So you’re planning a Hawaiian vacation. You’ve settled on the island of Maui (aka the Valley Isle).
Now you’re wondering where to stay on Maui.
One of our favorite areas is Kaanapali, or Ka’anapali in Hawaiian. (We use both spellings here.)
Located in West Maui, just a stone’s throw from the old whaling village of Lahaina, Kaanapali is a popular resort area.
Indeed, it’s the oldest planned resort area in the Hawaiian island chain (developed back in the 1960s).
The developers did it so well, Kaanapali has become a model for other resort areas around the world.
Why stay at Kaanapali?
Before we get into the details of the 10 best places to stay in Kaanapali, let’s first discover a little more about the Kaanapali resort area – and why you’ll enjoy basing yourself in this part of Maui.
So, what can you expect?
Deluxe hotels and condos with all the bells and whistles. Beautiful beaches. Watersports, manicured golf courses (36 holes, in fact) and some of Hawaii’s best shopping.
Yes! You’ll find it all here.
Ka’anapali Beach is widely regarded as one of the best in the USA (one of the world’s best beaches, actually!). You’ll see why after spending just a few hours here.
The thick golden sand stretches over three miles, backed by an oh-so-scenic beachfront boardwalk.
Shops, restaurants, hotels and resorts have been built on the other side of the boardwalk. And rather than being stacked cheek-to-jowl, they’re separated by lots of appealing green space and gardens.
To top it off, the boardwalk offers views of the West Maui Mountains (the highest area on the island), making it the ideal place for an early morning or evening stroll.
Ka’anapali should also win awards for its amenities.
Fronting the beach, Whalers Village is a tasteful alfresco shopping and dining area.
Whether you’re looking for a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt or fresh macadamia-nut crusted fish for dinner, Whalers Village is the epicenter of retail and cuisine in this part of the island.
Tip: Don’t miss sunset cocktails and pupus (tasty crab wontons, anyone?) at Hula Grill. It’s a fun toes-in-the-sand beachfront bar and restaurant.
We also picked up some great swimsuits at Tommy Bahamas in Whalers Village on our last stay.
Free Kaanapali shuttle
It’s easy to get around Ka’anapali too.
Close to the airport
Plus, all of this is only around a 40-minute drive from Kahului Airport (depending on traffic).
After flying to Maui, it doesn’t take too long to get settled into your hotel with a welcome Mai Tai!
10 Best places to stay in Kaanapali, Maui
So what are the best places to stay in Kaanapali? Let’s take a look!
1) Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
Newly renovated and more grandiose than ever, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort earns its spot as one of the top 5-star hotels in Kaanapali, Maui.
Situated on 40 acres of Ka’anapali Beach, it offers guests 24/7 access to an oceanfront tropical paradise.
No matter which of the 779 rooms or 31 available suites you choose, you’ll be treated to fabulous views.
Sit and admire the ocean, majestic mountains, pristine golf course or lush gardens from your own private lanai and glass balcony.
For true royal Hawaiian treatment, live it up in the 2,300 sq. ft. Presidential Suite, complete with a living room with wet bar and seven lanais.
You won’t lack for amenities.
Families will have a blast at the outdoor water park that includes pools with a lava tube water slide and rope bridge.
There’s also a separate family pool, an infinity-edge relaxation pool and an adults-only pool to enjoy.
The cave-like grotto pool even has a swim-up grotto bar for sipping pina coladas and Mai Tais.
Nor will you go hungry.
Start your day with breakfast in the open-air Swan Court, where swans float by in a waterfall-splashed lagoon. (The resort is also home to penguins, African cranes and flamingos.) Or order room service for a lazy breakfast in bed.
For dinner, choose from a fine dining Japanese resto, a poolside eatery and a steakhouse.
And what Maui vacation would be complete without one of the top Hawaii experiences – a luau?
You won’t have to go very far, as the Hyatt Regency hosts its very own traditional Hawaiian luau every night.
The only real downside is that the beach in front of the Hyatt is eroded.
Walking out, we could see there’s barely any beach now, and what’s there is currently sand-banked.
But while there’s no sand to lie out on (for now), you can still get in the ocean water to swim.
2) The Whaler
This classy condominium is one of our favorite places to stay in Maui.
Its location can’t be beat.
The Whaler sits smack-dab on Ka’anapali Beach, just a hop away from the Whalers Village’ shops and restaurants. And the broad expanse of beach in front is one of the nicest stretches of Ka’anapali Beach.
Two 12-story concrete (soundproof) towers rise up on either side of a lush tropical garden.
Choose from studios to two-bedroom condos. Each comes with a full kitchen (so you can cook some easy vacation meals) and an extra-large lanai.
As they’re privately owned, they’re individually decorated. Most are fully renovated with custom kitchens, granite countertops and tasteful furnishings.
