Spectacular Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, HI

Ka’anapali Beach, Maui: The Best 2024 Visitor Guide

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Ka’anapali Beach, Maui! The best beach on the island of Maui.

Sounds jaded? You’ve heard of so many beaches in Hawaii that are the best beaches, blah, blah, blah!

But Ka’anapali Beach on Maui is most deserving of this accolade, with finely powdered, soft, white sands, intense blue, warm, ocean waters, and swaying, tall, coconut palm trees – a tropical paradise like no other!

Intense blue ocean waters against manicured resort lawns at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Intense blue ocean waters against manicured resort lawns at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

If you liked Waikiki Beach on Oahu, you’ll love Ka’anapali Beach! Water activities galore, ritzy resorts offering fine dining, a world-class, open-air shopping center, and highly-rated, popular tours originating right from the beach.

What I loved about Ka’anapali Beach was that we could stay in a beachside resort, and keep the family fully entertained and occupied for the entire vacation without leaving Ka’anapali!

We’ve visited Ka’anapali Beach multiple times, and stayed at the beachside resorts on occasion, and our family just couldn’t get enough. Start planning your visit right now!

Hey, by the way! Snorkeling is probably at the top of your Maui itinerary — check out our guides to the best tours to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, two of the top snorkel spots on Maui!

Stunning Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Stunning Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

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Ka’anapali Beach Directions

Ka’anapali Beach is a gorgeous stretch of beach on the sunny west coast of Maui, just north of Lahaina, one of the first planned resort developments on the island.

Take Highway 30 going up north from Lahaina about 2 miles and turn left (oceanside) onto Ka’anapali Parkway.

Ka’anapali Beach Parking

Parking is a problem at Ka’anapali Beach. Of course, if you are staying at one of the beachside resorts, you don’t have this problem!

While there are multiple free public parking lots (expand the Ka’anapali Beach map below), usually right next to the beach access roads, the spots are few, and usually go fast.

Each resort is mandated to provide a few parking spots for free, but these go quickly as well. For example, the Sheraton has some 15+ spots, and I’ve parked there free for snorkeling at Black Rock, but I was there at 07:30 am!

North side of Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii, with new resorts
North side of Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii, with new resorts

One option is to use paid parking at the large, open air, shopping mall, Whalers Village. You can get partial validation (for two hours) if you shop in one of the stores.

They have signs discouraging beach parking (after all, they want you to shop!), but we’ve had no issues parking here.

Unfortunately, if you’re planning to spend a day at the beach, this can quickly add up.

Your other option is to park at the extreme ends of Ka’anapali Beach, Hanakao’o Beach Park at the south end or Kahekili Beach Park at the north side.

I actually preferred this option, but dropped off the family and parked at Kahekili Beach Park. I had a bit of walk to get to central Ka’anapali Beach, where all the action is, but didn’t mind that.

Ka’anapali Beach Map

The below Ka’anapali Beach map shows the location of Ka’anapali Beach and nearby attractions.

Ka’anapali Beach Access

If you’re staying at one of the beachside resorts, all you need to do is make your way to the beach.

Depending on where you parked, there are multiple beach access roads along the resorts that take you to Ka’anapali Beachwalk and the beach beyond.

Ka’anapali Beach Reservations

No reservations or permits are needed for Ka’anapali Beach. No entry fees either.

Ka’anapali Beach Amenities / Facilities

Location: West Shore, Maui
Lifeguard: Yes
Beach Amenities: Restrooms, showers, walkway
Food Nearby: Restaurants at the nearby resorts, Whalers Village
Parking: Limited free parking (resorts, beach parking lots)
Directions: Highway 30 to Kaanapali Parkway

Lifeguards are on duty from 08:00 am to 04:00 pm.

Outdoor showers are near the entry to most of the resorts, letting you rinse off the sand before heading in. Restrooms are available at the resorts as well.

You’ll see rental stores all along the beach offering beach umbrellas, cabanas, and water activities gear. Booking or reserving equipment online often gets you better deals.

Outrigger canoes for rent at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Outrigger canoes for rent at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Most of these stores or conveniently located booths also offer lessons and tours.

Finding a spot to eat is not an issue, with beachfront restaurants dotting the landscape. Whaler’s Village has some fast casual restaurants as well.

We loved the food at Hula Grill and the Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Best Things to Do at Ka’anapali Beach

Ka’anapali Beach used to be roughly a mile long stretch from Hanakao’o Park (aka Canoe Beach) to Black Rock, a lava rock cliff outcropping jutting into the ocean.

