Hawaiian kings once favored Kaanapali Beach, and now the whole world is in love with it. Kaanapali was the first planned resort in Hawaii and, because of its success, its formula has been copied around the world. Kaanapali has many comforts, and just over a decade ago it was voted “America’s Best Beach.” Come here to laze on the palm-fringed sand and bathe in the warm Pacific waters.
Book an adventurous water-based activity, such as scuba diving, snorkeling or kayaking to make the most of your stay. If you feel brave, you can even go parasailing. Golf enthusiasts should hit the Royal Kaanapali or the Kaanapali Kai, two local championship courses. If you feel like a walk, take the Kaanapali Historical Trail & History and Legends Tour. This free, self-guided walk educates you about the area’s geological past and takes you to some of the best places.
Shopaholics should head for the Whalers Village on Kaanapali Parkway, where you’ll find around 90 high-end shops and restaurants. Shop for jewelry, floral shirts or swimwear, and enjoy a local sweet treat or all-American fast food. Stay a while and join a free daily Hawaiian language class if you want to greet the locals with more than just “aloha.” Visit the museum dedicated to the humpback whales which frequent the waters. In winter, you can also join one of the whale-watching trips that depart from Kaanapali Beach.
A memorable way to end any day on Kaanapali Beach is to watch the daily cliff-diving ceremony. Head to Puu Kekaa (Black Rock) as the sun sets to watch the participants light torches along the cliff top before diving into the sea. The spectacle is in honor of King Kahekili, who once performed this feat.
Kaanapali Beach is in West Maui. The beach resort has no shortage of accommodation, with many five-star hotels taking up the prime spots along the oceanfront. The condos are a better deal for families. If you have kids in tow, ask at your reception if they have “keiki” programs, with games, arts and crafts.