Kaanapali Beach

Kaanapali Beach – A Resort-Side Treasure Along the Shores of West Maui
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

A true luxury resort destination, Kaanapali Beach is the place to go in West Maui for a full day of fun in the water, sun, and surf. From boogie boarding and whale watching to cliff diving ceremonies and sunset strolls, this popular beach definitely offers it all. Plus, with seven resorts and the Whalers Village shopping mall nearby, you don’t even have to go far for great food, beach gear, and souvenirs.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

With its three miles of golden sands and pristine waters, Kaanapali Beach serves as the oceanside destination of choice in West Maui. The sands extend from Black Rock Beach at the north all the way down to Hanakaoo Park to the south.

People come from far and wide to boogie board, snorkel, and simply stroll along the beach to their heart’s content. The cliff diving ceremony draws quite a crowd as well even though it’s held daily at the northern side of Kaanapali Beach. Although you can go swimming anywhere along the beach, there are no lifeguards on duty, so you’re on your own if you get into trouble.

As you explore Kaanapali Beach, you can stop in at any of the seven nearby resorts for a bite to eat and plenty of delicious drinks. Or you can zip on over to the Whalers Village shopping mall for food, drinks, and all the gear you need for your upcoming adventures. Many of the shops have awesome souvenirs as well.

Most people start their visit at the center by parking in the Whalers Village garage or the surface lots along Nohea Kai Drive marked with “Beach Access.” If you do a little shopping at the village, you can get your garage parking validated for three free hours with your purchase of $10 or more.

Top things to do at Kaanapali Beach include:

Break Out the Boogie Boards
Along most of Kaanapali Beach, you can break out the boogie boards and ride the gentle waves toward the shore. The waves remain pretty low-key through the summer but increase in intensity in the winter. Watch out for strong currents in the deep water, which can sweep you out further than expected if you’re not careful.

Enjoy an Afternoon of Snorkeling
Want to see colorful fish, baby sharks, and sea turtles? Head north to the Black Rock area for pure snorkeling goodness. The visibility is crystal clear, and the waves are chill enough to let you kick around with ease. Put your phone or camera in a waterproof pouch to capture awesome photos to share once you’re done.  

Attend the Cliff Diving Ceremony
If you’re already spending the day near Black Rock, stick around for the daily cliff diving ceremony. Each day as the sun goes down, a skilled cliff diver goes up to the top of the rocks to light the torches and then dives into the water below. Held in honor of King Kahekili, this ceremony serves as a reenactment of his daring dive, while showcasing the diver’s amazing skills.  

Take a Leisurely Stroll at Sunset
After the cliff diving ceremony ends, you can gaze upon the beautiful views by taking a sunset stroll. The sky lights up in vivid purple, red, and orange while touching the dazzling blue waters at the horizon. You can get your steps in for the day by walking all the way down to Hanakaoo Park or stop anywhere along the way of Kaanapali Beach to simply soak in the sights.

Looking to fuel up for your beachside adventures at Kaanapali Beach with delicious food and drinks? Go ahead and visit the nearby resorts for what you need. You can go to the bar at the Sheraton Resort, for example, to enjoy a meal to remember by the pool. If you prefer to dine in the village, zip on over to the Hula Grill, Leilani’s on the Beach, or one of the many other eateries in the shopping center instead.

Insider Tips:
-As with all Hawaiian beaches, never turn your back on the waves.
-Watch the surf for a few moments before entering and stay out of the water if it looks rough. If you’re unsure, the attendants at the beach shacks are a good source of information about the current conditions.