With new resorts popping further north of Black Rock, Ka’anapali Beach is now considered to be the roughly 3 mile stretch of sand, encompassing multiple contiguous beaches, all the way up to Kahekili Beach Park up north.

Black Rock is roughly mid-point, and a great landmark separating a quieter, more secluded north side from a bustling and crowded south side.

Sunset cliff divers at Black Rock, Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Sunset cliff divers at Black Rock, Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

The entire stretch of beach is lined with resorts, shopping complexes and golf courses.

1. Ka’anapali Beach Snorkeling

Ka’anapali Beach offers some of the best snorkeling in West Maui!

Our favorite spot on this 3-mile stretch of beach was the Black Rock area, the lava rock cliffs that jut into the ocean, which offers excellent snorkeling.

When our kids were younger, and we were beginning snorkelers, we stayed closer to the beach along the Black Rock lava walls. The coral reefs here were teeming with beautiful Hawaiian tropical fish, and we didn’t feel the urge to go further.

We saw tons of yellow tangs, convict tangs, butterflyfish and triggerfish, even the state fish of Hawaii, the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

To recognize and identify these beautiful fish, refer to our detailed Hawaiian fish snorkeling guide.

More experienced snorkelers can continue further out to far edge of Black Rock, where you can find larger tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles, but you have to be aware of the potential for stronger currents.

Our friends who ventured out saw a moray eel hiding in the reef.

Make sure the ocean waters are calm before entering the water, and check with the lifeguard on duty if you are not sure.

If you are looking to buy personal snorkeling gear instead of renting, check out these light travel-ready ones that we love to take to Hawaii!

Looking for a richer snorkeling experience, with the possibility of seeing spinner dolphins and humpback whales (in winter)? Consider a snorkeling tour from Ka’anapali Beach.

We took this popular, 5-star rated, West Maui Snorkeling Experience by Boat from Ka’anapali that stops at two of the best West Maui snorkeling locations, and saw turtles, spinner dolphins and lots of tropical fish, some quite big!

>> Check pricing and availability on the West Maui Snorkeling Experience by Boat from Ka’anapali tour now!

2. Ka’anapali Beach Swimming

The times we visited Ka’anapali Beach, the ocean waters were quite calm, and we were able to indulge in a refreshing dip in the inviting, warm, beautiful blue waters.

If you are so inclined, you can swim laps parallel to the beach, but stick closer to the shore to avoid currents.

Tourists swimming and cliff jumping at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, HI
Tourists swimming and cliff jumping at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, HI

In winter, rough waves are often likely, especially during high surf. Heed the warning orange or red flags that the lifeguards will place around the beach, and stay out of the water.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

3. Surf Ka’anapali Beach

In winter, the waves at Ka’anapali Beach can often get quite large, especially at high surf, to the delight of surfers!

We were not professional surfers, but loved admiring, from the safety of the beach, the grace with which these surfers rode the towering waves.

Surfer waiting for wave at sunset, with outrigger canoe in the background at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, HI
Surfer waiting for wave at sunset, with outrigger canoe in the background at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, HI

During low surf and in summer, the waves are a lot more pleasant, and you’ll find kids of all ages boogie boarding and surfing here.

Our kids took a Semi-Private Surf Lesson at Ka’anapali Beach and learned to surf here. We felt the more personalized attention with the semi-private option helped them learn surfing skills quicker!

>> Check pricing and availability at the 5-star rated Semi-Private Surf Lesson at Ka’anapali Beach now!

You also have an option of a more budget-friendly, and also 5-star rated, group lesson: Group Surf Lessons from Kaanapali Beach.

>> Check pricing and availability at the 5-star rated Group Surf Lessons from Kaanapali Beach now!

4. Cliff Diving from Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach

The Black Rock lava outcropping is not just a popular snorkeling spot, but also a fun cliff-jumping spot, with rocks of varying heights for different levels of divers.

On most days, we saw a bunch of tourist kids lined up on Black Rock cliffs waiting to jump, and some were even doing somersaults.

Obviously, cliff diving is risky, so do so at your own risk!

What we did enjoy, though, was the evening ritual, where a native Hawaiian would light up the tiki torches along the cliff, offer prayers and then dive into the ocean from one of the highest points of Black Rock.

Hawaiian cliff jumper, part of a traditional ceremony at sunset at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui
Hawaiian cliff jumper, part of a traditional ceremony at sunset at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui

A traditional ceremony that’s been performed for decades, and a delight to watch at sunset!

