If you are planning on staying in the Kaanapali Beach area during your trip to Maui, you made a good choice. Kaanapali is easily the most popular and recommended area to stay for your first time visiting Maui! This is where you will find the best snorkeling, best shops, best restaurants, and where most of the tours will take off from.
Even though there is so much to explore on the island of Maui, you could easily spend a full week just exploring everything that Kaanapali has to offer.
In this guide, I will go over all the best things to do in Kaanapali, my recommendation for hotels, a few must-pack items, and more! Let’s dive in..
There’s a chance this free guide contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through some of these links, I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes towards little Rosie’s dog treats! This trip was also graciously hosted by Kaanpali Resort Association, Hyatt Regency and Aston at the Whaler. As always (and per FTC guidelines), all opinions are my own!
1. Luxe Beach Picnic
Isn’t this the cutest idea?! If you are celebrating a special occasion in Maui, what better way to celebrate than setting up a luxury beach picnic!
This local company will come and set up an adorable picnic set up, fresh flowers, umbrella, food, and non-alcohol drinks! You get to enjoy the picnic for two hours and the best part is… they come and clean everything up afterwards. 🙂
2. Whaler’s Village
Whaler’s village is the focal point of Kaanapali Beach! This is where you can find most of the shops, restaurants, and tour company’s meeting points.
If you are staying at a hotel on Kaanapali Beach, I would make a few reservations at the restaurants in this village because they get busy!
3. Self Guided tour of Lahaina
If you’re a history lover, Lahaina is a place you will not want to miss! This is colorful, waterfront town has tons to explore! Plus, Lahaina is less than a ten minute drive from Kaanapali Beach.
For me, Kaanapali had very similar restaurant options and if you are spending a full week in Kaanapali, you will begin to get sick of “beach food.” Lahaina has more of a variety of restaurants, which is a nice break from the restaurants along Kaanapali Beach!
I would make an afternoon out of your trip to Lahaina by doing a self-guided history tour – you can check that out here!
4. Snorkeling at Black Rock
The best snorkeling on Maui is right on Kaanapali’s front yard at Black Rock! Or if you want to sound like a local, it’s formal name is Pu’u Keka’a!
Black Rock is the volcanic cliff that is at the north end of Kaanapali Beach, right in front of the Sheraton Hotel. I snorkeled here many times on my 5 Day Maui Itinerary, all at different times of the day. If you go early in the morning, the crowds will be minimal and you can expect to see large schools of fish! When I went in the afternoon, all the friendly turtles are out to play!
5. Catamaran Cruise
I always like to go over my highs and lows of every vacation, and after looking back on my Maui vacation, I easily came to the conclusion that my Sunset Sail with Teralani Sailing was my favorite part!
I did the sunset dinner cruise that comes with food and bottomless drinks. And by bottomless drinks, I don’t mean “premade island punch,” but actual cocktails!
PLUS, right when we took off from shore we were greeted with a large pod of spinner dolphins showing us how they got their name! 🙂 The crew said they are super common to see on their sunset cruise and love the protective waters in front of Kaanapali Beach!
6. Luau at the Hyatt Regency
You can’t go to Hawaii without experiencing a Hawaiian Luau! This is where you get to dive into the culture and history of Hawaii.
The best Luau on Kaanapali Beach (well, the whole island) is easily the Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency! It comes with multi-course dinner, endless drinks, sunset ocean views, Kukui nut lei, Hula lessons, and the show was amazing!
Parasailing is such a fun way to see Kaanapali Beach from above! There are endless adventure opportunities in Hawaii (many have been named on this guide), and parasailing is on that list!
There are a few parasailing tours throughout the island, all of them taking off right from the beaches. If you are staying in Kaanapali Beach area, UFO Parasail is what I would recommend!
8. Say Hi to the Penguins at the Hyatt
The Hyatt Regency on Kaanapali Beach is not only a stunning hotel, but it has tons of wildlife right in the lobby! If you walk all the way down Kaanapali Boardwalk, you will arrive at the beautiful Hyatt Resort! In the lobby, you can say hi to their African Black footed penguins!
Not only that, but they also have birds throughout the hotel, swans in their swan court lake, and penguins throughout the property.
9. Day trip to Lanai
Why not check another Hawaiian island off your bucket list? Lanai is a neighboring island that you can easily see right off the coast of Maui! There are snorkeling tours that will take you over there, or you can just take the ferry to explore for a few hours.
