Ka’anapali Beach is a 3-mile long picture perfect stretch of white sand located on the western shore of Maui. It’s rated one of the best beaches in the world by numerous travel publications including Condé Nast magazine. Some of my California friends, who visit Hawai’i annually, think Ka’anapali Beach is too crowded and commercial and prefer the quieter South Maui. I guess it depends on your perspective. For what was essentially our first family trip from the UK to Hawai’i, Ka’anapali Beach was a perfect first stop for us and we are certainly going back!
Ka’anapali has pretty much what we wanted and expected from a Hawaiian vacation. The girls had surfing lessons just a few steps away from our hotel. They were amazed with the warm water (in the 80s) and that they didn’t need wet suits! We had world-class snorkelling a short walk away at Black Rock, one of Maui’s top snorkeling destinations. I walked into the water from the beach and within seconds saw my first sea turtle! At sunset, you can catch the daily cliff diving ceremony (we opted out of the cliff jumping).
The girls spent their time between the extensive pool and water slide complex at our resort (a real plus having them so close together), snorkeling, body boarding or just floating in the ocean in their inner tubes.
Much of the activity revolves around the Ka’anapali Beach Walk, which fronts the resorts, shops and restaurants. Ka’anapali is not as fancy as Walilea in the south, but it’s all still high-end, no matter how you cut it Hawai’i is pricey!
My 12-year-old’s perspective
Ka’anapali Beach is amazing! The is so warm (about 80F) and I really liked boogie boarding as the waves were bigger than California and we didn’t have to worry about being cold. We also liked floating in the inner tubes.
Where we stayed: The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
I remember the Westin being built way back when and the pool and water slides looked amazing. It’s known for being family friendly. It’s totally a family resort – it was teaming with families in the summer. I found the weather hot, but not as hot the Caribbean in October. It rained nearly every day we were there – a welcoming light, wispy rain that cooled your skin and stopped almost as soon as it started – so don’t worry if the forecast is for rain! Only once did the heavens open. But that only lasted an hour and then it was hot and sunny again.
I always scour TripAdvisor before I book anything and there’s loads written about The Westin Maui (don’t confuse it with the timeshare condos of the same name). You need to be wary of TripAdvisor though it can be a place where disgruntled guests air their grievances. On the whole there are many more positive reviews than negative ones. I was put off by the comments that said it was very difficult to get sun loungers. On a busy Friday in the depth of the summer holidays we managed to find a couple of places to sit (though not under an umbrella, which in blazing sunshine I can only manage 1/2 hour).
TripAdvisor did tip me off to the idea of booking a cabana (you can book Westin Maui Resort Cabanas online). While pricey ($70) – it was nice to have a place to base ourselves protected from the sun. Sun loungers are available for free for guests, but they fill up quickly. The resort has a strict policy of clearing (and securing) your items from lounge chairs if you haven’t been there for more than an hour. You also are assigned a towel card – to exchange for clean towels. I didn’t find this an issue like many on TripAdvisor. It seemed like a logical way to manage towels (which face it, many of them disappear!). Plus – there was always an abundance of towels, they never ran out.
I am soooo glad we rented the cabana. It gave my poor Scottish husband a guaranteed place in the shade. We picked #27 – which was on the beach side – with the pools right behind us. Plus we had a cabana girl who came around and gave us iced water, Maui pineapple (included) or you could order from a menu.
My 11-year-old’s perspective
The 5 swimming pools at the Westin Maui were amazing!!! There were lots of waterfalls and rocks. A grotto cave connected the first pool and there was a whirlpool in it. The second pool had a small slide that led to the 3rd pool! There was a basketball hoop in the 3rd pool. The 4th pool had an AWESOME water slide. It went really fast and was really long. You could buy inner tubes and floaties at the pool. We bought inner tubes. They were so much fun and we bought them to the other hotel and brought them home with us.
We had an Ocean view room that had either a king or two doubles, which had a sofa bed so would accommodate a family of 5. Somehow we ended up in the king sized bed and they offered a complimentary roll-a-way bed.
The beds are worth mentioning. All guest rooms come with luxurious beds valued at $2,000. Appropriately named Heavenly® Bed, the all-white, plush beds consists of 10 layers of heaven: a custom-designed Simmons Beautyrest pillow-top mattress set, cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, a comforter, duvet and five fluffy pillows. The sofa bed was really comfortable too and it “was a real bed too mummy” a direct quote from my 11-year-old (who usually hates pull outs beds). That’s a huge plus.
We were on the 11th floor and overlooked the beach! Whaler’s Village is having a re-do (and it was a bit noisy) but overall we could have had a much worse off room (such as overlooking the car park).
Overall, I was very happy with the hotel and our location. It suited us well. My husband and I did prefer the quieter Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, but the girls loved the Westin Maui most!
My 14-year-old’s perspective
I really liked snorkeling at Kapalula Bay because there was so many different fish other marine life. My favorite creature that I saw were the sea turtles! I saw at least 3 different ones and they got really close to you.
IF YOU GO:
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali 2365 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761 +1 (808) 667-2525 http://www.westinmaui.com
Whalers Village H-6, 2435 Ka’anapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761 +1 (808) 661-4567 https://www.whalersvillage.com/en.html
Leilani’s on the Beach Whalers Village, 2435 Ka’anapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761 +1 (808) 661-4495 Right next door! We’ve been to Duke’s in Huntington Beach and Jake’s in Del Mar. Order the fish tacos – it’s their specialty.
Hula Grill Whalers Village, 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761 +1 (808) 667-6636 http://www.hulagrillkaanapali.com
Relish Bistro Burger 365 Ka’anapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761 +1 (808) 667-2525
Merriman’s Maui 1 Bay Club Pl, Lahaina, HI 96761 +1 (808) 669-6400 Food and service is OK but the location more that makes up for it. Snorkel at Kapalua and then head up for a meal. It’s a bit she-she, but in a kale and pineapple juice sort of way.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop 820 Olawalu Village Road, Lahaina, HI 96761+1 (808) 662-3600 Counter-serve cafe featuring farm-fresh American eats & handmade baked goods in a quaint setting. This place is awesome. Don’t miss it.
Star Noodle 286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761 + (808) 667-5400 Asian shared plates, noodle dishes & sake cocktails in an airy, light, wood-trimmed space.
Ka’anapali Surf Club http://www.kaanapalisurfclub.com