5. Scuba Diving at Black Rock, Ka’anapali Beach

Tired of snorkeling and looking for something more exciting? Scuba diving lessons and tours are offered at Ka’anapali Beach, and are popular among tourists looking for some adventure on their vacation.

Our teenage kids were absolute scuba beginners but good swimmers, so they enrolled in this popular, 5-star rated Intro to Scuba Diving in Kaanapali course.

Scuba divers exploring the coral reefs near Ka'anapali Beach, Maui
Scuba divers exploring the coral reefs near Ka’anapali Beach, Maui

Apart from learning the basics and how to handle the equipment, they also did some initial dives and loved the experience.

>> Check pricing and availability on this popular, 5-star rated Intro to Scuba Diving in Kaanapali now!

If you’ve dived before and are looking to advance your skills or a guided scuba dive, you can try these popular, 5-star rated tours:

6. Admire Turtles and Monk Seals on Ka’anapali Beach

While Hawaiian green sea turtles are endangered, in the past few years, they have made a resounding recovery. So much so, that on every visit to Ka’anapali Beach, we’ve seen a few basking in the sun on the golden sands!

Usually all you have to do is to head where the crowd is, and you’ll see that volunteers have already put orange cones, keeping selfie-seeking onlookers at bay.

Monk seals are a bit less common, and we haven’t seen them on Ka’anapali Beach yet, though others have.

Migrating humpback whales can be spotted from Ka’anapali Beach, one of the best whale watching locations in Maui, though you need really keen eyesight or binoculars to view them properly.

Humpback whale breaching in the Maui Nui Basin waters near Ka'anapali Beach
Humpback whale breaching in the Maui Nui Basin waters near Ka’anapali Beach

To get closer, we took this 5-star rated Ultimate 2 Hr Exclusive VIP Whale Watch Tour from Kaanapali Beach tour.

Proved to be quite an adventure that the kids loved, with speedy rafts taking us fairly close to whales breaching the surface! We could even listen to whale songs on hydrophones available on the raft.

>> Check pricing and availability on the 5-star rated Ultimate 2 Hr Exclusive VIP Whale Watch Tour from Kaanapali Beach now!

7. Sunbathe or Relax with a Book or Take a Leisurely Stroll

With 3 miles of gorgeous, soft white sand, finding a private, secluded spot for sunbathing or relaxing with a book is not difficult, especially if you head north of the Black Rock.

Gorgeous golden sands at Ka'anapali Beach, perfect for sunbathing
Gorgeous golden sands at Ka’anapali Beach, perfect for sunbathing

Bring your beach umbrellas and don’t forget reefsafe sunscreen.

What I love about Ka’anapali Beach is the oceanfront walkway that stretches parallel to the beach, and takes you along all the resorts.

When I was staying at one of Ka’anapali’s beachside resort, this walkway was my favorite early morning jogging route!

Ka'anapali Boardwalk, a paved beachfront pathway connecting resorts
Ka’anapali Boardwalk, a paved beachfront pathway connecting resorts

If you prefer, you can stroll along the beach as well, the sand is so soft, you can even walk barefoot.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

8. Stay Back for Spectacular Sunsets

Watching the sunset from Ka’anapali Beach with your partner is one of the most romantic things to do on Maui!

From Ka’anapali Beach, you can see the neighboring Hawaiian islands of Lanai and Molokai, far in the horizon.

Stunning sunset colors at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, HI
Stunning sunset colors at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, HI

The tropical sun sets behind Lanai to the tune of warm vibrant red and orange colors!

And for a special kind of romantic, sunset experience, I highly recommend the popular, 5-star rated Premium Sunset Dinner Cruise from Ka’anapali Beach, where you can watch a stunning tropical sunset with your partner, while sipping a cocktail aboard the deck of a luxury catamaran!

>> Check pricing and availability on the popular, 5-star rated Premium Sunset Dinner Cruise from Ka’anapali Beach now!

9. Window Shop at Whalers Village

Need a break from the beach? Stroll along the ritzy shops at Whalers village, a large, open-air shopping mall, right on the beach!

Whalers Village, open-air shopping mall at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Whalers Village, open-air shopping mall at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Not only can you pick up some necessities like sunscreen from the ubiquitous ABC stores or browse through the latest offerings from Kate Spade, Whalers Village hosts a bunch of activities that will keep your kids occupied.