If you take the ferry, you can book tickets right online and the ride is only about 45 minutes. Round Trip tickets are $60 and can be booked here!
Rather do a tour that includes snorkeling in the reefs surrounding Lanai? Here is one that takes you snorkeling, most of the time sees pods of dolphins, includes meals, and takes you to Lanai.
10. Golfing at Kaanapali Golf Course
“Happy Husband Happy Life,” that’s the saying right?! That’s why I listed it on my couples guide to Maui.. you can read that here!
I don’t mind golfing… and when I say golfing, I mean sipping on a mimosa and watching my man golf from the golf cart. 🙂 But if I were to golf, Kaanapali is the place to do so! The courses are GOREGOUS. Almost every hole had ocean views!
Another bonus to golfing in Kaanapali is manifesting our future lives by looking at all the insanely huge homes along the golf course 😉
Here are the main golf courses on the west side of Maui:
11. Surfing Lesson
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at surfing, Hawaii is the ultimate place to do so! Gorgeous views, calm waves, and warm water makes a challenging thing like surfing a lot more fun. 🙂
There are so many surfing lessons you can do, but here is a private surfing lesson right on Kaanapali Beach!
TIP: If you’re curious to see an authentic Hawaiian surfer town, be sure to stop at Paia on the opposite side of Maui! If you plan on doing a Road to Hana day trip, you’ll pass right through it! 🙂
12. Spa Day
You know what screams vacation?! A relaxing spa day! Especially on one of your first few days to help fight jet lag 🙂
In Lahaina and Kaanapali, there are some local boutique massage places. OR if you want to splurge, most of the resorts will have a luxurious spa. Here are some of the resorts along Kaanapali beach that have full service spas:
13. Cliff Diving at Black Rock
Black Rock (or the formal name, Pu’u Keka’a) is not only known for its amazing snorkeling, but also a great cliff diving spot!
Right in front of the Sheraton hotel, you can access the trail to the cliff diving spot on top of Black Rock. Just watch out for all the snorkelers down below. 🙂
TIP: You will 1000% need wet socks! You will need to walk across lava rock to get to the cliff diving spot. I know wet socks are not cute, but you know what’s REALLY not cute? Cuts all over your feet!! Click here to snag some off amazon.
14. Watch the Cliff Diving Ceremony at the Sheraton
After you’ve had your share of cliff diving, it’s time to watch the pros do it! The Sheraton has a nightly torch lighting ceremony where a “Hawaiian Warrior” lights all the torches around the property. After he is done, he runs along the top of Black Rock, lights all the torches on top, and then cliff dives right at sunset!
The best spot to watch this show is at the Sand Bar at the Sheraton. You will want to get there a bit early to snag a seat (I recommend 1.5 hours before sunset) and enjoy the best view.
15. Get a day bed on the beach
This was the part of my 5 day Maui Vacation where I felt like I was in total relaxation mode! Most of the major resorts have day bed or cabana rentals that give you ocean front views and shade.
I decided to rent a day bed from the Hyatt since we were staying there and the pool was huge! Regardless if you are a guest at a resort, you can still rent a day bed or cabana for the day and enjoy the resort pool.
16. Get Hawaiian Shaved Ice
Hawiian shaved ice is something you MUST try when visiting Hawaii! Once you arrive on Maui, you will quickly see how popular this delicious treat is, because there are shaved ice shops all over the island.
On Kaanapali Beach, I would recommend Ululani’s Shaved Ice, which is located at the Hyatt and at Lahaina’s shopping district!
17. Snorkeling Cruise
One of the best things about the tropical island of Maui is the underwater life just off the shore. I’ve mentioned the best snorkeling on the island (#4 on this list), but there is also tons to see off the coast.
There are tons of snorkeling tours that you can customize to what you want to do! Here are some options:
- Kayaking & Snorkeling Tour
- Small Group, 2 hour Tour
- Catamaran Large Group Tour
- Molokini Crater Snorkeling Tour
18. Sport Fishing
If you are staying at an Airbnb or a condo-style hotel with a full kitchen (like Aston at the Whaler), you can spend your afternoon catching some fresh fish for dinner! Most fishing tours will take off in the neighboring town of Lahaina, which is only a short 15 minute drive from Kaanapali.
