If you are going on vacation to Hawaii, there are about 100 world-class beaches to choose from. Some are wild, wind stepped locations that are almost impossible to access unless you have the dexterity of a mountain goat. Some, though a little commercial, are fantastic for the entire family, and the later describes Kaanapali Beach.

Where is Ka’anapali Beach?

About 50 minutes from Kahului Airport, in Maui, Kaanapali Beach was once named America’s Best Beach Front, this former retreat beach resort was reserved primarily for Hawaiian Royalty in the past, and was Hawaii’s first planned resort.

Why Kaanapali Beach Is Popular?

With three miles of beach, amazing snorkeling spots, family-friendly waves, sea turtles, cliff driving, whales, 60 shops nearby, tons of eateries and drinking establishments, plus five award-winning resorts and six condominium resorts, all connected by a crystal sand beach makes this area a beachgoers paradise.

What To Do In Kaanapali Beach?

First, we need to separate those who are staying for several days at one of the 3,500 hotel and condominium rooms from those who are day-tripping.

If you are a day-tripper, that’s fine, as there are plenty of places to shop, eat, rent beach equipment, snorkel, boogie boarding and enjoy a beautiful beach. Just be sure and get there early to find a place to park. Expect to pay a minimum of $25 for parking, and to walk a good ways to the beach, but other than that, there really is no class separation between day-trippers and longer stay resort guests.

For those who are staying longer, besides body surfing, and the kids splashing in the waves, there are such activities as catamaran cruises, aqua bikes, snorkeling, diving and of course luaus. If you are really bold, you can climb up steep “black rock,+ and cliff dive below. And at night, they light up “the rock”.

Another popular activity is whale watching. There are several boat tours that will take you within 100 yards of the whales that travel from Alaska all the way to Hawaii, and give birth to their young.

One note of caution about the beach. While it is beautiful, there are riptides, so keep a close eye on your young ones, and also be advised that there are no lifeguards at the beach, so you are one your own.

Those staying at one of the resort’s hotels such as the world class resort the Westin or the ocean resort villas will almost certainly want to dine and shop at the nearby Whalers Village, mall, just above the beach.

Another activity worth mentioning for those staying longer is nearby access two superp golf courses, The Royal Ka’anapali Course, a par 71 course that has challenged the likes of pro golfers Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer, and The Ka’anapali Kai Course, a 6400 yard par 70 course, both courses boarding on the sea.

About the only complaint from golfers is that when the whales are doing gymnastics in the sea, nobody seems to hit close to par.

Nearby is the historic town of Lahaina, once the capital of Hawaii, and a historic town filled with shops and reminders of the whaling traditions of the past.

Parking at Kaanapali Beach

Unless you are a guest at an oceanfront beach hotel, unfortunately, parking is the single sore spot to visiting Ka’anapali. You’ll be looking around for quite some time to park if you don’t get there early (certainly by 10:30 a.m., and expect to pay. Be prepared to pay a minimum of $4, and hour for parking at Whalers Mall, and covered parking can run as much as $40 or more for a few hours.

Although there is a shuttle bus to the beach, it goes infrequently be ready for a brisk hike with all of your gear down to the beach.


The Hyatt Regency Resort Maui, Kaanapali Beach Resorts, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, and the Westin Resort Spa, and the Royal Lahaina Resort are all located in the one-mile, stretch of crystal clear beachfront. As you can expect, none of these are cheap, but they all offer the finest of ocean activities

How To Get To Kaanapali Beach?

Most people fly into Kahului Airport, and from there, Kaanapali is approximately

a 50-mile taxi drive away from the airport.

If you are taking a taxi, be prepared to spend around $90 if you are not renting a car. If you are taking a shuttle, expect to pay $20 per person.