We book-ended our recent trip with two stays at The Whaler.
To begin with, we splashed out in a beachy-feeling 905 sq. ft. one-bedroom condo. It was a corner unit with a huge wrap-around lanai and two bathrooms.
At the end of our Maui stay, we checked into a 621 sq. ft. studio. It also had a king-size bed, along with a washer/dryer, solid carved wood furniture and a fabulous ocean view.
To catch the sunset, book a south-facing unit. Just know the lanais get hot during the day.
As we wanted to sit out on our lanai during the day in the shade, we booked both units on the north side.
Other niceties at The Whaler include an oceanfront pool, two tennis courts, beach activity shack (with towel service and complimentary mini beach chairs), small fitness center and communal barbecue grills.
Our favorite pastime while there?
Walking along the beach to Black Rock (so close!) to snorkel and swim with Hawaiian Green sea turtles each morning.
Booking options for The Whaler
There are several ways to book The Whaler. Different companies manage different units within the property.
We used Vrbo (the “host” was Vacation Maui) as well as The Whaler rental program through Monte Fitts.
Aqua Aston (a Marriott Vacations hotel branch) also manages vacation rentals through the Aston at The Whaler.
Aston at The Whaler: Check rates and availability
The Whaler (on Vrbo): Check rates and availability
Vacation Maui: Book here
The Whaler Vacation Rental Program by Monte Fitts: Book here
3) Ho’oilo House
You won’t find any water parks with twisting slides (or mega-sized anything!) at this secluded bed-and-breakfast for adults.
Offering just six rooms, the Ho’oilo House is the best place to stay in Kaanapali if you’re looking for the antithesis of a colossal Ka’anapali resort.
It’s actually the only upscale B&B you’ll find in this area.
Other things you won’t find at the Ho’oilo House are shops or restaurants within walking distance, walk-on access to a beach, pre-planned nightly events, an active pool scene – or any type of “action” at all.
So what will you find?
An upscale haven that caters perfectly to guests who want to relax away from the hustle and bustle.
The expansive unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean below, Balinese-style décor and intimate setting set the stage for a peaceful romantic stay.
Individually decorated rooms have doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl and a king or queen bed. Some also have views overlooking the Pacific and a private lanai.
Ensuite bathrooms feature pebbled floors and private outdoor showers.
Amenities are limited but enough for independent-minded couples. A comfortable common lounge area overlooks a smallish but beautiful outdoor pool, surrounded by immaculate green lawn with sun beds.
The continental breakfast (included in your stay) is simple but divine! Start your day with a spread of fresh Hawaiian fruit, toast, local jams and cereals.
At sunset, it’s heaven to sit out on your lanai, breathing in the plumeria-scented air and watching the many birds and little iguanas, as the sun paints the sky pink and orange.
4) Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali
A beautiful stretch of beach, cool shady places to hide from the sun, a recent renovation and six pools. Say hello to the Westin!
With 771 rooms, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is one of the largest Kaanapali beach resorts with direct access to Ka’anapali Beach.
And it’s impressive! After undergoing a recent $120 million renovation, it sparkles like new.
Ocean Tower rooms are more earthy in décor. Spiffed up hotel rooms in the Hokupa’a Tower feature a sleek ocean-inspired design in soft blue and silver colors.
Book a one-bedroom Premier Suite (Hokupa’a Tower) for dreamy ocean views and a free-standing tub in the bathroom.
Hokupa’a Tower guests also get exclusive access to The Lanai. This upscale gathering place offers complimentary breakfast, dinner pupus, a cocktail bar and a warm pool.
There are tons of family-friendly frills at the Westin.
Kids can have a blast at the kids’ club – lots of games keep them entertained.
Or they can splash about in five pools, where they’ll find a 270-foot water slide, waterfalls and a swim-through grotto.
Other family-friendly activities include hula dancing and lei-making classes, plus a nightly Polynesian luau.
For some kid-free time, adults can retreat to the serene adults-only pool deck. Maybe reserve one of the new “dew-drop” shaped cabanas made of bamboo and dark wood?
Or how about indulging in a pampering session at the award-winning full-service spa?
As for dining options, find everything from Hawaiian fare to a burger bar.
Don’t miss the breezy new Waicoco, a seafood-driven restaurant. (Try the warm Hawaiian rolls with honey butter and the pan-seared Ahi tuna with Molokai sweet potatoes, beans and ginger cream.)
All of the happenings of Whalers Village are also within walking distance from the Westin.
Of course, because the Westin is smack-dab in the thick of things (and big!), you might find it livelier than you’d like. But it’s still one of the best Kaanapali luxury hotels.
Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali: Check rates and availability
5) Royal Lahaina Resort
If you’re wondering where to stay in Kaanapali that’s on the beach but doesn’t break the budget, the Royal Lahaina Resort fits the bill.
