Black Rock Beach

Black Rock Beach: Snorkeling Hotspot at North End of Kaanapali Beach in West Maui
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The northern end of world-famous Kaanapali Beach, often called Black Rock Beach, offers one of Maui’s preeminent beachgoing experiences. The sand and surf are just about flawless, the ambience lively, and there are plenty of amenities near at hand. But the top attraction of all is the excellent and easily accessible snorkeling around Black Rock itself.

- The Local Expert Team

Busy and beautiful Kaanapali Beach in West Maui has been an international resort destination since the early 1960s. It’s a long and postcard-perfect beachfront, but arguably the best section of it is the north end, which you’ll also see called Black Rock Beach.

The name comes from the dramatic lava headland of Puu Kekaa, aka Black Rock. This promontory—formed in one of the final volcanic eruptions on West Maui—comes steeped in Hawaiian mythology. It’s where the souls of the dead departed for the spirit world of the ancestors—or, sometimes, ended up lingering. 

Black Rock divides the long Kaanapali-area beachfront, with extensive sands stretching northward through Kahekili, Kekaa, and Honokowai beaches. Kaanapali Beach proper runs southward from Black Rock, arcing on down to Hanakaoo (or Canoe) Beach. The Kaanapali Beachwalk traces much of this length, offering easy foot access to the sands as well as the numerous resorts, shops, restaurants, and bars along the shore. (Those include the bustling storefronts of the Whaler’s Village Shopping Center.)

You can walk or jog along the Kaanapali Beachwalk to get to Black Rock Beach. There’s also parking in a limited number of dedicated beach-access spots in the Sheraton Maui Resort parking lot, and in multiple Kaanapali Beach lots southward. If you’re shopping, you can also park in the Whaler’s Village lot.

Keep in mind there aren’t public restrooms available here; you’ll need to use the facilities in the adjoining resorts or businesses. There are outdoor showers. No lifeguards monitor the beachfront here.

Black Rock is popular for cliff-jumping, though that’s of course risky business no matter how many others are doing it. It’s also the site of a sunset torch-lighting “ceremony.” Speaking of sunsets, they are indeed world-class from here, and enhanced by the dancing tiki torches along the beachfront. 

The appeal of Black Rock for many beachgoers is the excellent snorkeling it marks. The nice and clear water column deepens steadily as you follow the Black Rock contour. Coral and lava-rock form an underwater wall nicely thrumming along with sealife.

A variety of tropical fish may be seen here, from tangs and butterfly fish to goatfish, cornetfish, and damselfish. And then there are the regularly seen sea turtles, which hang about the wall and take advantage of the services of cleaner wrasses. 

From lounging, strolling, and sunset-gazing on the sand to that celebrated snorkeling, Black Rock Beach is just about the overall pinnacle of the Kaanapali Beach experience. Definitely weave in a visit—and maybe an underwater safari—while enjoying the plentiful attractions and luxury R&R on offer around Kaanapali.

Insider Tip:
If snorkeling here, beware of sometimes-strong currents around the point of Black Rock. Swimming southward off the beach, away from the point, should get you out of its influence zone and allow you to work your way back to shore.