Our kids learned about cultural Hawaiian traditions like ulana lau niu (coconut frond weaving) and playing the ululele, and visited the educational Hawaii Wildlife Discovery Center where they learned about humpback whales, Hawaiian green sea turtles or honu, and more.

10. Fine Dining and Luaus at Ka’anapali

With ritzy resorts all along Ka’anapali Beach, can fine dining be far? When we stayed at the beachside resort, we explored some of these options, and most were walking distance.

The ones we most frequented were easily accessible in Whaler’s Village, and had a relatively casual beachfront ambiance: the Hula Grill, Monkeypod Kitchen and Leilani’s Restaurant.

Our favorite fine dining food was the Asian fusion at Roy’s Kaanapali, which overlooks the golf course. We heard Duke’s Beach House (northern part of Ka’anapali Beach) is also good, but didn’t get a chance to try it.

The Fish Market Maui is a must if you like fish, but you’ll have to drive to it.

First time in Hawaii? Attending a luau is a must, and Ka’anapali Beach offers many options.

Pair of competing fire dancers spinning lit batons at night after a luau
Pair of competing fire dancers spinning lit batons at night after a luau

We went to the Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, which was at Black Rock, a remarkable setting on the beach!

We preferred the buffet-style all-you-can-eat setting (excellent if you have starving teenagers) that this luau offered, and the Polynesian dances and flame throwers were amazing!

>> Check pricing and availability for the popular Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa now!

11. Ziplining

Teenage kids yearning for some action? How about an 8-line zipline adventure?

With ziplines crisscrossing the West Maui mountains and ravines, you get fabulous views of the entire West Maui coastline, the Ka’anapali Beach, Molokai and Lanai.

Our whole family took the popular, 5-star rated 8 Line Ka’anapali Zipline Adventure on Maui, and had fun time! You can see lush, tropical forests and the entire coast.

The tour guide was very knowledgeable, pointed out many of the local highlights, and were very funny! Our kids loved the tour.

>> Check pricing and availability on the popular, 5-star rated 8 Line Ka’anapali Zipline Adventure on Maui now!

12. Play a Round of Golf

What’s a vacation without a leisurely round of golf on an oceanfront golf course? Ka’anapali actually offers two championship golf courses, the Royal Ka’anapali and the Ka’anapali Kai.

Championship golf courses at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Championship golf courses at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

What can be more fun that watching a humpback whale breach while waiting for your turn? You can reserve your tee time at their best online rates here.

And after you’re done golfing, stop at Roy’s Ka’anapali for a fabulous dinner overlooking the 18th hole (be sure to make reservations). I loved their blackened market catch, just the right amount of spice!

Other Activities near Ka’anapali Beach

Adventure tourist looking for some thrills? Ka’anapali Beach has ample opportunities for your indulgence including parasailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and jet skiing.

Fun water activities at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Fun water activities at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

On our first trip to Maui, when our kids were in their early teens, on a whim, we tried parasailing. Turned out to be the highlight of that vacation, and our kids still talk about it!

The parasailing tour guide took some amazing photos and we still cherish those moments.

If you’re looking for more laid-back water activities, you can rent outrigger canoes or kayaks, and explore the coastline along Ka’anapali Beach.

Outrigger canoeing at Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Outrigger canoeing at Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Snorkeling and Water Activities Gear Checklist

Though you can rent snorkeling gear or use the ones that come with tours, we invested in our own gear, mainly due to Covid-19 (why take the risk?).

Ocean Safety Tips

Hawaii’s beaches are beautiful, but ocean activities can be dangerous. Ocean conditions are dynamic and can change without warning.

Here are some tips to enjoy the ocean and beaches safely:

  • ALWAYS heed posted warning signs.
  • Check conditions just before you arrive at your chosen beach, and watch conditions at the beach for a bit before you decide to enter the water.
  • Swim at a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguard for advice before you enter the water.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean, whether you are standing at the shore or on a cliff above. If you see wet rocks or sand, it means the water has been here recently.
  • Know your limitations, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer. If in doubt, do not go out.
  • If you choose to enter the water, go with a partner or in a group.
  • Know that alcohol can impair judgment and motor skills in the water.
  • Keep children close and always keep your eyes on what they are doing in the water.
  • Watch for sharp coral or rocks or sea urchins.
  • Check advisories regarding water quality at various beaches here.
Cliff diving can be dangerous, do it at your own risk!
Cliff diving can be dangerous, do it at your own risk!