19. Scuba Diving Lessons
If you are planning on learning how to scuba dive, there is no place like Hawaii! It will be a lot more fun to learn how to scuba dive somewhere where there are experienced guides, warm water, and tons of marine life to see.
20. Day trip to Honolua Bay
Honolua Bay is a popular snorkeling spot not too far from Kaanapali Beach! To access the bay, you will need to drive north about 15 minutes and then walk the scenic Honolua Bay Access trail to get to the beach. Once at the beach, there are no snorkel rentals, bathrooms, or water stands. Be sure to plan ahead and pack all your stuff in for the day!
If you would rather join a tour, here is a catamaran tour that picks you up in Kaanapali and takes you to Honolua Bay!
Recommended Read: 5 Day Maui Itinerary – Perfect for First Timers!
21. Whale Watching Tour
Maui is one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales since there is a natural sanctuary, called Maui Nui Basin, on the west side of Maui. The surrounding Hawaiian islands keep the whales safe and make for perfect whale watching opportunities!
If this is something that is high on your bucket list, be sure to book your trip to Maui between November – March during their annual migration.
22. Atlantis Submarine
Don’t feel comfortable being too close to marine life by snorkeling or scuba diving? Than The Atlantis Submarine is for you!
This fun tour takes you 100 feet underwater to explore an old whaling ship that has turned into a coral reef over time. If you are visiting during whale season, reviews say it’s common to spot whales on this tour too! That way you can catch two fish with one rod.. ha, get it 😉
Pssst.. if you would rather stay in Lahaina than Kaanapali Beach since many tours take off from that area, there is a beautiful Marriot Timeshare property worth checking out!
23. Stroll down the Kaanapali Beach Walk
The entire length of the board walk is roughly 3 miles, but can be any length because you can turn back at any time! 🙂
I would recommend doing this scenic walk first thing in the morning because the board walk can be very busy around sunset time and when people are waiting around for their lunch / dinner reservations.
24. Helicopter Tour
What better way to see Kaanapali than from above? There are so many hidden parts of Maui that can only be seen by helicopter, which would be so cool to see an untouched part of Maui!
Plus, on most helicopter tours, you get to see the neighboring islands like Molokai and Lanai! Here are some helicopter tour options with tons of reviews.
25. Try a Sea Scooter
Sea Scooters are a unique and popular thing to do in Kaanapali! There are many tour companies that will take you out to coral reefs off the coast and let you dive down into the water. These little scooters have propellers that allow you to zoom through the water with minimal swimming.
Sea Scooters are a mix of scuba diving and snorkeling – you do not have the heavy scuba equipment on, but you still get to dip down and explore the world beneath the water.
TIP: Be sure to bring a GoPro if you plan on doing this to get some awesome footage of the coral reefs!
26. Hire a photographer to take photos on the beach
I might be a little biased because I am a huge photography lover, but I think great photos are the best souvenir you can take home! If you don’t want to have to awkwardly ask a stranger to take your picture (and most of the time they don’t turn out good), hire a local photographer instead!
There are tons of photographers to Maui, most you can easily find right on Instagram by searching the hashtag #MauiPhotographer! If you would prefer to look photographers up on a site with reviews, I would recommend Viator.
27. Get a Custom Flower Crown
You can order a customer flower crown or lei from a florist! There are many florists throughout the island (as you can imagine).
Here are a list of florists in the Kaanapali / Lahaina area:
Like my DIY flower crown? And by DIY I mean I picked it up off the ground and stuck in my ear, ha! 🙂
28. Lahaina’s Banyan Tree
While in Lahaina, it would be impossible to miss the largest Banyan Tree in the USA! This tree was planted in 1873 and now spans over 1.94 acres.
I would recommend spending the afternoon strolling the shops and restaurants in Lahaina, grabbing some hawaiian shaved ice to go from Ululani’s and taking in the impressive views of this tree!
29. Zip Lining
If you are going to try out zip lining anywhere, Maui is the place to do it! What is more fun than swinging through the jungle, seeing panoramic ocean views, and getting to experience the adventure of lifetime?
Kapalua Ziplines is not too far from the west side of Maui, has ocean views during the zipline and the best part… has the largest dual zip lines in Maui!
30. Adventure Park Maui
This is for all the kids (or kids at heart)! Adventure Park Maui is a HUGE outdoor ropes course located in Lahaina.
