Kaanapali Things to Do

Things to Do near Kaanapali on Maui

Kaanapali is in west Maui just north of Lahaina. Kaanapali means "rolling cliffs" in Hawaiian, which is a proper name with the backdrop of the West Maui Mountains, providing an intriguing view. When you visit the area, you will soon discover why this was the go-to spot for the royalty who ruled Maui. Despite this royal past, the area today has a very laid-back feel, ideal for vacationers looking for an island paradise to unwind.

John Derrick
Published on: 05-27-2020
Published by: John C. Derrick
Natural Beauty

From the stunning three-mile white sands and gentle waves of Kaanapali beach to the majestic mountains, the area has a regal feel created by nature. It wasn’t until the development of the Kaanapali Beach Resort in the 1960s that the area grew in popularity for tourists. Since then, the world has caught on to the natural beauty of the area with a variety of hotels and resorts available for people of all interests and budgets. From the pristine beaches to the many attractions of Maui, tourists have no shortage of activities to pass their time away.

Ideal Weather

Kaanapali enjoys good weather all year round with a semi-arid, tropical climate that provides hot summers and very warm, comfortable winters. The Pacific Ocean helps regulate temperatures and provides plenty of fresh sea air. The area of Kaanapali is located on the leeward side of the West Maui Mountains that means it experiences little rainfall with annual precipitation of about 25" (635mm). It is a sunny, dry spot for most of the year, and most of the rainfall occurs between October and April. Making it even more attractive it has relatively low humidity that spares you the stickiness of many tropical destinations. The heat is comfortable, rarely reaching above 92°F (33.3°C). January is the coolest time of year, but of course, this still means temperatures remain in the high 70’s.

Storm season increases the risk of hurricanes from June to December. During this time of year, the area can also experience thunderstorms with lightning, high wind speeds, and heavy rainfall with some chance of hailstorms and cyclones.

Directions to Kaanapali

From the Kahului Airport (OGG), take Highway 380 to H-30, head south to H-3000 to Puukolii Road and turn left.

Top Attractions in Kaanapali

The nightlife is like no other, with an endless list of dining options. The boardwalk alone has popular restaurants serving up a variety of local favorites and it’s easy to catch some live music and enjoy drinks during happy hour. If you love shopping, it’s a short trek to Whalers Village where you’ll find an excellent selection of retailers. The top things to do in Kaanapali include:

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Kaanapali Beach

The beach is located at West Shore, Maui, and is just under an hour’s drive from Kahului Airport. As mentioned, the area became popular in the 60s with the development of Hawaii’s first official resort, the Kaanapali Beach Resort. Since that time the beach itself has continued to attract people to its white sands to relax, take in the sun, and swim in the crystal-clear waters.

There are nearby dining and restaurants, parking and restrooms as well as a lifeguard on duty, which makes it perfect for families. You can shop at the open-air mail, Whalers Village that features a long list of high-end shops. Golfers can play a round of golf at one of the two championship courses. Ziplining offers a chance to take to the skies and admire the views from Kaanapali Skyline Eco-Adventures. Plan your trip in winter and take in the views of humpback whales that arrive every season.

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Black Rock Beach

Black Rock is located at the north end of Kaanapali Beach. Its black wall was created by lava flows and can be viewed from Kaanapali Beach but is not accessible by Kahekili Beach Park. Called Pu’u Keka’a in Hawaiian it was believed to be the spot spirits leaped from to join their ancestors. It is considered bad luck to take a black rock from the area as Hawaiians believe that those unlucky souls unable to find their way to their ancestors attached themselves to the black rocks.

The rock is best known for cliff jumping and you can choose to take the leap yourself, or simply enjoy the show from Kaanapali Beach. At night, there is a sunset torch lighting. Black Rock Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, but swimming from the beach is not recommended as the water is deep and has strong currents.

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Maui Hands Art Gallery

The gallery is located at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa at Nohea Kai Drive. Maui Hands consists of several locations, but this gallery is the closest to Kaanapali. The galleries feature Hawaii’s fine artists, artisans, jewelers, woodworkers, glassblowers, potters, and sculptors and the first location opened in August of 1992.

The original location featured 25 artisans and The Hyatt Regency, Kaanapali location provided gallery space for the remaining artists seeking a spot with Maui Hands. The entire collection of galleries features 300 local artisans who contribute art in all mediums from paintings and prints to glass and woodworking, and from pottery and sculpture to home décor and furnishings. There are also 30 individual jewelers if you are looking for a unique piece to take home.

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Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice

This Hawaiian treat is a must when you are in Maui. Located at the Hyatt Regency at 200 Nohea Kai Drive, this cold, mouthwatering tradition comes in a wide variety of flavors from Almond to Wedding Cake and everything in between. Whether you want to indulge in tropical fruit juices, a favorite soda or soft drink, or popular combinations like banana, pineapple, and coconut and coconut and sweet leche you’re sure to find a flavor to quench your thirst.

Shaved ice is more palatable than an old school snow cone, as the ice is shaved instead of crushed making it smoother and better able to hold in the flavors. Ululani’s opened in 2003 with a single machine that traveled to community events and private parties. As their reputation grew for exceptionally yummy shave ice, they began opening shops so more people could enjoy the sweet treat.

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Joey's Kitchen

Located on the lower level of Whaler’s Village, this Hawaiian hotspot has become the place to eat for both locals and tourists alike. Although it is “just” a fast-food restaurant, the food is served up fresh and hot with an impressive menu of mouthwatering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Classic breakfast fare is fresh and fast from pancakes to Loco Moco. Portuguese sausage is a must. Fresh Island Fish Tacos topped with Asian slaw, Tahini-Miso sauce and Sriracha Aioli are messy but satisfying, while Local Plates provide a taste of Hawaii with Huli Huli Chicken, Steamed Pork Lau Lau, and Kalbi Beef Short Ribs.

As you can see Kaanapali is an island paradise set in an idyllic location where rain is rare, and the sun is almost guaranteed.

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