The Best Maui Tours

Have you booked these top-rated Maui guided adventures yet?

Small-group Road to Hana tour so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views without worrying about negotiating hairpin bends or finding parking at popular stops!

A Haleakala sunrise tour so you can experience the bucket-list sunrise atop the volcano without the need to reserve a parking spot or drive up in the dark!

A Maui whale watching raft tour, which will let you see the massive humpback whales at eye level! (You can also opt for a more sedate boat whale watching tour.) A MUST winter Maui activity!

A Maui snorkeling excursion that combines the Molokini Crater with Turtle Town, the two most epic snorkeling destinations on the island!

A 7-line Maui zipline experience where you can glide over the forests on the north shore of Maui. Enjoy ocean views and navigate obstacle course challenges!

An oceanfront luau in Wailea where you can enjoy a sunset buffet and traditional Polynesian entertainment. You can also opt for a Kaanapali oceanfront luau.

Renting a Car in Maui

The best things to do in Maui are located all over the island.

Public transport options on Maui are minimal to non-existent, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Maui trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Maui car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Maui car rentals now!

Where to Stay in Maui

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Maui you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

By far the majority of visitors to Maui choose to base on the west side, where there is a large selection of accommodations available, from resorts and hotels to vacation rentals.

We suggest starting your search for Maui accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO. You can filter to choose a specific area, such as Kihei, Kapalua, or Wailea.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Kihei and Kapalua and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Maui vacation rental on VRBO now!

Beautiful Ka'anapali Beach at sunset, Maui, Hawaii
Beautiful Ka’anapali Beach at sunset, Maui, Hawaii

More Maui Travel Inspiration

If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!

If you are a first-time visitor to Maui, start by reading our article on the best things to do in Maui. From beautiful beaches and lush rainforest to Maui’s volcanic crater, our round-up captures the most iconic Maui experiences and activities.

If you are dreaming of a winter getaway to a tropical paradise, read our guide on why you should visit Maui in winter!

If you are planning a brief first visit to Maui, here’s our 3-day Maui itinerary to help you flesh out your own trip! And if you are considering a couples getaway to Maui, read about the top romantic things to do in Maui!

Driving the Road to Hana is one of Maui’s bucket-list experiences. We have a comprehensive guide to the best stops on the Road to Hana, including waterfalls and short hikes on the way.

One of the top stops on the route is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which requires reservations. Read our full guide to Maui’s black sand beach in this popular state park!

Maui boasts one of only two national parks in Hawaii. Read our round-up of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park. We also have the ultimate guide to sunrise at Haleakala.

We also have a guide to the best hikes in Haleakala National Park, and in-depth hiking guides to the two most epic hikes in the park: the Sliding Sands Trail and the Pipiwai Trail.

Speaking of hiking, also be sure to check out our round-up of the best Maui hikes, from easy to challenging. Plus, peruse our complete guides to hiking the popular Kapalua Coastal Trail in northwest Maui, and the Waihee Ridge Trail for astounding views!

We also have a round-up of the best waterfalls in Maui, from the 400-foot Waimoku Falls to Upper Waikani Falls near Hana. Some Maui waterfalls can be seen from viewpoints whereas others require hiking.

Water activities are plentiful in Maui! Check out our epic guide to whale watching in Maui, and our guide to the best Molokini snorkeling tours and the best Turtle Town snorkeling.

If you’d rather snorkel from shore, read our round-up of the best snorkel spots in West Maui.

Every Maui itinerary should have plenty of beach time: there are so many beautiful beaches in Maui that you are spoiled for choice. We have a round-up of the best beaches in South Maui, plus a detailed guide to Wailea Beach in southwest Maui, and one for Maluaka Beach along the Turtle Town stretch of coast.

We also have articles on the much-visited Kaanapali Beach, the popular Napili Beach and local favorite Keawakapu Beach. Along the northwest side, Honolua Bay is a famous surfing spot, and Ho’okipa Beach, near Paia, is a windsurfing mecca.

If you are looking to experience a different side of Maui, plan a visit to the Iao Valley State Monument. The lush landscapes and serene ambience will wow you! Also read our guide to Maui’s state parks, which include popular Makena State Park, home to Big Beach and Little Beach.

Spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include touring farms and gardens. Help milk goats, tour a tea farm, go wine tasting and much more.

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Discover the best things to do at Kaanapali Beach on Maui's west side. This beautiful beach is a must on any Maui itinerary!


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