A few minutes’ drive north of Whalers Village, it’s also on our list of best Kaanapali hotels.
It’s situated on 2,400 feet of oceanfront property, just north of Black Rock, on North Ka’anapali Beach (also called Kahekili Beach).
Kahekili Beach is quieter than Ka’anapali Beach, which is south of Black Rock.
Originally built in 1962, the Royal Lahaina is known as a solid mid-range resort. It’s not fancy, but it offers good value with comparable amenities to its luxurious neighbor resorts.
There are several types of rooms to choose from.
The 12-story Lahaina Kai Tower has 441 rooms and suites ranging from standard, partial oceanview, full oceanview to deluxe oceanview.
We stayed in one of their cute beach cottage buildings, nestled within the resort’s tropical garden and sweeping lawns. Each bungalow room comes with a private lanai and patio furniture.
To really get that beach house vacation feel, book one of the cottages that include a kitchenette.
Our basic “run of the house” cottage room was very retro in feel, with louvered windows and a huge tub from the 60s tiled all in white.
We felt it could do with an update. But it was spickety clean, and we actually loved its “old Hawaii” vibe.
As it turns out, all the bungalow rooms are currently being renovated (to be completed in 2023). They’ll be dressed up with new retro-chic furniture, renovated showers and vanities, new lanai decks and more.
So you may end up in a renovated room when you go!
You have plenty of lounging options both on and off the beach. There are two large oceanview pools, two hot tubs and a pool bar that serves up some tasty tropical drinks.
Play a round of tennis on one of 11 courts and enjoy a macadamia-nut waffle cone afterward at the resort’s ice-cream parlor. Not a bad way to spend the day!
The Royal Lahaina also hosts a nightly oceanfront luau (Myths of Maui). The longest-running Hawaiian luau on Maui, it consistently gets high reviews.
Another added bonus: No additional daily resort fee!
Royal Lahaina Resort: Check rates and availability
6) Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali
Another one of the best Kaanapali hotels for families is the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.
It’s an expansive action-packed resort, chock-full of creature comforts and right on Ka’anapali Beach.
Families, especially, love the big lazy-river pool and other activities that are always on-hand, like hula and scuba diving lessons.
Other luxury features include three tennis courts, oceanfront massages and a contemporary fitness center.
The Hawaiian-themed guest rooms include a cozy lanai, some with marvelous beach and ocean views.
Perhaps the main reason to stay here, though, is its proximity to Black Rock.
This rocky peninsula jutting out from Ka’anapali Beach is famous for snorkeling with green sea turtles – you’re pretty well guaranteed to see turtles at Black Rock.
The turtles are so used to humans that they even swim around in shallow water that’s only waist deep.
If something bumps your thigh while you’re standing in the sea, it’s likely a turtle checking you out!
Where the water is deeper, thrill-seeking kids and teens love to jump off the cliffs at Black Rock.
At sunset, a young diver lights tiki torches along Black Rock, blows a conch and dives into the water in a cliff diving ceremony that’s taken place every night since the Sheraton opened in 1963.
The 4-star Sheraton is an older hotel with a superb location. All 508 rooms and suites were renovated in a $26.5 million makeover in 2018. But overall, it still feels a little vintage.
It’s less expensive than its sister property, the Westin Maui (reviewed above in #4), which is more modern and trendier.
How to choose between the Sheraton Maui and the Westin Ka’anapali?
Stay at the Sheraton for bigger rooms, turtle snorkeling at your doorstep and better value. Stay at the Westin (or Hyatt) if your tastes skew toward luxury.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa: Check rates and availability
7) Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
Recognized as “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel” by the Waiaha Foundation, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel now offers even more Hawaiian goodness with their upgraded, newly renovated Premium Rooms.
Nestled among acres of tropical gardens between The Whaler and the Sheraton, this unpretentious resort also fronts the same beautiful stretch of beach. And you can get to Whalers Village with a three-minute walk from the hotel grounds.
It’s a warm and welcoming 3-star resort with a 5-star location!
The daily complimentary cultural activities are a highlight, making it one of the best hotels on Kaanapali Beach for teaching guests about Hawaiian culture.
Want to learn how to make a lei? There’s a lei-making class every afternoon.
Or how about giving it go and trying to dance the hula? Or learning some Hawaiian words or mastering a few chords on the ukulele? There are classes for that too – plus lots more!
The resort’s outrigger canoe paddling tours are awesome.
There’s a maximum of 5 guests per tour.
Your Hawaiian guide will teach you how to paddle and explain the culture and beliefs of the local Maui people. (Reserve your spot early!)
Onsite amenities include a large swimming pool.
Huihui is the resort’s newly remodeled beachfront restaurant.