Tickets are $89 for adults (15+), $69 for young adults (8-14), and $49 for children (5-7). Your ticket reserves you an hour and a half time slot to do the full course.
Where to Stay on Maui?
Obviously if you are on this itinerary, you already know the best area to stay on in Maui is easily Kaanapali Beach! This is where all the action is and where you will find the best snorkeling & stretch of beach.
There are many resorts along this stretch of beach, so I decided to split my time between two hotels to see which one I liked best!
The first one I stayed at was the Aston at the Whaler, which was amazing! It is a condo style hotel, so you will have a huge balcony, full kitchen, living area to relax in, and it is a very quiet property. The hotel was also in the best area of Kaanapali beach, located right in between Black Rock Snorkeling (best on the island) & Whaler’s Village (where all the restaurants & shops are).
The rush after COVID (when I went) was WILD. You would have to make reservations 2 weeks out or… you aren’t eating! It was really nice to have a full kitchen and dining area to eat breakfast / lunch at.
For the second half of my stay, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which was BEAUTIFUL! It’s a resort-style hotel, so you will have a large pool with waterslides, swim up bar, cabanas along the beach, and several restaurants on the property. Not to mention they also have penguins, flamingos, and swans on the property.. which for an animal lover, that’s all I could ask for! 🙂
The Hyatt is on the southern end of Kaanapali Beach, which has it’s pros and cons! It’s a little less than a mile walk to Whaler’s Village (where all the restaurants and shops are), but I think it’s worth it because the beach area in front of the Hyatt is so quiet and peaceful! Plus, a walk on the scenic Kaanapali Boardwalk isn’t the worst thing 😉
Overall, I think it will depend on what kind of experience you’re looking for!
Looking to head to a local fish market and cook yourself an amazing dinner in a full size kitchen? Then the Aston at the Whaler is for you!
Want to relax on a lawn chair and keep the Pina Coladas coming? Hyatt is for you!
What to Pack for Maui?
I never want to bore you with a long packing list, especially because you came here to read an itinerary! But, I do always like to recommend just a few must-have’s for this specific trip! Here are my top 5 absolute must-have’s for Kaanapali:
In 2018, Hawaii banned standard sun screen that contains chemicals that are harmful to reefs. It was the first state in the USA, which was long over due! It is SUPER important that you are only using reef safe sunscreen not just because it’s illegal not to, but because the chemicals in regular sunscreen can cause hundreds of years of damage to a coral reef.
I solely used Sun Bum, which you can get right on Amazon! It has a good smell, doesn’t make you feel super greasy, and didn’t make me break out!
If you are weird about using the same mouth piece and snorkeling gear as other people, bring your own! You can get some good pairs on amazon before your trip and the best part is.. you can read reviews to make sure you are getting a good quality pair! Click here for the cutest baby pink set!!
3. Cute Sun Hat
I get all my hats from Olive and Pique, which are seriously the cutest hats! My specific hat I wore on all my travels is the “Jana!” These are on the pricier side, and a lot of people don’t like to bring expensive hats on vacation because they can get banged up in your suit case.
The closest dupe I could find for you was this one from ASOS (SUPER affordable)!
I am not a sunglass snob AT ALL. I buy 99% of my sunglasses off amazon because I am the most irresponsible sunglass owner on the planet! When you are traveling, you should bring a cheap pair to take with you in the ocean / pool, shove in your bag when you’re in a rush, and not care if you lose!
I have this adorable two pack! They are super sturdy, so adorable, and the best part.. extremely affordable!
5. Go Pro
If you plan on doing any snorkeling.. I’m sorry, but you NEED a go pro. If you see a friendly turtle swimming up to, you are going to want to take a photo of that epic moment!
At the very least, be sure to get a waterproof phone case to take your phone for some photos!
Okay, that’s a wrap! I hope you loved this long list of things to do in Kaanapali and Lahaina! The west area of Maui is easily the best area to stay in since there is so much to do, beautiful resorts to explore, and tons of shopping and restaurants. You really don’t ever need to leave this little stretch of paradise!
Still finalizing your trip to Kaanapali? Be sure to check out these guides for more ideas:
- 5 Day Maui Itinerary
- Romantic Things to do in Maui for Couples
- The Ultimate Road to Hana Itinerary – All the Best Stops!
- Which Hawaiian Island is Best?
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you have more ideas on things to do in Kaanapali, be sure to comment them below so I can try them out for next time. 🙂
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