makes for a great spot to take a stroll, jog, or casually admire the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean and its stunning sands.
Head out on this walk early in the morning, so you’ll miss the crowds. If you’re staying inland or on another part of the island, park at Whaler’s Village and stop at Island Vintage Coffee for your morning cup of joe!
4. History Filled Cliff Jumping at Black Rock
Black rock, or Pu’u Keka’a, is located on the north side of Kāʻanapali Beach near the Sheraton Maui Resort. Ancient Hawaiian lore said that people’s spirits came to this exact rock after death and jumped into the sea to meet their ancestors for eternity. If they can’t find their family’s guardian animal spirit, like Moana’s stingray grandma, their soul is lost and seeps into nearby rocks. It is one of the many reasons Hawaii asks visitors to refrain from taking anything from nature home as a souvenir.
When reaching the top of Black Rock, you can jump down or cliff dive into the ocean below. Make sure to wear swim shoes while hiking up so you don’t cut your feet on the jagged rock.
5. Snorkeling at Black Rock
Snorkeling at the base of Black Rock is one of the best spots to see schools of fish and other water animals. You can rent snorkel gear off the beach and step into the clear water to see parrotfish, surgeonfish, chub, octopus, sea urchin, coral, and many more. During the mid-morning hours, you may even spot a sea turtle swimming around! So head out to this spot earlier in the morning to beat the crowds and get the best views of marine life.
6. Experience Stand Up Paddleboarding
Stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, has become very popular in Maui. Head out to Kāʻanapali Beach for calm waters and baby waves. It’s great fun for a wide range of ages and abilities. In addition, it’s a stunning sunset activity in paradise.
7. Hang Loose
Surfing is one of the most iconic things to do on any Hawaiian vacation. Kāʻanapali offers surfing lessons right on the beach if you’re a novice and want to catch your first wave. Make sure to book a lesson or group class before leaving for your vacation, as they fill out quickly!
8. Rent a Cabana on Kāʻanapali Beach
Many resorts have rentable cabanas with beautiful views of the ocean and sun protection from the intense rays. If you will be hanging out at your resort all day, it’s a nice splurge. If you’d like to have a beach day on this top beach but are staying in another area of the island, The Sheraton Maui Resort near Black Rock has previously rented cabanas to non-guests. Call the resort to confirm before heading over.
9. Indulge at One of Kāʻanapali’s Luxury Spas
Many of the Kāʻanapali Beach resorts have seriously impressive spas. So whether you’re on your honeymoon, on a bucket-list trip, or want some alone time on a family vacation, make yourself an appointment for pampering. Some popular spots include The Spa at Black Rock, Heavenly Spa at the Westin, or right off the beach at Marriott Maui Ocean Club.
10. Visit the Penguins
Check out The Hyatt Regency Maui’s penguin viewing area if you’re looking for things to do with kids. You can see these beautiful birds waddling around and eating and can capture this memory at the hotel’s Penguin photo booth.
11. Enjoy Hawaiian Shave Ice
After visiting the penguins, you can grab shave ice, an iconic Hawaiian food, at the hotel. Beloved by kids and adults alike, this Hawaiian dessert is made of finely shaved ice and topped with different flavored syrups such as pineapple, coconut, lilikoi, and strawberry. Ululani’s Shave Ice has over 30 flavors and multiple topping choices, so everyone in your family can make their own custom treat.
12. Watch the Torch Lighting Ceremony at the Sheraton
Another one of the free things to do is the daily Black Rock Torch Lighting at sunset, occurring every day since 1963. You can relax on the lawn or Black Rock Beach and watch a local run to light up every torch, ending at the top of Black Rock, where he will offer a lei to the Hawaiian gods and then cliff dive into the water below. With knowledge of the historical backstory, this cliff dive ceremony is more than just a tourist show.
13. Watch Pacific Humpback Whales
Maui is one of North America’s best places to see humpback whales, so take your chance to spot these majestic creatures. They migrate thousands of miles yearly from Alaska to Hawaii around December through April. So if you’re traveling to Maui during this time frame, make sure to book a tour as soon as you purchase your plane tickets!
14. Parasailing Down Kāʻanapali Beach
For adventurous teens or adults, book a parasail ride to see Maui from 1,200 feet above the water. Parasailing is a seasonal activity, only available from May through December, during Hawaii’s peak travel season.
15. Top Golf Courses
With two golf courses to choose from, avid golfers can take their best shots at some of Hawaii’s top courses. The Royal Kāʻanapali course provides historical background on every tee, and the Kāʻanapali Kai course was once the place for royal games.
16. Walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a 1.75-mile walk just off the coast. The path will also lead you to an area with lava rock and golf course views. However, take caution not to go too close to the ocean, as the waves can surprise you with a splash. The trail starts at Merriman’s Kapalua restaurant and passes the popular Sensei sushi restaurant if you want to plan a pre-or-post meal walk.
17. Snorkel at Kapalua Bay
As you walk The Kapalua Coastal Trail, you’ll see it’s a popular snorkeling spot. The wind and waves protect Kapalua bay, so you’ll see abundant marine life, including sea turtles and dolphins! It’s one of the best snorkeling spots in the Kāʻanapali beach area, so come early, as there is limited parking.
18. Walk along Front Street in Lahaina
No trip to West Maui is completed without visiting Old Lahaina town, a short 15-minute trip from Kāʻanapali. Walk along iconic Front Street, browse local shops and art galleries, and learn about the historical importance of this trading port.
19. Visit the Lahaina Banyan Tree
The Old Banyan tree in Lahaina is a crowd-favorite photo spot. It’s been around for about 150 years and is recognized as the oldest banyan tree on the island. The kids can run around in the park while adults relax on a bench before heading to some of Maui’s best restaurants nearby.
20. Attend a Luau
One of the unique experiences in Hawaii is attending a luau. Old Lahaina Luau offers an authentic luau that allows tourists to experience Hawai’i through all five senses. You’ll be served a 5-course meal of traditional Hawaiian food with phenomenal ocean views. The whole experience is around three hours, so ensure you’re over your jet lag before attending.
21. Zipline Over the Trees
If you dream of flying through the lush greenery of Maui but can’t get a rental car, don’t worry. Skyline Eco adventures meet at a Kāʻanapali retail location and transport guests into the valleys of Mount Kahalawai for a 3 hours thrilling adventure.
22. ATV Off-Roading
If you’re looking for even more adventures, book an ATV adventure to explore the nearby mountains. You can drive an ATV up 2,000 feet on the dirt switchback trails to see the stunning nature and wildlife up close and personal.
23. Fly High in a Helicopter Tour
Some of Maui’s rugged landscape and coastlines can only be seen by helicopter. There are tours to Haleakala National Park, Pu’u Kukui Watershed’s The Wall of Tears, and Keopuka, or Jurassic Rock, from the opening of the famed movie.
24. Take a Sunset Dinner Cruise
The perfect finale for any Hawaiian vacation is a sunset cruise. Book an evening on the Pacific Ocean right on the shores of Kāʻanapali Beach. During this dinner cruise, you will hear more about the history of Hawaii and its people while watching the beautiful sunset.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.