Serving Hawaiian cuisine, it offers live music and hula shows in the evening. The lobster dumplings and pineapple bread pudding are popular hits.
Like the Royal Lahaina (#5) and Sheraton (#6), the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers good value for money.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel: Check rates and availability
8) Honua Kai Resort & Spa
You find Honua Kai Resort & Spa at the quiet north end of Kahekili Beach.
Another one of the best resorts in Kaanapali, it offers an alternative to a typical hotel stay.
Individually owned condos in an upscale complex feature luxurious accommodations. And you also get resort-style conveniences, like a spa, concierge and poolside food-and-drink service. It’s like a condo-hotel.
All condos come with full gourmet kitchens and large lanais.
Families, in particular, find the huge three-bedroom condos (1,750 sq. ft.) appealing.
But you can also book studios, one-bedroom suites, 900 sq. ft. one-bedroom suites (with a den) and two-bedroom suites.
As well, there are three-bedroom/three-bathroom garden villas with hot tubs, fire pits and access to a private swimming pool.
Kids are drawn to the network of connecting swimming pools with waterfalls, waterslide and play area with water fountains.
Adults aren’t forgotten though – you can reserve a cabana to relax by the adult pool.
And if a Hawaiian lomi lomi couples massage is on your vacation wishlist, the resort’s Ho’ola Spa has got you covered.
The popular Duke’s beachfront restaurant is also located within the Honua Kai Resort.
We drool remembering their famous hula pie’s chocolate and macadamia nut ice-cream deliciousness!
The downside to staying here?
While the grounds are beautiful, some guests complain the pool area gets crowded with lots of children, and there aren’t enough pool chairs for everyone when the resort is full.
If visiting as a couple and you’d prefer more adult-oriented digs, Honua Kai may not be right for you.
9) Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
If you want to stay at a 4-star resort that has pretty well every comfort, look no further than Westin Nanea Ocean Villas.
This is another one of the best West Maui resorts for families.
It offers one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. They all of have super-comfy beds, HD televisions, terraces, open plan living space and luxury bathrooms.
You can opt for an oceanfront suite which offers incredible views of the bright blue water every morning.
Alternatively, book a cheaper resort view suite, which also boast lovely views and similar facilities. They just aren’t quite as close to the beach.
There are two restaurants onsite – Mauka Makai and the Inu Pool Bar. So you won’t go hungry here. Mind you, all the condo units have a kitchen area, so you can self-cater too.
The resort’s piece de resistance is the impressive pool complex.
Some of it is tailored to kids, with sprinklers and small slides. But as the complex spans over three pools, there’s plenty of space for couples or adult groups to hang out too.
The luxurious Spa Helani offers massages and facials among other treatments. It’s located a short distance from the complex.
As far as Kaanapali beach hotels and resorts go, the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas is yet another excellent option for spacious condo-style units with full kitchens.
Located at the north end of North Ka’anapali Beach, it’s further away from the main hotel area clustered around Whalers Village, so it has a quieter feel than say, Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club (see #10 below) or The Whaler (#2 above).
The downside is that it’s a much longer walk to Whalers Village if you want to eat there at night. (Taking the shuttle is better.)
Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Kaanapali: Check rates and availability
10) Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club: Lahaina and Napili Towers
With its original buildings constructed in 1981, Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club has long been known as one of the best resorts on Kaanapali Beach.
Out of its five towers, we recommend the new Napili and Lahaina Towers in particular.
These towers were built more recently, and offer vacation condos in Kaanapali with kitchenettes or full kitchens, along with easy access to the beach.
As you’d expect with Marriot Hotels, the facilities at this beachfront resort are top notch.
You can have the best sleep of your life in a king-size bed with luxury linens, feel like royalty in a marble bathroom with a big bubble bath with spray jets, and be entertained by the large LCD TV in the living area.
Onsite, there’s a huge pool complex. The Beach Walk Kau Kau To Go offers poolside service, or you can get take-out artisanal pizza and other casual bites.
You’ll also find a well-equipped fitness center and spa.
So, which one to choose – Napili or Lahaina Tower?
If you’re torn, we advise Napili Tower. It’s closest to Whalers Village and has its own pool, with lots of lawn area for sunbathing and relaxing.
Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, Lahaina and Napili Towers: Check rates and availability
That’s our guide on the top resorts and best hotels in Kaanapali, Maui!
Whether you’re a couple on honeymoon, a group who visit Maui every year or a family on your first trip to Hawaii, there’s a great place for you to stay.
Kaanapali has some of the best Maui hotels and condos, and its gorgeous stretch of Hawaiian beach is legendary.
For an upscale postcard-pretty area with lots of amenities, we have no doubt Kaanapali can help make your Hawaii vacation dreams come true.
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Photo credits: 8, 16, 21 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase