A Tropical Travel Blog
by Cate Lincoln

Ka’anapali is a resort area in West Maui that’s anchored by the ultra nice Ka’anapali beach. Originally developed in the 1960s, it remains the most popular place to stay and play on Maui. The old whaling village of Lahaina is nearby so you’ll be right in the middle of the majority of dining and accommodation options on this side of the island. It’s about a 45 minute drive from the airport (in Kahului) to the Ka’anapali resort area.

If you’ve just started researching where to stay on Maui and you’re stuck between whether south Maui (Wailea and Kihei) or west Maui (Ka’anapali/Lahaina/Kapalua) is better, read this post.

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Where to Stay in Ka’anapali

Ka’anapali Beach

Westin Maui Resort & Spa: This is my number one hotel recommendation for families visiting Maui (especially if you want to be on the west side). It’s located right on Ka’anapali Beach (which is great for swimming and snorkeling) next door to the Whaler’s Village, which has a lot of shopping and dining options. There are also snorkel catamarans that pick up right on the beach. The resort has a huge “aquatic complex” with five pools (one for adults only) and a great waterslide. There are parrots and flamingos on the grounds and there’s a kid’s club as well. Pricing starts at $250/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Sheraton Maui: Most Sheraton resorts are pretty family friendly and this one is no different. It’s located on Ka’anapali Beach (just a few doors down from the Westin) right in front of Black Rock (one of Maui’s most popular snorkeling spots). It has a nice pool area and several dining options. You can also walk down the bike path to the Whaler’s Village for shopping and dining. Pricing starts at $240/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort: This recently renovated resort also sits on Ka’anapali Beach (the opposite end of the Sheraton) and has a lovely pool area and kids club. The real selling point of this resort though are the penguins! Seven African black-footed penguins have taken up residence in the hotel’s atrium lobby and they’re a sight to see! They have feedings every day. Stop by and check them out if you’re in the Ka’anapali area. Pricing starts at $250/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Marriott Ocean Club: The Marriott has a great location on Ka’anapali Beach that will keep you in the middle of the action while still staying at a familiar property (if you track points through Starwood or Marriot, that may be of interest to you). Click here to check pricing and availability.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel: Located right on bustling Ka’anapali Beach, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is the perfect place to stay on Maui’s west side. Located on the Ka’anapali beach walk nearby the Sheraton, Westin, and Hyatt, you’ll enjoy being in west Maui’s gorgeous resort area at a fraction of the price. This charming “old Hawaii” hotel starts at $149/night. Click here to check pricing for your dates.

The Whaler on Ka’anapali: This condo resort is right on the beach and has all of the amenities of the big resorts (nice pool area, gardens, beach rentals) at a fraction of the price with the added bonus of getting much more space. Check individual rentals through Airbnb (use this link for $40 off your first stay) or Vrbo.

North Ka’anapali

Honua Kai Resort & Spa: If you want to be in the Ka’anapali area but slightly removed from the crowds (or the prices) try the Honua Kai Resort and Spa. It’s just north of Black Rock but still technically in the Ka’anapali resort area. Click here to check pricing and availability.

RELATED: Not very familiar with Maui? Read up on the lay of the is(land) and where to stay and my favorite condos, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels plus my area specific guides (including where to stay, eat, and things to do) for Wailea, Ka’anapali, the north shore, and upcountry and my review of staying at the Four Seasons Maui.

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas: If you’re a fan of the hotel chain (or a Starwood/Marriott points tracker) and you’re looking for larger accomodations, this villa resort is perfect for you. You’ll get all of the amenities that you’d expect at the Westin plus much larger rooms with the option of a kitchen. Click here to check pricing and availability.

Aston at Papakea Resort: Located in the Ka’anapali area near Honokowai Beach Park, the Aston at Papakea is an all-condo resort with a pool, tennis court, and putting green. Pricing starts at $159/night. Click here to check pricing for your dates.

Royal Lahaina Resort: This 25-acre resort right on Kahekili beach (north Ka’anapali beach) has three outdoor pools, two hot tubs, tennis courts, a full service restaurant, and even a luau. Pricing starts at $195/night. Click here to check pricing for your dates.

Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.

Ka’anapali Restaurants

Monkeypod: One of my favorite restaurants on Maui has a new location at the Whaler’s Village right on Ka’anapali Beach. This is my number one spot for a sunset dinner in Ka’anapali. Monkeypod has great happy hour specials, live music most of the time, plus a few televisions in the bar if you’re wanting to catch the big game.

Leilani’s: Also located in Whaler’s Village, Leilani’s has a casual restaurant downstairs where you can get tacos, burgers, etc. and an upstairs restaurant that severs steaks and seafood.

Hula Grill: Also beachfront at Whaler’s Village, you can actually sit at a table at the Hula Grill with your feet in the sand!

Duke’s Beach House: If there’s a classic “Hawaii chain,” Duke’s is it. Like Leilani’s, the restaurant has two different sections with two different menus (a casual one and a more upscale one). Located at the Honua Kai Resort, this is a great spot for dinner with a view.

Roy’s: Another popular “Hawaii chain,” Roy’s isn’t beachfront, but it’s a Hawaii classic.

Cliff Dive Bar: The beach bar at the Sheraton is one of my favorites on Ka’anapali. Not only are the drinks good (there’s a light menu too), but its location is more beachfront than some of the other resorts.

Food Court at Whaler’s Village: The Whaler’s Village has several quick options like Joey’s Kitchen (local food), a pizza place, Haagan Daas, and Subway.

Slappy Cakes: There aren’t a ton of stand alone breakfast spots in Ka’anapali (each resort has a spot where you can get something), but Slappy Cakes is great for…you guessed it…pancakes! They also do local favorites as well.

Ululani’s Shave Ice: Arguably Maui’s best shave ice (everybody has their favorite) has a location in the Hyatt Regency on Ka’anapali Beach.

Island Vintage Coffee: Located in Whaler’s Village, this is probably the best place in Ka’anapali for a cup of coffee. They also have acai bowls, sandwiches, and other light fare.

Things to Do in Ka’anapali

Ka’anapali Beach: The whole resort area of Ka’anapali has been built up around this beach and it didn’t happen by chance. This is definitely one of Maui’s best. It’s a long stretch of sand so there’s plenty of room for all of the people staying at the resorts to spread out. There’s also a pathway that runs from the Sheraton all the way to the Hyatt.

Snorkel at Black Rock: The rock protruding out in front of the Sheraton is a popular snorkeling spot on Maui. Partly because it’s so convenient, but there is some pretty coral and fish and occasionally some turtles!

Cliff Jumping: Jumping off black rock is a popular thing to do for kids and adults.

Nightly lighting ceremony: Every night at sunset, a man comes out to light the torches along black rock. I believe this signifies the start of the luau at the Sheraton, but it’s fun to watch from the beach.

RELATED: 20 Bakeries and Food Trucks on Maui

Complete Guide to Upcountry Maui

5 Maui Day Trips

Where to Snorkel on Maui (and Find Sea Turtles)

Best Maui Beaches

Where to Eat on Maui 

Guide to the Road to Hana

5 Things to Skip on Maui

Drums of the Pacific Luau: One of Maui’s most popular luau’s is the Drums of the Pacific luau at the Hyatt Regency.

Penguins at the Hyatt: There’s an exhibit of African black footed penguins near the lobby at the Hyatt and they’re pretty much my favorite thing. Whenever I’m in Ka’anapali, I always like to walk down there and pay them a visit.

Whaler’s Village: This outdoor shopping mall has a great mix of high end and local shopping. It also has a lot of restaurants. It’s kind of the hub of Ka’anapali. If you’re driving to Ka’anapali from another area and looking for parking, this is probably where you’ll park. They validate if you spend at the shops or restaurants.

Snorkeling cruise: There are several different big catamarans that do pickups right on Ka’anapali beach. You won’t find a snorkeling cruise down the Molokini from here though as these mostly stick to the west side spots.

Spa at Black Rock: Everyone should treat themselves to at least one spa experience on Maui, and if you’re staying in Ka’anapali make it the Spa at Black Rock at the Sheraton.

Golf: If you’re a golfer, not only is there a course right in Ka’anapali to enjoy, but you’re super close to Kapalua…the mecca of golfing on Maui.

Water Sports: Each resort in Ka’anapali has rentals for paddle boards and snorkel gear so you can get out and enjoy life on and under the water.

Pros and Cons of Staying in Ka’anapali

Pros: West Maui is usually sunny and dry, making it perfect beach weather. Also, there’s a wide range of accommodation options so whether you’re looking to splurge on a beachfront resort or save on a condo, you can find it in West Maui.

There’s also a lot development, so if you’re the type that likes to be in the middle of the action, West Maui is where it’s going on. Lahaina (an old whaling village turned tourist hot spot) is nearby Ka’anapali and that’s where many choose to spend their evenings. Front Street is packed with shops and restaurants (many offering ocean views) and has a nice vibe that makes it a “hang out” spot for people in the evenings. The docks in Lahaina are also where a lot of the water excursions leave from (whale watching, glass bottomed boats, submarines, and ferries to Lanai and Molokai) so if you’re planning to do much of that, it’s nice to be staying nearby.

West Maui is actually one of the prettiest parts of Maui, with the West Maui Mountains rising up in the background offering some amazing hiking trails, it has some of the best beaches on the island (if you don’t mind the crowds) and you’re close to the famous Honolua Bay and all that’s going on in Lahaina and Ka’anapali.

Cons: Alas, even though West Maui is pretty great, it’s not perfect. I hinted before at the crowds, but to me, that’s really the worst part about the West side. The beautiful beaches are some of the most crowded on the island, and while I love me some people watching, most of the time I like to be away from the crowds. Also, while there’s a lot to do on the West side, that means it’s pretty built up. Which can be good and bad. Unfortunately, the bad can be tacky tourist shops and plenty of strip malls. There are more places to eat, but many of them seem to lack quality. All of that aside, a major consideration for me is how far the West side is from everything else. Doing Haleakala? It’s a hike. Road to Hana? Same thing. Anything on the north shore or upcountry? You’ll have to drive a ways. The good news…Maui is beautiful, so you may not mind the drive.

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